This 52-year-old CrossFit champion couldn’t do a single push-up when she took her first class

Shellie Edington’s love of gymnastics goes back to when she first began learning to tumble as a 12-year-old. At 16, she turned down a gymnastics college scholarship due to the anxiety the sport caused her. After, she took a hiatus from sports and focused on her schooling and her career.

“Anxiety caused me not to perform as well, and I didn’t know how to handle it as a young woman,” Edington told Prevention magazine. “Back in the 80s they didn’t have any sports psychologists or anything like that.”

She couldn’t quite shake her love of gymnastics, however, and she started teaching classes to kids on the weekends. Eventually, that developed into her own business. She opened Tumblin4Kids, an Ohio gymnastics center for children ages 2 to 12.

After being introduced to CrossFit by a parent of one of her students, the then 46-year-old Edington attended her first CrossFit class, where she struggled to even do a push-up.

“I’m going to die here,” she remembers thinking to herself.

With one workout under her belt and a strong sense of determination, she was set on her way to become a CrossFit champion, and she didn’t even know it. She just took it one workout at a time.

“I drove home after that first workout, and an hour later I still wasn’t recovered. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was still racing and I was shaky,” she told Prevention. “And I said ‘I’m not going back. I’m never doing that again.’ And the other side of my brain was like ‘You’re scared. So you’re going back.’ And that’s what did it.”

In 2011, Edington competed in her first CrossFit Games. The CrossFit Games is a competition designed to find the “Fittest on Earth.” Needless to say—it’s no small feat to be at the head of the pack.

After vigorous training, Edington placed 19th in 2013, and only continued to grow from there. It was in 2016 that she took the grand first-place prize.

“Winning was just like Christmas. It was awesome,” Edington told Prevention. But she won’t let herself get too comfortable. “I can’t think about being first anymore. I have to train like I’m second or third. Or even 19th.”

But, now that she’s met her goal—she’s not quitting. She plans to continue to compete and is working to encourage others to always meet their fitness goals, at any age.

Her CrossFit bio reads, “Edington hasn’t always been this fit. Though she was a gymnast until college, when she started CrossFit in 2010 at 45 years old, she could no longer do a single pull-up or push-up. Now a four-time Games athlete and a CrossFit Games champion, her mission is to inspire people to regain their fitness at any stage in life.”

She’s pretty much turned to training as a full-time job, and she’s loving every minute of it.

“It takes me away from my career, but this has became a second career,” Edington told Prevention. “It’s wonderful investing in myself.”

This healthy lifestyle, one in which she’s not letting herself be her own worst critic has been an amazing switch for her.

“There are so many benefits [to a healthy lifestyle]. I think the best one is being able to inspire people to get off the couch and move,” she told ShapeFit. “Remember that you are not done yet and you can do it. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s hard, but you can do it.”

What an inspiration!