Breakthrough Spotlight – Theresa Marth

Our Breakthrough Spotlight Member for November is Theresa Marth! Theresa recently competed in the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge for the first time and did an amazing job!  She shares how having a specific goal to train for, and the camaraderie of her training partners made a huge difference in both consistency, as well as results in her training.


BREAKTHROUGH: So Theresa, I wanted you to be our Spotlight person this month because you made a comment right after doing the TSC that made me think, “Yes! She gets it!”  That is, how you train is totally different when you know you have a specific event you are training for. So, tell us a little bit about how were you feeling and what were you thinking when you first decided to do the Tactical Strength Challenge?

THERESA:  I was thinking that I could back out at any time.


THERESA:  Well, you had asked me to do it last year.  Actually, you have asked me a couple of times.

BREAKTHROUGH: Yes, I am a pusher!

THERESA:  Yeah! And I backed out of it both times. Like three times, in fact.  This time around I thought it was time for something new and to mix it up a little.

BREAKTHROUGH: Was there something that pushed you over the edge?

THERESA:  I was just looking for a change.  I was coming in.  I was coming pretty consistently.  I was showing up and doing that work and then going home. I wanted something to reach for. So, when I committed to it, it really became important.  And I started finding ways to consistently make those training appointments.  It became non-negotiable.  Thursday night Team Practices were non-negotiable.  I had to find a way to get here.  And I was encouraged because there were so many people of all different levels.  I really felt like, oh everybody was so supportive, which made it really easy. And when I got in there on that Saturday of the Challenge, I was sort of like, whatever… not sure how it would go…  But the energy and everybody else that came along with it –  like Wow! It was like this tidal wave pushing me forward. It was fun. And there are some pushers in that group, too! Ha, ha!

BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah! It was one of our big reasons for opening Breakthrough.  We started to notice that private clients we had who were training together, even if they had slightly different goals, or slightly different fitness levels, or backgrounds – when people are excited to see each other get better, you can’t help but get better.  And how awesome is that!

THERESA:  But, as opposed to Crossfit, which I had done, and people are, like, ‘you gotta go big, go hard.’  And in here, it’s a different mentality, and that was really important for me.

BREAKTHROUGH: That team atmosphere is one of the really good things about Crossfit. A lot of people really thrive in that.  I think our approach is slightly different… A little bit different vibe and approach to training.

THERESA:  But it is not just push as hard as you can, it is pushing with sort of a purpose.

BREAKTHROUGH: Yes, and, that purpose is one of the big things, and what you noticed. When you have a date on a calendar, you have a very specific target that you have been training for.  You haven’t been doing random workouts and trying to see what happens.  We have been training for nine weeks to build up to a day where we see what happens with those very specific things that we have been training for.


THERESA:  It was a huge shift, though! I went from not even being able to do a flexed arm hang to hanging for three seconds, which I was really proud of!  It was three seconds!  Why should you be proud of three seconds? But was a big difference!

BREAKTHROUGH: It is huge!  That flexed arm hang is so tough.  People struggle with that for years sometimes to just be able to get a second over the bar.

THERESA:  It is true! It is a big deal. And I went from not really doing deadlifts at all to lifting 215 pounds!  Crazy! That is crazy to me!

BREAKTHROUGH: Did you think when you signed up that you’d be able to lift that much? Did you have an idea?

THERESA:  I wanted to hit 200.  When we did my first session, it was just Caleb and I, and I think I hit 180. He said, “I think you can do 200. I think 200 is the number.” So kind of in my head, I had 200 as the target I was reaching for. I did 185. And I felt like, I can do 200.  But then 215? That was TAP.  She said, “No, you’re doing 215!”  I said OK I am doing 215!  I kind of let that wave carry me.  It was good. I did it and I felt really good about it.  I felt really solid in it, which also surprised me.

BREAKTHROUGH: Oh yeah! It was solid.

THERESA:  And I am looking forward to doing the one in spring now. Which is really very surprising to me.

BREAKTHROUGH: Is that not normally your thing? Competitions and that kind of stuff?

THERESA:  That competition thing can really beat you up sometimes. I think when you can gear towards being competitive with yourself and not put so much focus on, am I doing better than somebody else. Obviously if that is your goal, that’s great. But for me, I didn’t want that sort of pressure on me. I wanted to just be better than I had been. But the biggest thing for me, was that I was making 3-4-5 days of training  –  it gave me the drive to get out of bed at 5:00 in the morning. And then turn around to go from Thursday night to Friday morning.  It was so tough, but I did it. And every single time, I was really grateful that I had done it.

BREAKTHROUGH: That is great!  I’m glad you experienced that. And that you were willing to share that because we as coaches say it all the time, but I think a lot of people say, yeah, yeah…okay, whatever…

THERESA:  I think so too.  I didn’t realize how big of a difference it would make having that goal. Otherwise it might feel like you are just coming in and going through the motions.  I think I was doing that for a while. I was coming in and we would change programs and that was cool.  But I was ready for something more… with a more obvious end result.

BREAKTHROUGH: Right, that is the thing about training for a specific event. You can see this is where you started, and this is where you finished – for now.  There is real satisfaction in doing that. Is there anything else you feel inspired to share? TSC or otherwise?


THERESA:  I’d love to see the TSC team be even bigger in Spring.  It was really such a great community.  The high fives, the people that I had only met in the team sessions because I only come in the morning was really cool.  To see all ages.  And everybody – like Jax was so supportive of the people who barely lifted 200 pounds, next to his 540.  He was genuinely happy for people who were doing 200.  So that is really cool.  And if you don’t experience that on a day to day level, that is a really nice feeling to have.  I think so many times in our work life, we work kind of in solo environments sometimes. So to have that team push and real camaraderie, is really cool and very fun.  I think everyone should try to experience it.  It’s only nine weeks!  Ha, Ha!  Like me, if you don’t feel like it, you can back out at the last minute!

BREAKTHROUGH: Ha, Ha! By the time you get to that point, you won’t want to!  I always wake up that morning of the TSC, or a powerlifting meet or whatever I’m doing, and my stomach is kind of going, oh no! Why did you do this? I get nervous. But I always know that when I show up, I am going to want to be there.

THERESA:  You know, I didn’t think I was nervous until I showed up and I was 15 minutes early. I was on the phone with my boyfriend as I was driving over and he said, “So I guess you are kind of excited.”  Oh! I guess I am!

BREAKTHROUGH: So the excitement kicked in at the last minute?

THERESA:  It did! It was really a fun group of people. Everybody sort of came together. It was really a nice feeling. There was no judgement. It was strictly a judgment free zone. Which was really cool!

BREAKTHROUGH: Good!  That is how it should be. You should get the opportunity to challenge yourself but in a supported way where everyone genuinely cheers you on.

THERESA:  It was nice to genuinely cheer on people and see them hit their goal.  You and I talked about Donna and how it was so nice to see her get the bar up.  She was so happy and I was so happy for her, as was everybody else.  I remember when I was lifting, I could hear everyone. I was like, okay I can do this. And then – boom! The bar went up!  But it was that cheering. Everything else just faded away and I could hear everybody.  Go, GO, GO!

BREAKTHROUGH: It makes a big difference!

THERESA:  It does. And you know, I think it is important, as people transition into what I call the “third act.”  I see how if you are not strong, that really takes a toll later on.

BREAKTHROUGH: Yes! That is another reason why we got into coaching 10 years ago.  We saw people aging in a less than ideal way and we thought, we can’t have this.

THERESA:  I want to be strong into my “third act.”  I want to be able to carry myself and able to put my own luggage in the overhead bin or whatever the case may be.  It is really more, for me, about day to day strength.  The 215 is fun and that is a fun goal to have.  But ultimately, I want to be able to carry my own bags and get my own groceries and all those things we do day to day.

BREAKTHROUGH: Exactly! Yes, it’s great to see yourself do things in the gym, but you have this whole other life that happens for the 23 hours a day you are not in here. That is much more important than this stuff. This stuff should support you to go out and do that.

THERESA:  And I am very enthusiastic when I see some of the clientele here that is beyond my age… well into their third act!  And they are doing very well!


THERESA:  You like that I call it the “third act”, don’t you?

BREAKTHROUGH: I do! It’s awesome… and you’re awesome! Thanks so much Theresa!

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