“I Want to Shimmy Down an Airplane Aisle”

October 31, 2018 by
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The story.

Mike Crespo usually keeps the front door open all day at CrossFit Novato, where he coaches. But on one particular July day in Novato, he had a lot of work to do and wanted some silence to do it in. So he closed the door and got to work.

But then there was a knock at the door. One person stopped by; two people stopped by. Mike gave up and opened the doors.

And in wheels 73-year-old Rebecca Suggs.


Suggs has been wheelchair bound for twenty years. She loved to run and to travel, but one day she woke up and couldn’t feel her legs. Her initial diagnosis was Gillian-Barre Syndrome, which she beat. However, it has resurfaced now as Multiple Sclerosis.

Mike had been coaching Rebecca’s 14-year-old grandson, Greyson, for 14 months when she finally caved and decided she would listen to her grandson and try CrossFit.

Mike sat down with Rebecca for an intake meeting and asked her what her goals are.

“I want to shimmy down an airplane aisle again,” she told him.

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She sounds awesome already.

Crespo knew that to get to shimmying, they’d have to get to walking first. And to even get to walking they’d have to cover standing. He told her, “I don’t know if I can help you. But I am willing to try if you are.”

She agreed instantly. “Okay. Let’s try it.”

Twice a week every week since that day in July, Rebecca has shown up and done the work. Together, the two started with leg extensions. Then they moved to standing up, using the GHD handles as leverage. From there, they stood up and did alternating hand taps, using only one hand to support her body at a time.

Now, she can do rope stand-ups, using her arms to pull her weight up a rope, standing on her own while stabilizing on the rope.

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That’s legit.

After years of even sleeping sitting up and spending days in her chair, Rebecca can now open her hips to full extension when she does modified sit-ups with a 20-inch box.

“Rebecca is doing all kinds of things she’s never done before,” Crespo said. “Everything I throw at her, she’s into it.”

When she first started at CrossFit Novato, ten seconds on the Airdyne left her winded. Last Friday, Rebecca made it to 1:42 on an Airdyne.

They’ve covered standing. They’re working on walking.

We’re rooting for shimmying.

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