Samantha Thaxton: From Fear of the Gym and Secret Bedroom WODs, to Full-Time Coach

March 23, 2021 by
Courtesy of Samantha Thaxton
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Samantha Thaxton honestly didn’t know the gym was a place she could go to improve her health. 

  • “I thought that people who went to gyms were just born like that. Like, they’re athletes, so that’s why they go to the gym. Seriously, I didn’t realize you go to the gym to get healthier,” said 28-year-old Thaxton, laughing at the memory. 

Thaxton’s background: Now a full-time coach at CrossFit Novato in California, Thaxton grew up in a “dysfunctional family” that included a certain amount of abuse. 

  • “I just didn’t have any role models in my life who took health seriously,” she explained. As a result, by the time she was 21, the 5-foot-7 Thaxton weighed more than 300 pounds, although she isn’t sure the exact number because she avoided the scale.
  • Back then, Thaxton experienced daily anxiety attacks and was “so self-conscious and didn’t know how to handle stress,” she said.
  • One day in 2013, while nothing significant happened to trigger her, Thaxton had an epiphany. “It was literally like a switch went on. I just realized that if I keep waiting to change, nothing is going to happen,” she said. 
Courtesy of Samantha Thaxton

What happened next: Thaxton began researching all things health, fitness and nutrition and stumbled across CrossFit, and eventually CrossFit’s Beauty in Strength video. Her perspective immediately changed.

  • “That video is what changed my life. I thought I wanted to lose weight to be happy, but that’s not what CrossFit is. It (eventually) helped accomplish that, but more than anything I saw how cool it was to be strong,” said Thaxton, who today is down 12 pant sizes and has lost more than 100 pounds since 2013.
  • Too scared to go into an actual affiliate, Thaxton began teaching herself how to do the classic CrossFit movements in her bedroom, where she trained in secret for the next two years. Little by little, she began accumulating more and more equipment, and then her house burned down. 
  • “My dumbbell survived the fire, and when I moved, I moved into a house with a garage, and instead of replacing my clothes (that burned in the fire), I bought a barbell, a squat rack, eventually a pull-up bar, and a really cheap rower and bike,” said Thaxton, who trained in her garage for another two years. 
  • Thaxton had had her eyes on the CrossFit Level 1 certificate course for a while, and finally pulled the trigger in 2018 after meeting CrossFit Games athlete Margaux Alvarez, who convinced her to register. “I signed up for my Level 1 before I even went to a gym,” she said. And then finally, in 2018, Thaxton did her first CrossFit class at Konocti CrossFit in Kelseyville, CA.
  • Shortly after, Thaxton started coaching at Konocti CrossFit, but moved to Novato, CA in January 2020 and is now a full-time coach and nutrition coach at CrossFit Novato. Her next step is to finish up her college degree and then pursue her PhD in nutrition.
Courtesy of Samantha Thaxton

Thaxton’s message: It’s possible to change your life. 

  • “But you have to do it for the long run. Don’t worry about right now, do it for your future self. And don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she offered. 
  • Thaxton added: “I didn’t know anything about fitness or nutrition, so it’s really funny to think about me doing this eight years later…I’m a different person now. How I look at myself is completely different, and even how I feel about the world is completely different.”

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