Eighty-Two Year-Old Amputee Cate Gutmann Finds New Strength Through CrossFit: “I don’t feel handicapped”
Twice a week, 82-year-old Cate Gutmann either hitches a ride from a friend or calls an Uber to take her to CrossFit Local in Chapel Hill, NC. There, she meets affiliate owner and personal trainer Chad Edwards for a personalized workout.
The two have been working together for a few years now, since Gutmann became frustrated with her situation and lack of mobility. Since she lost her leg in 2015–including an above-the-knee amputation–moving around her house and doing tasks had become increasingly difficult. Her care team referred her to Edwards, and she says that while she was hesitant at first, it’s been a great decision for her long term.
- “It’s improved my feelings of well-being, and that’s incredibly important,” Gutmann said. “To be able to move around the house and do things around the house, I live alone so it’s nice having a feeling of well-being, being able to do these things.”
Edwards has also found a great deal of fulfillment from their partnership. Though he owns and operates his affiliate with his wife and that keeps his hands and mind busy, he says that challenges like Gutmann’s make coaching feel “fresh” again. Her programming focuses on strength and mobility. Aside from her amputation, Gutmann has also had both shoulders replaced.
With things like this in mind, Edwards has her focus on directly applicable movements, like being able to stand up from her bed or chair and move to her wheelchair. They’ve seen great improvements, and Gutmann says it feels so good to just stand up sometimes, something she couldn’t do before.
With her increased mobility, Gutmann wishes the opportunities she’s received could be forwarded to other older people. While doctors frequently stress the importance of strength in old age, the barrier to entry can be difficult to overcome.
- “If you have poor muscle strength, you can’t do much of anything and they’ve been emphasizing that a lot with older people,” Gutmann said. “ I feel very blessed that I can go to CrossFit and do these things and really feel good about myself.”
Recently, Edwards has worked with Gutmann to complete scaled versions of the Open workouts. This has been monumental for him, he says, because it helps connect her to the larger community, even though she only sees CrossFit through a one-on-one perspective.
- “Our gym has been open for 13 years, and I’ve done all the Opens, so I’ve seen the magic of the community, Friday Night Lights and the atmosphere, and how fun and exciting it is,” Edwards said. “I would just hate to think that someone wouldn’t be able to experience that.”
Gutmann attributes her success entirely to Edwards, and says that the pair are “in sync.” In addition, Edwards says that their partnership has been dependent on patience and trust. And while she admits that sometimes it’s still difficult to motivate herself to get through a tough WOD sometimes (we’ve all been there) she’s grateful for her experience.
Gutmann: “I don’t feel handicapped, and that’s really great.”