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Avril Allshire-Howe, from Couch to CrossFit

I would like to thank Avril for taking the time to write this detailed and honest description of her background and what finally pushed her in the door with us at Guerilla and the progress she has made since joining.

Exercise history?

I’ve spent so many years in denial that it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. I do remember being sick more often than well at times; progressing into my teens I was no amateur when it came to standing on the sideline in school even though games were mandatory (for everyone else). I saw my sisters play hockey – one is a founder member of the Bandon Junior Club & a club in Scotland; another is a former international hockey umpire; one of my siblings earned county & provincial medals for running cross-country & track; I loved going to point to points & anything like that but I stood on the sidelines. I even enjoyed watching rugby in pouring rain and did my best, but failed, to understand cricket during the summer. Our Mum played table tennis at provincial level & Dad competed in cycling & point to pointing prior to marrying. By all accounts, that would suggest we were a sporting family. 17522906 1466048660092723 7425420035194313651 n

Ready for change !

Yes, I had & have health issues. I’ve never forgotten my poor Dad facing his unwell eldest daughter yet again and saying, ‘if you were a horse, you’d have been put down years ago!‘ No argument – he was right. I honestly never dreamed that I could take up and progress at any sort of exercise, but watching William & Maurice after they had joined Guerilla Fitness, the local Crossfit club, I began to feel a small bit jealous. Jealous of their energy, their enthusiasm & most of all their obvious fitness. Add in a number of remarks from them concerning my truly unfit state & addiction to anything containing sugar and you see where I’m going. Eventually I ran out of excuses and decided to challenge the coaches – could they work with me! Even at this stage, I was confident of a ‘get out’ excuse while saving face and continuing on my merry way! Brendan & Hillary were up for the challenge & have worked with me. They challenge me to try & keep on trying. How they must have despaired at times in the last six months: ‘everyone run 400m; Avril 200m’ only to see Avril run about 50 and walk the rest, huffing & puffing. That’s probably the biggest problem now – I run out of ‘puff’.


  • So what have I achieved? Improved self-esteem has to be number.
  • My mobility and flexibility has improved by leaps and bounds (remember the very low starting point) meaning that I feel good so my head is up & I get on with doing.
  • I guess number 2 would be that my sons while not giving me an inch are proud of me – at least some of the time. In Guerilla, there’s a schedule but it’s tailored to the individual; celebrating a personal birthday is done by cycling your age in calories as well as doing the class; and the gym’s birthday is a day long series of challenges.

A friend, Louise, was watching me doing 100 squats at the birthday WOD, and the lads were there on the sidelines encouraging me to complete. Louise told me it brought tears to her eyes to see them.

  • Number 3 has to be the compliments I’ve been getting. All I’m doing is moving better and with purpose.

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Like minded ordinary people pushing each other to be BETTER aka COMMUNITY !!

Finally since I’ve joined the gym, I’ve met a whole community of people with varying fitness levels. What we all have in common is the determination to try. We encourage each other to try to achieve more than we think we can. Invariably we do! I’m actually looking forward to the next six months. My only regrets are that I didn’t start years ago and that a photo wasn’t taken of me the day I started – just to see my progress. Finally, the weighing scales was never my friend & now I don’t bother looking at it; it’s not my weight, but my fitness to live life to the full that’s more important.

people working out in a group fitness class


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