So, before I start doing some posts I think we need an introduction of who the person behind the screen is. I’ll start where the sight towards active training took a remarkable turn in my life. Hello to all old readers, hope you’re okay with me writing in english and hello to all new readers, I hope you find some inspiration towards your personal goals through my texts.
In 2012 I was 22 years old and decided to change up some bad habits by hiring a personal trainer from my local gym. I had gained some weight, I smoked cigarrettes and spent my weekends having fun and drinking quite a lot of booze. I was mostly unsatisfied with how I looked in tight clothes and wanted to change that. For a couple of years I unfortunately had already experienced with wreckless diets like fasting, “cleanses”, soup-diets, low calorie diets and so on. Surprise, surprise – I always gained the weight back and was unhappy with my looks. It wasn’t a healthy relationship with my body. Little did I know that my new personal trainer, Antti, would change my life. So, he helped me transform my body through some intensive workouts combined with strength training. The method was called something weird as CrossFit, which he knew a lot about and I knew nothing. It didn’t matter though, I just wanted to get fit anyhow! And I did, I got fitter than I would ever guess… Antti introduced to me all the basics about training in general. He was the best at what he did and a very intense and focused coach. He got the best out of me and was supportive of everything I did. I also started my blog, Steffit, around this time. It was (is) written in Finnish, and you can find all the 957 published posts by taking a week off work and start scrolling down.
In 2013 I had trained with Antti for a year. We trained 1-2 times a week and prior to that, I did some jogging and yoga. I trained for a max of 4h for the first year of this new fitness lifestyle. I partied more closer to once every 2-3 weeks and gave slowly up the smoking too. I got skinnier and leaner. I weighed over 75kg when we started and I lost almost 10kg of weight. I was really happy with my looks but after a while I did not like the muscular body I got. That changed quite fast though and now I love my muscles (and don’t mind if I get more!). Antti suggested that I should try out a CrossFit competition called Karjalan Kovin. I did and it was quite fun. I was nervous but I liked the fact that we could plan some cool outfits with my cousin and that I got some nice action pics by my sister. As you can see, priorities were not to be an athlete or win at this time. That winning mindset and fierce dedication was something I admired, though. I think I came 23rd. There was no qualification for this competition. Shortly after this, my PT Antti told me to find myself a CrossFit gym to get more specific training into my schedule and I was very happy to be contacted by Ben Liuzzi from CrossFit Central Helsinki.
For the whole year of 2014 I trained with Ben having a lot of faith in me. It was extremely motivating and I had not felt special like that in a long time. My results pretty much sky-rocketed during Ben’s watchful eye. What I know now is that I didn’t know much about what the athlete life was really about. I liked it, but I don’t have really any competitive background so I wasn’t used to this. I trained five times a week, around 6h in total. I found a sport I was good at, but being good at something isn’t enough. That’s why everything backfired. Things happened too fast – I competed too many times (Winter War 2014, CrossFit Open 2014, Box Battle 2014, Karjalan Kovin 2014 (where I took 8th)) and then I was exhausted. Too much stress on the body and mind compared to what I was used too. I didn’t enjoy competing even though that was my biggest motivation to train. I also had major difficulties in my personal life. I decided I wanted to quit this sport, even though my physical condition was the best it had ever been. So I left Ben and CFCH and started training at another box, called CrossFit Herttoniemi, for 1,5 years. No pressure, no expectations from myself or anybody else. Just mostly regular sessions with others and friends.
For 2015 I just trained a couple of times a week. No big competitions. I figured out quite quickly that my basic conditioning (low heart rate zone) sucked, so I decided to do mostly that kind of training. Long sessions of training that didn’t feel tough. I ended up doing them 3-4 times a week at one point. Weightlifting became an interesting part of my journey here too. Weightlifting is a part of CrossFit and it’s important to master that skill, just like it’s important to master gymnastic skills, running, swimming etc. I went to Anni Vuohijoki’s course, who is nowadays an olympian and more importantly, someone I can call my friend. She is also in a way a mentor to me and I look up to her a lot. My hunger also started to slowly become bigger. Hunger for victory, finding my inner strenght and becoming really good. It all started to become personal. Since Antti and Ben had dug out my abilites of being a successful athlete, did I believe in my abilities, too. I thought to myself that if I came 8th in a big competition in Finland without even enjoying it, I could become really, really good when I fix the missing pieces. That was a big motivator. What also motivated me to go back to living like an athtlete was thinking how bitter I would be when I’m older if I don’t figure out how far I can go now. It was time for action.
In December 2015 I was already doing the qualifications for Winter War 2016. I was sure I was gonna get there. I have, after all, always been quite confident. Even when there’s things I can’t accomplish, I believe in myself. It’s almost a bit vain, but I believe it has been and will be my biggest strenght. Well, I didn’t qualify for the competition. I was actually something like 54th in the qualification and 32 made it. OOOPS. Not even close. I thought to myself – fuck, these girls in Finland have actually become really good! I really need to get to work if I ever wanna be close to that level. So I had two choices – to get to some serious work by prioritizing training or to let this one pass and focus on something else. I’m sure you can guess which one I chose…
I chose to put in some work in 2016. I changed a lot of things and during this time, I started to become an athlete. I got a specific program from The Training Plan, a very good and motivated training partner, Valtteri, keys to the box so I could train whenever I wanted to and so on. I trained around 15h a week, twice a day on most days and put a lot of time in recovery work. I focused on my sleep, I read a lot of books, listened to a lot of podcast and did many things that would make me a better athlete. What was missing though, was a coach. A dedicated coach who is there to help when needed and who knows me well. A coach, who would see when rest is needed and schedule in some easier phases etc. TTP was a good program, but not specified for anyone. As a side hobby, I competed in the Finnish Weightlifting Championships and came 4th in my weight class. I did the qualifications for Karjalan Kovin 2016 and got in. I came 11th, which was a really good result. We also competed in a team competition with a box I coached at, CrossFit Basement. I attended other seminars and one that stood out was the Weightlifting 101 -seminar with coach Erik Lau Kelner. I have never in my life met another person who is as dedicated to anything as he is to weightlifting. It’s almost like an obsession to him and that’s what makes him one of the best in the world. He also has an interesting style, which a lot of people can’t stand. It is a cruel, punishment kind of training method where you’re almost so scared of failing that it makes you stand on your tiptoes when he coaches. It suited very well with me at that time and I did a lot of progress. I wanted straight, honest talk and I got it. Within a year I attended six intensive four-day seminars around Europe.
In 2017 I got my revenge and competed in Winter War 2017 after not qualifying the year before. I was a different athlete. Just better all around. What hadn’t changed though, and what has not yet changed as well as it will, is enjoying the competition. I have a lot to work on the mental side. I came 12th and did some stupid mistakes in the competition. I competed for the second time in the Finnish Weightlifting Championships and came 4th again. It was alright, but my heart was not fully in pure weightlifting so I decided to drop the competing there and focus only on CrossFit. I competed in Karjalan Kovin 2017 and did my best performance in anything so far, I came 4th. I had solid performances in all 8 events. During this year, I changed to The Progrm and continued training with a lot of volume. I knew the coaches who planned The Progrm and this way I could get more specific help. It still felt like too much volume and not specific rest periods, deload weeks, etc. so I knew I had to change things. Guess who’s back in the game…?
Now I’m 27 years old and the man who got it all started in 2012, Antti, is my coach again. We are about to build something pretty amazing. We’re redifining some of the missing pieces that will make me a better athlete. I will take a wider look at everything by bringing my head up from the mud of intensive and solitary 2-year training and do some changes I can see are very necessary. In addition to Antti, I have some other experts helping me out as well.
I have big dreams, I have a dedication that I believe is extremely rare and I finally have the support I need. I believe that the best is yet to come and that I have only been able to show very little of what I can actually accomplish as an athlete.
So, that’s my story that I wanted to share! I’m now thinking about doing some blog posts about how you guys can make progress in your fitness journey, or any journey in your life that needs focus. I’ve done a lot of mistakes during these years but they need to be learned from and then shared to others. I want to help other people feel good about themselves.
Facebook page: Steffit
Pictures: Mikko Pekkarinen, Sandra Hagelstam, Karjalan Kovin media, Winter War media.