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40-year-old woman finds new life in CrossFit

FARGO -- A mother of two, Stephanie Cherrstrom has always been active, but a few years ago, she felt she had reached a plateau with her fitness.

"It got to the point that I needed to do something different," she said.

That's when she decided to try CrossFit after seeing a flyer at her daughter's gymnastics studio about four years ago.

"I kind of reached the plateau if you will," said Cherrstrom, who is from Moorhead, Minn., and now lives near Tokyo.

Cherrstrom got hooked on CrossFit workouts due to their simplicity.

"It's a really bare bones type of feel," said Cherrstrom, who is a CrossFit coach on a U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, Japan. "We don't have machines or anything like that. ... Loud music, barbells, pull-up bars and that's about it."

Cherrstrom, 40, recently placed 21st in the women's individual division at the Asia Regional. She didn't qualify for regionals when she was involved with CrossFit in Virginia.

"The caliber of athletes is not quite as high in Asia as it is in the States," said Cherrstrom, who has been a CrossFit coach for about three years.

Cherrstrom said the CrossFit is relatively new to Asia. According to the CrossFit website, there are seven affiliated gyms in Japan.

Cherrstrom has enjoyed watching CrossFit grow in Yokosuka, which is about an hour south of Tokyo.

"When I started, there were maybe one or two people who have even heard of CrossFit," said Cherrstrom, who ranked first in the masters women division (ages 40-44) in Asia. "Now I have 70 people that I coach."

Cherrstrom still has some family ties to the area. Her mother, Teresa Tilock, owns Sammy's Pizza in downtown Fargo. Cherrstrom also has grandparents who live in Sheldon.

Tilock said her daughter has taken her fitness to a new level since she started doing CrossFit.

"She found something that she really loved and turned it into a business," Tilock said. "And I'm very proud of her."

Cherrstrom has run a marathon and competed in a half ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bicycle ride and 13.1 mile run) while doing CrossFit. She said in each instance, she didn't do any additional training beyond her CrossFit workouts to prepare.

"After four years I'd say, it's not really what I do, it's kind of who I am," Cherrstrom said. "It's kind of become its own separate entity. I have no intentions of stopping."