Thank you for checking out the Community Conversation, brought to you by Prototype Training Systems, home of CrossFit Prototype! The Community Conversation highlights a different member of the Prototype Community each week and allows them to tell their story, share their life experience, and communicate their perspective on all things fitness.

We’ve all listened to podcasts and watched YouTube videos that highlight some of the world’s greatest leaders and visionaries. We believe we have some AMAZING people at Prototype and we want you to get to know them! (Check out our last episode here)

This is our 80th episode of The Community Conversation, and today we have one of our favorite 5am members, Stephanie Nephew on! In this episode, she talks with coach Mike about her history with endurance training… from ultra trail runs, to rowing at the collegiate level to even ice climbing in the French Alpes… tons of great stuff here. More importantly, how fitness has been such a big part of her life and her families lives.

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All right everyone. Welcome back to the community Conversation today. I have Stephanie Nephew on our show today. Stephanie is a, a. Five Amer, uh, she crushes it. She’s been coming to prototype since I think February-ish, 2021 right before the pandemic, which is something I definitely wanna talk about a little bit.

Yeah. But, uh, super excited to have her on today. Uh, just love having her in a class. She’s just awesome. She also introduced me to her sister. Um, who is the founder of the TMI Project, which is one of the organizations that I’ve given, uh, money to through the social capitalists. So just tons of cool stuff here, and I’m just like, super excited to have Stephanie on today.

Steph, thanks for, uh, for being on the community conversation. Thank you for inviting me. Totally. So let, let’s just kick it off because, um, like I said, you started coming to prototype in like February, 2021, and then basically like a month later, We went into shutdown mode, right? Like the whole world basically did, but you continue to like, stick with it and like, like be with us.

So anyway, like why don’t we just kind of start there. How did you find prototype and like, kind of walk us through your, your journey so far. Yeah, I think I had one class prior to the shutdown, um, one group class. Um, so I will say it was a little tricky to stay with it cuz I was, when joining Zoom called, I had no idea what I was doing, but, um, , I, I felt like it was worth, um, worth continuing.

So it was good. Mm-hmm. , um, Yeah, I, you know, I, we moved to Westboro about, I don’t know, six years ago. Um, and when I. Moved here. Uh, prior to I’d been doing a lot of triathlons, um, and I was sort of, uh, you know, ready to try something different, something new, which was why I was, um, interested in trying CrossFit.

Mm-hmm. . And what are you moved from? Where, where, where were you guys living before? We were in Mansfield, uh, Mass. That’s right, right next to my old stopping grounds. I grew up in, at. Yeah, that’s right. And uh, and, and then so you, you only did one class, which is like crazy because like it does take a few classes to kind of get into the, into the swing of things.

Sure. So what was it, what was it like kind of being on the virtual side and then I know we did, like, you think you did something individual programming and like workouts and, and stuff like that. So like, what was that Just experience like, just kind of, and then like being able to get back into person, like eventually like, and kind of get in person with like the community.

Start building those relationships. Cuz like one of the, I dunno, it was one of the things a lot of people talk about is like the community side of it. So you actually took like a virtual side and then got into like the in-person side. Yeah, and I think I was, um, I was looking for a community, so it was a little bit unfortunate, you know, to have the lockdown.

Um, I think the Zoom sessions were challenging, partly because I just wasn’t sort of familiar with, um, some of the movements and also the people. Um, so I did end up doing independent, like personal sort of independent work, which was great. You kind of reached out, noticed I hadn’t been doing some of the zooms, and we kind of came up with a different plan and then I was super psyched once we were able.

Work out outside. Um, and working out is really like, it keeps me mentally stable. So especially during that time, I knew it was super important to continue exercising. So, Totally. Give us some background too, like, um, like I know you mentioned you were doing triathlons before, like what was your training like, like before getting into CrossFit and like kind of the, the group classes?

So I kind of went from, um, you know, I had, I had started exercising, you know, as early as I guess, you know, high school, um, really into running distance running. Had some really great coaches both in high school and college. Um, and just like I liked to be outdoors, so spent a lot of time trail running and hiking.

Um, and. Through graduate school, you know, thirties. I was doing a lot of trail races. You know, 10 to 20 mile sort of distances was sort of what I was sort of doing mostly. And just enjoyed like the trail running. There’s a great New England trail running community, lots of races and different opportunities and so I was doing that.

Um, but my hips don’t really like to do a lot of running and so I was constantly just trying to manage like injury control and it was as. Got older, it continued to get more challenging and so. I switched to triathlons, partly just to, um, give my my body a break from running all the time. Mm-hmm. , Um, I had never swam before and so I had to figure that out.

Um, I’d had this race that I really wanted to do. It’s called the Survival of the Schwan Gunks. Um, and it’s in New Pulse, New York, the town where I grew up, and it’s just this crazy, um, triathlon where you, you bike first 30. And then you do a series of lake swims and between the lake swims do trail run. So it ends up being like two and a half miles of swimming and 18 miles of trail running and you have to swim with your shoes and all your stuff because you’re like in the middle of the woods.

And, and so it was something that I had watched people do all growing up and it was something I really wanted to like have on my list of accomplishments. So, For like five years, I focused on like, figuring out how to be able to swim two and a half miles. Um, so that kept me busy for a while. That’s awesome.

What a cool race. I mean, most triathlons, it’s like you’re, you’re starting with the, the swim, right? And then you’re getting into. The bike and then you’re finishing with the run. Right? And then so like I can see how that, if you’re doing triathlons over and over and that’s like the format, I know the terrain changes, but like, what an interesting thing, like you start with a bike, you go into the lake, you swim up a little bit, then find a trail run, jump in.

You have to stay with the soggy shoes the entire time. I’m sure. Is it like in the middle of the summer or is this like cold? Like I can imagine that being miserable. Like if you’re in your, It’s those. Where, Um, yeah, it’s in September and it’s, um, it depends, like the year we did it, the one lake was really pretty cold, so there were a number of people that ended up, uh, not making it cuz they just got too cold.

Um, um, but yeah, I mean, it, it ends up being, there’s a lot of, like, the transition from one exercise to another can be challenging on your, on your legs. Yeah. And so just the idea that you. Swim, run, swim, run, swim, run is . It’s just like a different challenge. But it was, it was awesome. It was probably one of my best, like one of my, um, most memorable experiences, like doing something physical was, it was great.

So that’s cool. Any plans on doing it again, or, or are we, do we, do we, uh, you know, hang up the. Laces or whatever. What’s I know the saying is, but yeah, no, I, I mean, I don’t know if I would do that race again. Um, it’s one of those things that I just sort of like to take on a, a new challenge and maybe do it, but, um, I haven’t been, um, I haven’t had any sort of triathlon desires recently, so we’ll see who, So like, you’re, you’re so the background, it’s endurance, right?

So triathlons, trail running, didn’t you row? I did row in college. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So, um, I, I remember when we, when, um, I think we sat down for your, like no sweat intro session. This was like over year and a half ago. We were talking about that a little bit. Like maybe give us some kind of the background on that.

Like where’d you go to school? Like, how’d you get into rowing? Like, cuz this, it’s kind of a cool transition of like how you’ve gone, you dipped your toes into basically every endurance like element, which is really neat. . Um, so maybe kind of share us, share a little bit about that. Yeah. I went to Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York.

Um, I had never rode before. Um, it was a, you know, it’s a division three school and it was, you know, I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to go there because we had an amazing, um, coach Jim Joy. He had been the former Canadian Olympic coach and, um, he. Take sort of just like these scrappy crews and make them, um, really, really strong.

Like we were the first division three school to be invited Division one championships. That’s cool. So, um, we like ended up having a really successful couple years. So, um, and he was also just a unique coach. We did meditation every day. We did visualizations like he had, um, and you know, A lot of years now ago when it wasn’t so, uh, popular.

Um, so it was just cool. We had a really great, I had a really great experience, um, rowing. That’s awesome. First division three program to compete in division one. That sounds pretty like, That’s awesome. That’s amazing. So the hobar, my, my, uh, my, uh, Father-in-law went to Hobart as well. Oh, okay. Just throwing that, just throwing that out there.

I dunno if you met John, but, um, it sounds like the coach is way, way ahead of his time in terms of thinking. Oh yeah, the mental side versus just the physical side, which is just, is really cool. Cause like you said, now that’s like such a, it’s more common that like the, especially on the visualization like side of it, like the, the, I don’t know of a lot of people that are listening know kind of like that training for ro for crew and rowing, but.

That’s like pretty intense, like early morning double sessions, like you’re, you know, how to push yourself, like pretty hard. Like any, any of those workouts, anything that comes to mind that like maybe like is in the back of your head, like, oh my God. Like that was the hardest work I’ve ever done. Like, any of those, like things sticking out.

I mean, some of it was just the, in, like the quantity of workouts we worked out, um, usually 11 practices a week. Um, we had 5:00 AM practice. It was five days a week, um, and almost every day was doubles. Um, so it’s just like the quantity was a lot, but we did have these, like, which is sometimes I get like, I think I get p PTSD when I get on the U now , because we’d have these 20 minute U tests where sort of what we would do and um, you know, how what your distance could be in 20 minutes was sort of like a big, um, benchmark.

Like what, you know, so, and people just. On a regular basis would be like vomiting afterwards. Like it just was gross. It was really hard. just thrown up, getting back on, getting after it. Like, Yeah, I can just, I can picture that in my head. So now I know where the habit of working at, at 5:00 AM uh, came from that seems just, has stuck, has stuck with you for, for quite a bit.

Um, 20 minute max distance on the, the rower. I might. Mention that to John who might have to program that. I know we just did the phone. Oh God. Please don’t . I know we just did a 500 meter test, but this is a little bit more on the, uh, endurance side. This might we’ll call it the, the Stephanie. No, let’s do 20 minutes.

I will definitely not be attending . All right. We know which one you’re sharing, picking. Um, well, one thing I’m curious about, because you had such like a, An endurance background with all these sorts of things. Now you’re starting to like get into like strength training, right? Like, I mean, CrossFit kind of combines elements of strength and conditioning.

Like what’s been that transition like, and like what, you know, is it stuff, do you like that more? Do you not like it? Like I’m curious like what your perspective is. I think at the beginning it just felt so uncomfortable. Mm-hmm. , um, like, it didn’t feel like, I feel like for endurance, um, exercising you feel like really in control in a way, whereas, um, some of the intensity is so high that it, like, it’s.

It just feels different. Mm-hmm. . Um, so I think it took some time getting used to, but um, I feel like as I get older, like I can see how important the strength training is, um, just to keep like muscle mass and, um, I just feel like, um, just sort of listening to my body, it’s felt like it’s been really important to make the shift.

That’s cool. That’s cool. Yeah. I’m always curious like, There’s folks that do CrossFit cuz they don’t wanna run and they don’t like the endurance stuff, but they know that it’s important to kind of mix it in. And then there’s like the flip side with like the folks that come from on the endurance side and they know they need the strength side.

So I’m always curious kind of like, uh, on the, um, on the perspective, one thing you mentioned is like, kind of take on new challenges. I’m curious like, you know, what your current like goals are, fitness goals or like what are the things that you’re, you look forward to or what are the things on like maybe a bucket list or anything?

I feel like most recently the shift has been to like, um, take on some big, um, like hiking challenges. Um, so less of like competition and just more being able to do things. You know, I, my family, we spend a lot of time in the White Mountains and different like hikes and so. Being able to do some of that and maybe pushing to do some bigger hikes.

Um, I don’t know, it might have been a year or two ago, we did the presidential traverse in a day and that was really fun. Um, so I think it’s, it’s kind of those types of things now. And it’s cool cuz um, I can do them with Gavin and Aiden and, you know, it’s like, it’s a good family activity, which is nice.

Two things, one, so I did that. I did the Prezi in, in one day as well, uh, with a few guys from. The gym. I’m trying to remember when that was. It was when I had the mustache, so had to have been 2020. Um, the, the Covid stash, that was no joke. The weather is like, it’s like the, the, But like, I mean, you never know what you’re gonna get for weather, right?

Um, the, I mean, you gotta get there so early, like the rocks are so slick, like climbing up there, I forget which one it might have been. Whatever the second one was that we climbed up, like we were going down, it was just all rocks. And I was like, I was certain that I was gonna like break my ankle, but like, and then like knowing what you have to wear and like bringing food and not bringing too much.

Cuz the more stuff you have, the heavier it is and the more it’s like, yeah. Anyway, so I totally respect that. That’s so cool that you guys did that in one day. That was, I did it. It was so hard. Um, I think I slept for like 12 or 15 straight hours after. Doing, Cause it’s like 20, It’s like 20 miles. Like 20 miles.

But a lot of elevation. Yeah, totally. Totally. Like a lot of technical climbing. So my husband is, that’s like his thing is like ultra running. So like he at one point had the fastest known time for the presidential traverse in four and a half hours. Wow. So, Hmm. Yeah, so now that you mentioned that the group that we went with, like there was two groups.

One was, um, our friend Jesse, him and his buddies from Vermont. Um, so Jesse used to live here and then he moved, He’s a physical therapist. He used to be one of our coaches, uh, awesome guy, and then a few guys from the gym. And then we met up and the guys that he brought, all they had was a fanny. For like the day and like they were running this, like, they were like, All right, ready?

3, 2, 1, let’s go. And it’s like four 30 in the morning. We’re going up whatever, Monroe for whatever the first one is. I can’t remember. Yeah, I know. I don’t, I would never remember all the, And they’re just go and they just, they’re just going. And we’re like, Whoa, we did not sign up to run this thing. Um, and so needless to say that, like, it’s funny cuz as you go through the trails, you see people running it and it’s like they’re, they’re moving.

So four and a half hours, that is un unbeliev. Four and a half hours. The day, the day that I did it, I did it with Gavin and a couple other friends. Um, Ben did it out and back. Wow, that’s in Incre. . I gotta meet your husband. Like, oh, shake his hand. That’s like, so impressive. That’s awesome. So it’s funny when you say like, I’m an endurance runner.

I don’t, or endurance person. I actually, half the time I never really think of it that way because he does like double the distance . Well that’s a, that’s another category. That’s the, that’s a whole nother nother category. Oh, it’s cool cuz you mentioned, um, you know, Gavin and Aiden and like your kids have been able to come in here and like work out and like do some of the kid stuff that we.

Uh, one of the things that always like puts a smile on my face when you see like families working out together or at least like being able to share that. Like, what’s that, that kind of experience been like, or kind of getting them into kind of like the fitness at such a young age and being able to share that with them.

Yeah. I mean, that’s always been super important to us. Like, um, I mean, they’ve been out on hikes and trails since they were little. Um, neither one of my children are, are into sort of traditional sports, I guess if you


So it’s really nice to share the interest of each, have something that we can chat with him about you. You broke up for like, like maybe 15 seconds. I think it was like an internet thing. I don’t know if you can hear me still stuff, but like I caught like the tail, the tail end of it. If you saw that. I don’t know if you can repeat just what you were saying, but I know what you started to say was like, how it’s so important your kids are not into kind of the traditional, traditional sports, but like, you know, they’re, they’re into like the hiking trail run, that sort of thing.

Um, for into mountain biking. That’s right. It’s still, it feels like it’s still like shopping. Oh. Um, I was saying that it’s, it’s fun to be able to talk to him about CrossFit because, um, most of the time he’s talking to my husband about biking and I have no interest in biking. So , it’s kind of nice that we’ve got this thing that we can connect about as well.

So, so cool. I love it. It’s so cool. It’s so cool. I am a firm believer that like getting kids into like exercise and build a good relationship with that earlier on, that stuff will stick. Just like working out at 5:00 AM in college for rowing workouts will get you working out at five in the morning, you know, when you, when you’re, when you’re outta school.

So building those good habits is so important. Um, yeah, so, so what I wanna get into next is our, our, uh, little finale here. Our, our our two true ini. Um, for those folks that are listening, this is like, A staple of these, of these community conversations. But essentially, um, Steph’s going to make, so three statements.

Two, two are true. One’s a lie. I gotta pick which one’s the lie. Um, I have, I’ve stopped keeping track of my record at this point cuz it’s so bad. But, um, Okay. I tend to stink at it. Now with that being said, I’m confident I’m, I’m gonna try to, I’m gonna try to get this answer, uh, correct. So anyway, lay it on me.

Tell me, just say all three statements and I gotta, you know, That’s how to figure it out. Okay, So, um, the first statement is that I, I climbed in the Swiss Alps. Mm-hmm. . The second, uh, statement is I run a 50 K trail race, and the third statement is, I collected dried worms as a child collected dried worms.

All right. This is how my, um, my, my ladders of inference. My, uh, . I’m gonna, how I’m gonna think out loud. That’s basically All right. So collected dried worms as a child, that sounds so specific that it has to be true, but I’m not gonna say that quite yet. The 50 K trail run is interesting to me because I feel like since you’ve been doing that, like that would be true, but it’s also like so obvious.

Kind of that maybe it’s a lie. And then the ice climbing and the Swiss Alps, like we didn’t talk about ice climbing like at all. But it doesn’t surprise me that you would do that because you’re so into the outdoors. But like the other part of that is it could, you could have ice climbed, but not in the Swiss Alps or could there have been some other other place?

Um, all these are interesting. I’m gonna say the lie is the 50 K trail run. You’re good? Yeah. Oh, did I get Yes. Yes. Uh, I knew right. I’ve wanted to, but I’ve never done it yet. . Okay. So I know we didn’t talk about that. I know we spent a lot of time talking about the urine stuff. I knew like, you’re, you’re into the trail running.

But I’m like, that seems so obvious. That has to be the lie. Okay. Alright. So, so with that being said, sounds like that’s something that you do wanna do, but I’m now, I’m like fascinated. First of all, I don’t even know where to start, but like collected the dead. Dried worms as a child. So what, so basically like you just pick like the ones that have gotten fried by the sun, you’d pick up and put in like a No, I would dry them.

I would dry them. You’d dry them out in a shoe, Dry ’em out. Out, put ’em in a shoebox. In my father’s shed have no idea why. Still my sisters are curious about that. . So, So like how many, how many worms? We talking like, like a, like a couple dozen, like a couple thousand. Like, I don’t really remember the details.

I mean, but, and I think it was short-lived, you know, collection. But yeah, it was one of those things that continues to haunt me in the stories from my senator. S. Well, you just shared it with, uh, the community conversation. So that is, uh, I love it. I love it. Okay. And then, alright, so the ice climbing and the Swiss Alps, like, you gotta tell me about this.

When, when, when did this happen? What was that like? Where, like what, what mountain did you climb? Like all that stuff? This is cool. Um, I, it was when I was in college, I was doing a term abroad, um, in Copenhagen, Denmark and did a trip, um, the. Place where I grew up in New Pulse, New York is known for rock climbing, so I’d done a lot of rock climbing.

Mm-hmm. . So I decided I would try ice climbing. Mm-hmm. . Um, now that I think about it, like my, you know, Gavin’s 15 and like, I think I was 19 eight at the time and like. I would kill him if he did that . But I just, you know, signed up and went and I was in interlock in Switzerland. It was awesome. It was really cool.

So cool. That’s awesome. That’s really cool. I, I’ve, I’ve done more ice climbing than I’ve done rock climbing and it’s, I mean, like, it’s incredible to watch people that can just go up these, like these crazy. Roots that are just seeing like near impossible. Like, it like seems easy when you watch it, but like when you actually do it and you’re like, you have just a greater respect for it.

And then the people that are like the, the crazies that do it, the free soloing, like is a, oh God, it’s just Didn’t even understand it. Yeah. It’s just, it’s just, it’s just crazy. But um, That’s so cool. Yeah. Ice climbing, ice climbing’s, No joke. Uh, it’s super hard. The, the dried worms . Such, such a fun, It’s a fun, it’s hard to come up with these two truths in a lie situation.

No, these are, these are some, these are sound. These, these are good. These are good. This, like this, this, uh, this stu me. I I gotta win here though. I gotta put the W on the paper. Um, I know. But, uh, but Steph, this is so great. I really appreciate you being on the community conversation today. It was awesome to kind of learn more about you and for the community at prototype.

To learn some cool stuff about you. For, for the folks that are listening, you guys can tune into this. Uh, we’re getting this going every week. You guys can listen to the community conversation on our Spotify podcast, Apple Podcast. Also have this on YouTube and our blog as well. So stay tuned for a new episode of the community conversation.

But, uh, Steph, again, appreciate you being on and, uh, thanks so much for, uh, for being here today. Okay, take care.