With baby James in tow, we sat down with Emma Rains to catch a glimpse of life from her perspective. Emma started Prowess in 2019 as a first-time CrossFitter. A life-long athlete, Emma was slightly intimidated and not sure what to expect based on the “crazy CrossFit people” stories she had heard. She also had to navigate working out with Type 1 Diabetes, and modifying during pregnancy. Now, she can’t imagine her life without it, and is grateful for the mental strength and physical confidence it provides her with. And the best part, it’s a family affair. You’ll often catch Emma working out with her dad, Tim, or husband, Todd, and always with baby James nearby.
Here’s what Emma had to share with us:
Prowess: When did you join Prowess?
Emma: My very first workout, aside from fundamentals was on Thanksgiving, 2019. Oh, it was so fun. It was this packed class. It was a 30-minute AMRAP with like rounds of Cindy and running or something like that. And it was so much fun. I remember being really intimidated.
Prowess: What brought you in? What were you feeling like you were looking for?
Emma: Todd actually started first. He started in September, not that much earlier, because my dad had been coming. We had moved here from Minneapolis and Todd was working from home, sitting at a desk all the time. He needed some kind of community, some sort of outlet. So he started, which was a very new thing for him. He had never done any sort of formal sports before. It just hadn’t been a huge part of his life. He played soccer for a little while in middle school. But other than that, being active hadn’t been a big thing in his life. So it was a big deal and it’s awesome that he’s crushed it so much. He’s been amazing.
Prowess: So were you sporty growing up?
Emma: I was. I swam. I mean, not like sporty, like all the sports, but we me and all my siblings actually swam, from lessons at age two, through YMCA clubs, summer swim team, until I stopped at the end of high school. So working out had always just been a part of my life. To me, that’s just what you did. In college and after college I did a lot of stuff on my own, like workout videos and running. At the time I joined, I actually needed something different because I was running a lot and got injured. And was a very running-specific injury. So I could come in and do stuff here, but I couldn’t run. So I was losing my mind. I need needed something to do. And Todd loved CrossFit, so I decided to give it a try.
Prowess: But prior to that you hadn’t ever done it?
Emma: No, I was kind of like, “Those CrossFit people are a little crazy.” I then came here and it was like, “Oh my gosh, I love this! I’m this CrossFit person now.”
Prowess: That’s awesome. And I’m assuming you still love it?
Emma: Oh yeah.
James: [insert cute baby noises here]
Prowess: Aw, I think it’s the best that you can bring him here with you.
Emma: Yeah. It’s the best. Just so supportive…it just doesn’t feel like a super huge deal for me to just bring him.
Prowess: And we actually really enjoy seeing him. I will stop a workout to walk with him anytime! How do you feel about your life shift into motherhood? That’s a huge change. I feel like people don’t really prepare you for that – or even if they do, you’re never really prepared.
Emma: Yeah. I don’t know if you can be. Honestly, I think it’s been smoother than I thought it would be. I think pregnancy with diabetes was a good way to sort of transition into it. Because it took a lot of time and a lot of effort, just with all the appointments. And so I kind of had to create a lot of space in my life for that.
Prowess: So it was a different pace you had to adjust to during your pregnancy.
Emma: Yeah. So I didn’t go from full-time work straight to being a mom or something like that. It was much more like, “Okay, I have to make all these doctor’s appointments. It was another level of responsibility and, a new pace is a good way to put it. But, it’s so much more fun with him actually being here and like yeah. I can kind of keep living at that slower pace, but I can play with him and enjoy my time with him.
Prowess: Motherhood looks great on you.
Emma: Aw, thanks. I really love it. I honestly was not sure if I would like it or not, you know. I didn’t know if I was going to feel stuck at home all the time. Or feel like I can’t do anything. And basically my perspective has been, right now he can just come with me. And I don’t know what that’ll look like in the future. But right now I just bring him everywhere.
Prowess: Yeah, I’m glad you’re doing what you can and not letting him being part of your life stall you from doing the things you need to do. You’re just making him part of it, which is important. And it can be stressful and it’s an adjustment, but you’re doing great with it.
During your pregnancy, the physical fitness part of it, like working out – how was that for you?
Emma: It was challenging for sure. The first 12 weeks or so, if I made it once or twice in a week, I was happy. But then the second and third trimester were better. Because I was feeling better. But then it was more just making adjustments for the growing belly.
Prowess: You kept coming all the way through, too. That was beautiful to see.
Emma: Thank you. I think I made it to 34 weeks. Just tons of modifications. Lots of step ups and kick back burpees. I think I felt like, “This is long and I need to do something. So I’ll just do what I can.” It was hard to be gaining weight and just to not feel like myself. Especially being the first pregnancy, I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I didn’t know if this was normal for me. I just didn’t know. There were a lot of days where I just felt kind of gross. And heavy.
Prowess: I understand that.
Emma: But, from the perspective of the other side, it’s like, “Oh, that was so temporary.” But it doesn’t feel temporary when you’re in it.
Prowess: So how do you feel now, getting back into it after having him? How was that for you? How was the transition after having a baby, working out, dealing body issues and what your body can actually do – and on top of it dealing with diabetes.
Emma: As far as the diabetes is concerned, as soon as he was on the outside, that was just such a relief. Because my blood sugars were not going to affect him. I mean, obviously if my blood sugar is low and I can’t take care of him, that affects him. But more directly, I didn’t need to worry if he was going to have too much sugar. It was a lot during pregnancy to feel like, “Okay, if my blood sugar is 200, he is getting too much sugar.” He creates his own insulin and I don’t. So I needed to give the insulin to myself, but that might mean he is getting too much. And then all the hormone changes during pregnancy basically eliminates all of the consistency that I normally have. Things change every couple of days during pregnancy, whereas normal life is fairly steady if I’m eating the same things consistently it was going to be okay. So when he was out, it was just such a relief.
But I think coming here has helped a lot. It’s helped with my blood sugars, and has helped me mentally. If I’ve come to class, I feel like I’ve done one healthy thing for myself today. And it makes it easier to keep more, healthy habits throughout the day, like to eat well, to pay attention to my blood sugars. Because it’s easy to think, “Oh, it doesn’t matter if my blood sugar is somewhere in the three-hundreds and I need to take care of it, it’s not affecting him, so it’s fine.” So making the long term habits and knowing I need to be healthy for him. It does matter.
Prowess: I didn’t realize all of the additional challenges you were going through on top of a pregnancy. That must have been hard and stressful.
Emma: Yeah. It was almost a full-time job to manage it. Partly because I was going to the doctor in Boston, so I was driving a lot with all the appointments and partly just because things were changing every couple of days and my insulin needs were different every couple of days. And then all the emotions.
Prowess: Yes, so many emotions. So, as individuals, as we go through different seasons of life, right? We’re always growing and evolving and changing, and right now in the season you’re in, what do you feel that your purpose is? Such a hard question.
Emma: I think about that a lot. I’m kind of an overthinking self-reflective kind of person. I mean, figuring out being a mom is number one, and I’m thankful to have so much time for that, you know? I work a little bit, but I’m mostly with him. And I’m so grateful for that.
Prowess: Yeah, and it’s the hardest job. Being a mom. I’ve found work to be more of something that could feed my soul, something for myself. Sort of like time at the gym.
How do you feel about working out with your husband?
Emma: I love it. I mean, I think it’s really good for us. There are definitely days where we come and we’re like grrrr and then afterwards we’re both like, “What were we exactly disagreeing about?” It was challenging at first too, because I had done a lot more working out and was more up on form. And I had to let him do his thing for probably like a year. And then it became something we do together. And it’s really fun.
Prowess: What’s your favorite CrossFit movement?
Emma: Favorite barbell movement: the Power Snatch. I just learned how to do handstands for the first time. So that’s definitely my favorite gymnastics movement. And for cardio, the assault bike is my favorite and least favorite because it’s so effective.
Prowess: The dreaded assault bike!!!
Emma: Yeah, but I’m here to work out. Right? So it’s a workout. But when I make the effort to be here, it helps me work hard. I think, “All right. I did a whole morning routine. Baby’s fed. He’s asleep. This is my hour to just work hard, so why would I not?”
Prowess: What keeps you coming back?
Emma: I mean, accomplishing goals, I just love that. I feel like being a mom is very repetitive in some ways. I mean, he’s obviously changing so much every day, which is not repetitive. But it’s a really nice balance to have something I’ve worked toward and accomplished versus an everyday routine.
And I’m always mentally clear afterwards. It’s like a mental reset.
Prowess: I feel like for me, doing this has been good in so many ways and it’s given me a lot of confidence. Do you find that you’ve gained confidence from coming to Prowess?
Emma: Oh yeah. And, just practically, I don’t worry about things like, “Oh, is that going to be too heavy?” We live on a third floor. So I’m always carrying things up and down. And I just don’t worry about if I can carry things If I can get it in my arms, I can carry it up. Which is so great. I do a lot of baby wearing and walking with him.
Prowess: That’s the best feedback to hear. You are going to be strong for life and living because of this. And you’re confident in that.
Emma: Yeah. Definitely. It takes a weight off my mind for sure to think, “Yeah, I can go on a long walk with him if he needs it, and I’m not going to like suffer for the next three days because my back hurts or something.”
Prowess: You are an amazing woman and a mama, Emma. Thank you so, so much for sharing a little bit about yourself. I know so many of us will relate to your experience – we’re so grateful you’re a part of our Prowess family.
Emma: I’m grateful to be a part of it!