Rachel Pohl of Crossfit S3

January 20, 2018  •  1 Comment

Jan 20th 2018

Location: Crossfit S3

Nikon D750  24-70mm Tamron G2 2.8 ... 70-200mm Tamron G2 2.8  and 2 Einstein 640's Paul C Buff



      Here we are with inspiration athlete #3. This athlete would represent Crossfit S3. I have worked with S3 numerous times the past couple years. I have done their headshots and website images as well as covered AMRAP4AUTISM which is an amazing organization. I reached out to Becky Conneen  of S3 in regards to this project and she quickly had a name for me. This Athlete/Coaches name is Rachel Pohl. I have only captured Rachel once before during a class she was attending. However from that brief time I knew she was an amazing athlete. What I did not know is how amazing her story would be. To fill you in on her story, check out her responses to the questions...


1. How long have you been doing Crossfit? I started crossfit in 2013 after having my first child. 

2.What brought you to Crossfit? My whole life I had been a runner. For years throughout college, grad school, and afterwards I battled with an eating disorder, and even after I recovered I continue correlate my self worth and self esteem directly to my weight. Although I went to the gym regularly, I always stuck to the cardio machines and spent hours on the treadmill, elliptical or step machine. If I lifted weights, once every blue moon, it would be a 10 or 15lb dumbbell... the thought of lifting something heavier, or a barbell, never crossed my mind. I thought I was totally healthy and fit because I was skinny, running marathons regularly. But when my then-husband and I tried to get pregnant, I realized that was not the case. We were unable to, and it was eye-opening for me to realize that health went beyond being skinny and doing a lot of cardio, and involved much more than what someone looks like on the outside. I cut back on the running while we went through fertility treatments and we were finally able to get pregnant. I promised myself that after having the baby I would do things differently and figure out how I could truly be healthier. I researched local fitness facilities close to where I lived at that time in California, and found a Crossfit gym.
         My son was born in 2012, and I started Crossfit in 2013. I loved it from the start and never looked back. I learned to lift, got more in tune with my body and learned to listen to it. I got stronger, both physically and mentally, and my outlook on life changed. I began to value my body for what it could do - NOT just for what it looked like. I got my L1 coaching cert in October 2013, not intending to coach immediately but solely because I loved Crossfit so much and wanted to have more knowledge around it. The day after getting my cert, I had IVF and got pregnant with my daughter. I Crossfitted through my pregnancy. One morning, when I was 7 months pregnant, I woke up and knew something was wrong. My body just felt off, and I could not feel the baby moving at all. I went to my doctor, who sent me to the hospital. They found the baby was in distress, her heart rate was dropping, and they performed an emergency c-section. The doctors believe that if she would have been in there a half hour longer she would not have survived. I believe that Crossfit made me 100% more in tune with my body, enabled me to realize something was wrong that morning in 2014, and is a big part of the reason my daughter is still here.
       I started coaching in the summer of 2015. In 2017, I got my Crossfit kids certification and started teaching kids classes. Now, at ages 3 and 5, my kids come to the gym with me all the time. They are growing up watching their mom, along with men and women of all shapes and sizes, working out together and throwing heavy weight around. They watch me do workouts at home in my garage gym and participate in the kids class at the box or workouts at home themselves. They are growing up learning what I didn't learn until I was almost 30 years old - how to work to our healthiest selves, how to listen to our bodies, how to value our bodies for what they can do vs just what they look like, and how to be strong both mentally and physically. 

3. What do you enjoy the most about being at CFS3? I love the community. Since I joined the box in 2013, I have moved to the other side of town and have to travel a lot further to get there. But I do it, because I love the people, love the place. I can show up there feeling sad, stressed, tired... anything... and walk out feeling better. 

4. What would you tell others who are thinking about trying Crossfit? Just give it a try. Don't be intimidated... sometimes I think Crossfit gets a bad reputation and makes potential new members scared to come for the first time. But it's not like that, at least none of the boxes I have seen. People are kind and welcoming and WANT you there. The coaches want to help you to succeed and be the best you that you can be. Crossfit can be for everybody, and it can change your life. And don't be concerned about weight or what you look like. Focus on being healthy, on performing in the gym, on eating real, nutritious food. If that is your focus, the aesthetics will come.

5. What motivates you? At the end of the day, what matters to me is happiness. I have so many people and things in my life that make me happy every day. Not only is Crossfit one of those things, it improves my health and well being which allows me to enjoy all the other things that bring me happiness. When I have a workout in my day, it motivates me to make other good and healthy choices throughout the day. I feel great and feel happy, which motivates me to do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. Until hopefully I'm a healthy 85-year-old playing with my great grand children!



C'mon how great are those responses. With every athlete that I come across and work with, each one has an awesome story behind them. This one wasn't any different. Through this process I have discovered sides of athletes that I would have never been exposed to. For that I am extremely grateful. Reading the story of what brought Rachel to Crossfit is so awesome. With receiving this information, I had a few ideas of how I wanted to direct this session. As I stated previously I have shot at S3 a few times so was fully aware of where I wanted to start. It was GO TIME!!!!!  



Rachel brought both of her kids with her and I was already aware she wanted to include them in a couple shots. How could I say no. They came into the box so excited and ready to go. We started with a handstand pic as you can see above. Then we went into some box jumps, squats.

Then wrapped it up with a run!!!!!

Once we had the kiddos all set it was time to move on to just Rachel. Since we already had the bar out from her squat pic we rolled right into some squats cleans and overhead squats. This Crossfit Mom is the truth. 100% athlete.

For this shoot I set up both Paul C Buff umbrellas to give a different look. Definitely more of just an isolation on her.

I didn't want to spend to much time with the barbell so we put the plates and bar up. Moved into some bodyweight/gymnastics movements. Rachel was so fluid with everything and made it very easy to capture. First up were some handstands.


Then we migrated over to the bar. Once again I asked if there was a ladder on site. THERE SURE WAS. Rachel requested a toes 2 bar shot from above.... #nailedit. 


While working with Rachel it was cool to see how we had some things in common. Over this process building relationships with these athletes has been amazing. Its makes the shoot go so much smoother and makes it really easy to transition into other movements. Speaking of that.. it was time for Pull Ups!!!!


Once completed with the rig we moved the GHD out to the middle of the floor. I requested for Rachel to let her hair down which would give a really cool effect. Boy do I love strobes. Freezing Everything!!!!

 Rachel is a fan of double unders and I warned her that doubles are always rough to shoot because if you catch an athlete when they land.... then their facial skin literally shoots towards the floor. Not a good look.. but  was determined to get a good one. I would say we nailed a few!!!!


 Cmon.. who doesnt love a good rope climb shot.... Love the lighting on these!!! Submitted my favorite to Crossfit main site.. so didn't include below.... FINGERS CROSSED!!!!



As time was cutting close we chose a few more movements to finish on. We grabbed and Kettlebell, Dumbell, Box and a Wallball!



I highly recommend to other photogs who are shooting athletes doing box jumps.... Pull out some strobes. So worth it!!!! #freezingtime


We wanted to return back to the wall and do some handstand work with shoulder taps. It required movement of my strobes but the lighting turned out excellent.



Then a good ol' wall ball shot..... 3..2..1.. TIME!!!!






Once again these athletes are not disappointing at all. Not only are they amazing athletes but they are great people. Yes Crossfit produces some amazing athletes, however it also produces and creates great friendships. Rachel continued to express how grateful she was for this opportunity and I couldn't have been more pleased to work with her. Crossfit S3 has become a second box family to me over the past couple years and the love they continue to show me is unreal.  I cant thank them enough for the continued support. If you see Rachel out and about or any of these athletes I am sharing with you.. BE SURE TO SAY HEY!!! These athletes were selected for a reason. Great people inside and out!!!


Next athlete up is from Crossfit Pineville to be followed by an athlete representing South Charlotte Crossfit. Stay Tuned!!!!


GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!! 3..2..1..Shoot!!!


Well done Bruce! Great pictures and story on Coach Rachel!
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