Years before Shari Keener started training in 2005 at the original CrossFit box in Santa Cruz, Calif., she had a different addiction: meth.
"It's astonishing to me that that is how I lived my life," she says today. "I never think about it. At all. I never think about that. So when I get asked about it I'm like, 'Oh my God, yeah, I did that. That's so crazy.'"
Now a Level 1 Seminar Staff intern and a mother of two, Keener credits her cousin with saving her from certain death. She got clean by 24, and her current drug of choice is running. Through training she picked up the tools that eventually turned her into a sponsored athlete in her early days of running. Keener has run four 50-km races and hopes to one day run an ultra-marathon.
"Addicts, we yearn for something. There's a hole. You have this energy you want to place into something," says the CrossFit Santa Cruz Central coach. Keener, whose son is a graffiti artist, mostly coaches mountain bikers, road riders and marathoners who seek to become better at their sport through CrossFit.
"You're going to be addicted to something in this world—be it food, alcohol, drugs, whatever it is, fill in your vice—and taking that energy and transferring it into something positive is like the only way you change that behavior," Keener says.