Nurse practitioner uses CrossFit passion to build community

Natalie Wheatley with CrossFit equipmentThree years ago, Natalie Wheatley, NP, made a decision to change her life for the better.

At the time, she lived a sedentary lifestyle, resorted to fast food convenience and worked the overwhelming night shift. She was unhappy and needed something to give her life a boost. That's when Wheatley fell in love with CrossFit.

CrossFit is constantly varied, high-intensity exercise that focuses on “functional movements” that translate into everyday life, like with deadlifts and squats.

“Squatting at the gym translates into sitting, standing and getting up off the toilet. Performing deadlifts prepares your body for carrying groceries or picking anything up off the ground,” said Wheatley, who is now a CrossFit coach at her husband’s gym.

What she now knows about exercise helps when she’s working with her Family Medicine patients, especially as she encourages them to find workouts that work for them.

“My position as a nurse practitioner has helped me see things with a prevention focus,” she said. “I work to encourage my patients to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Many of her patients try and like CrossFit because coaches are able to scale the workouts for each individual.

“Whether it's grandparents whose goal is to play with their grandchildren or a college student seeking to relieve stress, as a coach we strive to help meet those goals,” she said.

Wheatley believes her motivation for fitness drives her motivation to help her patients.

Natalie with a host of CrossFit equipment“It is amazing to build relationships in the hospital and at the gym,” Wheatley said. “Everyone at the gym is positive and encouraging. It does not matter what size you are or where you are in your fitness journey. The young and the old help each other out.

“These relationships evolve over time, and it is really about building a great community inside and outside the gym.”

Wheatley’s own experience sets her up as both a trusted and a dedicated expert.

“When I began weightlifting, I felt empowered,” Wheatley said. “CrossFit has allowed me to focus on personal goals and work at my own pace. The nice part about it is that every workout is made specifically for you to accommodate your own goals.”

“I am either working with patients or at the gym. That is my life.”