WZA Stories: Natalia Volya

“I have learned so much about myself, my abilities and what my body can do. A year ago, I fully recommitted myself to it and could not be happier. My trainers are the best and believe in me so much. You need that.” Russian athlete Natalia suffered an accident by electrocution at just 13 years old, which resulted in the loss of her legs. Yet, she chose to stay active, and found CrossFit 4-5 years ago.

“At first, my mom was skeptical, but she now sees how much CrossFit has done for me. I remember that she said something about being nervous about me getting bulky and becoming too muscular.” In Russia, women often battle the perception that they should dedicate themselves to more feminine pursuits. “It is definitely not as progressive [in Russia] as here. But now, my mom sees that’s not the case, that I’ll get bulky. Now, my husband does it, my son, my mother-in-law. It’s a family affair.”

Natalia can jump rope, walk on her hands. There seem to be more things she CAN do than she can’t. How does she take on something new and get this good at it? “I just try things, and figure out a way that I can do them. In my gym, I have my own set-ups; I don’t require help, no one looks at me differently. For example, my weights are my problem. If I need to grab plates or put them away, I do it myself, I like that. Someone gifted me a jump rope, I brought it to my coach laughing and said what are we going to do with that. She said, we are going to jump. And here we are!”

Asked about her Wodapalooza experience, Natalia reflects, “I can’t even describe it. I had no idea I would have this kind of support from complete strangers. The workout on The Deck got me through it and kept me moving. I thought I should have signed up for scaled, at that moment I was reminded why I didn’t. I never expected so many photos, so many people talking to me, messaging me. I am so humbled and grateful.

“It was so amazing to meet other adaptive athletes, to learn from them and see how they adapt to certain workouts, the equipment they used. I definitely need to get one of those cushions for my lap. It’s just been a great experience and I am overwhelmed with kindness, unexpected attention, and other athletes.”

Natalia’s advice for other adaptive athletes looking to start? “Find a gym, find a good trainer, and then you just do it. That’s what my trainers did for me, I said, ‘I will work if you will work.’ And here we are.”