Mary Gillcrist – Fencer, Coffee-lover, Dreamer and Do-er
Written by Kim McLaughlin

Meet Mary.

She is a strong, fun, perpetually happy member of our Point Loma morning crew and her whooping five-foot tall stature packs in a whole lot of personality. She can almost always be found attending classes at 6 am, 7 am, 9 am, or sometimes noon. She just recently signed up for semi-private sessions with me and I could not be more excited! I had the opportunity to ask Mary a few questions and, as expected, her answers did not disappoint.

What brought you to Invictus?

This year has been the hardest year of my life. Shortly before deciding to join Invictus I lost all of my grandparents just weeks apart. I can’t put into words the strong and incredible people that they were but they were without a doubt my greatest inspirations and some of my best friends. After experiencing those terrible losses, I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted out of life and how to get there (or at least a good starting point).

I take after my grandmother…We are both short, have pale Irish skin and pack one hell of a punch. When she died, her body had nothing left to give. I decided after losing her and most of my heroes, I would live my life to make them proud and strive to leave this world having used every muscle in my body.

Seeking to follow in my father and grandfather’s footsteps as a Naval Aviator and Officer, I decided to begin by starting with my health and physicality. I searched for the best CrossFit community in San Diego, and came across Invictus over the internet. I’ve never regretted the decision and haven’t looked back!

I know you’re a collegiate fencer and have been competing in the sport for over six years. How has CrossFit helped with your fencing?

As my NCAA preseason and full-time training is about to begin, I know that my speed and strength on the strip will show great improvement and my mental game is stronger than ever. CrossFit (and especially training with you, Kim) has pushed me to become not only stronger physically, but mentally as well. From tough workouts and challenging movements to trusting in the programming and coaching staff, I have learned that I am my greatest limitation and that I am stronger than I think.

What is one thing you love about coming in to the gym and one thing you wish you could change?

The friendly and welcoming community and staff is the BEST! I was extremely nervous to enter the CrossFit world but I never felt any awkward or negative energy. I love that once I enter the gym at any location, no matter the group or the coach, I will have people supporting me and cheering me on through any workout. In fact, if I could change anything about my gym experience, it would be that I would go back and start at Invictus even earlier in my life!

What do you do outside of the gym and fencing?

I LOVE to try different coffee shops and cafes! I’ve visited almost every shop in San Diego and have made it a habit to write personal reviews of each location, product used, community being served, service, beans used, and flavor profile…(This is research for my own business someday). I’ve been a barista for six years and coffee is one of my biggest passions. Not necessarily for the drink itself (I drink mine black) but for the community and what it brings to people’s’ lives. I think that, oftentimes, the perfect cup of coffee or a welcoming barista can be the difference in someone’s overall day. I am a secret customer for three local San Diego coffee shops and work with the owners to grow stronger and more efficient businesses.

In addition to coffee, spending time with my eight brothers and sisters is always at the top of my list – they are my best friends! I also love sunrise hikes, yoga, watching movies, trying new things, and meeting new people.

What is your favorite CrossFit movement or type of workout?

Back squatting has become a favorite. Right now my 1RM is about 220 pounds and, just recently, I have grown to love the feeling of squatting a heavy weight and fighting to stand back up out of the bottom. Accomplishing a challenging lift makes me think of what it’s like when life gets hard and how I can respond. I like being mentally and physically strong for those around me, especially for my family.

If you walked out of the gym tomorrow and found a lottery ticket worth $10 million what would you do with the money?

First: Three million would be put directly into a secure savings account for my future family and children. Not sure for what but definitely security.

Second: Two million would go to my parents so that my amazing mom could make all of her dreams come true and so that my dad could retire and finally build his ideal man cave in our backyard. ***My dad and I would go visit the Maldives immediately before they disappear and there I would tell him he could retire.

Third: I would take 50K – 75K and purchase a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 Biplane (a big dream of mine) or a Cessna 172 so that I could teach my kids how to fly when they are old enough and save on short cross-country airfare to visit all of my eight siblings.

Fourth: I would put aside 1 million for the construction of “Tiny Homes” trailers for my kids…I think building and crafting them to be eco friendly would be an amazing experience and would teach them a lot of beneficial skills. It would also be a better alternative than paying for college dorms (and safer).

Five: 1.5 million would be donated to charity or used for making older folks dreams come true! My Papa K bought a red Mustang convertible when he was 80 years old. My mom was unbelievably mad, but he felt like he was twenty again and we drove EVERYWHERE with the top down and smiles on our faces. I’d love to make that type of joy happen for other older folks during the later parts of their lives.

Six: The remaining funds would be put towards two businesses that i’ve dreamed about starting my entire life – a restaurant and a coffee shop. Not any old shops – let’s chat. Sometime I’ll tell you about them.

Seven: Oh and I’d find some funds to gift to my siblings. They’d never let me live it down if I didn’t give them any of that CHEDDAH!!!!

I hope you all have the chance to work out with Mary at Invictus. She is an absolute joy to coach and talk with. I also hear she’s a fantastic little spoon, she loves hugs, her laugh sounds like a combination dolphin/chipmunk, her mom called her “thunder thighs” as a kid, and the way to her heart is through the perfect cup of coffee and endless back and arm scratches.

Be sure to give her a high five and a hug the next time you see her!

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