Check out some of our athlete's journeys and see what role CrossFit has played in their lives.  "Trust the Process" is something that we say often and sometimes it takes time to achieve your goals but if you trust what we are doing, you will show yourself what you are capable of.  We take great pride in what are members goals are and we strive to make them happen.

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Why did you join CrossFit Portside?

 I started Crossfit Portside in August 2016 with a teacher friend with bootcamp. I wanted to find something/someone to hold me accountable and push me beyond my limits. I wanted to get healthier and stronger not only for myself but my family. I kept going back for more “torture” as we called it. Lol I transitioned into crossfit June 2017 and LOVE it. 

What's been your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment-doing a “real” push and running a mile just to name a few!! There are so many!! I’m getting stronger all the time. Seeing results is the best feeling! 

What are you working on now?

What I’m working on now- a lot. Need to improve my jump roping!! It sucks!!  Nutrition- I’m eating better and making better choices thanks to Sara and Melinda. It’s not perfect but so much better. 

What's your favorite CrossFit Portside memory?

 Favorite memory-not sure I can pick just one! Making new friends! 

What motivates you to continue training at CrossFit Portside?

My accomplishments and the motivation I receive from my Portside peeps keeps me continuing my fitness journey at Crossfit Portside. Everyone is encouraging and helpful. No one is ever left behind!!  Oh and I bought a new pair of pants over Thanksgiving break....haven’t bought new ones in over a year...down 2 sizes!!! 

Thank you Sara and Melinda!! None of this wound be possible without you two and the other wonderful coaches!! 

I never in my life thought I’d be doing crossfit!! 

Jennifer Rawls

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Why did you join CrossFit Portside?

For years, I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight. I have bounced back and forth from a size 0 to a size 22 by binge eating, diet pills, unhealthy eating habits, and periods of time where I did not eat at all. I came to Crossfit after gaining all my weight back for the fourth time. I was tired of buying new clothes only to need different sizes six months later.

What's been your biggest accomplishment?

I am very closed off from others in my personal and work life. So I was worried about group workouts because I don’t tend to navigate toward social settings. However, this gym and its members have been so welcoming, and I have made real friends here that o look forward to seeing every day.

What are you working on now?

I am working on cleaning up my eating and building strength for my third Crossfit competition in January. I want to BE strong and LOOK strong. Skinny doesn’t mean healthy, so healthy and strong are now my “go to” words.

What's your favorite CrossFit Portside memory?

Which one isn’t?! From Portside Fakesgiving to 4:30 am Training runs with Sara and Melinda to Amber miscounting her bear complexes because she was in the zone to killing it at my first competition with Chelsea, I have enjoyed every moment at Portside.

What motivates you to continue training at CrossFit Portside?

The coaches, the members, and the environment! When I even gave a slight feeling of wanting to skip a workout, someone posts their results or shares their progress with me, or Melinda gives me an F for not trying, I am reminded of why I love this gym! Friendship and accountability go hand in hand. I look forward to logging into SugarWOD to see the next day’s crazy workout, working my butt off to get a PR, or finish a workout with more difficult standards because I am growing.

Ashleigh Syverson

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On March 5, 2015, I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cervical cancer. I was told that I had a twenty-five percent chance of living. After nine long months of surgery, chemo, and radiation, I beat the odds and was told I was cancer free. On November 12, 2015, I made a commitment to myself to start living. After staring death in the face, I decided that I was worth it. In learning to truly live, I found out that it is a full body experience. I never thought I would be a person to even attempt Crossfit, but after coming to Portside for boot camp, I proved to myself I can do so much more than I expected. Starting my Crossfit journey is the most exciting thing I have done since beating cancer, and I'm so grateful to the coaches and athletes at Portside for being so encouraging and supportive. Only look back to see how far you've come.


1.     What were you doing before you joined PortSide?

Before I joined at CrossFit PortSide, I didn’t have much motivation when it came to exercise. I was going to the occasional Zumba class and doing an at home HIIT workout program. Mallisa, who also goes to PortSide, has been my work out buddy for years. Without Mallisa’s accountability, I never really wanted to work out but I felt like I had to so I could fit some mold of how I thought I was supposed to look. I was inconsistent and concluded that I would never be that girl who exercised regularly. I was convinced that exercise was a chore I had to do to try to look skinny.

2.     What have you enjoyed most about Boot Camp and CrossFit?

It is hard to narrow it down to one thing! At CrossFit, PRing is such a rush and I really do get so excited about it (cue jumping, yelling “yayy!!!”, and clapping). CrossFit is like being part of the most encouraging and supportive second family. You don’t cheer for the first person to finish the work out – you cheer for the LAST person to finish! That is so amazing to me.

 Boot camp has really changed something in me mentally. I go to Boot Camp without anyone there to hold me accountable. I wake up at 4:30 am to work out – something I never thought I would do. In the last Boot Camp, I told Coach Melinda that I was nervous about the retest workout. She said, “That’s because you really care about it.” I do care about it! I care about it without any one saying, “Come on Amanda, let’s go work out.” I hold myself accountable now. I don’t need anyone but myself as motivation. That was such an exciting thing to realize.

3.     Why did you decide to go the Paleo way?

Eating Paleo was the nutrition challenge for the first Boot Camp. I dove in head first during that challenge and it was very tough in the beginning. After about a week of eating a Paleo diet, a few people told me how my skin was looking great. Then my pants started to fit better. Then I went down a dress size. I felt more energetic, I felt satisfied after eating, and I lost inches. My cholesterol even went down! If you see visible changes on the outside and get confirmation that it works on the inside – what more do you need?

4.     What is your favorite lift in CrossFit?

I love finding a 1RM Strict Press and a 1RM Deadlift. The only downfall about doing deadlifts is getting the weight off of the bar when you are finished (so annoying). J

5.     If you have goals, what are they or have you met them?

I think mentally I have met many of my goals – self-accountability, self-motivation, and finally realizing that being skinny is not as important as being healthy and strong.

I have plenty of other goals! I am still working on that 10-minute mile, getting better shoulder mobility to do a nice overhead squat, learning to love burpees (may never happen), and working on my confidence both inside and outside of the gym.

A year at CrossFit PortSide has been such a positive experience in my life, and I am excited for what new things I will learn and experience in the next year.

-Amanda Sharrow


Them Edwards Boys!

I tend to neglect these two guys, not by not coaching them but giving them praise!  I am sure it is because Justin is my first cousin and Jason is Justin’s cousin,  so we are all FAMILY!  That is how it is at PortSide!  We are family and I get asked daily if I am related to everyone at the gym.

When I first moved back to Gulfport, I introduced Justin to CrossFit.  I crushed his soul in a wod and of course he became hooked.  Justin quickly became good at just about everything.  He picked up double unders the first time he tried and for most that’s frustrating.  During year one, he was getting into shape and progressing at the Olympic lifts.  

Something changed in year two for him.  He decided to work on the things that he wasn’t good at.  HSPU, Running, burpees, box jumps, muscle ups so pretty much the gymnastic side of crossfit.  We always talked trash to each other, which motivates athletes and he has continued to impress me.

Year three has been a different story!  I have never seen Justin work as hard as he has.  He comes early and works on mobility and stays late to work on endurance and his motor.  He has so many goals for himself and as an older cousin, I am extremely PROUD of him!  He is PortSide and he has made my experience as a gym owner so enjoyable.  

Then there is Jason!  If you didn’t know him, you would never know that he was 40.  I am so impressed with Jason’s ability and want to.  Jason came to PortSide with some CrossFit experience already.  He was pretty set in his ways but after continuing to coach him, he listened.  

Jason has an incredible work ethic.  He would participate in class and then within the next hour, he was working on things that needed his attention to make him a better crossfitter.  Jason is strong but he is also very good with the gymnastic movements.  He can do toes to bar with the best of them.  There is no one harder on himself then he is.  

Now to talk about them together is an entirely different story.  I am not sure who has more fun when they train together.  There is so much trash talk, laughter, and encouragement with each other.  It is like having two class clowns but when it is time to workout it is all about business.  Then you add the third Edwards in there (Jamie) and they take it to another level.  It is always a joy to be around them even though they can drive me crazy!  I wouldn’t trade the laughter and fun for anything.



A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... Okay this was like a couple years ago...
I played some sports growing up but nothing really consistently except golf. I spent the 7 years post-high school pretty inactive. Despite daily trips to Brooklyn's and countless Coors Lights, I was still 135 pounds.
In January of 2012 I decided to get healthy. I started lifting weights- mostly back/bi's/chest/tri's (bro style) and running a little. After about 6 months I got into running even more which eventually lead to triathlon. I completely submerged myself into the triathlon world for two years, training 2-3 hours a day. I got pretty fast, but the time demands wore on my family, work, and personal life.

When I was sidelined with a knee injury in September 2014, it was a blessing in disguise. I started lifting weights again (to keep myself from going crazy) and realized I was able to enjoy staying fit without dedicating 15+ hours a week to training.
Throughout this process, I'd heard of CrossFit and watched plenty of YouTube videos. I considered starting for a while but the monthly investment was the big hurdle for me at first. In early June of 2015 I took the plunge and decided to join. At that point, I thought I was pretty fit- I was humbled that first workout

It's been over a year now and CrossFit has become a huge part of my life. After a few months I convinced my wife (fiancée at the time) to join. Being able to work out together is great. Even if we don't go to the same class, we can still talk about the workout. We can connect over fitness in a way that we couldn't when I was doing triathlon. Our fitness is something we share now, where as before it was something that came between us. We can talk about lifts and workouts together. We both excel at different aspects of CrossFit, so we are able to help each other when it comes to different movements.
After a little over a year of CrossFit, I'm the strongest I've ever been. My cardio is great and my mobility has vastly improved. I'm 30 pounds heavier, and although I'm not as fast as I was when triathlon training, I can still run a 6 minute mile.

Growing up I was the polar opposite of healthy. I was overweight, constantly fatigued, and depressed because my sense of self-worth was almost nonexistent. In 2009, a switch flipped. I decided I was over being that person and decided to make a change. I lost 70 pounds in about 7 months and started my journey toward a healthy lifestyle. Over the years I have learned to eat better and my relationship with food and has vastly improved.
Even after losing all the weight, I still hated exercise. I was never athletic growing up and was always so focused on making myself as small as possible- strength training was another world to me. I would go to the gym and stay on the elliptical for as long as possible because exercise to me was a punishment. I felt like I needed to burn as many calories as possible to get in a “good workout”.

I met my husband throughout this journey and he helped me learn how to truly enjoy fitness. He is so driven and competitive. Since I’ve known him he has been a competitive runner, triathlete, rock climber, and CrossFitter. When he started CrossFit at the Beginning of 2015, I never thought I’d want to be a part of it. The extent of my weightlifting knowledge was the circuit machines at Planet Fitness, and that was intimidating enough.. BUT, after listening to him go on and on about CrossFit for a few months, I decided to give it a try. He was so passionate and excited about it (and everyone else that does it always is too).  

During the first WOD I swore I would never come back. I wasn’t used to pushing myself that hard. I didn’t know what my body was capable of doing and the thought of testing it was terrifying. I came back for another class. And another. And then another. For the first time ever I was doing things I never thought I’d be physically capable of doing. For the first time EVER my husband and I were doing the same workouts, and I didn’t feel like I was holding him back from really getting something out of his workout (thanks to me being able to scale movements). We could come home and talk about the WOD. We’d never been able to share that before. Watching him kill a workout or hit a PR makes me so proud. That wasn’t something I necessarily empathized with or truly understood when he excelled at other sports. 

CrossFit makes me excited to get to the gym (which was NEVER the case before). I consistently work out 4-5 times a week now, and every week my body surprises me with what it can do. I feel like an athlete, and I never have before. My relationship with exercise is no longer about punishing myself for hours with cardio or trying to burn as many calories as possible, but celebrating the strength that I’ve built. I’m SO happy that Wayne and I have this community to be a part of. It enriches our life and makes focusing on our health so much more fun and rewarding. My stepdaughter can’t wait to be a CrossFitter :)

Why CrossFit PortSide?
W: Initially I chose PortSide because it was in a convenient location close to home. I've stayed there because I'm fitter than ever- the programming obviously works, and we've made some good friends along the way.
M: Obviously I started at Portside because he did. I’ve stayed at Portside for many more reasons. The community is amazing. I know everyone says that about their box, but it truly is. I feel like I’m a part of a family there. The coaches and athletes here have known me since the beginning of my journey. The coaches at Portside know what I’m capable of, and they don’t allow me to get by with anything less. They believe in me when I’m not believing in myself and push me to achieve more.
Did you do something before crossfit?  If so, what was it?  Did you follow a program?
W: Running, Triathlon
M: I started running in 2012. I remember running my first mile ever in June. It was awful. Eventually I started running 5ks and 10ks, and then upped my milage even more to start training for a half marathon. I think that was long about the time I found CrossFit (thank goodness).
Do you recall why you started CrossFit?
W: I wanted to be fit and I liked the competitive aspect of CrossFit.
M: I don’t like missing out on things. Wayne was so excited about it and I wanted to be a part of that. The fact that we could do the same workouts is what really sold me.
What is your favorite lift and why?
W: Deadlift. Because it's the most primal lift. "Hey can you pick that up?"  YES.
M: Squat cleans! I’m not really sure why. Maybe because it’s the first OLY lift I really put a lot of work into and saw rapid improvement. I just love the technicality and grace.


I am NOT your typical weight loss success story.  Actually, I am just the opposite.  Even though I have four kids and 39 years of age, I have ALWAYS been underweight and thats an understatement.  My whole life I have believed the lies that a SIZE 2 was the model of beauty and a symbol of health.  I did whatever it would take to remain under 100lbs; it took over my mind and life!  I was an unhealthy 99lbs and now I am at the most confident 120lbs ever.  My body has changed for the better.  I now have an understanding of muscle weighing more then fat and I love it.   I never get on the scale anymore and my clothes fit so much better.

Thanks to my cross fitting boyfriend, Justin Edwards.  I joined CrossFit PortSide in August 2014.  Let me just say how much I LOVE CrossFit PortSide and MYSELF!!!  I had never lifted weights or experienced a workout like that.  I love to run, but CrossFit is something different and makes you come back for more, with different challenges everyday.  So, almost a year later and I AM HOOKED!  CrossFit PortSide has given me the confidence to take on ANY workout.  

Not only have I gained muscles, hit personal records, become fitter and healthier, I have some of the most amazing friends in my life!!!



I found CrossFit during the fall of 2014, after about a year of inconsistent cardio at a globo gym.  Prior to joining PortSide, I had been doing barre classes several times per week.  I loved barre workouts and ballet, but I wanted to add something to my routine.  I needed something intensely challenging to pick me up from my plateau, both physically and emotionally.  

I knew people who had done CrossFit and they loved it so I decided it was time to give it a go.  I searched CrossFit gyms on the coast and then emailed Sara at PortSide.  The welcoming and scalability made the initial intimidation completely disappear.  Once I started, it took me a long time and asking a lot of questions before I started to catch on.  Then, it finally clicked and I was able to remember the differences between a Press and a Push press.  It has been so rewarding to see where I was when I began to where I am now.  When I started, I did a 55# Deadlift and today my 1 Rep Max Deadlift is 245#.  I am 32 years old and just learned how to do a handstand!

CrossFit has given me the ability to believe and trust myself.  Thanks to this program, I have gone through a lot of changes.  There have been physical changes, like LOSING 23lbs and over 22 inches, but also mental and emotional changes as well.  I am STRONGER in all aspects of my life.  Now,  I approach each day with a "why not, lets try" attitude.  My body image has shifted from weight on the scale to the ability to put weight on the bar.  Progress is measured in skills like box jumps and handstands.

A wonderful (and honestly, reassuring) aspect of CrossFit is that the workouts are not "easy" for anyone.  I believe that aspect ties cross fitters together with a special bond all over the world.  Universally, the workouts are challenging whether it is your first day or a seasoned competitor.  Faster times, heavier weight, better form, higher degree of skill, there is always room for continued improvement.  Every day may not be a PR, but every day is a Victory!

As a previously self conscience person, I have NEVER felt judged or out of place at CrossFit.  I feel like belong.  I contribute my success not only to Sara (who is thankfully very patient) but also to every single athlete at PortSide.  Every day I choose to surround myself with incredible teammates who push me and cheer me on when I don't think I can finish.

The friends I have made at PortSide have become a second family.  We celebrate birthdays and holidays together.  They see me at my best (like my first successful handstand) and at my worst (collapsed in a sweaty ball) and that camaraderie motivates me to come back every single day.  I can't picture my life without them.  We are all in this together, ONE REP AT A TIME!



I came to Crossfit Portside by way of a very unusual route. In December of 2013, months after finishing my first Ironman event, I wanted to start 2014 with a new training program. One designed to primarily improve my running times. Little did I know the program was 70% Crossfit! And 20% running drills. And just 10% long runs. 

Being a 40-something endurance athlete, with no serious background in strength training, the idea of jumping into a heavy Crossfit program was daunting. So I visited multiple different Crossfit gyms and met the owners, looking for support on my unique situation. But I had poor results. Nobody was willing to work with me on the Crossfit elements of my program. And the idea of training a triathlete wasn’t particularly welcomed at one gym.

Then I met Coach Sara at Crossfit Portside. She took one look at the program and said it would completely crush me. (And she was right!) But, she was very interested in helping me and seeing what kind of improvement Crossfit could make on a triathlete. To start, she suggested I spend a couple of months working with her classes and getting familiar with the basic elements of Crossfit. Which is what I did.

The first thing I learned: training for an Ironman is much easier than Crossfit. An 8 minute WOD (Workout Of the Day) would leave me sweatier than two hours of running. And despite having what I thought was a good cardio base, most days would end with me flat on my back, struggling to catch my breath.

The second thing I learned: Crossfit works! After that initial months of practicing the exercises, Coach Sara helped me grind through my new program. And the results were almost immediate. Upper body training such as handstand pushups and shoulder presses made swimming almost effortless. I could pull through the water harder and faster. The quick, explosive movements like box jumps and jump ropes, as well as our pre-WOD stretches, improved my running to the point where I was finishing runs 20% faster while recovering quicker, with less soreness. Focusing on the posterior chain with sets of squats and deadlifts resulted in longer, faster bicycling. And my physique changed by adding new definition to my quads and shoulders while tapering my waistline. (Which, for a middle aged guy, is reason enough to struggle though all the WODs!)  

Training with Coach Sara at Crossfit Portside is different because she focuses on helping you maximize your unique potential and achieving your personal goals. She doesn’t give generic instructions or empty advice. She gives you specific support to enhance your strengths and can come up with techniques to improve any weaknesses. Plus, the group is always helping to support and encourage you through your workout. 

Nowadays, Coach Sara is the only person I’d trust with my strength and conditioning. Crossfit Portside is a critical element of my 2015 Ironman training. And I’m looking forward to my most active year of Crossfit and triathlons so far!


I am your typical 56 year old female and I AM HOOKED!   I love this CrossFit stuff.  You NEVER get bored.  I have tried most diets, gyms, and fads all my life.  I'm successful for a short period of time and then I become bored!  As a result, I stop. 

I consider myself active......playing tennis, walking, and exercising.  I thought I was in shape until I heard about Sara Carter and this CrossFit thing.  I was anxious to start.  Following a year of CrossFit, I now know what it means to be fit and healthy.  I am the STRONGEST I HAVE EVER BEEN IN MY LIFE, AT 56!  It is so much fun.  We cheer for each other during and after the workouts.  Sara is a huge motivator, always pushing me when I say I'm not sure I can.

CrossFit has not only changed my life but now my husband, daughter, 80 year old mother and son-in-law all are CrossFit Strong!  Any age can participate.  CrossFit and Sara Carter have helped me tremedously.  I may not lift the most or have the fastest times on the board but "I" am so much better!  I look and feel healthier.  Thank you Sara Carter for pushing me and taking the extra time to make sure I do it right.  As my daughter says, "I'm Spastic"!  If I can do it and love it, ANYONE CAN!