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Pamela has a smile and spirit that you'll never forget. Hailing from a big family in Milwaukee, Pam joined us in 2017. Once a runner, and now a CrossFitter who loves a good challenge, you'll find her working out, working on the public health, working on her family with her husband, or working on her next travel plans. The theme? She loves to work, which is why she's our March athlete of the month. Congrats, Pamela! We love having you as part of our fit fam!!  

Nickname: Pam, GDP

Instagram Handle: @ptroesch

Member since: 2017

Windy City March 2020 Athlete of the Month

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou

I grew up in Milwaukee, the oldest of three, and part of a large, extended Polish family with loud aunts and everyone up in everyone else’s business. I remember school days, weekends, and summers with my brothers and 13 cousins at one of the grandparents’ houses, getting let out the back door to go play in the park and woods. I played sports throughout my childhood and teens, always working hard, but never being particularly skilled at any one thing. The extended family would often show up to my games and events. This highlights a key part of my life even now—my own and my husband’s big, crazy immediate and extended families. We live away from them now, so find ourselves often on the road to Wisconsin and Ohio.

Despite the love of family, I ended up going to school at the University of Notre Dame (go Irish!), where I stayed active in intramural sports and got into running. Notre Dame also opened my mind to the broader world and the various people living in it, sparking my lifelong interest in travel and my eventual career in public health. I had the opportunities to live for a summer in Denver; to study abroad for 6 months in France; and, to volunteer in Cape Coast, Ghana for 10 weeks. I also happened to meet my eventual husband in my senior year.

Since that time, I’ve lived in Chicago, taking a wandering path to where I’m at today, working for an organization focused on creating thriving communities across the city. We work mostly on the South and West Sides. I lead our research department, which examines how “social factors” – like income, housing, environment, and access to healthy food – impact people’s ability to live fulfilled and healthy lives. We take our findings and turn them into innovative solutions that improve people’s mental health, prevent chronic disease, and improve overall wellness. It is an exciting and challenging job all at the same time.

This all somewhat brings me to CrossFit. I never stopped being active since my days in grade school, finding physical activity a major outlet to release stress and deal with the highs and lows that life throws your way. Unfortunately, running started to take its toll and became less and less of an option. I found myself repeatedly in PT and taking a lot of time off to recover from injuries. Eventually, my therapist told me that if I wanted to keep up the mileage, I needed to get stronger. My husband and a good friend worked out at CrossFit Chicago and had me watching the Games. I thought it looked fun, so I joined, really just to supplement my running.

Eventually, CrossFit became a cornerstone of my own health and happiness. We’ve been members at three boxes as we’ve moved around the city, and I always love the energy, encouragement, and commitment of the members and coaches. We came to Windy City after moving to the neighborhood with our little girl, and everyone has been so welcoming and encouraging! One of the coolest things about our involvement in CrossFit is that we got our families into it, and my in-laws actually ended up becoming box owners in Cincinnati!

I make it a priority to show up because, in this busy, up-and-down life, a good sweat with some great people is the only thing that keeps me sane! If I have to take even a couple of days off, I feel less energy and it really impacts my mental wellbeing. I also want to keep traveling as I age and share that love with my kids and grandkids, so it is one sure way to stay strong for the long term.   

What does living BIG mean to you?

It means never getting too comfortable, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone in all aspects of life. Take that new job (even if you’re 41 weeks pregnant!), make that big move, fall head over heels in love, fight that fear of heights (bungee jumping!), meet new people that don’t look or think like you and have a conversation. Living BIG is always pushing your limits and assumptions with an open heart. These experiences not only leave you fulfilled on the good days but serve as sustenance when life throws its inevitable curveballs.

What would you do and where would you go if time/money were no object?

Especially having kids, we miss our families immensely and wish they were just a short drive away, yet we also love the village we’ve built here in Chicago. I don’t think I’d change much about life, but if I could have one wish, it’d be to have a transporter that could instantly take us to our mom’s kitchens for Sunday night dinner, or to our nephews’ sporting events, or to a friend’s birthday across the country, while still being cozy in our home at bedtime.

What adventures, events, trips, races do you have planned?

The main adventure this year is adding another human to our busy lives! She’s already part of the 5:30am crew.

What are your goals:

  • Fitness: There’s a video from my first pregnancy doing a strict pull up at 40 weeks pregnant, so that is a goal for this pregnancy (or as long as I make it this time…). I also had a major back injury after my last pregnancy because I didn’t take the time to recover my core, so I will not make that mistake again!
  • Professionally: I’m a bit of a workaholic, which can wreak havoc on my family life, so I’m working on ways to balance it all, especially since these babies grow up so fast – I don’t want these years to pass me by!  

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I used to figure skate competitively starting at age 6 until I was a teenager.

Words to Live By

I know it sounds cliché, but I have found that it truly takes a village. Life is inevitably going to give everyone highs and lows, and you need your support system through it all. I’ve been beyond blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family cheer me on during the highs and carry me during the lows. I hope that through my relationships and my work, I can pay that good fortune forward and ensure that others never have to walk this journey alone either.

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