What would YOU do if you tragically lost an arm? For 24-year-old Krystal Cantu, the answer was simple: Continue doing what you love.
Last year, the San Antonio resident and member of Ballistic CrossFit was involved in a car accident that resulted in the amputation of her right arm. She had just begun working out at her local box a few months earlier, and was days away from participating in a competition. “I remember every single detail from that day. As soon as I saw my arm, the CrossFit competition was the first thing that ran through my mind,” Cantu tells us. “It killed me knowing I wouldn’t be able to compete, but I was so grateful to still have my life.”
One month after her accident, Krystal was back at CrossFit. “I went back because I didn’t die...and my pride and competitive nature didn’t die, either. I’m a human, I’m scared of a lot of things — lightning storms, the world ending, and flying in planes — but, I’ve never been scared to go after something I love,” she says. And, at the three-month mark, Cantu did have her first competition: the Working Wounded Games.
The reason Krystal jumped back into her workouts as soon as she was cleared didn't have much to do with fitness; CrossFit was her happy place, and she wasn’t willing to give that up. “CrossFit is what keeps me sane on a day-to-day basis. It’s helped me become mentally tough. It’s pushed me to my limits and shown me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to, and it’s given me a way to help inspire others.” Cantu regularly posts motivating and uplifting videos and images (like the clip below) on her Instagram account.
Of course, people often question the safety of one-armed Crossfit. Cantu's advice: Know your body, understand your limitations, and work with the smartest coaches out there. “No sport or exercise is ever completely safe. If you want safety, wrap yourself in bubble wrap and sit on the couch. Driving to your hometown for the weekend sounds pretty safe — until you lose an arm in the process,” she says. Cantu and her coaches watched videos of adaptive athletes and revamped CrossFit movements to make them work for her. “I had some new things to learn,” Krystal says. But, “I take my time to train the right way. I’m patient... I’m here today and I’m stronger than ever.”
Determined and totally badass, Cantu has adjusted to her new situation and is proud to be an Adaptive CrossFit Athlete. “Adaptive athletes prove that anything is possible,” she says. "We let everyone know that it’s okay to look different...because you are just as strong as the person everyone considers 'normal.'”