Steph Hammerman has had cerebral palsy since birth. Her doctors thought she may never walk, talk, read or write, but Steph has not only accomplished those goals, but she has become the world’s first Level 2 CrossFit trainer with cerebral palsy.
Steph’s athletic background was as a competitive hand cycler. When she got bored with the training, a friend suggested CrossFit. She did her first workout in 2012, and was instantly hooked. The next year, she decided she wanted to become a coach, and took her certification course, becoming the world’s first woman with cerebral palsy to become a CrossFit trainer.
In 2016, Steph received life-changing news: she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She put all of her training plans on hold and had to fight for her life. After 6 months of treatment, she was in remission. “Now I had the task of answering a pretty serious question: What next?” Steph said.
She knew the positive impact fitness has had on her life and wanted to open a space where people could be themselves, feel great, and have fun doing it. She opened up her own gym – Hammer Driven Fitness – in 2018.
In addition to being a CrossFit trainer and gym owner, Steph is also Nike’s first sponsored adaptive training athlete. This came about somewhat by accident, however – because her cerebral palsy causes Steph to drag her feet when she walks, she wears out shoes quickly. She saw a new design of trainers that Nike was advertising, so she reached out to the company and asked if she could try a pair to see how they compared to all the other shoes she had gone through. She found that the Nike shoes lasted months longer than her previous shoes, and called the company to thank them and give them her feedback. In response, Nike said they wanted to sign her as an athlete. “From the very beginning, everyone at Nike treated me as an elite athlete.”
Steph says the best thing about being a coach and gym owner is fostering a community that she is proud of. “Our mission is to educate, motivate, and improve, but also to create a community that many have never experienced before,” she says. “Our community is full of people of different ages, sizes, and abilities. But, regardless of your level of experience, you are treated like the athlete and person you are.”
Although Steph and Hammer Driven Fitness are located in North Carolina, she is offering classes over Zoom during the Covid-19 pandemic. More information can be found on her website: hammerdrivenfitness.com