I missed it because I was in Australia, but here is the episode where I visited the Biggest Loser ranch and got to lift with Olympian, Holley Mangold. Watch the video to see me, Katie Hogan, Maddy Curley, Amanda Douglas (in her famous orange tutu), Chelsey Hughes, Karianne Dickson and coach Michael Casey lift with Holley and Bob.
I have been so excited for this episode to air so I could talk about it! Holley was an Offensive Lineman and played football in high school when she got into power lifting. She went on to achieve her dreams making it to the Olympics after changing to Olympic Weightlifting only four years before. She was on True Life on MTV, and loves who she is and what she does with confidence. As a 5’8″ 350 lb. World Champion lifter, she competed in London 2012. She says, “Love yourself. Love your body. If you’re convinced you’re awesome sooner or later everyone around you is going to start believing the same thing.”
This season she’s a contestant on the show to see how far she can push herself to lose weight.
Two years ago I was sitting on he ground covered in sweat at CrossFit Mean Streets in downtown Los Angeles with my friends Ronnie and Aris. We had just got done with a treacherous workout I’d made up with too many rope climbs and too many heavy wall balls that we still remember being the hardest workout we’d done yet, and we named it “Dancer.” Glad that I’d made it out of that one alive- the conversation turned to Reebok. I started dancing around the room swingin from bars, “It would be soooo cooool to be a Reebok athlete!! I wonder what you have to do to be one?? I mean how good do you have to be ‘til they call you up on the phone and ask you to be one? I mean I bet you just have to be soo strong!”
We all talked about it and wondered if it had to do with the Open or you had to make it to the Games and had no idea what it all meant because Reebok had just came into the sport of CrossFit and we all could only guess what that entailed. We came to the conclusion that if I got really strong and worked really hard maybe I could sign a contract for being a professional CrossFitter! I just remember feeling so much energy from the idea and being so excited about how much work I’d have to do! I had been to the Games on team at that point and was coaching full-time, but could only dream of making it individual… opening a gym…
At that point in my life I had no idea which direction I wanted to go, I just saw a big mystery cloud full of CrossFit looming over my head that was just barely out of reach… and I knew the journey of all its promises was going to be the most challenging part.
Two years later… brings me to this week, in Miami Florida at the Reebok Athlete Summit. I signed my contract about six months ago, right before this years SoCal regionals. I was standing outside looking at all the world-class athletes in the room of a fancy hotel, wondering how on earth I got here. Reviewing how fast those two years flew by and –POOF- here I am fully dressed in my normal armor of Reebok amongst some of the fittest athletes on earth.
We were called into a room one by one with our new summit shirts on to take a picture and talk into a camera. I get so nervous around cameras, interviews, photo shoots, all of the above. If people take pics while I’m training or competing, fine but it’s rare that I say yes to that nervous feeling I get when I’m looking into a camera – the entire time thinking ‘slowwww down, don’t talk too fast…. Don’t act too excited… don’t laugh really loud or snort- Andrea no snorting!’
They asked me why I was excited to be there, and I immediately was talking about meeting and training with everyone tomorrow! They asked who I was most excited to meet I’m like I don’t know! I don’t know…. And then realizing all the times I’d met the athletes, and realizing there weren’t that many I hadn’t become aquaintances with, and some were now friends. I ended up joking and blurting out, “Well I was probably most excited to meet Graham Holmberg but I moved to Ohio for a few months and now his 2010 Games champion stardom is wearing off on me!” They laughed. Ok my dorkness was out – glad I was no longer fooling anyone.
Throughout the summit we ate meals together in a big room full of white round tables where everyone chatted about the models of their gyms, how they want to expand, funny member stories, training, and gym programming. It showed how much the times have changed because the discussion of trips and visiting different countries through CrossFit opportunities were everywhere. Reebok sponsored athletes were getting called all over the world to just- be themselves! Train with the community, compete on showcase teams or for titles, coach beginner athletes all the way to other Games athletes, do what they love, and spreading it all over the globe.
All 40 of us were separated into 8 teams of 5 people. Each one had a captain, which was someone that had been on the podium at the Games, and an Assistant Captain, someone who had proven themselves year after year at the Games. I was with Kyle Casperbauer, Stacie Tovar, Michele Letendre, and Orlando Trejo. These were the workouts:
Fight gone Bad Style, the runner is the pacer for how long you work at each station, racking up one running score for the whole workout, and combining team totals.
Almost immediately, we started the next part which was 2 bars per team, and a 20 minute time cap to work up to a 4-part barbell complex.
-1 power clean
-1 hang power clean
-1 hang squat clean
-1 squat clean
After the first workout with 40 people swimming in the humidity of Miami Beach… we loaded the bars in preparation to max out in our clean sequence. That was actually my favorite part because sharing a barbell with woman like Stacie and Michele who are petite, but so powerful and strong, was eye opening. I’ve been working on my Olympic Weightlifting for years now, but just recently has it felt like it’s really come together. I feel more much more consistent with bar placement leading up into the American Open Weighlifting Championships I just recently qualified for, which is less than a month away.
A big take-away was the fact that before we trained, almost every single athlete was doing mobility, squatting, warming up, and rolling out. Every single person cared enough about the maintenance of their body to prep the right way, to make sure they could move well and perform. Little note to our clients, members, CrossFit box ‘wodkillas’… if it’s good enough for them- it’s good enough for you! Take care of your body before training!
Afterwards you would have thought we were done, but instead we all did our own programming, did skill work in small groups, or watched as people “showed off” (that’s what we’re best at right? Being good at cool fitness stuff?) in gymnastics and gave tips to each other while the Reebok camera crew walked around and got all the action on camera. Julie Foucher and I did a workout our coach Doug Chapman had scheduled, with thrusters and deadlifts, that undoubtedly looked easier on paper than it was!
I truly believe that THIS is how the sport grows. Reebok bringing athletes from all over the world together not only in competition but in training! Keeping track of what eachother are up to on social media and making posts about training is no where CLOSE to as beneficial as being face to face, working on things TOGETHER.
The Reebok employees were showing us the 2014 product line, and we were giving feedback, and for the most part, very intrigued over the next years line of colors, patterns and materials. They amount of performance shoes they have coming was amazing, but the best part was the speech given. It was about how many employees at the Reebok Headquarters participate in CrossFit. The same thing that gets us athletes up in the morning and gives our entire day energy is the same thing that gets them up in the morning. That settled well with me, and made me feel even luckier to be apart of the team.
Don Hasselbeck, 1983 Raiders player and one of the corporate workers for Reebok, was sitting next to me at one of the dinners. He asked the group what we thought of the training day. It was quiet, so I said loudly, “Today was the best day ever.” Marcus Hendren, who I first met on our Reebok trip to Africa, and Graham, immediately made fun of me and laughed, “She always says that. About everything! Even the most normal days are the greatest- don’t trust her!” I’ve spent the last few months in Ohio with them, training power lifting. They’ll never know…. how easy and simple it is for me to over-enjoy experiencing this level of CrossFit with this passionate community….
I guess I’ve never been a good secret keeper.