The CrossFit Games have become in the last couple of years, one of the most anticipated sporting events around the world. I have been attentively watching the female athletes compete for the past three years and was stoked to see that there are several Canadian women that make it to the games each year. One of which, is the amazing athlete Emily Abbott, from Alberta. She finished 35th overall at the CrossFit Games in 2014, then 8th in 2015, 20th in 2016 and 19th at the 2017 games. She will be competing in Costa Rica and then Dubai in December and will also be partaking in Wodapalooza in Miami before starting the sanctioned CrossFit season leading up the next year’s games. So incredibly stoked that Emily is sharing her journey with us today!
1) What first drew you to CrossFit?
I played basketball at a high level at University of Windsor for 5 years. Post Uni I was traveling throughout Europe…after eating and drinking to my hearts content I came back to North America slightly heavier and a little uncomfortable. My boyfriend at the time suggested I try this “CrossFit thing” as he thought I would be pretty good at it. I tried it out and loved how it sparked my competitive edge I had used for so long when I played basketball. I also loved the nature of constantly improving or working on one’s weaknesses. When I first started CrossFit I couldn’t do a single strict pull-up. I was determined to change that. And I did.
2) The sport has evolved tremendously in just a few short years, how has that impacted you as an athlete who practices the sport at a high level?
I started training CrossFit seriously in 2013. The next year I made it to the CrossFit Games. My involvement in the sport has been that of rapid ascension. I got into competing at the right time. I was 24! Now I am 28 and I can sure notice a difference between me competing against someone who is 22. The sport is attracting younger athletes, athletes who start CrossFit at 16 rather than a washed up former college athlete. So my recovery game in between sessions has to be that much more thorough. Can’t smash training all day and have a few beers anymore… my discipline with the sport has definitely evolved because of that. I still have fun though. To keep things fresh I pursue other movement because I value athleticism- not just linear CrossFit. I bike, dance, surf, hike and try to move in all ways outside of the gym.
3) You have been at the CrossFit Games since 2014, what does a typical training week look like for you when gearing up for the games?
Regionals training is brutal. Games training is a blast/still brutal. I typically train 2-3 times a day. Each session I try to knock out in 2 hours so I can eat and rest in between. It is important to place time limits on yourself or next thing you know you have been at the gym all day and your training sessions way too long. Intensity is key. Eating food right after a training session is vital. My coaches will then throw in some surprise miserable workout just to see if I have the grit to power through. I also add in a lot of running, biking and swimming miles throughout the week. At some point you will hit this stage called “over-reaching.” It is at this point, mentally, that training becomes the toughest. You don’t want to do another burpee, another warm-up, another squat—you are SICK of working out. And that is when you know you are ready to taper, rest and go out to snap necks and cash cheques.
4) Do you feel that the sport currently supports and provides as many opportunities for women as it does for men?
CrossFit is one of the only sports I have competed in where I feel there is a solid platform for both female and male athletes alike. Same prize money, same sponsorship opportunities. The women’s competition this year was way more exciting than the men’s side- it was electric! If anything women have an easier time in this sport because we are a little more creative on the social media front. We have a little more fun with it. That being said, like in any sport, women are still objectified and hyper-sexualized. It’s a double edged sword because we work hard for our bodies (on the extreme fitness end- training like this isn’t for health and wellness- its for performance which can be a detriment to hormonal function, joints etc.) and should be proud to show the world strong, healthy bodies. On the other hand why the hell are we wearing booty shorts that ride up our asses to workout for time? Ahh such a conundrum but it is a tale as old as women competing in sport!
5) What is your favourite event to perform in and why?
Power output events. I am a pure power athlete. A short, hard sprint is what I do best in. Pure WORK- no skill haha. I am working my hardest to level that out however. I need to be more on the endurance end!
To follow Emily‘s journey, check her out on Instagram here.