Fee Saghafi, a CrossFit Games 2023 Finalist! S01E04 Relentless Podcast

We sat down with Fee Saghafi and talked about her fantastic season – with a place at the CrossFit Games 2023 Finals as the current highlight! Check out this hour long interview.

we should we should introduce you at least, Fee so hello everyone and welcome to the relentless podcast today me Sofie and Marcus my name is John by the way I keep forgetting is gonna a little chat with Fee Saghafi the pretty much let’s say you were a little bit of an underdog for qualifying this year

but you managed to qualify out of the was the east of course because you’re stationed in Florida mm hmm yeah the Northeast North America East semifinal this year yeah one of the two North America semifinals got to ask just right off the bat because we watched it religiously of course

like the first semi and so on and we saw when the speaker on the floor announced your name your reaction was pretty cool right how did that feel oh my gosh just think about it already makes me emotional it’s crazy it’s like they I didn’t know where I was gonna finish because my last two events went not to plan and I didn’t execute the way that we were hoping to

and so it’s just you never know and you just hope that it was enough and you hope that the earlier days were enough points and you hope that the right people were able to give you enough cushion like there’s just so many things that could have gone in a different way in just a couple seconds here and there

could have just completely changed the outcome just like you’ve seen maybe and even other semi finals so when they announced I finish and I did very bad on that last event and I finish and I cross I was the last one in that last heat to cross and I look at my

as you know my fiance and my family and I asked was that enough and was the first thing that came out of my mouth I was like did I did I make it like immediately and they’re like we don’t know

we don’t know the points like he’s a he’s an accountant in my his sister is also an accountant so they’re always doing the math like how many points away and I was like they’re like we don’t know like and I was freaking out and um

and then at some at one point I think I turned to them too and I was just like I didn’t make it I didn’t make like I was like that was that was it I messed up again praying and anyway

so then eventually someone comes over and says you guys got to sit on your mat and you got to look to the screen and we’re announcing and we’re gonna start from you know Emma who got first to last place and they’re going through and I’m like

and then I hear Sydney’s name get called I was like man she bumped up a lot of spots if she bumped up a lot of spots I must have fallen a good amount cause I was seventh going into it and seventh has always kind of been that number that I for some reason just fall into that and I wasn’t seventh

so I was worried and you know the cameras start going and you eventually get an idea of like who’s getting announced but sometimes there’s two cameras you know one for one person one for the other kind of kind of

build the suspense and I didn’t really like notice the camera on me because I was just like looking at the screen like what the heck is about to be called and then they called my name and it almost felt like a cylinder block was just like

taken off my shoulders and I feel like I was just like Hallelujah like you know I’m getting emotion already like I could still feel those emotions and it was just like you fall to your knees just cause like man like you just

there are so many emotions and you didn’t know what the outcome was gonna be and it finally became the outcome that you wanted and you work so hard for so man it was I turned to the crowd I remember I turned to the crowd I turned to my fan I threw my hands up in the air and I screamed

finally at the top of it that was that there was an awesome picture that so many photographers got I got so everyone got it oh my God and I screamed finally like as if like you know the weight was taken off and yeah

what a moment I keep looking at that video when the day cause the days are really hard the training is really hard and I find myself going back to that moment a lot cause I I dreamt of that moment like man I would have so many dreams of like hearing

like hearing my name cause I’ve never had my name called for anything um cause even when I got my you know invitation in 2019 it was a weird qualification here where you open you could get it through other things and it didn’t feel like I ever like officially

earned something until this time until this year so it was nice because the semis they are kind of that is the crucible right that’s the tough one to get across that is that

when you could get in through the open or something else that was a different game wasn’t it like yeah it was different it was yeah it definitely wasn’t the same you didn’t have to in 2019 you didn’t have to earn it live

if you made it you know if you were the top 20 or 25 30 best in the world whatever that cut line was they considered the national champions you know they considered a whole bunch of other people and that was a huge roster of athletes that were able to be included

at the games and the you know the cuts and all of that so yeah so it almost felt like you know you I earned it through the open through five events and um I actually wasn’t expecting it so when I got the emails

like oh hey how it’s like exciting but I didn’t feel what I felt you know this time around it was it was almost wild card ish right to get in like that yeah and then

you know and then 2020 was Covid it was kind of still the same it was still the same format in 2020 before you know Covid so still earn it through the open if you don’t get it through the open you get it live

at sanctionals you know at the time so anyone that are had already qualified through the open that just happened to be competing at that respective sanctional the bid went to that next person so I was at like a sanctional called Mayhem Classic

and that’s where Tia was competing Danielle Brandon was competing Christie Arama they all podiumed and I got fourth so in that year that bid went to the fourth place which was me

that year and um and then you know January February comes around Covid is like you know the biggest thing in the world and so you know invites and then sanctionals got canceled invites got rescinded

the only people that made virtual Covid were the open finishers so yeah so that was just like a weird year yeah this is this is a proper year it feels like this is the first real

proper year in a while right yeah yeah so there’s a lot of talk about this this time around that the semis were favoring the the powerful and a bit heavier athlete this time around I think you know doing muscle up with a weighted vest and etc under all the machines and rope pull machines and running in that event didn’t like you know

account for all the other things so may I ask what’s your body weight yeah so actually my body weight fluctuates between 132 135 everybody takes a calculator and tries to figure out what that is in kilo yeah so it’s like 58 kg wow 58 59 yeah yeah yeah so so my guesstimate would be that you’re probably you’re probably going to be the

the lightest of the qualifiers yeah I think and that’s like it makes the performance in my opinion I think it makes it even you know even better you know it does considering that the competition was like you know

a bit biased cool very cool yeah that’s always tough it’s like at some point that can’t even be a thought in your mind because then you could always find an excuse to not perform and we talk a lot about this a lot with my coach especially that uh as you know what in training and when we take the floor

um but especially when we take the floor the only thing that matters is is how we execute to our plan and no one else matters no one else’s plan matters no one else’s results matter no one else’s strategy should affect your strategy and he actually had you know we had a team meeting before semifinal so on Thursday afternoon before briefings

we just collectively got together and he which is very clear that we’ve done what we needed to do and the only thing that we needed to focus on was our execution and if we focus on our best execution we will all be making it to the games because the strength the preparations you know we all had moments

you know great great moments individually and then we also all had moments that we Learned from and we got exposed and some more than others and I definitely got exposed but that’s just kind of the nature of it and you wouldn’t want it any other way because when you do have a good moment it just tastes so much sweeter but yeah

I’ve always kind of I’ve just been I mean I’m 5 1 I weigh you know my weight’s not gonna much change but it’s cool I’ve been working a lot on my strength so it was just like really just so encouraging to see that the the progress is

it is there strength takes so long to build and it sometimes takes years and years and years for anyone to ever see like a little bit of progress so it’s cool to just have a couple moments like that so talking about strength it’s like sorry I Sofie what did you say sorry I was gonna ask

what was your like most except for you qualifying what was the best moment of the weekend like the one that you’re most proud of that’s I love the best moment of my week so this is crazy so the best moment of my weekend was the snatch event was the one RM Snatch after you know the hundred meter jog buy in like we were all just jogging and

and I think I got okay I got somewhere in like 20th 20 something place finish you know not but it was and the reason it was because my favorite was because every semifinal every competition that I’ve ever done it’s always the lifting that kept me out of qualifying because it was always the lift that put me down in like the top 20

or not even top 20 I’m sorry outside of the top 20 maybe like close to 30th place finish it was never enough points for me to come back you know even though I will have you know maybe fourth fifth sixth place finishes and all the other events it was always the lift that just kept me so far out every single year

leaving up to that lifting event this year um I was very nervous for it because this is just like you know I don’t want history to repeat itself I’ve been working very hard on my strength you just hope that everything comes together and I was missing um my opening lifts in the back which was 165 pounds (74,84kg) kilos somewhere

but 165 pounds (74,84kg) was my opening lift and I had missed it a couple times and I knew the plan was 180 pounds (81,64kg) to like be happy with I would be so happy with 180 (81,64kg) and I was just very nervous and one of the coaches not Matt Torres another coach Dom De Augustino

he we’re warming up and we’re taking a couple extra lips in the back and he comes up to me he noticed that I was very like nervous for this event and I hadn’t been nervous leading up to that really and he comes up to me he goes I don’t care you know he’s like whatever you’re thinking in your head

just every time you step up to that bar you need to rip that bar as if it’s your ticket to the Crossfit games there’s nothing else that I need you to think about you’re ripping that bar over your head as if every time you step to that bar this is your ticket nothing else matters and it was like sparked like

something like in me was like okay I’m not thinking about my hips down my chest I’m not thinking about my technique I’m just thinking about ripping this thing because this is it so we go out you know we take the floor we’re lifting we were starting our lifts

and I hit my first lift made it when I like missed it a couple times in the back second lift I hit I bumped up 175 (79,37kg) hit the plan was 180 and we had talked about 180 the entire week leading up to it and I I looked at the clock everyone’s you know

some people are missing some people are making I’m like I like I gotta go for it we talked about 180 I was like I got 15 seconds on the clock I’m gonna hate myself if I don’t go for it so I slap on you know two and a half pounds and within five seconds

I put my hands on the bar rip it over my head and I’ve never made I haven’t made that I’ve never made that lift ever and I haven’t lifted anything over 170 in you know over six months and I made it it was one of those moments

and I’m like oh like it just felt like it floated up by the end of the weekend we come to realize because my execution wasn’t good on the last day the 185 gave me enough buffer points to make it to the games this year wow so if I had lifted 180 I wouldn’t have been making it to the games but because I chose to

you know kind of risk it a little bit on that last lift that 185 gave me enough points it was the first time that a lift allowed me to succeed and make it to the CrossFit Games so that was my favorite moment I’d say it’s your mindset that made you succeed rather than the lifting in itself yes I’ve always been lifting has always been hard for me because um it’s just the confidence behind it

I’ve always I’ve had I just get in my head a lot sometimes and yeah so that’s been the biggest struggle just building that confidence and building um just kind of the girdiness that you have to have when you’re lifting and you can’t allow bad thoughts as soon as it’s almost like you know any other sport once your mind starts to take over

your body responds to what you say and yeah lifting is one of those monsters that uh you could easily fall into some bad self talk and not perform the way that you can um so it was a really cool moment of just like me and it was it’s always in there like it’s always in there I just gotta find it I gotta tap into it the semifinals in general

like overall how did it go your expectations versus or your plans versus the actual execution yeah so in in my mind I had a certain expectation and I I truly wanted to like be a little bit closer to the podium I wanted to be you know top 5

I wanted my execution to reflect way better than what it was um I think there’s there were certain things that there were a lot of things that I’m I look back and I’m like okay you know we need to practice a more you know high skilled handstand walking that was a struggle

the pirouettes were a big struggle for me I’m generally pretty okay at bodyweight movements but the skill of handstand walking is a struggle because I developed such bad habits very early on when I first started CrossFit and since I’ve only been working with my coach for two years but I’ve only been working with him like directly for like since November so I’ve never really had like

the true coaching that I needed to really be successful in very specific areas of the sport so anyway so I got exposed and the areas that I realized that I knew I was gonna be exposed I just didn’t think I was gonna be that bad you know on some events you know I had the handstand walking pirouette or that first event on Sunday was the gymnastics one overhead squat

rowing handstand walking all the other movements were great for me strict handstand push ups and legless rope climbs um and in the back I was warming up for that event and I wasn’t missing my pirouettes I was like oh man these are locked in today like we’re gonna have a great event

and I get to the first pirouette and I miss and then eventually you know it’s like oh my god like you know all these thoughts oh my god this is the first pirhouette I have three more to go I have an entire workout to go I wasn’t missing any in the back

like you’re freaking out and the only thing you can do is drop and rest and tell yourself something good before you go and there was just so many mental moments and the last event was hard for me the the biking and the you know we’re just working on that like that’s just like biking and power output is something that I work on all year long

and sometimes I look like it but I’m working on it so hard and it’s just I just had I gave what I had but yeah there are a lot of learning moments very specific to specific events and skills or just execution um but I wasn’t surprised I was expecting I was expecting to get exposed

I’m just happy I wasn’t so exposed that it kept me out you know a third year I like Marcus said this year they clearly favored the bigger powerful athlete because of reasons and you making it despite that you know let’s just assume that it won’t be as biased in the Games

with the same type of athlete then you’re probably gonna do some damage this year I don’t think you’re gonna do really good so I’m really hoping that you know I think the most the most stressful part for me so far has been actually semifinals because I’ve struggled to make it to the Games so I feel like the most like truly like

mentally stressful season has already passed and now I get to just truly just have fun and express and celebrate my hard work whatever the results are I really hope that you know my hundred percent looks the way that I’m hoping it does but that’s not my biggest story is not podium or

you know getting a specific spot this year so when we’re talking about mentality what has been the difference for you preparing for semifinals this year and now preparing for the games so preparing for semi finals was very it was just all very it was it was hard because everything as athletes at root strength we’re all very specific to

we all have our individualized programming so once the events came out actually it was nice to see the events and first be like okay I’ve been preparing for all of these like there’s nothing that I’m not ready for other than maybe you know the pirouettes and the skills haven’t wasn’t preparing as much for that but um there was a confidence going into semi I had more a lot of confidence going into semi finals because I had

we had known the events we practiced them we had in the off season we’ve done really really good preparation thanks to my coach and now going into the Games I’m actually still hammering a lot of my holes and my weaknesses and there’s only so much that you could accomplish in six weeks

but you know that still maintains the focus it’s not like you qualify for the games and all of a sudden I’m doing like a whole other program just because it’s the Crossfit games I’m still working on the heavy the odd objects the sprints

the power output so that’s still my focus and it’s nice because when I’m in a training camp I’m in a training camp that actually you have podium contenders within the brute strength training camp which is amazing it’s be surrounded by that in a way where I feel like I could still get exposed

and learn from Emma expose and learn from Danielle and hopefully I’m able to do the same when it comes to certain training pieces for them so there’s that push and pull constantly but training for the Games is a lot more volume a lot more intensity a lot more of everything but it’s still just

as I would say I still feel healthy mentally when it comes to just the excitement to go into it I feel like I have almost like the rookie excitement still what I had maybe my first year I still have it going into it this year so everything that I do I’m very just I’m just very grateful to be able to do it

even though the training’s very hard it’s an opportunity for me to just show all that hard work alongside my training partners so it’s happy to be there kind of thing it’s it’s a little bit of both like I’m so excited to compete like obviously like I love competing and I love beating people like that is just like

the competitor side yeah the other side of me is like man like I look at it as this I think as a competitor there’s a lot of people that hold competing as like one of the most important things in their life in their season in their chapter in their day and they will do anything

at all cost to get first place and if it’s not first place it’s a loss right so anyone that has that mindset they look at someone like me and they’re like oh if he’s just like she doesn’t care you know they might think that I’m just happy to be there I’m grateful to be there and I’m grateful to be there

there’s a difference between being content being there and there’s a difference between actually having like a sense of gratitude and honor because none of that is promised um I’ve done a lot of things to change uh you know my season and who I’m developing as an athlete and with that comes a lot of stress um so yes I’m more grateful and honored to be able to do this and represent people that I represent

my culture my country all those things so when I do compete I’m gonna give 100% and I’m gonna be fierce and competitive and gritty and I’m not gonna think that oh whatever happens happens like I’m going to get my best but competing is also

not the most important thing in my life so even if I don’t place the way that I want to place or I don’t get first or I don’t get top 10 or I don’t get whatever I know I’m gonna walk away so proud because I’ve done so much and I’ve changed so much and I’ve improved in so many ways that it’s gonna be very hard for me to be

upset at myself um and to have not competed at the Games for a long time and to get that chance again I take it was it’s so much more sweeter to me it’s so much more special um than maybe someone that you know is expected to always get there I’m not expected to get there nor do I expect

that’s out of myself every year so I’m just very honored I’m not just like happy hmm do you have an outcome goal there like do we have a I want a place at least something yeah my my goal is top 15 I want

I want to be top 15 I think I think I could I could I absolutely believe I could do it if I like I said if my execution is there because I’ve just proven to myself and to my coach and I know my coach believes that more than anyone as well I just trust that the capacity is there

yeah so it’s gonna be a great it’s gonna be a season to be exposed once again to learn but to also like really truly tap into the things that I believe I could do so I would love to be I would love to earn you know a top 15 spot at the games and but you don’t really focus on that

no by the start of the weekend your focus is the first event boom second event on third of the leg it’s a one event at a time thing so but that’s the end hmm and so do you work with a special coach when it comes to you know mental stuff

you have like a mental coach I don’t I don’t have a mental coach I so how do you go through that process I mean like all the old things you’re mentioning it seems like you have I mean you have probably evolved the last 10 years I guess that even the last five years or maybe even the last three years from from what I’m

from what I’m hearing so tell us a little bit about that process I mean yeah I’ve never had a mental coach and I think I think it’s I think everyone you know I always believe that everyone should you know you don’t have to have these deep dark rooted problems to have

you know conversations about hard things because everyone deals with hard things and so do I I think what’s helped me though is my family keeps me very grounded my relationship I have very good relationships in my life and I think that’s what I you know I you know thank God for you know

gifting me a very good husband a fiance and family that’s so supportive and actually an entire I’m so lucky to be able to come from an entire community of people at CrossFit Mentality but also at so many different gyms around in the Cleveland area that I feel that even just I’ve gotten a chance to connect with and there’s something very powerful of you go

going through this very special journey that you’re choosing to go on and for some reason people go on it with you not because they have to but because they truly just want to see you succeed and that has given me so much gratitude and I just feel so much love so like even though if I don’t qualify or if I don’t finish the way that I’m hoping to finish

I feel so much love and support and it I had talked to Sofie about this like I’m not scared to fail you know whatever we consider failing um because I’ve I’ve I have that those people that keep me grounded and rooted to who I am and competing is not something I have to do it’s not the only thing

it’s a very you know small chapter of my life but I think the relationships that come out of competing are the most beautiful ones and that’s gonna be with me for the rest of my life so when things are hard and when things are frustrating and I get sad or maybe I feel like I’m not progressing that’s what I lean on

and that’s what I think about and I think that’ll always you know be the most important and the most infinite thing and how I place in a competition is very finite and it’ll come and it’ll go and I think how we treat people with kindness and how we love on people and how we support others

that’s what stays and that’s just the that fuel that kind of just keeps me going all right very nice I think you answered this question with not as precise words so what I’m going to ask is like so what I’ve noticed is that amongst many athletes is like they’re different kind of characteristics

and from what I can tell those who are have like matured and been in the game for a long while long time they tend to be not 24/7 athletes they tend to you know to not be serious all the time you know they’re like those who are able to like

get away from the from the stress of you know weighing all the food you know thinking about the next session and thinking about the next event etc thinking about other stuff you know changing environments etc so the question is how how much of how much of other things are you doing

how much do you fit how much of your willpower do you spend on other stuff than actual you know only thrusters and burpees yeah I everything in my day pretty much at this point revolves around how well I’m recovering

how well am I prepared for the next session and so it just happens to be that part of the season that you know everything that I like I say no to like a lot of things just so I could be at home I could sleep I could recover I could eat healthy meals and not

be going out um I don’t I’m not as disciplined as weighing my food um every single day to the gram you know I I sometimes do it throughout the week um but that’s like truly like you know someone consider like a whole

or maybe an area that still needs improvement I just I just eat as much as I can I’m not I’m definitely not an overeater and I’m definitely not someone that eats unhealthy but I don’t weigh things to the gram or to the ounce I do have a scale at home that sometimes I do it’s more so

to make sure I’m actually eating enough but other than that everything else is revolved around my recovery performance and how it’s gonna affect the next training session I’ll get home and I’ll eat lunch and I’ll throw my

recovery boots on and I’m focused on that I have a wedding in August and I haven’t planned my wedding like I’ll tell you that I’ll tell you that much my wedding and by my future husband who has done

probably 95% of the wedding planning and he told me he’s like the CrossFit Games are you know that’s your focus and it’s it’s so hard to focus on anything else for me but he’s planned the wedding my day is is that

when I’m not competing or when I’m not training I think I find a lot of just joy in just spending time with my fiance Al and my friends in simple things literally it’s not going out it’s just going to the beach it’s going to the pool it’s sitting you know in the steam room

like it is like you know maybe we go and maybe play a little board game every now and then but yeah that’s really the thing that just relaxes us for right now and every season is different leading up to the Games you’re not really doing much outside of the gym in the off season you know maybe you find yourself enjoying life a little bit more you go out a little bit more

you go to a nice restaurant you go to a nice bar but right now leading up to the Games like everything it revolves around making the next session the most successful session yeah I was just I have a close friend of mine who’s a weightlifter and she came forth in the Olympics you know obviously pretty damn good

decent decent yeah this stuff does decent but one thing that amazes me with her is that she is she’s so able to be like 100% focused but when she goes into training it’s like this and she put you know she she pulls the switch

there’s something else but but she she doesn’t even look at her training program before she enters the gym interesting it’s crazy because but she has a negative thing connected to that because if she starts starts to visualize about what she’s gonna do in the gym

she thinks about breaking her elbow you know if she would visualize snatch she’s got she’s gonna think about all the bad things that’s gonna happen so therefore she just procrastinates and then oh looks fun then she heads into gym and she you know makes like 150% of that session

but when she leaves she leaves she switches her mentality off does a lot of other thing but she’s low she’s serious about it but it’s like she can disconnect from it yeah in a way and I and I think it’s not that she’s not disciplined she’s 100% disciplined

how she balances life you know I’m I admire that because I think most are not able to do it and I think that’s one of the reasons that she got to the Olympics plays pretty well from such a small country as Sweden in weightlifting she has no you know no competitors at her level in Sweden

she is actually the best weightlifter in Sweden since the 1970s in all categories like oh yeah yeah so so but it’s like what’s your name Patricia Strenius I’m gonna have to look around see that what you said I think is so important because

you you hear about you know the greats of every sport you know at some point there’s always some documentary that comes out of the LeBron James the Kobe Bryant the Matt Frasier you know CrossFit they they say these were my keys to my success and if you wanna win

you have to do you have to you know essentially give up all these things or you can’t do all these things or you have to follow this specific routine and if you’re not doing this you don’t want it enough or you’re not disciplined enough and I don’t think that’s true I think every human being

just as every human being is different mentally physically spiritually emotionally every great athlete has their version of what it takes to be successful you know by their own definition I think every athlete needs to do what makes them happy what makes them the most successful

what keeps them mentally the healthiest in their sport in their relationships and I don’t think it’s this cookie cutter like if you want to win you gotta this is what you gotta do you gotta wake up before you gotta say no to your relationships you gotta you know say say yes to only doing these couple things

and I’ve never agreed with any of that and there’s a reason that there’s a lot of athletes that also burn out there’s incredible athletes that are the best in their respective sports that burnt out and it comes to show that people need balance and the successful people are the people that you know win championships and all those things

they say that there’s no balance but those are the same people that probably have broken a lot of relationships in their life and at the end of the day what happens when you’re not an athlete anymore yeah you’re left with how you made people feel right the relationships that you’ve you know broken or created right and there there’s something after that comes

and if you don’t know what that thing is you you could be left as a broken athlete after your sport and that’s very dangerous and it’s very sad so I think everyone should find whatever just makes them successful and happy and gives them you know that purpose and sometimes you see some great athletes they just they compete so well

because they’re filled with purpose maybe it’s their kids right you see I could think of so many athletes that they maybe their moms and their dads and like they’re not competing just to win they’re competing because they have a family and they have kids and they want to set an example and they want to teach some great lessons ahead

and that is so much more valuable than winning at all costs yeah it’s the bigger picture mm hmm I’m gonna I’m gonna just quickly share a little thing about do you know who Dan John is Dan John mm hmm no all right it’s because I’m old I know him but it’s just so

I think this picture tells a lot about it the pre owned plaything and work rest is an advocate of like forever hour you put into you know work you need to put in the adequate amount of rest with your family you know maybe not really and stop and depending on how old your kids are

yeah the play a lot and I think it’s he’s been written he’s written many books his he’s a great coach he’s from you oh you have to send it through I definitely want to read that mm hmm everyone’s balance is different too it’s not gonna be

you know 25 25 25 25 sometimes you got to give a little bit more somewhere else but as long as the things that are important to you still you know you’re still able to give attention and time to and some days are more than others some days are less than others and that’s okay and I think that’s just

no different than a relationship like a relationship I’ve very quickly realized that it’s not you know half and half it’s not you do 50% of the work I’m gonna do 50% of the work and together we are 100 we are one like it’s just not that this year you know

my fiance is taking about 95% of the wedding planning I got 5% in me right now and you hello flowers but after the wedding I’m gonna take care of some things like but that’s just how it is and I think that’s just life and I think that’s a beautiful thing I think that’s everything that makes life interesting and there’s so much you learn from that and yeah

I think balance could be defined in a million different ways to a million different people but at the end of the day I think if you’re able to end the day being like you know I have good relationships I’m happy and healthy or maybe I’m not happy and healthy and I’m looking for help and I’m continuing to push on forward then things are going still in the right direction

yeah definitely so is there is there a person or a thing that you can hear while competing is someone’s voice or is it some some kind of music or usually you know what different well very quickly I heard my fiance in the stands

I’ll hear him cheering and talking about a very specific thing I could sometimes even hear people like him in the sands like just like scream and I enjoy looking like when I compete um one of the one of the things that I realize that when other girls compete

and maybe sometimes guys too is when they walk out to the floor they don’t look around like they do not look around they look they walk to their mats they look down they look down at the floor and there’s people cheering for you and how are

like in my mind I’m like there’s people that are screaming your name wearing your T-shirt holding for you that make don’t even know you and you’re not even gonna look around and try to acknowledge so that’s one thing I try to look out and enjoy and just like take it in every event

um I think that’s so special and sometimes you hear the cheers in the music um typically you know when you start to compete you kind of just that’s your focus and that’s what you kind of black out there’s a couple things that I do tell myself though when I am competing

when I get and one of those there’s I feel like everyone needs to latch on maybe into like a different mantra when things are hard the first event the um sled wasn’t moving so wow yeah I don’t know if you guys even got to watch that one but the sleds weren’t budging that floor the mat like

something was just so off and the only thing that I kept saying in my head I was like do not stop don’t stop don’t stop like pulling like pulling don’t stop and I could almost I could hear my voice in my head but yeah there’s and there’s certain things and certain situations and events where I try to like

have a very good self talk mantra and that’s the only thing that I’m focusing on when I was failing pirouettes I told myself right like I would like fail look at my clock okay breathe okay and then I would you know focus on the next thing but yeah sometimes I hear a voice in my head

sometimes I hear people cheering most of the time I don’t hear the music the mantra is good because you can only think about one thing at the same time so if you want to keep your negative thoughts out you can have the mantra just breathe exactly it’s gonna be fine just breathe

you know whatever it’s really good there’s so much noise going on that you have to lock into one thing because it could get to you pretty bad and I think you could sometimes see the difference between people like that’s just kind of you know the athletes that have been doing it for a while you could see like

they’re calm and their composure and you could see the athletes that just play whatever’s going on physically they’re still able to stay calm and composed and it’s not because you know anything other than they’re very good at talking to themselves through you know a hard situation or maybe they’re failing something and sometimes that just comes with the experience of it

too maybe some athletes I’ve seen this been talked about they are they get overexcited they they rush into things they they go too fast in the beginning and so on maybe they need to seal themselves off from the from from all the energy from the crowd and so on yeah that that happens a lot huh I usually don’t pay attention to it I usually uh

expect like people watching they’re like man why did that person just go out that hot they must have not practiced that event or something right I’m like no they probably ran through that a couple times but sometimes it gets to your right sometimes it does get to you

like the adrenaline the crowd the noise the maybe expectation sometimes people read which I don’t I’ve never been one to you know read articles about what people are trying to say about me not qualifying or qualifying not qualifying until after I read or I heard like oh

Fee’s not gonna make it this year she’s not even second day is gonna be her worst day she’s so weak she’s not good at the some people like really read into those things so then they’re like oh I need to prove that person wrong or I need to prove

you know those people a different way and that effect that could either help you which is great or anything they’re like really really negatively affects you yeah but that’s on who you are I think mmm I’m a bit curious about your

your sports background what did you do before Crossfit so before Crossfit I actually I was in volleyball my entire life like as much as I could you know have it in my life I I always played with the boys outside so like growing up I I grew up

I was born in Cleveland but I grew up in a small town called Boardman Ohio and it’s out of it’s a suburb of Youngstown Ohio here probably an hour and a half away from Cleveland Ohio here and I grew up playing oh I just remember when I was younger I always wanted to play outside I just I my mom would tell me to not play with the boys as much because they’re boys

at the time I don’t know if it was the same like with anybody else but at the time it’s like no girls play with girls and boys play with boys like playing football is too rough playing baseball was too and I told my mom

like no mom I wanna play like they’re having fun like I don’t wanna like play with dolls I don’t wanna be inside um I always play like my brother I have an older brother um he’s just 11 months older but we were very close growing up and we would just play in the neighborhood

we would play games we would play around the entire neighborhood football baseball kickball we would be climbing trees we would be in the woods doing things like our moms told us not to do like everything and eventually so I’ve always loved sports I got into middle school

and I really loved volleyball love volleyball and I did one year of travel volleyball and my crazy goal as a kid I would love I would watch you know the Olympics I would watch the professional volleyball athletes and I would just like oh my gosh I want to be an Olympian

I want to be a professional volleyball player I want to go to collegiate volleyball that was just an internal goal but I was never I never had the chance to really pursue it in a way where as you’re young you know when you’re young you really need to be heavily involved in conditioning traveling the travel teams

the off season games all those things that I didn’t get a chance to do I really just played during the season during high school public high school and then that was it and the reason I didn’t have the chance is actually my family is also very heavily involved in music so my entire life growing up

I played the violin and I started and I actually stopped playing when I was 18 but every weekend was violin and every weekend in sports is sports like and my dad was like well you could do both I was like no you can’t do both sports on the weekend and games on the weekend

and travelings on the weekend so yeah so I remember when I was younger we would wake up at like 5 in the morning 5:30 you know we were 4 5 6 years old and we would get up and we would get our music and our violin and we would travel to Cleveland and we went to

we had private lessons at the Cleveland Institute of music we had music theory lessons at the Music Settlement sometimes we had two private lessons a day and sometimes we had a chamber group or orchestra group and then late at night on a Saturday night while other kids are you know doing kid things my dad bought a Severance Hall

like the Symphony Cleveland Symphony is one of the best symphonies in the world he bought tickets to the concert so we would have an entire day of music classes and then you know you have an eight PM seven PM concert that goes until you know 9:00 10 o’clock at night

and my mom would dress us in like these beautiful little dresses and you got four 5 6 year olds sitting front row center at the Cleveland Symphony and that was my childhood growing up that was it for 14 15 years I’m thinking discipline when you talk about this yeah former musician myself and I do not practice this because

I have not got the discipline thing down whatsoever I would avoid practicing my violin because I wanted to just play outside like sure like I remember my I would be playing outside and I would just hear my mom from the porch and I would be you know maybe a couple of driveways away and hi you know

time to practice your violin your father’s gonna be home you gotta practice your violin you know I remember it was well and I have such an appreciation for music I really do but you do that for so long and when you’re a kid you just wanna play

and um yeah it kind of made me very much burnout and it made me hate the violin I hated it because it took me away from the things that I wanted to do so yeah so that really was my childhood even though I was always so much more geared towards athletics um I I didn’t have that and I think like

part of why I compete is actually because like this is the first time that I get to do a sport that I want on my own time I get to do it as intensely as I want to no one’s forcing me to do anything and yeah I think that’s why I’ve taken on the compete that’s one of the reasons that I’ve taken on competing and I have a gratitude for it because I never had that chance as a kid

and now I have it and now that I have it I want to really treat it really treat it special but I do you know I love the experiences that I’ve had as a kid and I’m so grateful for my dad he instilled a lot of good lessons and a lot of discipline even though something’s hard

you keep on and there’s a you know there’s a almost like a discipline and caring for the little things and as a musician you realize that it is in how well you practice and how well you prepare your scales and how slowly you are able to you know practice your different pieces

to eventually play some beautiful piece right and that kind of reminds me of sports is like in order to perform at the highest level or to do great things in your sport you have to be able to do the fundamentals super super super well or else you can’t succeed or you won’t master the basics and it’s the master the basics I had a box

I had a cardboard box as a violin when I first started and it was inside there was a fruit roll up so you had a master this cardboard box and it was a cardboard box and there was a couple like cardboard you know paper rolls as the you know

as the neck of the violin and after like a year and you had to work on your hand position and work on your elbow position and you had to work on your opposite arm where your bow would be and after you’ve mastered that you earned your fruit roll up that’s incentive

that would work on me now yeah yeah so who do you think inspired you to become the person you are today when you were like 14:15 because we probably do have these mentors we only realized we had mentors when when we get older but during that but if you if you look back what do you think I just had this conversation with Sophie and I get that I do I get that question a lot

and I think at first you’re like oh I want to be like that person or I want to achieve what that person achieved and I think around when I was 14 15 that was like a hard season in my 14 year old life because I was very consumed with being skinny and being small and being petite and looking a certain way there’s just those pressures at that time and everyone experienced

guys experience it as well and it just happened to be that season and I remember not eating I remember losing you know my period my hair was thinning and all I wanted to do is just like be skinny and like feel good and look good and I was just so obsessed with that um

and I would always look at other girls and be like man like what like what does it take to be confident um man I wanted to be confident so bad and I get emotional because um it was just a very hard time um I didn’t have and I don’t have an older sister um and I always wanted to like have someone to like look up to as an older sister

and in college I experience something very hard and I don’t share but anyways so at some point I had to be that person to look up to right so I had to learn a lot about resilience and taking steps forward and starting to focus on what do I need to do to just be strong and be healthy for me not for anyone else my first year

that’s kind of when I started Crossfit and I took it on to be part of a community and explore that community and really like latch on to good people and good people brought me in and they brought me along and I started to develop a passion for truly what it means to feel good and be well and feel strong and do good things for yourself

and the more that I got involved slowly but surely you know the confidence starts to build I started to like love love myself again um and yeah so it’s I look back who I was now when I was 14 and I look who I am today and I’m just like man I looked up to

like me like the future me the older me the wiser me the confident me that’s who I always wish to become I’m 28 now and I and I hope my future you know the girl that I look up to you know in a future

hopefully that’s the 38 year old me she’s a beautiful mom with beautiful kids and teaching them like great things and like I want to look up to like and 10 years and yeah that’s always been something that I’ve held very close to my heart and I get emotional of it because those emotions never go away

like those experiences feelings that you had when you are down or very sad they don’t go away but they definitely add fuel to when things are hard again and things are always hard and then they get easy and then they get hard again and so you always get back on um you know the

the girl that you would look up to you today so yeah mm hmm yeah yeah I was I was just I was just thinking about I also had like a rough periods for sure and I guess most most have but I think I wouldn’t have been the person I’ve been today if I didn’t have like

my my sensei in martial arts and if I didn’t have like I think my middle grade teacher it was he was awesome and obviously I think my father even though he was distant he’s always been like a great figure for me a role model I think what I was fishing for is

even though it might only have been for like a week or like a few a month a month or so but by talking to a lot of people throughout the years I am 45 so I have some experience but so for what I see in is that somewhere along the point in your life there’s someone there that likes pulls you up and can change your course in a way

and I guess from what I’m hearing is maybe that happened when you attend a Crossfit and you got into that sense of community maybe not one person but maybe like the like sort of an Avatar of that box maybe yeah it was yeah yeah it was never one person it was always just the environment pulls you out

like it pulls like a good environment pulls really good things out of you and if you keep going to that environment you’ll realize all the great things that you can do and realize and accomplish and I think it’s so important to if you’re ever down on yourself or ever doubting yourself like just lean on good people and lean on a good community you know they pull you out

and sometimes it’s just maybe one person and you just latch onto them you lean on them they help you through and sometimes it’s entire an entire you know community of people in a good you know in a good space for me it was Crossfit for other people

it’s other things but I think that’s why Crossfit so special I never thought I never saw myself competing as a professional athlete I always just thought I’ve always just been a member I’ve always been someone that just look forward to attending class now because yes because it gave me a great workout

but it just it was just like the hour that I just like needed when the day was hard or when I was being hard on myself or when I was sad you know you go to your community things are good again and yeah it’s very special we got some good things over here definitely

sorry guys for making a total detour into it it feels like entire life I tell somebody this all the time I cannot talk about like hard things without shutting a couple tears like you guys get like all of it that’s a good thing I cry all the time I totally understand so I never cry yeah

I tell myself don’t cry don’t cry you can do it that’s don’t look at the pink elephant exactly yeah yeah what’s the I think I saw a beautiful video of an actor saying it but someone says like tears are always just unexpressed emotions that you never got a chance to express so

that’s beautiful that’s good perspective sure yeah so maybe had a little bit back to the CrossFit Games a bit about that so how is how’s the period now looking for you I mean what are you going to obviously you took us through you’re going through in more intensity but I mean like where we at

are you going head back to the Florida so soon to get that yeah so we got about six weeks until the Games so exciting not a lot of time every day is just you know you kind of just take it day by day Sunday I head back to Naples and this is kind of the time of the season where we start to get outside a lot more

we start to head to the track we start to head to the trails we start to on our bikes again we start you know if we if we do some I know we’re gonna do some open water swimming sessions in the ocean so that’ll be fun so you just start to do more non gym things

which is obviously yeah like CrossFit Games you’re doing all the implements that you typically can’t even do inside the gym walls so that’s kind of where we try to expose ourselves and train and sometimes obstacles you know you never know what’s gonna happen but like you see remember the obstacle obstacle course a couple years ago

like you really start to try to involve yourself and things that maybe take a lot more athleticism than they do actual fitness so that’s always the fun part of training and to be able to do that with a good core training group is just like I can’t imagine doing this alone like by myself you know with no one around

no one to push so we really have a good group and at our brute camp it’s Dalen Pepper it’s Danielle Brandon it’s Emma Kerry it’s James Sprague and myself and actually all five of us qualified outside of or in at the semi finals

it was amazing and that’s crazy I told her I was like we’re like the CrossFit version of the Fab Five seriously the fit 5 but yes we all got we all qualified this year and now we all get to be training partners to each other and hopefully we might even have some simulations

some games weekend simulations which a simulation is essentially we’re not focusing on training as much as we are doing things for time doing things as a performance working on strategy practicing strategy practicing like as if we were competing on the floor

where the difference in training is like sometimes you mess around with multiple strategies within a training session sometimes you look to redline to just see what’s too much too soon so yeah so there’s a lot more of that going on and a lot more being outside you were on the demo team last year weren’t you

yes yeah I was invited to be on the demo team did you wow like 12 days I think 10 days did you learn anything from that that you that might help you prepare for the games this year like just how it works how they how they make the events what’s gonna what’s probably gonna happen

what did they use that didn’t come with and so on did you find anything like that yeah I think the biggest takeaway that I Learned from working alongside Boz and work and just like just even just hearing him talk about you know his expectations and what’s to come and how he wants to test certain things my biggest takeaway was there’s a common theme and the theme had been

to not stop exploring and playing with movement um I think a lot of us have very much locked into what’s been done so that’s where you prepare for the things that have been done what’s been posted on sometimes people don’t even check the CrossFit Games or CrossFit. com website and I’ll tell you someone like Scott is as knowledgeable

as incredible as he is is because he’s actually always going back to the foundation of CrossFit and there’s little things that they even put out on their website that eventually came up that some people weren’t prepared for but yeah Baz is very much into playing exploring just have fun with your fitness don’t just do things that have been done in the open or in the games

trying to think of how can I take this movement and make it harder how can I take this movement and make it different um and you started to see that last year you started to see the you know we’ve always done pegboards with our legs now we’re doing legless pegboards we’ve always done handstand walking forward and over and under you know obstacles you know

I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to handstand walk backwards or you know zigzag or you know now you have pirhouets and now you have all the different variations of a gymnastics I saw a pegboard horizontally on a gym wall actually yesterday I’m like who’s to say that we can do

you know pegboard climbs going in a different direction you know so that was my biggest takeaway being on Demo Team getting a chance to chat with team and Boz so it’ll be cool to see like what they test and how many things did we get right in training and how many things did we you know essentially prepare the best we could for

and your hope is that even if you’re not even if you didn’t practice a certain skill that’s presented you’ve created kind of an awareness within yourself athletically that you could still perform a skill even if it’s new you get to you know you’ve played enough with movement to be able to figure

so you think it’s like have you done that have you taken specific movements that are common and just taking them to the next level in your training have you explored that stuff Matt has Matt is such an incredible coach Matt Torres and he’s very he’s very strategic and he thinks ahead

and he explores a lot and learns from past history but also like what’s to come so he’s had us do you know things that like we’re not gonna see it in the open we’re not gonna see it in quarter finals and we’re definitely not gonna see certain movements that we’ve been training in semi finals

but he’s been implementing you know that kind of programming within our training more as like practice skills and playtime so I love how within our training routine it’s not just let’s just work out let’s just do a bunch of workouts

there are moments where we get to play we get to practice we get to explore our bodies you know do some ring work in a different way that’s not a muscle up like everyone just knows the rings to be a tool to use for muscle ups. and maybe one day come out with something else and we’ll have to figure it out

so he’s done a really good job it’s not easy and we’re not elite gymnasts over here but it’s I have the opportunity to play where a couple years ago I was just doing CrossFit workouts like it was just CrossFit Metcons Metcon after Metcon

after you know conditioning doing the same thing so it’s been different being with him definitely I’m looking forward to see some press to handstand work this Games I know we oh my God I can’t I’ve been working on it

and I still I mean I still use the wall and so many things it gives you an appreciation for I mean the press to handstand is a fundamental movement of elite gymnastics and you’re looking at this how is this a fundamental move

it is so hard the fundamentals of every sport if you do it well enough you’ll realize how hard the fundamentals are yeah it took him a long time to get that that skill it’s crazy yeah and it’s like six year old girls can do it it’s like so I think that’s the thing you do you know if you do anything and if you

if you grew up with autistic gymnastics then then it’s basic but for an adult it’s far from basic far from basic and you try to do that as a non gymnast and almost it’s even harder to learn it it’s actually harder to learn it when maybe you’ve you’ve been exposed to so many years of different styles of training where you almost have your way of doing things

and you have to forget about all those bad habits and you have to start fresh off a clean slate that’s very hard to do the older you guys do yes it is that’s very that’s been very hard but then you have someone like Danielle who is an elite gymnast herself so she I always I’ll ask her be like okay

what would be your coaching queue to do this or this so I get to bring the gymnastics coach out of her every now and then to help me do they but do they know I mean I mean most of the time when you talk to like elite gymnast is like because because I’ve been doing it for so many years it’s like they don’t have a true clue I mean all the star coaches

yeah but you know I mean gymnastics is like one of the most curriculum based you know sports it’s like they know exactly what you’re gonna do when you’re seven eight nine 10 like or like 15 years or so it’s like so it’s not prop maybe not like that little cue

it’s like you know it’s all the years yeah one of those few sports that almost has there’s not a lot of sports that have levels the way that exactly exactly like any other sport even if you want to start I mean there’s people that you know maybe start picking up Olympic weightlifting you know and

it’s not like they’ve been doing it since they were 4 they pick it up they learn you know you know some of the technique and eventually build but gymnastics is just so so specific to like your awareness and your strength and your flexibility and you’ve developed that athletic athleticism for years and years and years

and to try to do that when on crunch time within a couple weeks of time is not the easiest thing piece of cake just do it you’re gonna do fine so people gotta know like when they see someone do a gymnast any kind of gymnastics just know how long it takes to actually develop those things

mm hmm years yep let’s just say thanks to fee for an amazing conversation thank you guys thank you so much we talked a little bit about everything yeah that hour plus I think went by real fast wow oh my gosh it did I think

the first time that I looked at the clock you guys we all this how present we all were yeah thank you for such a good conversation yeah yes all right thanks everybody and I’ll see you next time thank you

 

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