Julia lives and breathes CrossFit, and she’s a shining example of what’s possible if you commit yourself to the journey, show up consistently and put in the work
I asked Julia to write me a bit of a story about her CrossFit journey and after reading what she sent me, I couldn’t be prouder – what’s more, she’s only 16?!
I wanted to share her story with you to encourage and inspire you on your own health and fitness journey 😉 – Check it out!
I first began CrossFit in 2013 when I was 11 years old, and in year 6 at school. At the time a family member of mine was training at Adapt and told me that there was a kids program starting up so, I joined at the beginning of the school term with a cousin of mine, and straight away, I absolutely loved it!
I had always been a very sporty and competitive kid growing up and had done other sports such as swimming, netball, athletics, tennis and karate. At first, Crossfit kids was just something I did on the side of tennis for extra fitness, strength and fun, however, after a year of doing that Coach Bec decided to move me up to teens where I began to take CrossFit more seriously and knew it was something I wanted to do a lot more of.
The other teens were a little intimidating in the beginning as I was timid and at least 2 years younger than the other kids there but, before I knew it, I was keeping up with them and had improved my skills significantly.
I stuck to doing both tennis and CrossFit for a while before I decided to give up tennis after 10 years to focus on my training.
Fast forwards 2 years, to 2016, I participated in my first ever CrossFit open in the teenage 14-15yrs division. Not only was it my first open but also was the most memorable for me so far all thanks to 16.5…. The first and only workout to this day that made me cry! I knew it was going to be bad when it was released (because both thrusters and burpees suck) but I did not expect to be so far in that cave and unable to breathe. I was extremely nervous as it was my first competition workout and I naturally wanted to do well and turns out, I did a lot better than I ever expected to finish 8th in the region and 173rd worldwide. I was very proud of myself for achieving this result, and it only motivated me to train harder, so I began joining in on some of the adult classes here and there until I started training 5 times a week with them at the beginning of last year.
By this point, I knew I wanted to do CrossFit competitively and competed in my second CrossFit open (2017) -this time finishing 14th in the region and 157th worldwide. As I placed in the top 200 worldwide for my age group, I was invited to compete in the age group online qualifier where we were required to complete 4 workouts in 4 days. The top 20 athletes worldwide at the end of this stage would then be invited to the CrossFit games but unfortunately…. I was a long way off that dream!
During that year I also took part in Ricky Garrard’s games fundraiser comp up in Mittagong in which I placed 6th in the open women’s category.
This year’s Open (2018), didn’t entirely go to plan for me. My goal was to make the online qualifier stage again after last year, but because I had to scale 18.3 due to the muscle ups, I dropped too far out of the top 200 placings to regain my position in the last 2 weeks. Being in the 16-17yrs division this year also meant that there was a much larger group of girls and, more robust competition. As much as I would’ve liked to improve on last years placing, I was reasonably happy with finishing 36th in Australasia and 450th worldwide.
Challenges That I’ve Faced
My training, or “CrossFit journey” as such is very very simple- I go from school to the gym, to train in the 5:30pm class (sometimes comp training beforehand) 5 days a week and try to keep my diet as healthy as I can, when possible. So, when I was asked to talk about any challenges that I have been faced with so far, there was nothing that immediately came to mind. I absolutely love training and keeping my body active, but of course, I have some bad days just as most of us probably do where I feel like I am not able to perform at my best because my body feels fatigued, usually after a big week of training or volume. The biggest thing for me, being at school still has been trying not to care what others think of me. For a long time I wasn’t very satisfied with how I looked and how my body had changed after starting CrossFit because next to my friends and others at school, I just felt that I looked significantly bigger than all of them because my shoulders are much broader and my legs and arms are bigger/ more muscular than other girls my age. It certainly didn’t help that there was a group of boys that made fun of me for doing CrossFit because in their opinion “it’s not a real sport” and often called me a boy but I don’t let that bother me anymore because I absolutely love what I do and am proud of how far I have come since first starting.
Where I’m At Now!
Doing CrossFit allows me to challenge myself more and more each time I go in for a session and since starting, I have tried so many new things that I never thought I would be able to do. It’s not always easy, and I know that if I push myself and remain consistent in training, I will get results out of it and after almost 6 years of being in the sport, I have seen so many improvements in nearly everything I do. My strength has massively improved (with the help of Josh’s program as well), my running has gotten better, and I have finally gotten muscle ups! I’m still working on bar muscle ups but, I don’t think I had been more excited to achieve something then when I got them on the rings because I had worked on transitions and technique and had attempted so many times before this.
Currently, I am also coaching the CrossFit teens classes once a week alongside Pete which has undoubtedly pushed me outside of my comfort zone at times, but it has been really cool to be able to teach so many kids, so many new things and to make sure that they are continually challenging themselves as well. The satisfaction I get from successfully teaching some of them a new movement or even just improving the way they move is unreal and to be able to watch Pete do the same each class makes me proud to being something that I never thought I would at such a young age.
Goals for the Future
I remember after I had been in CrossFit kids for about a year just before I moved into teens, Coach Nick, who was coaching me at the time alongside Bec said to me, “2020, you’ll be at the games”. Now that without a doubt is my ultimate goal to make it there someday, and that year I do aim to make it to regionals. I’ll be 18, so just old enough to qualify, I’ll be finished school and able to focus on my training entirely.
Ben and Josh have both said I have it in me to get there but, for it to happen, I need to convince myself that I actually can because quite often I lack confidence within me and doubt my ability to be able to do something in a workout. If I can tell myself that I am capable of doing it and can put in all the hard work, dedication and consistency, maybe one day I will get there, and I certainly am motivated too.
As much as I would to just do CrossFit all day every day, I hope to pursue a career as a sports physiotherapist. It is something that I have been interested in for quite a while now and have studied subjects relating to human movement and exercise science at school. I would also consider a career in other fields such as Nursing and paramedicine or anything similar where I am able to help people, possibly save lives and improve the health and wellbeing of others.
Personally, I find staying motivated pretty easy. Going into the gym never feels like a chore or something that I have to do, I just do it because I want to and aspire to be just like many of my role models- Tia-Clair Toomey, April Hering, Sara Sigmundsdottir and Maddie Sturt. Having such excellent training partners and the usual 5:30pm crew that I get to hang out with every day always makes training more enjoyable as well, especially when we are able to have a bit of friendly rivalry in the class without ever taking it too seriously.
I was lucky enough to have met Tia after the 2017 regionals which were extremely exciting for me as she has always been a role model to me since I really got into CrossFit, and even more exciting that she gave me her second place regionals shirt with her autograph on it. Also, this year after the 2018 Pacific regionals, I was able to meet both April Hering and Maddie Sturt as well as quite a few other amazing athletes, including Courtney Fitzharris who wasn’t actually competing this year because of a shoulder surgery she was recovering from. She gave me the incredible opportunity to go up and train with her at her gym, Crossfit Lower Mountains in Penrith where she set up a little training camp type day for me and covered everything from Olympic lifting to gymnastics (especially muscle-ups) and even a pretty epic cardio WOD that we did together.
Another fantastic opportunity that I have recently had was to be able to train a day with Maddie Sturt during her games prep. This event was done as a fundraiser for her trip – a group of about 8 of us in total were given an insight to what a day of games training might look like for her and lets just say, what a games athlete considers to be a warmup is definitely not what I would consider to be a warm up… I was PUFFED.
It’s being able to experience moments, and opportunities like these are without a doubt, the biggest motivators and only make me want to achieve my goals and aspirations even more.
And obviously, the help and support from all of the coaches at Adapt have a significant impact on how far I’ve grown in the sport because, without their encouragement and motivation, my attitudes and dedication towards CrossFit would not be the same. Knowing how much hard work they put into adequately coaching us and caring for our wellbeing at the same makes putting in the work at training a lot easier for me because, their efforts and ours really does earn respect.