Now in their 6th year, the annual Crossfit games have become the fastest growing sport competition in the world. Comprised of a season that moves from open, to regional, and lastly international finals held in California, the games use a combination of endurance, strength, and moves unknown to contestants in advance, to prove the ultimate test of fitness. We recently sat down with Marlene Andersson, a 29 year-old Swede now living in Kuwait (via England), to talk all things Crossfit. As a Sports Therapist, and strength and conditioning coach, she has already made her mark by qualifying for two separate regionals in a brief 2 and a half years in the sport.
Tell us how you got into the sport?
One of my good friends in London had started to do Crossfit and he really enjoyed it. We usually met up once a month to catch up and do a training session together, so one day we did a Crossfit style workout that he had designed for us. Afterwards he said I did really well and should try to get into doing it more. I went to a gym to try it out…and hated it: the intensity, being timed etc. A few months later, I found myself in another Crossfit gym and joined there only doing strength training. Then I started to get more and more into it, learning more movements; now I love it!
What is training like for Crossfit, as opposed to other, more traditional, gym training?
What differs mostly between more traditional gym training and Crossfit is the intensity of the workouts and the blend of different modalities within the same workout. With modality I mean for example endurance, weightlifting and gymnastics. A Crossfit workout is either designed as doing as much work as possible in a set amount of time, or in finishing a set amount of work as quickly as possible. This really puts the intensity up! Some workouts can take less than 3 min but you’ll do the same amount of work as someone in a more traditional gym would do in 30-40 min.
What is your favorite part of Crossfit as a sport, and competition?
My favorite thing with Crossfit is easy to choose, the COMMUNITY! In my opinion, it’s the back bone of the sport and the best thing about it. The bond you make training together in that environment is amazing. Everywhere you go people are friendly, helpful and supportive. It shines through at competitions too when opponents often cheer each other on. That’s not very often seen in other sports.
What is your greatest achievement or accomplishment/greatest contribution to the sport?
The first competition I participated in was a team competition called Divided We Fall Games, 3 men and one woman in each team. One movement often used in competitions to separate athletes is the Ring muscle up, a technical gymnastic move. I managed to get my first muscle up 2 weeks before the competition and by the time it came around I had only done 3 in total. We did really well and made it to the final and of course it was muscle ups in it and every team member needed to do 6 each. I have no idea how I managed but after 2 days of competing I did double the amount of muscle-ups I had ever done and we won the competition..! It was an amazing moment! I try to contribute to the sport by coaching others that are new to it and show them why I love it so much.
Any specific challenges to training in Kuwait?
The biggest things for me to get used to is to train in the heat and the humidity. I’m better acclimatized now but it still feels tough sometimes compared to the colder European weather. I’m not looking forward to summer! The biggest challenge I’ve had is finding coaches for different disciplines, for example an Olympic lifting coach, gymnastics coach etc., was easier to find in the UK.
Any injuries to speak of?
I had a pretty bad shoulder during the last Open and it stayed with me during the Regionals. I’m better at spotting niggles now before they get out of hand and preventing them, so right now I’m feeling good.
How are you feeling about your prospects for the duration of the 2013 competition?
It’s hard to tell what Crossfit HQ will come up with for us this year, the sport keeps developing and changing fast and so is the capacity of the athletes. A workout called King Kong, for example, which was created to be impossible to complete, is today done in less than 3 minutes. Previously finishing in second place in the Regionals of course gives me a great push to go for first place. I’m faster and stronger than I was last year and as long as I feel improvement and wake up looking forward to do my training I’m very happy.
The Crossfit Games- Asia Regional takes place May 31st-June 2nd in Seoul, Korea. Follow Marlene’s progress online at www.games.crossfit.com.