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Struggles and strengths of everyday CrossFit athletes

MADISON (WKOW) — Maybe you’ve seen the CrossFit Games on TV or been lucky enough to catch them in person in Madison.  During the four-day competition athletes compete for the title “fittest on earth.”

In reality though, many CrossFit athletes are less super-human and more regular people trying to establish a regular workout routine.

“I would say that I’m not a very in shape person right now,” confessed Jessica Burda, an athlete at CrossFit Imperium in Madison.

Burda turned to CrossFit when she was trying to find her way back to fitness after retiring from her days playing competitive rugby.

“It was hard to wake up in the morning, and just generally feeling sluggish and not very healthy, so I wanted to get back into some regular training,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sue Williams got into CrossFit at 57-years-old.  “It’s intense, but it’s a good intensity,” she said.

Two years and a hip replacement later, Williams is doing regular CrossFit workouts at CrossFit Connex and using the sport to help with rehabilitation.

“The muscles around it need to stay strengthened, and CrossFit helps me do that,” she said.

CrossFit coaches will tell you, even though the sport looks really tough, it’s a functional form of fitness.

“Every day we’re squatting. We’re picking up our grandbabies. We’re picking up our puppies, cleaning the house, going grocery shopping. So a lot of the movements that we incorporate in CrossFit are movements that we do every day,” said Michelle Reisterer, a coach at CrossFit Connex.

“I think the biggest misconception is that everyone who does CrossFit are these really big, strong, burly men, or really big strong burly women that are just trying to throw weight around,” said Kara Schnier, a coach at CrossFit Imperium.  “Folks like myself and Jessica, and all of our other members, are just in here trying to get a good workout in.”

Coaches say they adjust the workouts for everybody and every body.

“I may reduce the reps a little bit. I may reduce the weight,” said Reisterer.  “You learn who they are and you learn what they’re capable of that day.”

While most everyone in the Madison CrossFit community will tell you they love having the games in Madison, they’re okay with not being just like the people competing.

“They’re phenomenal athletes. I could only wish that I was that strong,” said Williams.

“My husband and I laughed because we were watching them on TV while eating a donut,” joked Burda.

As with any new workout, if you’re interested in trying CrossFit, you should talk to your doctor, especially if you have any specific concerns or ailments.

The CrossFit Games run through Sunday at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

Caroline Bach

Anchor, Wake Up Wisconsin Weekend

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