Andrea Ager is currently ranked 5th in the world on the Reebok CrossFit Games Leaderbord. In 2011, Andrea finished the open in 17th place in SoCal and was part of the Brick team that placed 5th at the 2011 Crossfit Games. Since then, Andrea has had her sights set on competing as an individual. In 2012, Andrea finished the open 6th place in the world and placed 5th at the SoCal Regional. This year, she will go head to head with some of the nation's top athletes in the extremely competitive SoCal Regional in an effort to claim a coveted spot at the CrossFit Games this July.
Andrea is one of those people that lives and breathes CrossFit. In 2012 she competed in 12 different CrossFit competitions placing in the top five (often placing first) at each one. Not only is Andrea a fierce competitor, she is also a dedicated CrossFit coach. She is as passionate about the success of her athletes as she is about her own. When Andrea and I started talking about her Fashlete™ of the Month Feature, we decided that this would be a wonderful opportunity for her to talk about a group of female athletes that she trains called "Making the Elite". I was excited to find out how one of the top CrossFit athletes in the world coaches women who aspire to compete at the elite level. Here's what she had to say....
Competition in the sport of CrossFit has become such a driving force for CrossFitters worldwide. The majority of our members are joining our boxes for other reasons; to lose weight, to lean out, get stronger, and getting closer to that coveted "RX" weight. Meanwhile, the top athletes are now pushing to become well-rounded and good enough to place amongst others in their category of fitness.
Recently I've had athletes competing in events that are targeted to different divisions including masters, entry level, intermediate, advanced, and all-girls team competitions. It seems there's a time and a place for everyone to compete, and it gives athletes a short-term goal to shoot for. It is an opportunity to practice certain skills for the 'test' and the big day.
Taking classes and training with friends from your gym there will always be a "comfort level." It feels like family members that all get taught by the same coaches, do the same programming, and use the same equipment everyday, and it can feel casual (which is a good thing). You can get 'used to' beating the same people, or getting beat by the same friends. The opportunity to compete against people outside the box might not come up very often, but when it does, it's a whole other ball game, and can be very exciting!
"Making the Elite" is Formed
The first thing we did was set up boundaries, and made sure we were all on the same page. It was difficult to come up with a time everyone could do, because almost all the girls are CrossFit coaches themselves or spend a lot of time during the day at the gym or with busy schedules. So that we could make it consistent, we planned on meeting every Tuesday night at 9:00pm. It was late, and it wasn't going to be easy staying up and training for an hour and a half creeping into sleep time, but it was the only thing that worked. We made it so that it was a membership, and it was month to month. If the girls missed, they still had access to all the programming, and were expected to do the workouts and post their scores on our group's facebook page. There's something binding about having a financial commitment to bettering yourself, that makes it a priority. It's almost a "date" with yourself that is set, and already planned, and if you have to cancel you're super bummed. The best thing about these girls is they were all in, eager to learn and see where they could be by the time of next year's Open workouts.Why Just Girls?
Oh it's not like our boys at the gym haven't tried to sneak in! I'm not saying that it wouldn't be just as amazing having male athletes intermixed with the class. In fact, I think men bring a great intensity that can't be replaced; personally speaking, all my training partners are male, and I work better that way. But with this group, they're different in skill, strength, and endurance, they also each compete on the local scene and see how they add up while wearing different box logos across their shirts, representing separate gyms. They're gunning for each other, and bringing them together in one spot means they have to be ready, weekly, to throw down with the reality of their regional competition right next to them. A thought might cross your mind if you're comparing yourself to a guy 'oh we have different weights... it's body weight so of course... guys are better runners... well he's stronger..." but with girls; no excuses, you're equal.
What do we actually do...That's what you want to know right!
We work on speed, we work on power. We work on unbroken sets, or strategy. We pick up different skills and stick with them and build, week after week to make sure everyone is improving. Doing strength and working smoother transitions on Olympic Lifting. We touch back on technique constantly and learn different ways around problem areas and weaknesses. Sprinting at the 3, 2, 1, go, or sometimes staying calm in the beginning and going hard at the end. We work on things that 'might come up' developing skills for the unknown, and we train very typical lifts and combinations. Mostly program myself and use things I've done before, or if I see some popular ones that are going around that will help, we use them. Transitioning into rowers, starting off a lineup, doing team transitions, hand stand walking, and refine gymnastics; you name it, we've done it. Sometimes they pick their own weights based on the workout, other times I perscribe weights and modifications. There is not just one way to improve, and there's not just one way to win. It's experimenting and getting to know your own body and what you're capable of that is the true secret to being a good competitor.
One night a week, after our co-ed gym closes down, we have an all girls night where we train with a purpose. They either have competed individual, or team at Regionals, and this year they want more. I went through a transition in my life, with a changing of gyms after the group was only a month old, and they didn't even skip a beat. We started up training the following week at a new gym, and they made the commute, no questions asked. The group has changed, and we have some new girls that are up and coming. Some are so far ahead with their goals and mind-set that there bodies are playing the catch up game, where as some are the opposite; ready for anything physically but need work on the confidence or the mental aspect that you need to be good at CrossFit. Each girl growing, learning, and transforming before my eyes. From the beginning we all agreed we wanted to keep it small so it stayed a semi-private session rather than a class. So as girls moved, or left, we added, and talked about it beforehand. After all, this isn't 'my group,' this is for them, I'm just coaching.
Athlete Vs. Coach
There has been one night where the group was smaller than usual, that i jumped in and did a workout with them, other than that, I'm just searching to adjust and teach. There have been big competitions like this year's OC Throwdown where we've all gone against each other. Actually, at that competition we always joke about a time when one of the girls got placed next to me in one of the heats. Fans were circled around the event and as I was sprinting through the workout, I came off the rings in my last muscle up and (like a clutz) almost knocked her off her box. I instantly was patting her on the back and started cheering for her to finish because, that's what came naturally: athlete right into coach. Right away I was telling her to get back up on the rings...and she was exchanging that knowing glance that she needed a second. Constantly when competing it distracts me from my own pressures to hope that they remember everything they learned together, and apply everything I've taught them. Now is the time to eliminate the mistakes and give it your best run.
2013 CrossFit Open
So here we are at the Open! To the world it's a great test when compared to last years standings, an unreplicable way of comparing yourself to anyone's fitness level worldwide. It's the test we've all been waiting for, and I can only hope that they're going to feel truly prepared. The athletes have become sister-like in their friendships and have developed something special that is unheard of between boxes.
This year at Regionals, my "Making the Elite" girls will be wearing shirts for their teams, but there will be a part in their hearts that's representing us.
As our Fashlete™ of the Month, Andrea is receiving this customized sterling silver necklace from Fashletics®. Andrea was chosen this month not only because she is an incredible athlete, but because she has devoted herself to improving the fitness and the lives of others. She is a leader in the CrossFit Community both as a competitor and as a coach. We are proud to welcome AGERBOMB to the Fashletics® family! Good luck to Andrea and the women of "Making the Elite"!
Be sure to check out www.theandreaager.com follow Andrea on her CrossFit journey.