Shellie Edington hasn’t always been able to lift more than most people weigh.
Though she was a competitive gymnast growing up and earned scholarships to two colleges, she realized when she turned 45 that she was having trouble keeping up with the kids she was teaching through her company, Tumblin4Kids. It was only when she heard about CrossFit from a parent that she decided to give it a shot.
Now, at age 51, she’s gearing up to defend her title in the Masters age 50-54 Division of this year’s Reebok CrossFit Games Open.
Q: It’s not easy to go from a routine focused on family demands to one that integrates a regular workout. How’d you do it?
A: I began with making the commitment to hit the gym 3x/week for 1 hour of class. After a few weeks my coach recommended that I continue coming to my Crossfit classes 3x/week and that I also add 2x/week of Olympic lifting to work on technique. I began the paleo diet and went from 145 lbs to 117 lbs. Much of my journey has been trial and error and I have learned what works for me. Thankfully I have a very supportive husband, family, career and coaching staff. Finding a good chiropractor and massage therapist is imperative, too.
Q: What were the first few sessions in the gym like?
A: I literally believed the end goal was death. It was rough. It’s still rough, I just know that I am most likely going to survive. As a former advanced level gymnast, I was not afraid to work hard and I knew that it would take lots of work to get some of those skills.
Q: There are a ton of different types of exercise you could have chosen – yoga, zumba, swimming, for instance – but you chose CrossFit. What about it was so appealing to you?
A: Crossfit is constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement. I like the Crossfit prescription of being prepared for random physical challenges – unknown and unknowable events much better than fixed, predictable, routine regimens. Also at every class you have a coach who is keeping an eye on you, pushing you and making sure you move properly.
Q: Your continued dedication to the sport is inspiring. How do you stay motivated?
A: My lifestyle is designed to support my training. Removing obstacles is key. Dialing in your time, training, career, diet and recovery become habits. I love the benefits of my discipline and so does my family! My coach, Mitch Potterf, is very good at programming what I need to keep me going.
Q: You could have used CrossFit to simply get and stay in shape, but you decided to compete. When did you feel the push to take it to the next level?
A: One day in January 2011 my coach, Mitch Potterf, looked at me and kind of yelled “How old are you?” I replied “46” and he said, “You’re competing!” and I said, “In what?” I had no idea that Crossfit had competitions. I was so shocked that someone my age would be encouraged to compete! I felt it an honor and privilege to be given this opportunity.
Q: Last year you won the Masters 50-54 Division in the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games Open. For those who don’t know, what are the CrossFit Games, and what is it like to compete there?
A: The games are unique because the events are constantly evolving. They change every year and the events are not announced until shortly before the event begins. Due to the data collected from the Crossfit Open and the Masters Qualifier the programmers are able to raise the level of competition to unprecedented heights.
Q: CrossFit is known for having a very strong community. Has that aspect of the sport impacted you?
A: I would not be there if not for the community. Knowing that the people around you are all there for the same reason – to get better, stronger, faster is a very powerful form of camaraderie. We push each other to reach our goals.
Join us in wishing Shellie good luck as she gears up to compete at the Crossfit Games on July 19-21 in Carson, California, in the masters division ages 50-54! Go Shellie!
Follow her on instagram @shellie_edington.