Did anyone catch the CrossFit Games a few weeks back? Seeing that I do some CrossFit workouts, I did. And, let me just say, they were freakin’ amazing. It is awe-inspiring to watch what the human body can do. (It’s only time before CrossFit becomes an Olympic sport, no?) And here’s one of the things I really love about CrossFit—just about anyone of any age can do it. There’s a couple of 70-plus-year-olds who go to my gym, and, today, we have a Q&A with the youngest CrossFit competitor: Valerie Calhoun. A former gymnast, Valerie started CrossFit competitions when she was 13, and she just turned 17. Dang.
While she didn’t make the final rounds of the CrossFit Games with her team this year, Valerie is about to get another chance at competing. This Saturday, Valerie will participate in the WOD Gear Team Series event (Valerie is also sponsored by WOD Gear Clothing—check out their very appropriate tank in the photo at right), that’s taking place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. This second-annual event is a team competition involving 72 teams and is expected to draw 3,000 spectators. Talk about cool!
Read on for our interview with Ms. Calhoun. She talks favorite—and least favorite—workouts, what it’s like to be the youngest CrossFitter who’s competing and her advice for all!
Interview with Valerie Calhoun, the Youngest CrossFit Competitor
- FBG: How did you get started with CrossFit?
- VC: After doing gymnastics for nine years and ending due to an elbow injury, I wanted to remain active and stay in shape. At the age of 13, I found Rocklin CrossFit, where Gary Baron, trainer and coach, introduced me to the world of CrossFit.
- FBG: You’re the youngest competitor out there. What is it like to work out with and compete against others who are older than you? Do they know how old you are? Do they treat you any differently?
- VC: At first, age was definitely an intimidating factor. During my very first competition, at the age of 14, I was competing against women who are in their 20s to 40s. I competed at the intermediate level and ended up taking first place, which definitely improved my confidence level. At the beginning, everyone knew how young I was. But as time progressed and at the elite level, people forgot. They didn’t look at my age anymore but looked at me just as competition. No, although I am young, they treat me the same as any other competitor.
- FBG: What’s your favorite workout of the day (WOD)? Least favorite?
- VC: Fran is my favorite and least favorite WOD at the same time. I love it because I perform it well, and I hate it because it takes so much out of me after doing it. Any workout that includes wall ball and rowing is definitely at the bottom of my list.
- FBG: How often do you do CrossFit? And do you do any other exercise in addition to WODs?
- VH: When I’m in school, during the off season, I only go to CrossFit four times a week. However, during the summertime, I train six days a week. In addition to WODs, I swim, bike ride, run and do trail runs.
- FBG: What’s your diet like?
- VC: Before I became serious in CrossFit, I didn’t take my diet too seriously. Now I watch what I eat a lot better than I did before. Before I never ate breakfast, but now I eat it every day. I eat a lot of chicken, bacon, eggs and fruits. However, for me to take it to the next level, I do need to start eating more.
- FBG: Would you like to see more young people doing CrossFit? Why or why not?
- VC: I see a lot of young CrossFitters now, but I would love to see even more people doing it at a young age. I think it’s very important for CrossFitters to start young, and it will also help them develop lifetime fitness habits and early confidence.
- FBG: Any advice or tips for our readers?
- VC: I would encourage people to join CrossFit and, if competing in any sport, always remember that in the end you are truly only competing against yourself.
- FBG: Anything else you’d like to add?
- VC: I would like to add that the CrossFit community is filled with great people to be around. Everyone I have met is so supportive of each other, no matter the age or level of competition.
Valerie also told us that her goal for the future is to compete as an individual at the CrossFit Games by 2014. We totally, totally think she can. Age really is just a number…isn’t it? —Jenn