Anita Pravatti finished first in Latin America in the 2012 Open, and booked her flight from Campinas, Brazil to Cali, Colombia, to compete at the regional.
During the intervening weeks, competitors and fans alike nervously watched any workout videos Pravatti shared online. Pravatti was expected to put pressure on the veterans and potentially take the region’s one spot to the CrossFit Games.
But when the time came, they only got to see Pravatti in action for nine minutes. Unable to complete the minimum work requirement of 21 handstand push-ups in Regional Event 1—Diane—Pravatti was disqualified.
Some left feeling like they hadn’t seen Pravatti’s full potential, including Pravatti. When the 2013 Open rolled around, Pravatti’s name was missing from the Leaderboard because she was pregnant.
During the 2013 Games season, Pravatti and her husband Albert Neto lived in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and trained at CrossFit Subzero. The couple had moved to follow a job opportunity in July, but after she found out that September that she was pregnant she decided she needed to return to her family in Brazil.
“I had no plans to come back to Brazil, but I got pregnant and I decided to come back to my family,” she explained.
She moved home in December.
Over the next few months, Pravatti found a way to continue training throughout most of her pregnancy.
“During the pregnancy I trained as much as I could without scaling but after some medical advice particular to my pregnancy, I had to stop training at the eighth month,” she said.
After she gave birth to her daughter, Bella, in April 2013, she took four months off training to recover.
When she returned to the box, she felt like she was starting from scratch. But motherhood gave her a toughness she didn’t have before.
“With maternity came maturity, and this helps me when I face workouts,” Pravatti said.
Ten months after giving birth to her daughter, Pravatti is once again one of the top female competitors in Latin America. The CrossFit Jundai affiliate owner took second place in the region in the 2014 Open. She finished 13 points behind Wanda Brenton, and 18 points ahead of Jenn Chailler.
She said her return as a top competitor Latin America Leaderboard wasn’t necessarily planned.
“This year, I registered for the Open without any expectations,” she said.
She learned to keep her expectations low and just do her best after being disqualified from the 2012 Latin America Regional.
“I didn't know much about rules of competition back then, so because of it—less maturity and nerves—I got disqualified in 2012,” she explained.
Although she was sad about being disqualified, she felt relieved.
“The pressure that I put over me disappeared,” she said.
Competing under less pressure seems to be working for the 27-year-old athlete in 2014. She took seventh on 14.1 (350 reps), fifth on 14.2 (186 reps), fifth on 14.3 (150 reps), second on 14.4 (189 reps), and nineth on 14.5 (11:46).
She said her feelings about the workouts don’t always match her finish on the Leaderboard. She felt good about 14.1 and felt the most challenged by the deadlifts in 14.3.
“(Open Workout) 14.3 was a battle for me because deadlifts are my worst movement after the pregnancy,” she said. “I still cannot get close to my previous PR.”
With a young daughter, things outside of her control—like how well her daughter sleeps that night—impacts Pravatti’s performance on each workout.
Although juggling motherhood and competition is a challenge, it’s one she welcomes. She said she’s grateful she can celebrate her health before, during and after pregnancy by doing CrossFit.
“Being a mother, working and training, is not easy, but the love for CrossFit gets me over everything,” she said. “With this love and passion I face each workout, because without CrossFit I wouldn't have been able to have such an amazing pregnancy.”