Talking to 28-year-old CrossFit Vancouver athlete Emily Beers is a breath of fresh air. She’s passionate, dedicated, and full of life. And she’s not your typical competitive athlete.
An Achilles injury in December 2010 put a complete stop to Beers’ training and the subsequent three months of rest provided her with time to regroup, both physically and mentally. Physiotherapy, combined with staying off her foot, aided in the recovery effort. Mentally, Beers began to view CrossFit from a different perspective. While coaching from a wheelchair, which she admits with a laugh made demonstrating moves a bit tough, she began to appreciate the non-competitive side of CrossFit. “I realized it’s not all about the competition, it’s about enjoying life,” she says. But don’t get her wrong – Beers cares about competition very much. In fact, just a few weeks ago she took 2nd place in a competition held in Lynnwood, Wash.
Beers has an impressive athletic background. She was a national level gymnast, AA basketball player, and competitive rower. She became hooked on CrossFit after trying it at a friend’s gym in London, Ontario. CrossFit challenged her with things she’d never done before. It was the complete opposite from the repetitive nature of rowing. She says that with CrossFit, everyday is different and humbling. Her athleticism and strength is evident. She clean and jerks 210 pounds, overhead squats 205 pounds, and deadlifts 340 pounds. Her “Diane” time is 3:54 and does “Amanda” in 6:37. A 2K row takes 7:03.
As with her previous sports, Beers puts an all-out effort into CrossFit, to the point where she was almost “obsessed” with it. She cared so much about it that it’s what ultimately caused her to get injured, or in her words, “self-destruct.” That’s what she means when she says it’s not all about the competition – she’s searching for a healthy balance. Part of the balance is coming from coaching, which she has found a real love for. Her true coaching passion is working with people who aren’t elite athletes, but CrossFitting for health, wellness, and personal goals. She deeply admires people who are scared, overweight or don’t have a past history of sports, and respects how committed these athletes are to their goals. One of her proudest coaching moments came when an athlete started doing 24-inch box jumps during a workout, just six weeks after being completely petrified of trying to jump 18 inches high.
One of the lessons Beers learned from the lifestyle or “average Joe” athletes she coaches is that it’s important to have fun, enjoy the process, and really appreciate what your body can do, rather than stressing about the competition. She looks at athletes like Angie Pye and Alicia Connors, top place finishers in last year’s Regionals, and realizes that they really enjoy the competition and she wants to be more like that. “It’s about realizing that CrossFit can make your life better, not take over your life.”
Beers is excited about this year’s Open and has been training hard. Her favorite CrossFit movements are anything involving heavy lifting, technical gymnastics, and handstand push-ups. In her words, she’s “allergic” to running and, like many CrossFit athletes, doesn’t care for burpees and double-unders. To combat this she’s, included Tabata burpees into her training regime. She does about eight workouts per week and is pretty relaxed in her eating habits. She’s still trying to overcome her fear of box jumps, the cause of her Achilles injury. “I hold my breath when I do them, and all I'm thinking is, 'don't tear, don't tear.” To get back to 100 percent Beers has been competing in several competitions and says her new outlook on life and competing is causing her to enjoy workouts more.
Off hours, Beers enjoys having fun with her friends, usually going away camping on the weekends or enjoying the occasional party. Most importantly, she is “trying to employ the 'go with the flow, happy go lucky, enjoy the moment' strategy to CrossFit,” she says. “I think this is my best chance to thoroughly enjoy the entire process of the CrossFit season this year.”
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