"I'm training a little harder in my O-lifts and just general strength than last year. I can always be stronger."
“I started in February of 2007, but I really didn’t even know what a bumper was at the beginning.”
Heidi Fish, 52, is the 2nd fittest woman in the 50-54 Masters division. She started CrossFit after her kickboxing instructor, Sam Radetsky, suggested she give it a try. With minimal equipment, Radetsky helped Fish set up a garage-type gym at her workplace, the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“I had the idea of maybe doing it at lunch time with my colleagues who were really fit. I had no idea what CrossFit was, but it intrigued me right from the start,” Fish says.
From there, Fish and her co-workers created a “Fitness Club” and the club is still in full swing today, five years later. Classes range from five to 15 people who meet a few times every week.
“I had no idea that it would develop into the program we have now … a lot of regular people do it and it’s amazing because they really see improvement,” she says. “Especially women. They usually come into it innately with lower body strength, but then I saw them improve where they could do pull-ups and ‘boy style’ push-ups. It is super empowering.”
Fish is proof that you do not have to CrossFit out of an expensive affiliate to generate success. Fish was CrossFitting recreationally for a few years, then the Masters competition developed in the Games. However, Fish believes there is more to CrossFit than just the competitions. She started to realize there is a great deal of pressure that comes with success.
“I don’t particularly enjoy competing, I don’t. I put a lot of pressure on myself for whatever reason. Nobody else puts pressure on me,” she admits. “My coaches are happy with how I do. But that is my biggest hurdle with competing, to just be happier. It sounds kind of silly, but really, that is my goal, my main goal. I would love to place, but for me to do well and be happy with my performance is a healthier goal I think. If you place that’s great, there is validation in that, but Annie Sakamoto said, ‘Victory is in the effort,’ so that is what I am trying to embrace in myself,” says Fish.
In order to improve upon last year’s 2nd place finish, Fish is fine-tuning her CrossFit game. Fish specializes in bodyweight movements, but has begun to focus more on Olympic weightlifting.
“I’m training a little harder in my O-lifts and just general strength than last year. I can always be stronger.”
In the beauty of CrossFit, Fish does not believe she trains any differently than competitors sometimes 20 to 30 years her junior. “We all do the same workouts, and we scale it to everyone’s ability, but I don’t think I am old enough yet, where I need to scale it for my age,” she says. “So I think I train like any younger athlete. I do have to be careful about injuries because it may take me longer to recover.”
Fish believes the Masters division at the Games will continue to get more competitive. “As CrossFit goes on for longer and longer, the depth of field in Masters is going to be greater and greater. It is going to get more competitive along the lines of Open division people,” she says.
Fish also sees more strategy coming into play for the Masters athletes and a greater influx of older age women trying CrossFit. “CrossFit and smart CrossFit – not balls-to-the-wall CrossFit – is going to be really great for Masters, or aging people,” she says. “For a woman, it is going to help with your bone density, it is going to help keep your lean muscle mass, it is going to rev your metabolism, it is going to keep your weight down, and keep you mobile and agile.”
As Fish’s attitude and expectations have evolved, she has continued to finish at the top of her age group. She expects the 50-54 division to be quite competitive this year, but hopes for another spot on the podium. Fish will no doubt be ready for the Games come July.
Following workout 12.2, Heidi Fish is currently ranked 9th in the 50-54 Masters Division.