“I quip that I have an innate need to feel nervous for 70 percent of my life,” Madelyn Curley says.
The nervousness set in at six years old when she started competing in gymnastics. Curley went on to reach the second highest level in gymnastics, below the Olympics, becoming a four-time Level 10 National Qualifier and 1999 Elite Nationals champion. At 18, she earned a full athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for gymnastics.
After graduating from college, Curley chose to leave gymnastics for acting. Although dramatically different pursuits, she finds both have a similarly competitive edge. “Acting is still just competing,” Curley says. “Now I'm competing for a role and nervously sitting in an audition room with 40 girls that look exactly like me. But I love to challenge myself, I love adrenaline.”
Currently living in Hollywood, Calif., she is an actress and a writer’s assistant to Academy Award winning screenwriter, Bobby Moresco (who co-wrote Crash and helped produce Million Dollar Baby). She has assisted Moresco in writing a pilot for NBC, as well as two screenplays. Curley has appeared in Stick It, The Office, Party Down and Cold Case.
While working on another pilot idea, Curley has also managed to make it to the top of the first stage of the 2012 Games Season. At the end of the 2012 Open, Curley is ranked 3rd in SoCal and 11th in the world. Her team, Brick Nation, is in 1st in SoCal.
Curley, like many of the other top 60 athletes in Southern California who have qualified as individuals and whose scores also contributed to the success of their team were confronted with the same question: Do I compete as an individual or do I compete with my team?
Curley is no rookie to the Team competition. She was a vital member on the Brick CrossFit team that finished 5th at the 2011 CrossFit Games Affiliate Cup. This year, however, Curley found herself wrestling with the choice of sticking with team or trying individual. “To start, I was totally team,” she says. “One hundred percent team because I lived it last year.”
However, her box mates helped her make the tough choice of leaving her Brick CrossFit team to compete in the SoCal Regional as an individual.
“The biggest inspiration for me in my choice to go individual has come from other CrossFitters. Every year I've been asked, ‘individual or team?’” she says. After such a successful performance in this year’s Open, she received a slightly different response. “This year, it was fun after the Open because people said things like, ‘You're going individual, right? So I guess that plays with your psyche and you're kind of like, ‘Right ... yeah, I am going individual,’” she says.
Now that her decision has been made, Curley admits she will certainly miss aspects of the camaraderie of team competition. “I will miss the strategizing, the energy behind us, the rush knowing we have each others’ backs. Then there’s the way it feels to not want to let them down, to never be the weakest link,” she says.
She has realized it is with her team she pushes herself the hardest. “I actually hope I can still train with the team as much as possible.”
Curley will continue to look to the support of her Brick community as she strives in her solo mission for the podium. She says, “I hope that even though I'm competing under the title of ‘individual’ that it feels the same, that I know I'm going to feel their presence the entire time and be able to run and hug everyone right after each workout.”
In Curley’s quest for the top three, she realized 2012 has presented different ways of challenging herself as an athlete. “I always wanted to make the Olympics in gymnastics,” she says. “Well this is the Olympics of CrossFit and I look forward to seeing where I can take myself. I know this will be one of the hardest competitions of my life and I really, really want to go to the Games. I am in awe of the individuals who compete at the Games. I want to be a part of that.”
Preparing for Regionals, Curley must now shift her focus. “Training my weaknesses is really going to come into play. Last year, I could work hard to be the best at what I was already good at, because I knew, being part of a team, that's what I would be used for,” she says. “This year, I won't have that luxury. I want to be able to have the mental toughness that I can be as good as any girl out there.”
Turning to her weaknesses – deadlifts, running, rowing, swimming and “pretty much anything super heavy,” she begins her training days before 2 p.m. “I always joke, if I don't train before 2 p.m., the day is a wash. Even if I do a two-a-day, I like to kick off with a morning workout.”
Her days normally consist of a full morning of coaching and working out in the free hour in between classes or right after. She then tends to her duties as an actress or writer's assistant until 6 p.m., then she’ll head back to the gym for another training session. “On Saturdays I concentrate on Olympic lifting and I'm hoping to start swimming, as well … just in case,” she explains.
While many athletes adhere to a strict diet, Curley admits to keeping it simple. “I've tried too many diets that just make me irritable,” she says. “So now I listen to what my body wants. I don't make anything off limits. That said, I don't binge or have ‘cheat days.’” She takes in everything in moderation.
For now, the clock is ticking and the Southern California Regional is just a month away. “I will definitely be nervous, but that's what fuels me. I’m getting ready for the ride of a lifetime.”
Much like in her auditions that provide her with the nervousness she craves, so will the three-day event she is currently preparing for.
“CrossFit workouts are the only ‘auditions’ where your work determines your outcome, not a casting director or a producer or the television network, but whatever you truly put in, you will get out of it,” says Dan Wells (fellow CrossFitter and actor) to Curley.
“Now that makes me want to go train,” she says.