The beauty of CrossFit, Diedericks says, is that it equips people with health, fitness and even the courage they need to enjoy more from life.
I expect the Fittest Woman in Africa to deliver pearls of wisdom on how to be a champion athlete during our interview. She’s well positioned to do so, having represented South Africa in rowing at the Beijing Olympics and as the Africa Regional winner in 2012.
But I was wrong. What Rika Diedericks really wants to tell people is simply how to have more fun with CrossFit.
“Go hiking. Spend more time outdoors. Climb trees. Just have fun!”
The beauty of CrossFit, Diedericks says, is that it equips people with health, fitness and even the courage they need to enjoy more from life. She says only a few will ever reach the status of “top athlete.” We do CrossFit because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Because it helps us fill our lives with more of the activities we love.
“CrossFit isn’t about chasing numbers in a box,” she says. “It’s about having the physical freedom to do more of the things that make you happy.”
Running with the dogs, climbing a mountain, swimming with the kids; these are the areas where CrossFit makes massive yet immeasurable differences to people’s lives.
Driven by this philosophy, Diedericks is eager to give more people, as she describes it, more ways to play with CrossFit.
In other words, move out of the box environment and into workshops and retreats where they can experiment with different ways to enhance their CrossFit skills and at the same time enjoy using those skills in new, challenging ways.
She’s especially passionate about setting up weekend training getaways exclusively for women. The idea was born years ago when, as a female rower, she often found herself in exclusively male company. “The guys enjoyed such camaraderie, but as a woman I was excluded,” she recalls. “I’d love to create an environment where female athletes can enjoy that kind of connection.”
On a practical level, women’s bodies function very differently to men’s, she says. “We don’t have the same natural power, strength or recovery rates,” she explains. Then quips, “And honestly, at some time during the month we’re going to arrive at the box cranky and sore. Guys just don’t get that.”
In preparation for these proposed activities, and to improve her coaching, Diedericks spent a number of weeks overseas in the months following the Games. She came home with a number of new skills and certificates in CrossFit and Olympic liting.
Diedericks plans to compete in the 2013 season, but says her heart lies in helping other athletes explore their love of CrossFit.
With this is mind, can we expect Diedericks to settle down and open her own box any time soon? Not likely. She says her dream box would be a tiny garage gym in some untouched and remote part of the country where people could drop in to train on their way through. Why? “Because it would be fun. Why else?”