Samantha Petersen is returning to the CrossFit Games this summer with a spirited attitude. “My goal always is to have fun, but I still have a competitive heart,” she says.
Petersen walked into Mt. Baker CrossFit in October 2008 a few months after giving birth to her daughter. She weighed 230 pounds and needed a change in her life. She knew she needed to make her health a priority. With very little athletic experience, Petersen excelled at CrossFit, signing up for Sectionals in 2010 and placing fifth, then placing seventh at Regionals. The following year Petersen placed first at Regionals and earned a spot to her first CrossFit Games, where she placed 39th. This year, she finished second at Regionals and earned another trip to the CrossFit Games.
After placing in the top seven of each event at Regionals, Petersen looks forward to the fun of the Games.
“This year’s Regionals were so much fun for me. I want that same thing for the Games. This is an experience of a lifetime, an incredible opportunity,” she says. “So I'm going to live in the moment. I want to make this a memory that I'd love to share with everyone. A fun memory.”
At the beginning of this year’s competition season, Petersen sought out a workout partner in Kelsey Nagel, who she competed against at the 2011 Regionals. This brought Petersen down to Lynnwood CrossFit once a week, where she met coach and CrossFit HQ trainer Jesse Ward.
Immediately, Ward picked up on little adjustments to help her improve overall.
“During our first workout we addressed poor push-up technique and her repeated loss of lumbar control on 55-pound hang squat snatches,” Ward says. “She said that was the most coaching she’d ever gotten. That was the moment I knew that we could make a real difference.”
Petersen has taken time off from work to train full time at Lynnwood CrossFit in preparation for the Games.
Ward says Petersen’s weaknesses lie in pacing and planning. At the Games, Ward would like to see, “A couple of nasty, nasty couplets or triplets where the volume is really quite high to get everyone else sore and pouty, because that wouldn't phase Sam for a second,” Ward says. “She would say, ‘Oh yeah, my legs are really sore too, but this workout looks really fun doesn't it?’"
Petersen is working on making her movements stricter. She made quite an impression at the 2011 North West Regional with her “flying pterodactyl” muscle-ups. Petersen is working on improving her movements overall, not focusing on just one thing, so the other skills don’t slack.
Ward says Petersen’s strength is her ability to pick up new movements quickly. In the Games, he’d like to see something new thrown in, since she’s likely to pick it up quickly. He also sees her strength in her fast recovery. “She recovers insanely fast and doesn't mind being sore for more workouts,” he says. “A perfect Games athlete.”
Confidence is key to Petersen’s training and performance. “You have to have confidence in what you do; going into [the] Open, Regionals or any competition,” Peterson says. “So preparing for the Games is no different for me. I’ll go to the gym and I'll do two or three workouts including a skill or lift. After all, CrossFit is for health and everyday life fitness. The Games are still functional movements – they just amp it up to beast mode.”
Petersen’s attitude towards working out and competition has also changed since last year. “Using positive reinforcements behind each workout is a must for me. Over this past year I have worked really hard on remembering this,” she says. “Last year, I felt discouraged when I was no-repped. I have had to learn not to get discouraged, as life goes on, even if you are no-repped. You’ve got to just do another rep or make sure that every rep counts.”
Ward would like to see Petersen finish in the top 15. Petersen simply wants to have fun and give it her all. With a positive attitude, she’s ready to attack the workouts.
“It’s all about commitment,” Petersen says. “If I’m not feeling my best or performing at my best, I remember that every day is a different day. I believe that going into the gym and putting in the work physically and mentally prepares you. Knowing that when you’re in the middle of it, you have to tell yourself, ‘Almost done. The faster and smoother you do this, the faster it'll get done.’ Remember that this is for fun and health. Just keep going. This will make you better."