"CrossFit is different. I started it on my own, so I had a challenge with myself and a way of growing — both mentally and physically."
Itzel Cadena competes for the first time in this 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, although international competitions are not new for her. She has practiced Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu for more than 12 years, traveling abroad to Thailand, Canada and several other places around the world.
Now, she’s fully dedicated to CrossFit and has been training hard ever since she began.
A year ago, she wanted to practice Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as a sport instead of specializing in the disciplines of Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu. So while searching for new ways of training on the Internet, she found CrossFit and her interests have shifted completely.
“I chose CrossFit over MMA because I had a few bad experiences in the last years of my fighting career,” she says. “It became too political and there were things that I did not like at all. CrossFit is different. I started it on my own, so I had a challenge with myself and a way of growing — both mentally and physically. Before learning about CrossFit, I thought my athletic career was done, but it has given me back the energy to fulfill my dream of standing out as an athlete in my country and in the world.”
Cadena, head coach at CrossFit 52 Hermosa, started to fight professionally against her family’s desire.
“I had to train in secret because my family does not like martial arts or any fighting sports for that matter,” she says. “So when I started it was very difficult, but I did not care. I always try to do my best without caring what others think of me. My attitude remains the same when doing CrossFit.”
After achieving first place in the biggest local national throwdown, she was able to identify her strengths and weaknesses and set out to continue to improve every day. Now, with a 145-lb. snatch, a 365-lb. deadlift and a 165-lb. clean and jerk, she’s facing her first Open and all the difficulties and fun challenges it might bring.
Cadena scored 164 reps in 13.1, 315 reps in 13.2 and 248 reps in 13.3.
“I wanted to do more reps, so I made the mistake of doing 13.1 twice. It was then I made up my mind to do the workouts only once and give my best in each rep. I think it’s the best way of reaching high scores,” she says.
Cadena describes herself as an anxious athlete, so she tries to relax her mind before facing any workout.
“My mother teaches yoga, so when I’m nervous or anxious, I sing some mantras that she taught me,” Candena says. “This helps me free my mind from my thoughts.”
Cadena is currently ranked fifth in Latin America after a fifth-place finish in 13.2 and a ninth-place finish in 13.1.
“Being one of the top in the Leaderboard gets me a little nervous,” Candena admits. “Expectation is … like a weight on my shoulders … I only enter the CrossFit Games online page to check out the next workout.”
“If I have to describe myself, I would say I’m always passionate and dedicated to what I do,” she adds. “My motivation is fulfilling my dream of being a top professional athlete, to live from what I love to do and be successful in it. I think the 2013 Open and CrossFit help me every day to prove to myself that anything is possible and that I can do it.”