Before the 2013 Central East Regional, Julianne Broadbent could compete without much fanfare.
Now, after a fifth-place finish at the Regional, she’s feeling the effects of becoming a CrossFit “celebrity.”
Strangers friend her on Facebook or send her private messages. Some call her an inspiration, while others ask for workout and nutrition plans. And others try to injure her pride by calling her “manly.”
“I was like, ‘What just happened?’” Broadbent said. “I saw no reason to be (called) an inspiration. I’m too hard on myself, I guess.”
Broadbent started training at SPC CrossFit in Kent, Ohio during her senior year of high school. At the time, she wanted to be a better shooting guard for her basketball team. That changed after the Ohio Sectional in 2010.
“I realized there was a sport aspect to (CrossFit),” she said. “So I started training to actually be good at it.”
The next season, she joined Team SPC. Two years into CrossFit and her second year on the team, Broadbent helped Team SPC qualify for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games. The team took second place behind two-time Affiliate Cup champions Hacks Pack UTE.
Team SPC reached its pinnacle in 2012, and then faded away. The team dissolved before the start of the 2013 season, leaving Broadbent to go at it alone.
Team to Individual
At first, she said she wasn’t sure if she was ready to compete as an individual.
“My first instinct was, ‘Oh crap, am I ready for this?’” she said. “‘Am I a well rounded enough athlete to do this?’”
While she was confident with gymnastic and barbell movements—she could snatch 190 lb., clean and jerk 220 lb. and string together 15 consecutive muscle-ups—her weakness was pacing. As a two-year team competitor, she could rely on her teammates to step in the moment she drained the tank.
“In team, we just did reps until you couldn’t do reps anymore, and then it was the next person’s turn to go. I got so used to the team where it was, ‘Go, go go!’” she said. “And now it’s, ‘Go at a pace you can keep and not slow down.’ That’s where I still kind of struggle.”
Her challenge with pacing was obvious in the 2013 Regional Event 4, known to many as the 100s: 100 reps of wall-ball shots, chest-to-bar pull-ups, pistols and 50-lb. dumbbell snatches for time. Like fresh kindling, she flared quickly and fizzled fast, losing an early lead and tying for 12th.
“I did the wall balls way too fast, and I was dead for the (chest-to-bar) pull-ups,” she said. “I had no legs after.”
Still, a top-five finish in the region showed she could hold her own against the best of the Central East.
“It gave me confidence that I am better than I think,” Broadbent said. “My biggest goal was to hang with Lindsey Smith and Michelle Kinney because they’d been to the Games, and I tied Lindsey, so that was an accomplishment.”
Learning to Pace
Broadbent’s programming, done by coach Toby Jurging, is designed to teach her effective pacing and recovery.
“We entered this year’s training with a plan,” Jurging said. “The biggest thing is teaching her, or forcing her, to learn gears. We give her an effort percentage to work at, then expect her to hit it. Each training session has a dose goal. We know what the outcome should be; (there’s) no randomness.”
Over the summer, Broadbent would often perform three rounds of a given workout, rest for five minutes, and then redo the workout shooting for the same time. A month later, she would do the same workout, but only be given two minutes rest between attempts. She repeated that the following month and was given no rest between efforts. She would need to pace the workout so the times were the same or close. No running into the wall and dying out.
“It’s definitely really different training than what I was doing before,” she said.
The training has helped her handle the workouts that don't fall in her favor. She competed at a local competition in January where she faced an event with a lot of running and rowing.
“Before (it) would have made me cry. Now, I (was) excited for it, to see how I improved,” Broadbent said.
Learning how to pace and compete on her own has helped her get better in competition.
“I think I’m definitely more mature,” she said. “I used to be completely mental, and I would just break down if a workout was going badly. Now, if I’m slowing down, I tell myself it will be OK, just breathe. I have a better outlook.”
It has also helped her deal with her new fame—the good and the bad.
“I like who I am and what I do,” she said. “I’m motivated by girls who are bigger and stronger than me.”
She isn’t worried about the new requirement for Regional qualifiers to submit video of the Open workouts.
“I really like the change,” she said. “It doesn’t make me nervous, because I am honest about everything. I just have to find people to video me now.”
Jurging said this new fame has not affected her attitude.
“The one thing I love about her is that she is still Jewels,” he said. “No crazy video posts, (she) just does her thing, works hard and has fun. She is just Jewels.”