“Over the past year, I don’t think there’s been a day where I didn’t want to come in and work for it. It was in the back of my mind every single day. I just kept telling myself, ‘I want to be at regionals.’”
Chassity Martin didn’t know what to expect when she did her first CrossFit workout in the fall of 2011.
She ran track in high school and played basketball during college. It wasn’t until a four-year hiatus from competitive sports that she realized something was missing.
“I found CrossFit by way of a Groupon at a local affiliate,” she said. “I figured it couldn’t hurt since I had basically sat on my ass for four years. I knew I needed to get my conditioning back up to speed, and I hoped CrossFit would give me a chance to do just that.”
Martin knew instantly CrossFit was something she could maintain long term.
“I really missed the competitive aspect of being an athlete,” she said. “I feel like CrossFit fills that void and my life feels complete again.”
After finishing 204th in the 2012 Open, Martin attended the Mid Atlantic Regional as a medical volunteer and set a new goal.
“As a medical volunteer, I was able to see a lot. Just to be in that environment and see all of the individual females compete, I knew I wanted to be there one day,” Martin recalled. “I just didn’t know how or when I was going to get there.”
In the summer of 2012, Martin participated in a local CrossFit competition in Virginia Beach, Va. This performance motivated her to take her training more seriously.
“I finished dead last in the Rx division,” she admitted. “I thought, ‘Man, I’ve never finished last in anything in my life.’ I knew I had to do something more.”
Within six months of her last-place finish, Martin joined Brickhouse CrossFit in Roanoke, Va., with the goal of making regionals someday. She connected with affiliate co-owner, Jay Forrester, and he began to program her workouts in order to take her training to the next level.
“It was awesome to work with Jay because he saw that competitive potential in me as a CrossFit athlete,” Martin said. “I am thankful to have a supportive community and a coach who is willing to invest so much time in my programming.”
During the 2013 Open, Martin finished 112th in the region and was fairly satisfied with her placement, but set a goal to do better in 2014.
“I am a really competitive person, so if there’s competition involved, I want to be there,” she said. “I need to do good.”
Forrester said Martin could make a difference in competitive CrossFit.
“She was willing to sacrifice the fun temporarily to bring up her weaknesses for competition,” he said. “She loves the traditional form of CrossFit, but for almost three months during the summer, she sat next to a squat rack resting five minutes between each of her heavy sets. Meanwhile, everyone else in the box was hitting the fun, high-intensity workouts.”
Through a series of movement assessments and general observation, Forrester was able to hone in on Martin’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We knew that my strength aspect was my biggest weakness,” Martin said. “For example, my left leg was not as strong as my right leg, so the goal was to work on correcting those imbalances.”
She admitted spending the summer on the rower and the airdyne was not her favorite aspect of the intensive training.
“There was a time when I thought and wondered if this was the right way to go,” she said. “But the training did help keep up my conditioning, and when I went back to (metabolic conditioning) in the fall, I could tell I was a totally different athlete. The barbell was a whole lot lighter and with a few tweaks to my gymnastics movements these were better, as well.”
While many athletes continue to train as normal leading up to the Open, Martin knew her programming had to be different.
“I knew that I had to train for the Open, and not through the Open,” she said. “A lot of other athletes may not have to do that, but I knew I was going to be on the bubble throughout the Open season.”
Martin continued to stay focused on her ultimate goal.
“Over the past year, I don’t think there’s been a day where I didn’t want to come in and work for it. It was in the back of my mind every single day,” she said. “I just kept telling myself, ‘I want to be at regionals.’”
Martin continued to see improvement and tested her progress through several local competitions.
“I wanted to be able to gauge the competition around me and to see how they were doing,” she said. “I knew I had a lot of catching up to do, but I definitely felt like I was catching up to people. I also felt like they were working just as hard as me, so the question was always, ‘Can I catch up to them and also get ahead of them?’”
The majority of her CrossFit journey has been fairly steady and serene, but in the final moments leading up to the 2014 Open, Martin felt pressure.
“I actually had a small breakdown about a week before the first workout,” she said. “I was like, ‘I am not good enough. I’m not ready. I didn’t do enough during the year.’ Then that first workout came out and I was familiar with it because I had done it a few times before. When I finished it and saw that I got 15th in the region, I was excited that I might actually make it to regionals this year.”
With increased confidence, Martin continued to shine. She placed 110th in 14.2, 86th in 14.3, 26th in 14.4, and finished the Open in 32nd for 14.5. Her performance secured her 26th place, and an invitation to the 2014 Mid Atlantic Regional in Fairfax, Va.
With the regional competition just weeks away, Martin will turn to Forrester once again for training and competition advice.
“We will have to focus on building up more volume to handle the three multi-event days in a row,” Forrester said. “Her goal becomes honing in on some more advanced components, as well as heavy load that we know will come up at regionals. The cool part about all of this is that Chassity sees this all as fun.”
Martin said she is ecstatic about fulfilling her dream of competing at the regional level. She knows it is not going to be easy, but looks forward to the challenges ahead.
“I don’t know what my limitations are in CrossFit yet,” she said. “I feel like I’ve shown so much improvement this year and I know that I have more improvement to go. I don’t know where my ceiling is with CrossFit.”
Reminiscing about the recent Open workouts and predicting the physical challenges yet to come, Martin is optimistic she can endure anything that comes her way.
“Honestly, I like any workout that induces a lot of pain,” she laughed. “Something like 14.5 that forces your brain to fight through the pain. It becomes kind of a love-hate relationship at this point.”
No matter the outcome at the regional, Forrester and Martin agreed this year has been incredible for her confidence as a CrossFit athlete.
“Although it was initially intimidating to think that I was going to be competing with women that I just watched on ESPN, I had to really just tell myself that I put the work in. I don’t think I could have put any more work in, and whatever happens, happens,” she said. “I know that I gave it my best effort and that’s what really matters.”
Forrester said Martin is ready for the next phase of competition.
“From the moment I met Chassity, I could tell she had focus and determination. I have really enjoyed seeing her excitement and fulfillment from competition in this sport,” he said. “As she gains more experience in competition and continues to discover her true potential, I believe others will need to watch out.”