"We see people truly push the boundaries of the human body. Every time people think there is no physical way that something can be done, someone is proving them wrong."
It wasn’t a fluke when Jaime Gold qualified for the Games last year after less than five months of training with CrossFit.
Two years in a row now, she’s qualified for the Games; and from two different regions.
Gold burst onto the scene last year after tying for second place at the Central East Regional, going on to finish 26th at the Games. She will look to improve upon that after earning a return trip to California thanks to a second place finish at this year’s South East Regional.
“I felt that last year, making it after just four to ﬁve months of training seemed sort of like a ﬂuke to people, but qualifying two years in a row makes me feel that I have really earned my spot and that I have solidiﬁed myself as a true competitor,” Gold says.
All eyebrows in the South East were raised when the 26-year-old moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to begin a doctoral program in physical therapy. She trains at CrossFit Afﬂiction and was conﬁdent going into Regionals after qualifying 10th in the Open.
“I felt more conﬁdent when I saw the workouts, but I knew this was going to be a battle the whole weekend,” she says.
After setting a new PR by 1:30 in Diane (3:20) and taking fifth in that event, Gold took first in Event 2 and tied for third in Event 3. She knew Event 4 would be her biggest challenge.
“I knew that was going to be my Achilles heel, and I would just have to push through it the best I could and give it everything I had. I took a 10th place ﬁnish in that workout and just sort of put it behind me and tried to ﬁgure out what I needed to do on Day 3 to secure that spot (on the podium),” she says. “After the Snatch Ladder, I was basically on cloud nine because I matched my PR and pretty much solidiﬁed my spot to the Games.”
Gold finished second in the Snatch Ladder after successfully lifting 150 pounds and completed the Regional weekend with a fourth place ﬁnish in the ﬁnal event. Her solid performance put her in second place overall, with the next competitor 10 points behind.
Gold, who was a gymnast at West Virginia University, was voted a Strength and Conditioning All-American by strength coaches. The honor recognizes athletes who show dedication, leadership, endurance and strength in the weight room. Those attributes and her athletic background have translated well into her success with CrossFit.
“I feel that having an athletic background is always an advantage in CrossFit, not just for the physical aspects, but the mental aspects as well,” she says. “If you ask a former college athlete about the mental aspect of the sport, they will, nine out of 10 times, tell you that (the mental aspect) was the toughest part. By the time you are at that level, your body knows how to do all of the movements, but your mind has to be there to make it happen.
“For the mental game, I honestly tell myself that all of these other girls are pushing just as hard, and I can’t quit,” she says. “I think working out alone also helps with the mental game. If you can push when no one is looking, then you can deﬁnitely push when you’re on the ﬂoor with the competition.”
Juggling school with training can get a bit hectic for Gold, who tries to ﬁt in two-a-days on the weekends. She does most of her own programming and usually trains three days on and one day off unless her body tells her otherwise.
In preparation for the Games, Gold has increased the volume of her training and has focused more on skills, including some strongman movements. “I am not really a specialist in anything, but rather strong overall, especially for my size (5’3”, 133 pounds). My weakness is the same [as] every gymnast – endurance. It’s not something that I have ever really trained until CrossFit, so it’s still one of those things I constantly have to work.”
Gold is thankful for last year’s experience at the Games, which has helped her prepare for this year, where she hopes to end up in the top 15. “I learned that you really need to be ready for anything and that everything is going to be heavy,” she says. “After not being able to complete the Killer Cage workout, I really wanted to dial in to my strength and make sure that I did not become a victim to another workout like that again. Hopefully my preparation this year will help me steer clear of that situation again.”
Gold maintains a somewhat paleo diet, but will go completely clean leading up to the Games.
“If you deprive yourself too much, it is worse on your body than if you give in every once in a while,” she says.
“When I look back on my CrossFit career thus far, I am surprised at the gains I have made from last year till now. I have put 35 pounds on my snatch, 35 pounds on my clean and jerk, 45 pounds on my deadlift, and 20 pounds on my front squat. To me, this is the coolest thing because I know that I can still get stronger. I don’t feel like I am at my peak, which is something that keeps me going, as well.”
Gold credits her girlfriend, Mallory Lazell, with taking care of her behind the scenes.
“Without her, I would literally be lost. She is a physical therapist and is the one who makes sure that I am ready to go at every competition,” Gold says. “She is a huge part of my mental game and really helps to keep me calm and hype me up when I need it.”
Just as Gold has made an impact on the sport the past two years, CrossFit has in turn impacted her life. Not only in keeping her disciplined, but in providing her with a framework for what she wants to pursue in the future. She says she is amazed and inspired at how quickly CrossFit has grown.
“This ‘Sport of Fitness’ is changing people’s lives every day, and those are the people that inspire me. When you hear those stories of people losing 100 pounds from CrossFit, a better diet, and the support of everyone in their box, you can’t help but feel inspired,” she says. “I think the competitive side is amazing, as well. We see people truly push the boundaries of the human body. Every time people think there is no physical way that something can be done, someone is proving them wrong. I'm not sure what is not to like about that.”