Phillipa “Pip Squeak” Hale takes her weakness and seriously makes it her strength. Hale, who trains at Functional Strength CrossFit in Aukland, New Zealand, finished in 15th place at the 2011 Australian Regional. She placed 3rd in Event 1, but struggled through the Thruster Ladder and the Deadlift/Box Jump workouts.
Coming from a gymnastics background, Hale many of her strengths transferred well to CrossFit. Yet she was not strong, weighing in at a pint sized 110 pounds and standing at barely 5-foot. Hale found the weights at the Regional challenging. She made the following year all about getting strong.
"I can hold my own on my gymnastic movements, but now I feel if they put a heavy lift in the mix, I am positioned to do well."
Hale began training with Functional Strength CrossFit coach, Richie Patterson to improve her Olympic lifts and overall strength as she headed into the 2012 season. Patterson is a 2008 Beijing Olympian and an Olympic Weightlifting and Strength and Conditioning coach.
To say she has improved would be an understatement.
Pound for pound, Hale, with the help of Patterson, has turned herself into a very strong CrossFitter.
As part of her build up for the CrossFit Games season, Patterson entered Hale into local Olympic weightlifting competitions after just three months of working together. She broke six New Zealand national records in her weight division with a snatch of 60 kg and clean and jerk of 75 kg. She has also increased her front and back squats to 97.5 kg and 107.5 kg, respectively.
“When Phillipa approached me to help with her strength in CrossFit, I jumped straight at the opportunity to work with such a talented athlete,” Patterson says. “She came to me with a predetermined idea of what she thought was ‘strong;’ a ‘strong’ that many other women her size would be quite content with. I sat her down and blatantly put it that you have/need to be lifting as much or more than the worlds best CrossFitters.”
Hale says she now looks forward to heavy weights in competition. “I have recently gone into local CrossFit competitions around New Zealand hoping that the weights will be heavier in the events,” she says. “I can hold my own on my gymnastic movements, but now I feel if they put a heavy lift in the mix, I am positioned to do well.”
Her attention to her weaknesses has worked out for her so far; Hale's currently ranked 27th in Australia after a 9th place finish on 12.1 and an 81st place finish on 12.2.