High-pressure competitions are nothing new to Bethany Hart. If the CrossFit newbie from the Charles River affiliate outside Boston can advance to the North East Regional competition, she’ll face off against plenty of elite athletes. While every entrant in the Games needs to be proficient in the Olympic lifts, Hart has used them to train for the Olympics.
The 34-year-old Needham, Mass., resident was a member of the 2006 Olympic bobsled team as well as a participant in three Olympic trials in track and field in the hammer throw. Hart picked up the hammer throw in college at the University of Connecticut, where she was a two-time All-American. After retiring from that sport in 2008 and bobsled in 2010 due to an Achilles injury, she was looking for something to stoke her competitive fire.
“I fought doing CrossFit for a long time ... I saw the CrossFit Games on ESPN and it got me thinking again.”
“Retirement came and for the last couple years I’ve been struggling to find something that motivates me to want to workout again in some capacity,” she says. “I fought doing CrossFit for a long time. I wasn’t sure if it was the right fit for me and was worried about being injured. I saw the CrossFit Games on ESPN and it got me thinking again.”
Those thoughts led to a visit to Charles River CrossFit in October, when she participated in her first workout. It took a little time for Hart to adapt to the style of the workouts, something she’s still adjusting to.
“The hard thing for me is the workouts are way out of my comfort zone,” Hart says. “For both bobsled and hammer throwing, they’re power sports. It’s heavy, heavy weights with low reps and a lot of recovery. So to do some of these workouts where you’re doing four different exercises with light to moderate weight or just body weight for 20 minutes long, is just way beyond my body’s capacity. But what I loved about it was the competitiveness. Racing the clock, competing against other people and against myself.”
A personal trainer at Pure Performance Training, she now does two CrossFit workouts a week and advancing to the North East Regional her latest athletic goal.
“I’m taking it seriously but trying not to take myself too seriously,” she says. “I want my CrossFit experience to be a positive outlet for my competitiveness, which is why I’m trying to rein it in. Nothing will compare to the process of making the Olympic team, for me, for what I’m trying to give at this point. At this point I just want to have something I can enjoy and not put too much pressure on myself to be disappointed if I don’t make the top three at Regionals and not feel too bad about it. I just want to have a positive experience, enjoy the moment and feel like an athlete again.”
As expected, Hart struggled with 12.1's high-rep burpees. She completed 107 of them, good for 126th in the region. On 12.2, however, her power shined through with 94 snatches complete. 94 earned her a 5th-place spot in the North East on the workout. Heading into 12.3, Hart is ranked 32nd in the region, on pace to accomplish her goal of competing in Regionals.