February 27, 2013
Conquering Handstand Push-Ups: Katherine Anderson
By Eddie Malone

"My goal for this year's Open and Regional is to have no regrets."

Katherine Anderson flew under the radar at last year’s South Central Regional.

New to the region, but not to CrossFit competition, she bounced back from a tough start in the first event to finish in the top 10.

In 2013, the Nebraska native won’t be taking anyone by surprise as she aims for a “no regrets” result and seeks revenge on her old nemesis: the handstand push-up.  

Her battle with this high-skill gymnastics movement began at CrossFit Omaha in 2006, with her frustrations culminating at the 2011 North Central Regional where she struggled in the first event consisting of a 1,000-meter run, 1,000-meter row and 30 handstand push-ups. She couldn’t finish the workout and played catch-up for the rest of the weekend. The inauspicious beginning landed her a 24th-place finish overall. 

A year later, Anderson found herself in a new region after moving from Omaha to The Woodlands, Texas. Unfortunately, her old nemesis followed her south.

Handstand push-ups reappeared in the first event, and though Anderson finished Diane, her performance put her in a hole. Undaunted, she went on a tear with top-10 finishes in four of the remaining five events. Her steady and dramatic climb from 29th to ninth place left her mulling over what could have been if she were only a handstand push-up ninja.    

“Knowing that I could have been on the podium if I would have had a four-minute Diane made me realize how much work I really have to do on just a couple movements,” she says. “I can’t let one or two movements hold me back to the level it was. If I could go back and re-do some of the WODs, I would, (and) I know what I would do different and how I would approach them. I think that is what is great about competing, it makes you think, strategize, plan and push.”

Ahead of the 2013 competition season, Anderson won’t say she’s thinking of a podium-finish and a berth at the CrossFit Games. Rather, the 27-year-old will only say she’s shooting for a performance that leaves her with no regrets.

“My goal for this year’s Open and Regional is to have no regrets. No thinking, ‘Man, I wish I would have worked on handstand push-ups more.’ Or, ‘I should have done butterfly pull-ups instead of kipping,’” she says. “I want to know that I did every possible thing I could have to make my performance the best it could be.”

Anderson has been following Rudy Nielsen’s Outlaw Way programming since April and trains with Games veteran Kelley Hennigan at CrossFit Overtake. Her focus has been on the Olympic lifts and, of course, gymnastics.    

The hard work has paid off. Since last year’s Regional, Anderson has competed in a number of competitions, with a first-place finish at a LifeAsRX event and a 10th-place finish at the inaugural Outlaw Open. She is a big believer in these local competitions as a way to prepare for the CrossFit Games Open.  

“You forget how intense competitions can be and the only way to really test yourself is to go out there and compete,” she says. “Training in a gym with the same few people everyday will only get you so far.”

Seven years in, Anderson says her passion for CrossFit hasn’t waned. She’s a self-professed “gym rat” whose story is a familiar one — CrossFit changed her life by making her stronger and healthier. In addition, it introduced her to her closest friends and made her a person of interest at the local grocery store.

“When you work hard at your fitness, people notice that and start asking you questions about how they can be more fit,” she says. “I get stopped in the grocery store by people asking questions about food and dieting all because of the way I look, and I wouldn't look or feel like I do if it wasn’t for CrossFit. If it wasn’t for CrossFit, who knows where I would be?”

CrossFit follows her to work, as well. Anderson is a full-time Recreational Therapist who works with people of all ages suffering from traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. In 2008, she introduced CrossFit to a group of young patients and saw marked improvements in self-esteem, with CrossFit functioning as a “positive coping skill.”

When she’s not working with patients or on her handstand push-ups, Anderson spends time with her two dogs. Twice a year, she visits family and friends in Omaha.

Gymnastics will no doubt rear its head this competition season. When it does, expect Anderson to be a different athlete this time around and, when the chalk has settled, a CrossFitter with no regrets.