"I love our community. I definitely feel like I'm with family and I'm home there."
Kristen Hestand will compete in her first Regional competition this weekend in the Mid Atlantic. Like many first timers, Hestand is excited and nervous.
“(I’m) wanting to stay in the competition after the first (event),” she jokes.
Hestand, 27, has been CrossFitting since 2010. A co-worker introduced her to the sport and like many athletes competing this weekend, she was ready for more after her first workout.
Originally from the Boston area, Hestand got a taste for competition when she participated in the 2011 Open.
“That year, my box and other local boxes in Boston held the Open Workouts in a competition-like setting,” she recalls. “There was some pressure, but it wasn’t daunting. I began to do more local competitions and I was hooked.”
In 2012, she narrowly missed qualifying for the Mid Atlantic Regional. In response, she refocused her training with the goal to qualify for Regionals.
“I increased my training load. I did a lot of swimming to help with my endurance. I worked on my Olympic lifts, especially my snatch,” Hestand says. “I also went to CrossFit Greensboro a few times for help from athletes who have competed at higher levels.”
Hestand gets the most help though from her “home” box, CrossFit RTP in Durham, N.C. RTP affiliate owner and coach, Lei Fei reached out to Hestand in 2011.
“Lei has helped me become a better CrossFitter. He believed in me and led me to believe I could be stronger,” she says. “I love our community. I definitely feel like I’m with family and I’m at home there.”
Hestand will have a strong support system at the Regional. Several people from RTP will be in attendance, as well as her parents.
“My parents are coming from Massachusetts and it’s the first time they’ll see me compete,” she says. “They’ve supported me through everything. When I was in Boston, my mom saw some of the 2011 Open Workout with the overhead squats, bar-facing burpees and muscle-ups. She told me it wasn’t safe, that I was going to hurt myself. She wasn’t open to it then, but she’s warming up to it now.”
With Hestand’s persuasion, her parents are trying CrossFit for themselves and Hestand is pleased to see the positive influence the sport has had upon her and her family. In addition to her family, Hestand loves sharing her passion for CrossFit with RTP members. A Level 1 Coach since February 2012, Hestand explains she finds great reward in helping others.
“I love coaching, more than competing and even winning,” she explains. “I love that ‘a-ha moment’ when people learn something new. I love seeing members do something they’ve never done before, something they thought they’d never do.”
Hestand helps others, but gym members help her, too.
“I typically coach the 6 a.m. classes and I’m a little grumpy in the morning. It’s a great group. I leave the gym happy, and it’s an awesome start to my day.”
Hestand approaches the Regional weekend with a support group, confidence in her training and abilities and a positive attitude.
“Getting to watch other Regionals go before the Mid Atlantic is definitely an advantage,” she says. “I can watch women who have similar numbers to mine and it’s less scary. I can see little mistakes people make, but it hasn’t drastically changed how I plan to do the workouts. I’m excited to watch people do really awesome things.”