Alexys D’Tiole’s alarm clock rings at 3:15 a.m. most mornings. Nothing fancy wakes her up.
“Whatever the basic Apple alarm is,” she says. “I wish I could say I wake up to this soft-sounding music that’s going to hype me up for the day, but it’s literally the most basic alarm on your phone.”
At 3:30 a.m., she FaceTimes with her girlfriend who’s in Canada, three hours ahead. By 3:40 a.m., she and her golden labradoodle, Coast, embark on a 40-minute commute to Endgame Athletics in Oakland, California, where she’ll spend much of her day coaching, training, and working remotely as a supply chain manager for Clif Bar.
“My days may be long,” D’Tiole says, “but every part of it makes me who I am and connects me closer to the community I love the most.”
D’Tiole says her discipline comes from within.
“(My mom) always instilled, ‘Hey, you need to work hard to get where you want to get. You can’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it,’” D’Tiole remembers.
D’Tiole and her older brother grew up in a single-parent home in San Francisco, California, where their mom worked 40+ hours every week at the local grocery store to provide for their family.
D’Tiole has always been interested in athletics — she played basketball (both in her youth and eventually at the collegiate level), played softball, and ran track — but her family didn’t have the means to finance group sports.
“Growing up, I didn’t have financial resources to play sports, so what did I do? I sold beef jerky and boxes of candy to fundraise, mowed the neighbors’ lawns, did whatever I could to make money to do things that I wanted to do,” she says.
Admittedly a perfectionist, D’Tiole always puts her whole heart into everything she does. CrossFit is no different.
D’Tiole found CrossFit while in grad school at the University of the Pacific. When she walked into CrossFit 209 Sport in Stockton, California, she thought she’d be more suited for the sport-specific training the affiliate offered. But then she dropped into a CrossFit class.
“It was 2014, and one of my first workouts was the thruster/burpee workout from the Open,” she says. “I think it took me like 20 minutes or something ridiculous because I had never done a thruster, and burpees were just burpees and not fun.”
“I was hooked,” she adds. “I would always ask Gabe (Subry) or whoever was the coach, ‘What else can I do after class,’ or ‘Can I come train more?’”
CrossFit became a priority.
“I worked at a logistics company (in grad school),” she says. “I’d work all night, take a nap, go take a CrossFit class, and then go to school all day.”
As a multisport athlete, CrossFit came quite naturally to her and quickly became her outlet for fitness, competition, and even advocacy.
Advocacy in the Black and LGBTQ Communities
D’Tiole comes from a mixed-race background: Her mom is white, and her dad is black. She says she struggled growing up because she never felt as though she fit in with either race.
“I was the minority within my race,” she explains.
Today, D’Tiole is confident in herself and active in the Black and LGBTQ communities. She says much of that confidence came from her experience in CrossFit, and she aims to use her platform as an athlete for social change and to educate others about diversity and inclusion.
“With all of the things that have happened in 2020, my goal has been to be more vocal, to be an advocate, and to educate but not attack,” D’Tiole says. “My goal is to have tough conversations with people, teach them and help them understand more, because a lot of the time there’s a lack of education.”
Because CrossFit helped D’Tiole form her own identity, she wants to share CrossFit with as many people as possible.
“I always say that CrossFit’s a part of my belonging and a core part of me,” she says.
Having experienced adversity in her own life, she recognizes that socioeconomic circumstances can often prevent people from seeking out membership at an affiliate.
“With COVID happening and gyms struggling, it’s really hard (for gym owners) to say, ‘I want to give these community scholarships to people who cannot afford to come to the CrossFit gym,’” she explains. “That’s a huge barrier to entry for that socioeconomic class that doesn’t have that disposable income to pay for CrossFit.”
But D’Tiole is not without hope.
“Regardless of adversity and regardless of background, you can do things and achieve things if you put the effort in,” she says.
One of D’Tiole’s goals is to compete at the CrossFit Games. Her Open performance has improved steadily over the years, and in 2020, she took 56th worldwide. D’Tiole hoped to qualify through a Sanctionals competition in 2020.
She competed at the Filthy 150 in Ireland, taking ninth overall, and again at the Mayhem Classic in Cookeville, Tennessee, where she placed 11th. The West Coast Classic would have been up next, and D’Tiole says she was excited to return to the Del Mar Arena, the same venue where she’d competed three other times in the CrossFit Regionals team competition.
But the season was cut short when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of large sporting events, and her goal of qualifying was put on hold.
With the Open just around the corner, she’s focused on training for 2021, but her “why” is much larger than that.
“I want to be the best version of myself so that I give the best me to other people,” she says.
“I think it’s important to have a ‘why’ or something that’s going to drive you every day to do the things that you do, because you may not be motivated every day,” D’Tiole continues. “It’s about having the discipline and the dedication behind it to say, ‘I’m not motivated today, but I’m disciplined, and I know I need to get something done, so I’m going to do it and know that I put that effort in and tomorrow could be better.’”