May 8, 2013
Getting Serious with CrossFit: Amanda Schwartz
By Karen Feiner

Amanda Schwartz and CrossFit have been in a casual relationship for two years. But now it's time to get serious.


We’ve all had to make that decision in a relationship — do we keep it casual or do we get serious? Does this relationship have a future?

Amanda Schwartz has been in a casual relationship for two years. This Aussie grew up swimming, playing on the beach and playing any sport she could get her hands or feet on — a college scholarship playing soccer is what eventually brought her to America. Her competitive nature brought her to CrossFit.

Training for two years out of Premier CrossFit in Tyler, Texas, whether a casual or serious CrossFitter, Schwartz has proven herself to be a serious competitor in the South Central Region. In 2012, she finished fourth at the South Central Regional — just two points away from qualifying for the Games.

In the past, Schwartz has called her relationship with CrossFit, casual. But this year, her tone has changed.  

“CrossFit has become a bigger part of my life,” she says. “I place more value on training, the community and I enjoy competing. I see myself doing it in some capacity for the foreseeable future.”

Right after the Open, Schwartz was dealing with a different decision — to compete at Regionals or not. With a strong second-place finish in South Central in the Open, it might seem an easy decision. It was anything but.

“Looking back on the year, it’s easy for me to poke holes in most aspects of my training,” she admits. “Consistency, strength gains, sleep, nutrition and definitely stress have all been factors. The year certainly wasn’t what I planned. My decision to not compete was an attempt to simplify things and take any additional pressure off myself.”

“While that all sounds nice, I guess part of me still hung onto the idea of going. Thankfully, when the Open finished, I was reminded that the very reason I was choosing to sit out was in conflict with why I love the sport so much. CrossFit allows you to rise up above your situation, to overcome, to compete and to improve everyday. If CrossFit was solely about competing with others, then I wouldn’t have such a passion for it. It’s about competing with yourself. In essence, I decided that it would be a cop out to use circumstance as an excuse. That’s not me.”

After Regionals last year, Schwartz was motivated and had a plan.

“I had big plans for training after last year's Regionals, but they had to change,” she explains. “My original plan was to focus on strength and Olympic lifting but that quickly shifted toward rehab. I tore my quadricep last year and couldn't squat for three months — even air squats were extremely painful. Obviously that put a big dent in my training. I’ve had to do a lot of work in order to just return to my pre-injury numbers. That’s been discouraging at times when the plan was to increase those numbers.”

It was around that time Schwartz sought out help from her coach, Dave Tillman.

“He and his brother Michael have been instrumental in getting me back. I can’t thank them enough for their support and encouragement,” she says.

Injury was not the only obstacle for Schwartz this year. As a mother, wife, a personal trainer and an athlete, Schwartz plays a lot of roles, which can drive her to distraction.  

“I think any working mother would agree that finding the time to train is a challenge itself. I've also struggled to turn off mentally at times and just focus on training without outside distractions. Prioritized training requires a great support system.”

Even after a year that didn’t go as planned, Schwartz performed strong across the Open workouts. In every workout, she placed in the top 15. And the Open was not high on her priority list.

“The Open took a backseat this year. I don’t place a lot of value in the Open, as far as determining Regional competition,” she says. “The Regional stage is completely different than a controlled, once a week workout. At Regionals, second in the Open means very little.”

Schwartz doesn’t seem to need the competition as motivation, but she does seem to thrive on it.

“I'm competitive with myself by nature and CrossFit is a great vehicle for that. I also love the lifestyle, the people, the stories, the shared experience. As an athlete, I enjoy being around so many driven people looking to be challenged.”

She adds: “I'm no different than other CrossFit competitors in respect to having been challenged in life. Everybody has a story. But it’s because of those things I am reminded to embrace the gifts God has given me and not be held back by limitations others put on me or that I set myself. Life is worth living and I want to chase after it. I don't want to be defined by fear or by what could have been, in any aspect of my life. I'm alive, I'm healthy. That alone is a blessing. I'm competing because it’s what we're supposed to do, it’s called life.”