March 5, 2012
Laurie Galassi: Not Your Typical CrossFitter
By Sam Radetsky

Galassi is adamant that CrossFit does not come home with her. It is her sport, her recreation, her activity, but not her life. 

During the 100s Event at the 2011 Northern California Regional.

Finishing the last workout at the 2011 NorCal Regional

CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman has often said gymnasts pick up new movements and make the transition to other sports more easily and better than anyone else.

CrossFit Santa Cruz’s Laurie Galassi is an excellent example. Her athleticism is steeped in gymnastics. She competed in power tumbling at an elite level in high school, as well as being a circus aerialist.

Power tumbling combines the skills of trampolining with the traditional gymnastic floor event. Contestants hurdle down a 25-meter sprung track performing at least eight successive tumbling skills—flips, somersaults, handsprings, and cartwheels—and even more arcane sounding skills—tucks, whips, fulls, hurdlers, and Baranis. Every time power tumbling is exhibited, it should come with the warning, don’t try this at home. The difficulty of box jumps, snatches, even muscle-ups, seems to pale in comparison.

Gymnastics has given Galassi a fluidity and grace, an excellence of movement that has translated very well to CrossFit. She narrowly missed the Games in both 2011 and 2010, placing 5th at Regionals both years. A gambling person would have no problem betting that this will be her year.

However, Galassi is not your typical CrossFitter.  She possesses a mindset far different from her fellow Games competitors that is at once both refreshing and probably a bit maddening to her coaches.

Galassi is adamant that CrossFit does not come home with her. It is her sport, her recreation, her activity, but not her life. She trains Monday through Friday in order to have the full weekend to spend time with her husband and just enjoy life. Her diet is not unhealthy, but she admits it is not “CrossFit healthy,” and says she often forgets to eat and “lives on double lattes.” She also confesses to not doing much recovery work, saying with a grin, “Kelly Starrett would be apoplectic.”

From her gymnastics background, Galassi has seen and understands obsessive behavior and burnout, and she is careful to adjust her training in order to avoid both. She plans on doing CrossFit far into the future, and she asks, “How many Games competitors will still be doing CrossFit five years from now?” Her casual approach to CrossFit is her answer to that very real problem of burnout, and she makes sure she gets outside the gym for plenty of recreation, such as hiking and camping.

Although she is, by her own admission, not hell bent on making it to the Games, Galassi is the real deal and believes she has a good shot at owning one of the three coveted NorCal spots. Knowing that strength is her weak point, after the 2011 Regionals Galassi committed to following weightlifting coach Mike Burgener’s programming for several months in order to improve her strength. The change in programming has worked and she now enters the Games season stronger and fitter than ever before.

Movement is Galassi’s strong suit and it is no surprise she loves moving. Rarely does one see movements such as muscle-ups strung together with such effortless style. Given her background, neat tricks and cool moves are dear to her heart, and she wishes there was something in CrossFit similar to the degree of difficulty scale in gymnastics.

Galassi started and continues to train CrossFit in Santa Cruz, the birthplace, and that gives her a skewed sense of its extraordinary rise. While CrossFit is tearing it up everywhere, in Santa Cruz it is kind of business as usual. “In Santa Cruz everyone knows CrossFit and recognizes me as a CrossFitter.” But elsewhere, people ”look at my arms and ask if I am a rock climber or swimmer.”

Look for Galassi to be headed south to Carson, Calif., come July.