February 9, 2013
Mastering 40
By Josh Bunch

“I love encouraging my athletes to grow and challenge themselves and they, in turn, encourage and support me to push myself to my potential.”

Just before Christmas, Christine Watts received a strange text.

“Happy birthday,” it read.

Since it was more than three months before her 40th birthday, Watts thought her friend had texted the wrong blonde, she says.

After teasing him for his mistake, she learned that he meant it.

The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Rulebook had just been released, and announced a new Masters age division: 40-44. Watts was suddenly in the running for the Masters competition.

“I never stress about competing, but the potential to make the Games is the motivation I needed to take training more seriously,” Watts says. “Knowing there is a possibility to get there makes me want to dig deeper.”

The 39-year-old has taken on formidable CrossFit competitors, including the second Fittest Woman on Earth, Julie Foucher.

“My first competition was at (CrossFit Ann Arbor) and I took second to Julie,” she says.

In the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, she took fifth in the Central East and went on to take 18th at the Regional.

Last year, amid a much larger crowd, she took 24th in Central East in the Open, and 25th at the Regional. There, the heavy weights crushed her.

“I just couldn't do the dumbbell snatches,” she says, referring to the Sprint and 70-lb. Dumbbell Snatch Event.

Midway through the Regional, she realized it was going to be near impossible to keep up with the younger competitors.

“I have noticed that the younger girls who started training when I did — even after I did — just improve faster,” she says. “Now, I relish in every PR. They simply don’t come as easy as they used to.”

As a trainer at Total CrossFit in Traverse City, Mich., she gets plenty of time with young, competitive women. She helps them, and they help her.

“I love encouraging my athletes to grow and challenge themselves and they, in turn, encourage and support me to push myself to my potential,” she says.

Ever since the 2012 Central East Regional, Watts has been working on her goats.

“My weakness is raw strength, so I try to work on powerlifting once a week,” she says.

While it’s still too early to tell, she believes her recent strength cycle will help nudge her long-time PRs in the deadlift (245), clean (155) and snatch (115).

She has turned her programming over to Level 1 Seminar trainer, Doug Chapman, who has ramped up her training, she says.

Chapman drills the fundamentals and adds skill work and progressions on the side.

Most days, her side work includes 20 minutes of light-load barbell complexes before 45 minutes of heavy Olympic lift training. After that, she gets into gymnastics skill work and conditioning.  

“I want to train properly and I need the accountability that Doug's programming holds me to,” she says. “I’m good at being disciplined when I'm told to do something. If not, other responsibilities tend to take precedence over my time.”

This year, her training is taking priority.

On March 6, she’ll start a five-week journey she hopes will end with a ticket to the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games. While she knows the competition will be larger than last year, she’s confident that this is her year.

“Now is my chance,” she says.