Mother First, Athlete Second: Tanya Wagner

February 2, 2012

Larry Palazzolo

  ​Back as An Individual


​Back as An Individual

2009 CrossFit Games female champion Tanya Wagner is co-owner of CrossFit Apex, as well as a new mother to son, A.J. For the first time since 2009, Wagner will compete in the 2012 CrossFit Games Open as an individual.

Finding a Balance
The game has changed from just a few years ago when Wagner finished 2nd in 2008 and won in 2009. Back then, athletes didn’t train as rigorously as they do now. “You hear about competitors hitting WODs two, three times a day,” Wagner says. “I’m hitting WODs two, three times a week.”
While she has never been one to train with multiple workouts in a day, Wagner now feels the level of competition has gotten to the point where you have to be able to train at a higher volume in order to compete at the highest level. “Every month I try and add more to it,” she says. “I try to add another day or add another element. But it’s actually been a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.”
Between raising her newborn son and running Apex with her husband Josh, she’s finding it hard to make time for herself. “That’s been the hardest struggle for me; separating the Athlete Tanya and the Mom Tanya.”
Programming and Nutrition
Wagner currently follows the same Apex programming that every other member follows, with a few extra lifts and skill work added in depending on the week. She attends the regular classes at her affiliate taught by one of the trainers or her husband.
Drawing inspiration and strength from other CrossFit athletes who are mothers, Wagner is learning that it’s OK to take time for herself to train, but that she has to be organized. “Put it on the schedule and make it happen,” she says. “There’s always going to be things that need to be done. I always feel like I need to do all of these things first so that I can workout, instead of, I’m going to workout and then I can get everything else done. But you’re a better mom when you can get your workout in and can feel better about yourself.”
After having A.J., recovery, nutrition, and hydration have become more important than ever. “Things that didn’t use to happen to me, happen to me now. If I hit three days in a row, I really pay for it,” Wagner explains. “I think it is just that breastfeeding another person is taking things out of my body that I’m not quite used to. So I’m still learning how to play with my nutrition. And sometimes, it’s just eating a lot more carbohydrates, whether that is the right thing or not, is what does the trick for me.” 
Wagner focuses on eating real food so she’s not getting those extra carbs from pasta, grains, or processed foods, but rather in the form of fruit, sweet potatoes and coconut water. Her go-to pre-workout meal is a hardboiled egg, half an apple and a little bit of almond butter. After her workout, she drinks a large container of coconut water and then goes home to eat a full meal.
Being a Mom
For 2012, Wagner’s focus is on being a mother first and a competitor second. If she happens to end up as one of the top females by the end of the Open, she’ll throw her hat in the ring. If not, she’s not going to cash in her golden ticket. “I really was hoping to be ready and that CrossFit could be more of my focus,” she says. “I definitely still want it and definitely wish it could be, but I’m trying to be realistic in my head, too, so I’m not disappointed when it comes to the Open.”
At the end of the day, she wants to keep CrossFit fun. If she’s not one of the top females, there’s always the possibility of competing with the Apex team if it qualifies for Regionals. If neither of those scenarios play out, she’ll have an entire year to train for the 2012 season. For now, her focus is on her family and her affiliate. “CrossFit is CrossFit and I want to keep it as a happy thing and not a stressor,” Wagner says. “This is a short time in my life when I’m going to have my child be this small. And it’s important for me to be with him and be the best mom I can be. I can always go back to CrossFit. But right now I wouldn’t change a thing.”