April 18, 2013
One Tough Mother: Holly Mata
By Karen Feiner

"I think in CrossFit, you are always chasing the elite at the top, so I will never think I have caught up."

When Holly Cohen Mata started CrossFit in 2010, she had no idea what was coming.

“I definitely wasn't very committed to CrossFit, just kinda wanted to see what it was all about and hoped that my natural ability would take me all the way, and it didn't.”

Her natural ability did take her to Regionals and third place going into the final workout. However, her natural abilities couldn’t overcome the muscle-ups and handstand push-ups that were announced in the final workout of the 2010 South Central Regional.  

After that experience, the Get Lifted CrossFit athlete made the decision to start training, only to find out she was pregnant — a definite game changer. Taking 2011 off, Mata returned to the stage in 2012 with a 12th-place finish in the Open and an eighth place at Regionals — just seven months after giving birth.

“My son was 7 months old and I was exclusively breastfeeding and not really sleeping through the night,” she remembers. “It, without a doubt, affected my performance, more so because I had only truly been seriously training for six-and-a-half months. The 10 months prior to that, I was pregnant and CrossFitting.”

In a previous article, Mata said she was busy playing catch up after the birth of her son and she hasn’t stopped.

“I think in CrossFit, you are always chasing the elite at the top, so I will never think I have caught up,” she explains. “I just try to get better every day and hope my very best will be good enough to make it to the Games. Thus my goal for Regionals: Top three.”

After hearing her normal day schedule, catch up seems to be the name of the game, and training might be the easiest part of Mata’s day.

“The hardest elements, by far, are juggling a full-time job, being a full-time mom and being a full-time wife. I always feel like I don't put enough time in, but then again, I like the way I balance my life because the way it is, I am happy with it all,” she explains. “I am very grateful and lucky to have a husband with the same passion for CrossFit as me — he competes with our Get Lifted team — very fortunate to be best friends with Paul and Maribel Smith who own my beloved gym, and blessed that our son is around some amazing people every day who go there.”

In the 2013 Open, Mata came out strong, placing between second and 12th in every workout except 13.2.

“I am definitely not fond of box jumps,” she admits. “I really don't look at 13.2 as doing so horrible. If it were Regionals, where only 48 people were competing, my score would have looked a lot different. But still, having said that, I need to get better at box jumps. My weaknesses, I would say, are moving light weight fast, as well as bodyweight stuff. I think this Open was perfect because it allowed me to do the workouts I truly needed to get better at.”  

Her “weaknesses” put her in third place on the South Central Leaderboard and in a great position heading into Regionals.

When asked if she had any predictions for a front-runner this year, she showed reluctance to answer.

“I'd like to say who I think could go, but reality is, everything depends on the workouts. If the workouts were posted today, I could give my best shot on guessing who I think could make it but without knowing that, really anyone can,” she says. “All I can do is control the controllable and that is controlling my preparation. I need to be as prepared as I possibly can be and hope that it will allow me to make top three. If it doesn't, then at least I know that was all I could do and that should be considered success.”

“Should be” seems to be the operative phrase because Mata won’t be satisfied until she gets where she’s going. If you see her coming, it’s advisable to get out of her way.

“I am driven to compete because that is my nature. I am so stubbornly competitive. I want to be the best and will do whatever it takes to get there.”

Fair warning to all, Mata is one tough mother.