March 1, 2014
Police Chief Balances Work and CrossFit
By Andrew Lee
The first female police chief of Hayward, Calif., doesn’t have much spare time, but she doesn’t use that as an excuse. “It’s pretty simple,” 50-year-old Diane Urban said. “I work 60- to 70-hour…
The first female police chief of Hayward, Calif., doesn’t have much spare time, but she doesn’t use that as an excuse. “It’s pretty simple,” 50-year-old Diane Urban said. “I work 60- to 70-hour…

"You always have enough time for what is important to you."

Photos courtesy of Anthony DeJager.
 

The first female police chief of Hayward, Calif., doesn’t have much spare time, but she doesn’t use that as an excuse.

“It’s pretty simple,” 50-year-old Diane Urban said. “I work 60- to 70-hour weeks any given seven-day period. My life consists of work, training and sleep.”
 
Urban represents part of the growing crop of masters athletes introduced to CrossFit later in life. She’s a competitive athlete balancing a career, family and training. 
 
“CrossFit has given me the opportunity to compete as an elite athlete at 50 years old,” she said, “something I never thought I would revisit after I finished my collegiate throwing career.”
 
Urban was a three-time Division II NCAA Champion in discus who went on to compete at the 1984 Olympic Trials where she narrowly missed qualification for Team USA. After her throwing career was over, nearly three decades passed before she found another sport.
 
In 2010 a co-worker, Leeann Alfonzo, helped integrate CrossFit programming into the wellness and fitness initiative at the San Jose Police Department where Urban worked at the time. With CrossFit Level 1 trainers and CrossFit equipment at their disposal, Urban and other officers tried the workouts—hesitantly at first.  
 
“I was working a very high-profile job with very demanding assignments at the San Jose Police Department, so I was looking to get back in shape,” Urban said. 
 
At the beginning, Urban committed to two workouts per week. She wanted to get in shape, but didn’t see where she could find the time for more while working and raising her two teenagers. She needed to prepare for promotion exams, and go to her kids’ soccer matches, horse shows and track meets. 
 
CrossFit has drastically altered her lifestyle and well being, both mentally and physically, she said. Her competitive mentality, discipline, confidence, perseverance and excellence complement her athletic and career goals. Physically, Urban has seen improvements in her body composition since moving to training five days a week and changing her diet.
 
“I lost about 15 lb., but it wasn’t just the weight,” she explained. “I’ve slimmed down everywhere, waist, back, legs, rear-end, arms and became more svelte and muscular. It was like a body makeover.”
 
Eventually, she decided to try a local competition at a CrossFit affiliate. TJ’s Gym held an event for masters-aged athletes in the fall of 2012. Despite her nerves, she made it all the way to the finals. 
 
Training for competition can be demanding, but Urban’s job takes priority. Serving a busy city, traveling, and being on call for urgent police matters forces her to be flexible about her training schedule. Sometimes she works out very early in the morning, and other times she squeezes in a workout before she goes to sleep.
 
Despite the challenge, she brushes it off as just a part of life.
 
“You always have enough time for what is important to you,” she said.
 
Last year, Urban competed in the Open for the first time and took 115th place in the Masters Women 45-49 Division. Over the last few months, she has worked with Chyna Cho and Freddy Camacho of CrossFit One World to improve her readiness for the 2014 season. Her goal is to take one of the top 20 spots in the 50-54 Division in the Open, and keep it after the Qualifier.
 
Her focus has been on challenging movements like pistols and double-unders. She has also worked on her confidence on competition day by signing up for local competitions in the offseason.
 
“I am now finding I am more in control of my nerves,” Urban said. “Being around other masters competitors really helps put things in perspective. I love bonding with the men and women my age who have similar aches, pains and challenges.”