February 18, 2012
Refocused: Chelsea Ryan
By John Bourgeois


"Chelsea's making me feel like a wimp."  ~Joey Warren on Chelsea Ryan

During a recent conversation with Joey Warren at CrossFit Cadence, he was asked if he had any thoughts about the women’s field in Northern California. He smiled and nodded toward fellow CrossFit Cadence athlete Chelsea Ryan, and said, “Chelsea’s making me feel like a wimp.” Well, anyone that makes Warren feel like a wimp is worth getting to know better.

Ryan, 22, was introduced to CrossFit at 19 when trying to get a job at Cadence. Not knowing much about CrossFit, she jumped right in and got her Level 1 Certificate in Aromas, with one of her first ever workouts being a partner “Fran.” Ryan was immediately hooked. Her first competition was at a local throwdown. Soon after, she was talked into signing up for the 2010 Northern California Sectional. To her surprise, she qualified for Regionals.

Ryan says she is in her comfort zone with heavy weights and short sprints, and her benchmarks bear that out. She posts some impressive numbers with a 2:43 “Grace,” 22 strict handstand push-ups, 25 chest-to-bar pull-ups, and, at a body weight of 138 pounds, she has a 153-pound snatch, 183-pound power clean, and 300-pound deadlift. This woman could make any man feel like a wimp.  

However, the Open workouts last year weren’t exactly in her wheelhouse, and a poor showing in thedeadlift/push-up/box jump workout kept her out of the top 60 in NorCal. “Those workouts that showed up at the Open, those were like attacking my weaknesses, week after week after week.”

She felt she was prepared, but now sees last year’s Open as a “reality check.” She gained experience at Regionals on the Cadence team, but now is fully committed to making a splash in the women’s field.

Refocused with a new sense of purpose and a cleaner diet, Ryan is preparing this year with the help of a new coach, Michael Fitzgerald of Optimal Performance Training. They started with a basic strength program and are targeting the different energy systems and time domains. Once they have perfected the shorter time domain, they will be moving on to longer workouts. “Recent improvements are having me feel confident that I will be able to attack the Open workouts with much more confidence and better results than last year,” she says.

Her strategy is go at the Open workouts hard, and, if she feels confident she will be in the top 60, to start training for Regionals to make sure she doesn’t peak too soon.  

Ryan is a full time student at Santa Clara University who expects to graduate this summer. Finding time to get in three workouts a day is tough, but she has been able to schedule most of her classes two days a week to free up more time for training. After graduation, she is planning to take a year to dedicate herself fully toCrossFit with an eye on making an even stronger push for the 2013 CrossFit Games.