April 28, 2013
Starting a Movement: Tarasa Barnett
By Lauryn Lax

Will Tarasa Barnett win the 2013 Latin America Regional for the third year in a row?

Photos by: Matt Barnett

Tarasa Barnett, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Games competitor, first heard about CrossFit like many of us — through someone else.

In 2008, she was working as a personal trainer at a globo gym when her husband, Matt, found out about CrossFit online and began following the daily workouts on the main site.

At the time, Barnett thought he was a little obsessed, but wanting to share his newfound hobby with him, she decided to give it a shot.

“I also really didn’t want him to be fitter than me,” she says.

Now, four years later, Barnett, 29, is considered among one of the fittest women in the world.

She has represented Latin America at the CrossFit Games as a team competitor in 2010, and an individual in 2011 and 2012. This year, Barnett placed third in the Open and is ready to make another run for the Games. She says she never thought she would be competing when she first started, but now, she hopes others see her story as inspiration.

“I can relate to a lot of people starting out, and let them know I started exactly where they did,” she says. “I struggled with a lot of the gymnastics movements in particular at first — not being able to do things like a pull-up or handstand. And, now, to think that I can do 50 pull-ups in a row, do handstand push-ups and walk on my hands is pretty cool.”

Prior to CrossFit, Barnett was an avid gym-goer and competitive beach volleyball player in Grand Cayman, with no real gymnastics or strength background. Today, with a snatch of 145 lb., a clean and jerk of 195 lb. and a Fran time of 3:20, that has changed. Her strengths include anything with a heavy barbell, while a weakness is running.

She trains three days on, one day off, two days on, one day off, year round, under the guidance of CJ Martin of CrossFit Invictus.

“He makes sure I don’t shy away from working on things I don’t like,” she says.

Barnett says working with Martin since 2011 has been motivating and made a difference in her abilities to compete at an elite level.

Since 2008, Barnett has co-owned and operated CrossFit Cayman with her husband. Not many had heard of CrossFit prior to the box’s opening and the Barnetts wanted to be the ones to change that.

“I have a business/marketing degree and when I graduated from college I had a desk job for over a year. I decided that was not for me. I wanted something where I could be active and help people,” Barnett says.

Barnett left corporate America without looking back to become a personal trainer. Not long after, she and Matt moved to Grand Cayman to be closer to her father-in-law. She continued to train clients until CrossFit entered the picture.

“Once my husband and I started CrossFitting, there was no looking back and we wanted a space where we could really CrossFit — you know, drop weights, rope climb, etc.,” she says. “We decided, even if no one came to our gym, at least we would have a space to CrossFit.”

But getting people to the gym was not a problem.

“We started small, but grew pretty quickly with our members. It's awesome to think about where we were four years ago and where we are now. My goal for the future is to continue to give my all to our gym and members and help make a difference in their lives. I definitely believe that is where success lies.”

As for her personal goals as an athlete, Barnett says the pressure to make it to the Games for her fourth year straight is high. She feels more balanced in her priorities than ever before.

“(Competing) can be mentally challenging. Through my experience, I feel like I have learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I also recently have realized that CrossFit doesn't define who I am. I do it to have fun more than anything.”