“One thing I have learned in my four years of CrossFit is everything I need, I already have it. Nobody else is going to get me there."
This year will be Ami Wight’s fourth year competing at the South East Regional. Having finished 36th in the South East in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, the 39-year–old mother of two says she was honestly surprised she placed in the top 48, feeling her performance was “very mediocre.”
“I can’t believe the change in the athletes over the past few years,” she says. “My training partner and I were really thinking that with the level of athletes coming in right now, we were considering ourselves (for) training for Masters. When I saw how well I did after 13.2, I realized that I may actually have a chance.”
Considering she has been CrossFitting for four years with no prior sports background and has made it to Regionals each year, one could hardly describe Wight’s performance as mediocre. Inspiring would be a better description.
“I believe that it’s never too late,” Wight says. “As a kid, I was one of those with the aggressive, self-destructive behavior. I really did a lot of things that weren’t really safe, but they kept me active. I did things like snowboarding, mountain biking and skydiving, you know, those adrenaline sports, but I never had sports training. All the while I am doing this, I was smoking, drinking and partying really hard until I reached my mid 30s. I realized one day, ‘Wow, I can’t raise kids like this.’”
Wight says it was her two children, Zac and Zoe, now 18 and 15, that motivated her to “clean it up.”
Her first step on this journey began in Chicago, running with her children as they learned how to ride their bikes. She then began running with them as they rode their bikes to martial arts class every day. One day, their instructor suggested that Wight try Muay Thai, a martial arts combat sport, and she was instantly hooked.
When she moved to Florida four years ago, there wasn’t a Muay Thai facility nearby. In her search for something that would fill the void, she came across an article in a Men’s Fitness magazine.
“It was Greg Glassman going over 30 days of CrossFit workouts,” she says. “I started doing that over and over again. I must have done that one page for a year.”
Four years later, Wight trains at CrossFit AOP in Pensacola, Fla., and is coached by her husband, Wayne, who brings a whole new level of support to her training, she says.
“When I first got into CrossFit, I wore him out. I was banned from even talking about CrossFit. It was like him coming home from golfing and telling me about all 36 holes of golf. Now, he is the best coach I have ever had. He is really good strategically. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the Open without him,” she says.
“One thing I have learned in my four years of CrossFit is everything I need, I already have it. Nobody else is going to get me there. Nobody else is going to give it to me. Ultimately, it is up to me.”
As she prepares for Regionals, Wight is focused on her nutrition, recovery, sleep, staying healthy and hitting the gym as hard as she can. After having surgery on her Achilles tendon in November, she says she realized nutrition was going to be crucial to her healing so she found a sports nutrition coach. Cleaning up her diet has been a huge factor in her recovery, and she feels better and stronger now than she has felt her entire CrossFit career.
“Last year, I placed 21stin Regionals and just missed the final cut. This year, I want to make the top 20 and next year, California. I am on a mission! If it’s going to happen, it’s going to be 2014,” she says.
“I have come a long way from that person who walked into that Muay Thai class. My instructor said to me then, ‘Ami, if you want to own something, you have to teach it.’ At that point, I was a recreational drug user, smoker and drinker. I was there to save my own life. I wasn’t there to teach or inspire, especially because I feel I didn’t have the right.”
“I feel like I am a better person every time I leave the gym, like something better has happened to me. I finally made up my mind and recently got my Level 1 (certificate). I want to teach other people how to do this because this is good.”
Wight says CrossFit saved her.
“I have come such a long, long way, and the thing I believe that really saved me was (CrossFit),” she says. “Between wanting to be a good mom, definitely not wanting to lose a good man, and then wanting to be a better person and finding a way to do that — it’s CrossFit."