March 8, 2022
The Women of CrossFit
By CrossFit
A few of our favorite stories about women making waves in the Sport of Fitness and changing the landscape of sport in general.
A few of our favorite stories about women making waves in the Sport of Fitness and changing the landscape of sport in general.

Over the years, we've had the chance to share countless stories about powerful women in CrossFit. Together, we have celebrated triumphs, cheered each other on through struggles, and recognized role models of resilience and determination. 

These stories showcase just a fraction of the amazing women in the CrossFit community. On International Women’s Day, let’s continue to celebrate each other for our efforts inside and outside the walls of the gym.

We've compiled a few of our favorite stories about women in the Sport of Fitness, and we look forward to sharing more with you over the next month and beyond.

Breaking Through Barriers

Closing the Gender Gap — Empowering Women in Sport

By: Kelley Laxton

Women at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games

One in three girls between the ages of 6 and 12 plays a sport. But by 14, girls are dropping out at twice the rate of boys. Why?

Annually, boys get 1.3 million more sports opportunities than girls. The absence of these opportunities, paired with social stigmas and a smaller pool of positive role models, contributes to the steady decline of girls participating in sport as they become older. 

From the start, CrossFit has looked to transform the sports landscape with its emphasis on gender equity. Looking at the CrossFit Games alone, the same number of women are invited to the CrossFit Games as men. Women are awarded the same amount of prize money as their male counterparts. Women compete in the same types of events as the men. And women are breaking all-time records for both divisions. 

Within affiliates, women have the opportunity to become gym owners and coaches. Women can pick up the same amount of weight — if not more — than men. And all are working out and getting fitter together side by side every day. 

Sport is capable of breaking gender boundaries. It all starts with a conversation, so today, on National Girls and Women in Sports Day, let's start talking.

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How To Be Competitive (When You're Taught To Be Cooperative)

By: Hilary Achauer

Amanda Barnhart

To be a woman in a competitive space — especially a minority woman — means to resist the powerful messages our culture communicates about women and competition.

Muriel Niederle, a professor at Stanford, has studied the effects of gendered norms on how men and women approach competition. She devised a number of clever experiments to measure the difference in how men and women behave in competitive situations. …

All these studies point to one thing — a socially conditioned lack of confidence unrelated to ability.

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Change Makers

But She's Not out Yet: Rebecca Shingledecker

By: Madison Dorn

Rebecca Shingledecker in the hospital

Three years ago, Rebecca Shingledecker survived three brain injuries. Two weeks from now, she will compete in the inaugural adaptive division at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. 

It all started with what seemed like simple brain fog.

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Bet on the Vet — Sarah Rudder

By: Madison Dorn

Sarah Rudder

For Sarah Rudder, Sept. 11, 2001, began as an ordinary Tuesday morning in Arlington, Virginia. The 18-year-old Marine was receiving a promotion from private first class to lance corporal.

Twenty minutes after her promotion ceremony, the call came through — the Pentagon had been hit.

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Making a Difference

Jennifer Hunter-Marshall Can Do It All

Jennifer Hunter-Marshall

Wife, mother of two, former competitive bodybuilder, artist, affiliate owner, CrossFit Level 4 Coach, 2014 CrossFit Games masters athlete, three-time Regionals athlete, and CrossFit Seminar Staff Flowmaster — Jennifer Hunter-Marshall is a well-known figure in the CrossFit space.

Hunter-Marshall was introduced to CrossFit in 2006 and co-founded CrossFit Garden City with her husband Dennis in 2010. Since then, Hunter-Marshall has supported people in their health and fitness journeys and has traveled across the country for the last 14 years mentoring future CrossFit trainers.

WATCH

 

Service, Family, Fitness: Lillie Pallo's CrossFit Journey

By: Nicole Peyton

Lillie Pallo

Lillianne Pallo is on a mission to help pregnant and postpartum athletes return to CrossFit by rebuilding their foundation with safe and effective training.

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Paramedic, Firefighter Make Water Rescue

By: Brittney Saline

Tricia Fleming, Eric Roza, and friends

Tricia Fleming, a paramedic for Muskogee County in Oklahoma, was stationed on a Dane County Sheriff patrol boat near the course for the masters competition’s Event 5: a 300-m open-water swim. Athletes across multiple age divisions shared the water with slightly staggered start times; lifeguards and medical staff were stationed on paddleboards along the course. 

But at that moment, the paddleboards were at capacity, and no one else seemed to see Ted Leger’s blue swim-capped head bobbing above and below the surface.

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The Ultimate Test — The Story of the Lost Games Documentary

Mariah Moore

People often ask Mariah Moore what advice she can offer to the next generation of aspiring filmmakers. It’s taken her a long time to find the right words and sentiment, she said, but she offered this: “Put your head down and grind, but on top of that, treat people right.”

“Our industry — in a lot of industries — there are a lot of shitty people, and at the end of the day, people can learn how to make movies and do that kind of stuff, (but) people want to work with people that treat you well. … I continue to bring in close with my projects the ones that are genuinely good people, that treat people right. So yeah, put your head down, take opportunities that come your way, and treat people right.”

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Oompa Loompa Ladder

By: Brittney Saline

Caroline Conners

After her Games debut, Caroline Conners will return to Maine, where she helps teens and tots learn to love fitness.

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Doctors Said She Should Be Dead — She Joined the NYPD Instead

By: Kelley Laxton

Christine Galgano in NYPD uniform

CrossFit has been in Galgano's life through her best and worst days. She never realized the hard work and dedication within the walls of the gym would one day save her life and make her dream career a reality.

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The Competition Mindset

Danielle Brandon Remains Resilient in Isolation at the Games

By: Kelley Laxton

Danielle Brandon in mask at the 2021 CrossFit Games

For Danielle Brandon, the week of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games was fraught with constant changes, from completing events on her own to being prohibited from signing her own scorecards. Still, she went forward with pride and resilience.

READ

 

Has Kristin "Kriger" Holte Peaked?

By: Melissa Yinger, with Chad Schroeder

Kristin Holte

On Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, Holte, the CrossFit kriger, announced her retirement from the Sport of Fitness. While many athletes wait for their performance to flag before retiring, not so for the 35-year-old athlete from Oslo. After earning the all-time best placement for any masters-level athlete in the individual competition at the CrossFit Games this year, Holte may be bowing out at the top of her game.

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Rookie of the Year Mal O’Brien Opens up About Lyme Disease

By: Nicole Peyton

Mal O'Brien

Headaches, joint pain, and extreme fatigue can be fatal when it comes to the career of an aspiring CrossFit Games athlete and are just a few of the debilitating effects of Lyme disease. Living with the tick-borne illness has been described by survivors as inhumane, painful, surreal, exhausting, and isolating. 

The 17-year-old was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2020 after a long road of blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, and stress tests, all of which yielded no answers.

READ

 

How 17-Year-Old Emma Cary Fought Her Way to the Main Stage

By: Kelley Laxton

Emma Cary on a rower

Leading into the 2021 Games season, the CrossFit community was abuzz with conversations about reigning champion Tia-Clair Toomey and who would grasp the title of Fittest Man on Earth next. 

But 17-year-old Emma Cary was preparing to stir up the field.

Showing her true athletic ability in line with the fittest women in the world, Cary became the youngest athlete to qualify for the Games as an individual since 2009.

READ

 

Letchen du Plessis: “Semi-Bionic”

By: Kelley Laxton

Letchen du Plessis

It all started with an injury on the netball court. 

Months later, College netball athlete Letchen du Plessis was going through the motions of her morning routine. Recovering from multiple surgeries for a hip dislocation, du Plessis carefully bent down to pull her socks over her feet, a task she usually could do without difficulty. She hadn’t yet phoned her parents for help with her recovery.

But something wasn’t quite right. Not only could she not perform the simple task of slipping a sock over her left foot; she had no function at all in the leg. Chalking it up to a lack of exercise, du Plessis tried to wiggle her toes‚ but the movement would only follow seconds later. She still didn’t quite understand the magnitude of the situation as she filmed a video of the delay to send to her doctor.

“Look at this!” she said in the video.

Her doctor told her to come to the office immediately. 

Something was very wrong.

READ

 

Amy Bream — Adapt and Crush Life

By: Kelley Laxton

Amy Bream at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games

Amy Bream was born without the majority of her right leg and most of her femur. The congenital disability is called proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) and was only discovered after she was born. Her parents knew they needed to encourage Bream not to be held back by her missing limb, and fit her with a prosthetic leg when she learned how to walk. 

But, growing up in the small town of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, and with four older siblings, she tried her best to blend, ignoring the fact she only had one leg rather than acknowledging it. Bream never realized the potential she withheld.

READ

 

The Diabetic Teens Competing at CrossFit's Highest Level

By: Kelley Laxton

Delaney Wade

In 2018, Delaney Wade stepped through the doors of CrossFit One Valley. She was intrigued by how unique the classes were and began to work out at the gym almost every day while playing competitive soccer. 

However, one year later, Wade noticed she was losing weight rapidly, always thirsty, and using the bathroom with greater frequency. On Feb. 1, 2019, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

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