CrossFit is a high-intensity program designed to test your physical and mental limitations by combining aerobic exercise, weightlifting, and calisthenics. The rapidly growing fitness regimen has been adopted by numerous demographics, from experienced athletes preparing for various competitions all the way to those looking to improve their everyday lifestyle. For people like Katlin Isaacs, CrossFit has opened the door to an entirely new world.
Isaacs is a lifelong athlete who has made a career out of breaking her limits. She began training and competing in gymnastics at a young age and has continued into her early 20’s. A graduate of East Surry High School (2012) and North Carolina State University (2016), Isaacs’ path has led her back to Mount Airy as a personal trainer. She wants to help others realize the power of CrossFit and how it helped her become the person she is today.
In just the past two weeks, Isaacs has competed in two world-class athletic competitions. The first was the Reebok CrossFit Games Regional Competition in West Palm Beach, Florida. In order to compete, athletes must complete an online qualifier lasting a period of five weeks called the CrossFit Open. A workout is released every Thursday during that period for competitors to complete. The qualifier is open to anyone who can complete the workout in the presence of certified judge. Those who place in the top 20 of their region submit tapes to ensure the workouts were completed and judged correctly.
“I competed last year too, but it was more of a surprise,” Isaacs said. “I placed 23rd in the Open, but was able to go because people ahead of me declined. This year I was a little more prepared, since I knew what to expect because of my first year.”
She continued, “Workouts change every year and they can be in your favor or expose your weaknesses. But that’s what CrossFit is; you have to be well-rounded.”
This year Isaacs finished 15th in the Open, an improvement from last year, but fell to 30th at the regional competition. She said this wasn’t too much of a surprise, since she went in with a hand injury.
Just two days after returning home from the CrossFit Regionals, Isaacs received an invitation to compete in the Tough Mudder X World Championship. The competition is described as, “The toughest mile on the planet,” that features 50 men and 50 women that are renowned as some of the best athletes in the world. The competition airs on CBS Sports later this summer.
“All of the competitors at the Tough Mudder are elite athletes,” Isaacs said. “Some of the top American Ninja Warriors were there, famous tough mudders were there, just a lot of really fit people. I’ve done a lot in gymnastics and athletics in general, and this takes the life out of you.”
Isaacs said she’s been able to jump into the world of CrossFit so successfully because of her training in gymnastics for nearly two decades. She practiced around 20 hours a week every week since she was six years old.
“Lots of CrossFit athletes have gymnastics backgrounds,” Isaacs said. “Gymnastics is one of those things that if you’re exposed to it, I don’t care where you go, it will help you. It builds a foundation for any sport, CrossFit especially.”
After a hectic stretch of training and competing in the last few months, Isaacs said she looks forward to having time to reflect and evaluate her life moving forward.
“Right now, I’m just trying to make fitness and CrossFit an exercise that I enjoy again, rather than it being a job,” Isaacs said. “I felt like I always had a job to do. This is my first time taking a step back and trying to find my ‘why’ again. I found myself at regionals without the same drive that I always had in the past. It got to the point where it wasn’t something I got to do, but that I had to do.”
“I want it to be a ‘want’ again,” she continued. “Now I work out with friends, work out with my dad, go to the pool with my mom, and surround myself with the things that got me into CrossFit in the first place, community.”
In addition to fueling her own desire, Isaacs became a personal trainer to help others become the best possible version of themselves. She wants to get rid of the idea that CrossFit is only for extreme athletes.
“CrossFit is training for life, not training for pro sport,” Isaacs said. “It’s a world of difference from what I do and what someone starting out would do. Not wanting to start training just because you can’t reach the elite level is like saying you don’t want to play pickup basketball because you’ll never reach the NBA.”
Intimidation is what Isaacs said keeps most people from trying CrossFit. The reality is that there are people in their 50’s and 60’s who have just started training. The idea of community is at the center of CrossFit.
“They’re intimidated because they only see the crazy athletes on TV. What they don’t see is their janitor or mailman or person that mows their lawn come into a CrossFit gym.”
InVictus Sports Performance, one of the local gyms that Isaacs trains at, teaches a L.I.F.E. class. This stands for Longevity In Functional Exercise, and is exclusive to those 55 and over.
Isaacs encourages anyone interested in trying CrossFit or taking one of her classes to check out her Facebook page, “Personal Training with Katlin Isaacs.”
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith