While it goes without saying that three-time CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey and the Icelandic Dottirs have been inspiring CrossFit fans with their brilliant performances for years, there are so many other equally inspiring CrossFit women out there—women who inspire beyond their competition performances.
There are so many ways I could have gone with this list, but I went the route of 10 women who have exposed their true personalities—who have opened up vulnerably, expressed insecurities and broken down—and have made me laugh and made me cry.
(In no particular order):
1. Cassidy Lance-McWherter
This five-time CrossFit Games athlete has moved away from high-level CrossFit competition and has embarked on a path of trying to become pregnant and start a family with her female partner. She has been incredibly brave and open about her struggles to start a family.
On September 10, 2019, Lance-McWherter posted this video on Instagram, where she shared her emotions after another negative pregnancy test.
“This time was the absolute worst. It hit me the hardest. I think because I was soooo hopeful this time and I really felt like it would take,” she wrote in the post.
As gut-wrenching as her post was, it’s also a breath of fresh air to watch something so authentic and real.
2. Alex Parker
This 2015 CrossFit Games athlete might just be the most entertaining and witty competitor out there. Her social media posts will make you laugh. Period.
But she’s more than just an entertainer. She’s also super honest in her posts about topics most people would shy away from confronting. The best example I can remember was when her partner Meredith Root qualified to the CrossFit Games and she didn’t. Most athletes would likely just pretend to be happy for their partner, Parker admitted that, although happy for Root, it was incredibly difficult for her.
“I hate when Meredith beats me more than when anyone else does. I get temporarily, insanely and selfishly jealous when she wins, no matter what the competition is,” Parker wrote. “It’s a frustrating mix of emotions that I really struggle to manage.”
Though some might fear admitting this type of emotion to the world would make them less likable, it only made Parker more relatable.
3. Kara Saunders
I know I said this wouldn’t be performance-based inspiration, per se, but I absolutely cannot leave this seven-time CrossFit Games athlete off the list. After taking a year off competing to give birth to her first child, Saunders appears to be 100 percent back to her former fitness level and recently placed 12th in the CrossFit Open, unofficially qualifying to this summer’s CrossFit Games.
Through her endearing social media posts, where she takes her baby swimming, it’s easy to see Saunders is as passionate about being a mother as she is an athlete.
4. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet
After competing at the CrossFit Games as an individual every single year from 2010 to 2018, Leblanc-Bazinet competed on a team at the Games for the first time last year. After 10 consecutive CrossFit Games appearances, Leblanc-Bazinet is not competing this year.
Moving away from competition can be incredibly hard emotionally for any high level athlete, and what has made Leblanc-Bazinet so inspiring to me this year is how she seems to be redefining what fitness is for her now (it’s unclear if she has fully retired or is just taking a year off).
Through the months, she has been sharing about how she has embraced more traditional bodybuilding-type training. It’s reassuring to know that when you leave something behind, there are many new doors that open and can be as fulfilling as what you left behind.
5. Michele Letendre
Michele Letendre’s story is similar to Leblanc-Bazinet’s. After competing at the CrossFit Games five times, Letendre stepped away from competition in 2017 and has quickly turned herself into a world-renowned CrossFit coach—possibly the most underrated coach out there. Last year, Letendre coached four CrossFit Games athletes, including Patrick Vellner, Laura Horvath, James Newbury, and Samuel Cournoyer.
More than anything, though, having met Letendre numerous times, I can say with certainty this woman is genuine as they come.
6. Haley Adams
The older generation in society always like to rag on the younger generation. These days, I often hear adults talking about the poor work ethic of teenagers today, or that they spend too much time on their phones, and definitely that they’re entitled.
Adams, however, is proof there are some seriously hard workers under the age of 20.
She’s only 19 and she has already competed at four CrossFit Games—three times in the teenager division—and she placed sixth last summer in her rookie year in the women’s division. And it’s clear she has only continued to grow in 2019. There couldn’t be a better role model for young up-and-comers than this teenager.
7. Annie Thorisdottir
I couldn’t leave this woman off the list. She has been competing at the CrossFit Games since 2009. In fact, Thorisdottir has only missed one CrossFit Games in the last decade — 2013 — because of an injury.
And just when we thought she might be starting to fade when she placed 38th in 2015 and 13th in 2016, she came back in 2017 and placed 3rd. Considering Thorisdottir just placed 2nd in the CrossFit Open, it’s safe to say she isn’t fading yet. Her staying power is absolutely inspiring.
8. Regan Huckaby
This three-time CrossFit Games athlete is proof you can do it all. She has managed to continue to become fitter and fitter each year — Huckaby placed 3rd at Games with her Invictus team last summer summer — all the while prioritizing the trials and tribulations of motherhood. There’s a sincerity to Huckaby’s voice on her social media posts that melts your heart.
9. Samantha Briggs
This list wouldn’t be complete without this six-time individual CrossFit Games athlete, who also competed in the Women’s 35-39 division at the 2018 CrossFit Games. Like Thorisdottir, Briggs’ ability to remain competitive year after year is incredible.
But what I love most about her is how she doesn’t try to be anything she isn’t, and through all her success over the years, she remains humble and down to earth.
10. Lauren Fisher
What I love most about this four-time individual and two-time team CrossFit Games athlete is her willingness to be courageous and address hard issues. Though Fisher is obviously incredibly lean, she doesn’t necessarily have the rippling eight-pack abs many of her competitors possess. And believe it or not, online bullies have brought this to her attention.
On April 20th, Fisher addressed them head on:
“How come you exercise so hard and don’t have a flat belly?” asked the bullies.
“I don’t have a flat belly because I believe in fueling my body for performance over restricting my calories to look a certain way. Yeah, if I starved myself or cut down my fats and still trained as much as I do I might finally get that 8 pack but reality is my body type won’t. I like to eat and I know when I don’t eat enough I just don’t feel good during training. And a lot of it also comes down to genetics. So I’m sorry but I will never be one of the girls with no belly fat at all and I’m okay with it,” she wrote.
Featured image: @mich_letendre on Instagram