How Andrea Nisler Accidentally Finished in the Top 20 in the 2020 CrossFit Open

Andrea Nisler has unofficially qualified to this summer’s CrossFit Games, but her team is still her priority.

Andrea Nisler has never taken the Open seriously. 

“The Open was never that important to me,” said the 30-year-old, who just placed 15th in the world in 2020 CrossFit Games Open.

This has always been the case for her. 

During the 2018 Open, Nisler entered a score of one rep on each workout, because she was rehabbing a knee injury but still needed to enter a score to be eligible to compete at the CrossFit Games with a teamLast year, when the rules changed, she no longer had to compete in the Open in order to compete on a team, so she chose to forego the Open entirely. She went on to place 4th at the 2019 CrossFit Games with her OCBlack team.

Heading into this season’s Open, Nisler wasn’t sure whether she would do the Open. But then the Dubai CrossFit Championship Sanctional event announced they were using the Open as a qualifier for teams. So Nisler and her three teammates — Taylor Williamson (29th worldwide in the Open), Roy Gamboa (24th worldwide in the Open) and Travis Williams (73rd worldwide in the Open) — all embraced the Open.

Nisler’s expectations weren’t grandiose, she admitted.

“The goal was just to qualify the team to Dubai, and honestly I never considered myself an Open athlete by any means. The Open type of duration of workout, and lifting light weights, really isn’t my strong suit. I’m more about intervals, and the I go, you go format you see with team workouts, so I didn’t really have a personal goal,” she said.

Despite her low expectations, five Open workouts later and Nisler found herself in the top 20 in the world, unofficially qualifying her to this summer’s CrossFit Games. Not only that, but two of her teammates —  Williamson and Gamboa — have also both unofficially qualified to the 2020 CrossFit Games. 

“We made a pact that we’d go team regardless,” Nisler reaffirmed.

So, Nisler, based in Minnesota, Williamson, based in Iowa, and their two male teammates, who live on opposite sides of Texas from one another, will attempt to qualify their Misfit P10 Performance team to the CrossFit Games via the Dubai CrossFit Championship. If it doesn’t happen for them there, they’ll try again at Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival, and then again at The West Coast CrossFit Classic, and possibly at The Granite Games.

Considering the logistics of the teammates being spaced out around the country, it’s just not possible for them to train together on a daily basis, as many top teams do. They did get together for a training camp, but the next time all four of them will be together will be in Dubai in December. 

Though they don’t train together regularly, they are still bonding, Nissler assured. 

“We all do lots of the same training and we compare times and scores all the time. We’re still in touch daily updating each other. And we have some more training camps planned. It’s not the most ideal situation, but it’s kind of the best we can do considering where we’re at,” she said. 

Considering Nisler’s busy life as a gym owner — she purchased Timberwolf Fitness earlier this year — it’s amazing she’s able to commit to a team at all. 

“To be honest, I thought there’d be more time to train, but there’s less time,” she said of becoming a gym owner“There’s always something more important with a member that distracts me. Or I’ll notice the bathroom is dirty so I clean it before working out.”

This means most of the time, Nisler coaches in the mornings, trains in the afternoons and coaches again in the evenings, contributing to incredibly long days. Long, but enjoyable, because she loves what she’s doing, she explained. 

And she loves being part of a team so much, she has no intention of abandoning her teammates for the sake of any individual goals. 

Considering most high-level CrossFit athletes would kill for the opportunity to compete at the Games individually, I had to ask why she doesn’t share this sentiment.

“I’ve only ever done team, to be honest. Well, I did the Granite Games last year as an individual and I was just so sad and lonely the whole time,” Nisler said, laughing.

She added: “I just think I push myself harder when I workout with my team, and I love the mental aspect of it when you have to strategize and take into account other people’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s just way more fun.”

Emily Beers

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a freelance health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009. A former college basketball player and rower, Emily became heavily involved in CrossFit after finishing her Masters degree in journalism at the University of Western Ontario. She competed at the 2014 CrossFit Games and also worked with CrossFit Inc.’s media team for 8 years. You can also find her work at Precision Nutrition, the Whole Life Challenge, OPEX, and a host of other fitness and nutrition companies and media outlets.

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