5 Famous Games Athletes Before They Found CrossFit

Strength sports have a lot of carryover with each other, which means it’s not impossible for an athlete to jump from sport to sport and excel. You’re probably not going to see an elite soccer player make the switch to baseball and excel late in their career, but CrossFit® training incorporates so many elements of other strength sports that many of the top athletes had success in other, related disciplines before making the switch.

After all, it’s a relatively new sport and many of the top competitors didn’t start their lifting careers with the premonition of becoming famous, elite CrossFit athletes. Check out our list of five CrossFit athletes who got their start in strength sports, but then made the transition.

1. Kari Pearce

Physique Competitor to 3-Time Reebok CrossFit Games Athlete

This Reebok CrossFit Games veteran got her athletic start in high level gymnastics, but afterward she competed in physique shows before finding CrossFit. In one of her recent Instagram posts highlighting her physique days she writes, “Transformation Tuesday to a Physique Show that I did back in 2012. I’m really glad this was part of my training before Crossfit. It made me realize how important nutrition is.”

2. Mat Fraser

Olympic Lifter to 2-Time Reebok CrossFit Games Champion

We’ve written on this before, but before starting CrossFit, Fraser was an 85kg weightlifter for ten years. He had some pretty impressive lifts, which included a 132kg snatch at the 2012 USA Weightlifting Senior Weightlifting Championships.

3. Brooke Ence

Physique Competitor to Top Regional Athlete & 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games Competitor

Unfortunately, Ence had to miss this year’s Reebok CrossFit Open due to injury, and she barely missed qualifying for the Games the year before. But like Pearce, Ence began her journey of competitive strength sports in physique and bodybuilding competitions.

4. Danny Nichols

Bodybuilding to 2-Times Reebok CrossFit Games Team Athlete

Nichols has been to the CrossFit Games on a few occasions competing with different teams. Before finding and falling in love with CrossFit, he was a bodybuilder with a seriously impressive physique. Check out his Instagram photo above where he writes, “#fbf to the one time I had better abs than my best buddy @marcusfilly, 2008 Excalibur.”

5. Samantha Briggs

Triathlete to 4-Times Games Veteran, and 2013 Games Champion

Okay, so triathlons aren’t exactly strength sports, but there are some similarities with regard to training. Briggs was an avid triathlete before finding and falling in love with the sport of CrossFit. Check out her old fbf photo where she writes, “FBF to the Triathlon days. I definitely don’t miss pounding the pavement but it still feels great to get out on the bike.”

It’s always cool seeing what other athletes did to get where they’re at now. CrossFit continues to produce some of the fittest athletes in the world, but other strength sports are often responsible for leading them to this outlet.

Who did we miss on our list? Let us know in the comments section below!

Feature image from @karipearcecrossfit Instagram page. 

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as the Fitness and Training Editor at BarBend.

He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand.

As of right now, Jake has published over 1,200 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter.

On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.

Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and a personal trainer the three years before that, and most recently he was the content writer at The Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office.

Jake competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a professional knee rehabber after tearing his quad squatting in 2017. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in New York City.

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