CFLA Athlete Profile – Niki Marek

Week 14 of 14: Re-TEST 2

1RM DL in 20 minutes
1RM Thruster in 20 minutes (from a rack)

Compare scores to Aug 13

Week 14 of 14: Re-TEST 3

5 rounds for time:
250m row
200m run
20 burpees
100 double unders
-35 min time cap

Compare scores to Aug 14.
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Hometown: San Diego, CA
Age: 24
When did you first start CrossFitting? September 2010
When did you first start training at CFLA? September 2010
Favorite WOD: Longer endurance WODs with some squat cleans
Least Favorite WOD: ANYTHING upper-body, gymnastics based

Tell us about you sports & fitness background: I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t playing sports, and, while I was never a collegiate level athlete, sports were an integral part of my life growing up. Much of my youth was spent dabbling in different sports. I quickly figured out what worked for me and what didn’t. T-ball was the equivalent of sitting alone in the grass for two hours, ballet required too much patience and poise, and I fouled out too often in basketball. I guess you could say I wasn’t the most graceful kid (shocker). I finally found my home as a defender on the soccer field and developed many of the things I consider are my strengths today – endurance, speed, power, grit, mental toughness, and a deep sense of teamwork. My soccer coaches knew more about me than I knew about myself at the time. They constantly pushed me to the edge and forced me to step up as a leader of the team. Sometimes that meant ending up in failure, defeat, and questioning what I was doing in the sport. There’s nothing like the taste of victory though, and it kept me coming back. I got into marathons and half-marathons in college and ran my first full with my dad. He wanted me to run one with him for a long time, so for my 20th birthday he gave me a printed confirmation receipt of my Marine Corps Marathon registration. Gotta love dads! After every marathon I say I’m a retired runner…..I’ve done four and am currently retired. smile

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? I was home for the summer in college, and I remember when one of my mom’s friends came over to our house to tell us about this new workout she tried. She was a super athlete, so if she was raving about it I knew I had to try it. Looking back, I can’t believe I survived my first experience. It was everything CFLA was not. I walked in off the streets as a guest of my mom’s friend and did Grace at 55 pounds. Are you serious?! Despite the wildly unsafe weights I was given, and lack of ANY barbell experience, I somehow survived it……and still loved it. I was a UCLA student so once I moved back up to LA for school, I googled ‘CrossFit’ to find the closest one near me. The rest is history! Talk about having good luck when CFLA is the closest gym to you.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? Well, it’s been a long three years of developing and strengthening my upper body. Nothing in my life before addressed by upper body, so I’d say I’m slowly becoming a more balanced athlete. I feel as though I’m physically capable and ready to do most things I want at a moments notice. More importantly, however, is the freedom from feeling imprisoned by food. I no longer count calories, worry about when, what, and how much I eat. I eat when I’m hungry, don’t when I’m not. I eat pizza. I eat quality food. I drink wine. And, I enjoy every last bite. CrossFit has changed my relationship with food, and allows me to maintain the lifestyle I want (yes, I do CrossFit partly so I can eat pizza). While physical changes HAVE happened and I’m very content with my body, it’s the mentality and calm I now have when it comes to food and my overall health that I consider most valuable.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? I guess I jumped ahead of myself a bit in the last response, so does ‘see above’ count? Additionally, and this is a BIG additionally, I’ve found my people. I was still a college student when I joined as a member, and I did everything I could in order to financially make it work. As a senior, I was interviewing for jobs and was not happy with any of the prospects…..I majored in International Economics and Geography, but nothing felt like it was a good or promising opportunity. It just so happened that Andy was looking to hire someone at the same time. I told him I’d give him a year (hah!). Three years later, I’m still here. I wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for this amazing community and my pretty sweet job. I have so much fun at work and am excited to spend my days with my friends and community. Whether it be in the gym, in the office, or out during the weekends, my life wouldn’t be the same without CFLA. ALL of that was an unexpected benefit I’ve received from taking on CrossFit and being a part of CFLA.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: In the early days, I loved trying to keep up with Tom Costain and Steve Witt in the 7am class. I never did beat them, but I never stopped trying. We had some good times in that class! I remember getting a 301 in my first Fight Gone Bad, and totally surprised myself. (Thanks Hale for being the best FGB partner ever!) The Grace challenge also sticks out for me. I was able to do Grace at the prescribed weight and won it on the women’s side. I loved training and competing with Team CFLA throughout all of its different iterations. I learned how to not run a million miles while training for marathons, and instead ran two marathons using CrossFit (with the help of Kenny, Matt Doss, and Ricky). Oh, and I have a pretty cool roommate that started interning here because of Logan. None of this would have been possible without CrossFit. This place is both my gym and my job, so I’m appreciative of all the great times we have in the office. I’ll never forget those days we laugh so hard we start to cry (they happen more often than you think), or the days where we’re there for each other when we’re really crying (not as often).

Any advice for people just getting started? Just show up. Be patient. Breathe. Put yourself out there. When it gets hard, keep showing up and trust the process.

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I love to travel with everything I need in just one backpack, and am passionate about exploring what the world has to offer. I love being outside, in the mountains, on the beach, anywhere with a good breeze (not a desert fan, though). Good coffee is the jam, show me a new coffee shop and I’ll be there! Karaoke bars are great when I can’t hear myself singing….as long as the music is louder than my voice I’m a pretty solid singer.

We’d love to feature you, too, in our CFLA Athlete Profile. Tell Diz you’re interested –

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