Catching Up With The Champs: Cindy Briggs, 2015 Masters 50+ Champion

By April 14, 2016 May 3rd, 2016 Athlete Feature

I’m always interested in how athletes get their start. Where did you find this sport?

It all started when I saw someone doing a CrossFit-style workout in a regular gym, about 5 years ago.  I was curious, so I looked it up online and started following mainsite workouts.

How did you keep fit before that?

I was always into fitness—after retiring from rowing, I continued to work out at the gym and began teaching some fitness classes.  I taught some Spinning classes, then kickboxing.  I currently teach BodyPump and Zumba twice a week for fun!  I like that BodyPump can introduce anyone to working out with a barbell, and Zumba is for anyone to just let go and dance for a pure endorphin rush.

That’s constantly varied movement, for sure! I know you just wrapped a weightlifting meet as well (congrats on that win, by the way!). Sounds like you do a little bit of everything. I suspect this isn’t the first sport you’ve competed in?

I have always been relatively competitive! I rowed in college, then rowed on the US National Team, winning a gold in the 1995 World Championships in the women’s 4-.  After retiring from rowing, I did some mountain biking and would race in local races, and I also played briefly on a women’s pro football team. Then I just started working out for general fitness—until I saw and tried CrossFit…and I was hooked! CrossFit brought out my competitive side again, and transformed my body in ways general fitness couldn’t. I started eating better and became more aware of how I was treating my body.  I began CrossFit, loving the barbell aspect, but my first goal was just wanting to do pull ups. After pull ups, I wanted double unders, and so on. And the quest to move better and more efficiently continues!

I totally know that trap. But it’s a good one to fall into. So, if I asked you to pick a favorite event at the 2015 Granite Games, what would it be?

The speed clean ladder! Heavy barbell! I am tall and strong, so I prefer either a heavier workout or a longer workout.  I have never been—and may never be—a gymnast, so I struggle with a lot of those movements. I am a big believer that this sport needs to contain workouts for everyone, so I loved how the Granite Games had a little bit of everything. I often feel other comps put a huge emphasis on gymnastics, which are geared for one body type. In the Masters category, in particular, I think it needs to be geared toward everyone, since we all have different athletic backgrounds, prior injuries or fears, or found this sport later in our lives.

From everything I’ve seen and heard, the Masters divisions always seem to be so close and so supportive of each other out there.

Absolutely! We compete on the field, but we honestly want to see success from each person. Whether it is a PR for a lift, the first time for a skill they’ve been struggling with, or just getting over a fear of competing, we all celebrate each other’s accomplishments.  We all know that we didn’t start CrossFit at 19 or 20, so while we may have existing strengths, we also likely have more weaknesses in many of the things that the sport throws at us. We are getting over life hurdles, prior injuries, muscle memory from other sports, maybe bad relationships, bad choices or life stressors,  and yet we’ve chosen to join this crazy sports family and challenge ourselves physically and mentally with new adventures and new skills.

That’s a really great way to sum it up! If asked for one piece of advice you’d share with other Masters Athletes out there who are considering competing, what would it be?

Nerves are normal, but don’t take yourself too seriously, and always remember to have fun. You’ll remember the conversations or the kidding around while walking to the competition event/venue longer than the event itself.

 Love it. So do we get to see you throw down again this year? What would be your ideal workout you’d like to see come up in the programming?

It is early still, but I hope to return to the Granite Games!  It was a well-run event with great volunteers, and really well-designed workouts like I mentioned before…something for everyone. Ideal workouts for me are anything containing a heavy barbell!  I also love a long chipper, and as much as I dislike the rowing machine (after spending countless hours on it when I was a rower), I’d like to see an event where rowing is at the end of a workout where you row for meters. Also… No one wants to see the Minnesota Tri again…ha.

LOL the Minnesota Tri looked brutal in the very best way! It sounds like you have your hands pretty full with training and fitness classes, but what else do you have on your plate outside the gym?

I have a full-time job as a reference laboratory service rep, (I work for the Mayo Clinic), and so I travel a lot, visiting hospitals in my territory.  It makes training challenging, as I am either dropping into local boxes or creating workouts to do in a hotel fitness room. I love visiting other CrossFit boxes, though.  I learn a little from each, and gain some new friends along the way. Teaching BodyPump and Zumba twice a week also means staying current with choreography and teaching skills, so that keeps me busy as well. Other than that, just owning a house and spending time with my feline family of 3 cats!

I can’t imagine when you find time to sleep! How do you stay motivated? Training and competing at this level takes a ton of hard work, hours and dedication.

For me, training is fun and a great outlet, and I enjoy the challenge and constant learning!  You can never be the perfect CrossFitter, as there are so many elements to the sport.  Personally, I don’t think I spend enough hours dedicated to competing.  I think many others have an advantage if they own their own box or coach at a box, just by virtue of being in that environment.  I train alone a lot.  But I do have whatever “factor” or desire it is to just keep moving.  It likely comes from my days of rowing solo in a single scull, where it is just you dealing with the voice in your head that tells you to “Stop!” but you can’t listen to it.

I definitely know that voice. Just one more for ya. What’s one important thing you’ve learned about yourself from competing?

Simply to never give up, especially in a competition with multiple events.  I have strengths, I have weaknesses.  Persistence often wins.

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