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Do CrossFit Games Athletes Train On Christmas Day?

December 13, 2021 by
Semi Final Laura Horvath 2021
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They can sometimes seem like superhumans. CrossFit Games athletes, that is. They can do things with their bodies the average human can only dream of, making them seem almost untouchable.

But then you sit down and ask them about their favorite holiday traditions, how they spend their Christmas mornings, and what they eat for Christmas dinner, and suddenly they’re normal human beings, likeable and relatable. 

In light of the popular drink company LIFEAID and their holiday campaign FITMAS—an initiative aimed at sharing stories, traditions and recipes from athletes and gyms round the world—we got the chance to talk to six of LIFEAID’s line-up of international CrossFit Games athletes and asked them what brings them the most joy during the holidays.

The Big Winner…

“I get to just focus on the family, and just get to really spend time with the family…Everyone comes together, and you get to see family that you haven’t seen in a long time, so that’s the best part about it.”

Not surprisingly, good old fashioned family time was the big winner.

For Neal Maddox, a six-time Games competitor and 2018 Men’s 40-44 year-old division champion, this means spending time with his wife and in-laws on the lake in Michigan, usually doing a big puzzle together. 

“I get to just focus on the family, and just get to really spend time with the family…Everyone comes together, and you get to see family that you haven’t seen in a long time, so that’s the best part about it,” Maddox said. 

Two-time Games medalist, Hungarian Laura Horvath agrees.

“My favorite thing about it is definitely my family. Just spending time with them. Playing board games and hanging out,” Horvath said. 

It’s a similar story for Jacob Heppner, whose answer to the question of how much he loves the holidays was, “I started listening to Christmas music a month ago. I’ll let you be the judge of that.”

The now retired, five-time Games athlete Christmas lover said what brings him the most joy is “getting to catch up with friends and family and take some much needed rest before the new year starts. Rest is important, so spending time eating the heads off gingerbread men and playing board games with the family is much needed,” he said.

Heppner added: “This year, (we) will be spending time with my side of the family, but we aren’t doing presents at all. We decided instead to book a family ski trip in March, which I love. More quality time.” 

Family time this year is going to be especially important for Polish athlete Gabi Migala, who has been living and training in Mallorca, Spain in recent months. 

“My favorite thing about the holiday is that I’ll meet with my whole family. Moving to Mallorca (has) made me miss them so much,” said Migala, who is flying back to Poland right after the upcoming Dubai CrossFit Championships “to help my parents with all the Christmas preparations,” she said. 

For Ellie Turner, a 2021 Games rookie, it’s about family, but also the hot summer days associated with an Australian Christmas.

“The days are longer and I get to spend time with family and friends,” she said what brings her the most joy during the holidays. 

And for five-time Games athlete Cassidy Lance-McWherter—a “humongous holiday fan” who is “overboard” when it comes to her love of the holidays—it goes beyond just spending time with her loved ones.

“I love the smell. I love the preparing. I love cooking for two days to get ready for family and friends to get together…especially now with a son. I want him to grow up with traditions of the holidays,” Lance-McWherter said. 

Does Training Bring Joy on Christmas?

Where does training fit into the bringing joy on Christmas Day picture for current and retired Games athletes?

“My training stays the same. I still train on Christmas day, but I usually try and get it all done before I eat Christmas lunch, otherwise I find I move very slowly afterwards,” Turner explained. 

“I train as much as I can, but family time is priority, so I usually go for a run or only do one session at the gym. Family time is important, but luckily my parents also come to train with us, so we can all workout together,” Horvath said. 

“My training stays the same. I still train on Christmas day, but I usually try and get it all done before I eat Christmas lunch, otherwise I find I move very slowly afterwards.”

Maddox, on the other hand, avoids the gym, but typically goes for a run with his wife along the lake on Christmas morning.

“This year, we have an addition, our boy. He’s going to be six months (old), so he’s traveling for the first time. We’ll see, I’m pretty sure I can get (my wife) out for a run, because my in-laws can probably (look after him),” he said. 

As for Lance-McWherter and Heppner, Christmas Day is a rest day.

“I will not train these days. These days are meant for family. Simple as that,” said Lance-McWherter of both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

Heppner added:  “I usually don’t train on Christmas day, but Christmas Eve, absolutely…Usually I just do some rowing or biking intervals. Got to get a bit of a sweat on before eating all the ham, cranberries and chocolate santas. 

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