Morning Chalk Up Community

Chalk It Up To Greatness: Leka Fineman

July 17, 2023 by

Life begins as a blank page. The moment you arrive on the earth, words begin to fill the manila. Years pass quickly and the novel of your life is written. Where you live, the experiences you have, and how you choose to be in the world impacts longevity and authors your legacy.

Five time CrossFit Games master’s athlete mother, business owner, yogi, CrossFit community leader, and fitness guru, Leka Fineman, is this week's Chalk It Up to Greatness featured athlete. Nurtured in rural Northern California, Leka farmed, brought up animals, surfed, and rode horses each day, developing talents through living off the land. Undertaking the expected and unexpected was instinctual. Existence on 140 acres embedded habits of self-reliance and hard work. Leka was primarily raised by her artisan mother who ingrained strength, independence, and living off of the earth. Leka was also influenced by her father who instilled the quality of affability and success.

Unbeknownst to her, Leka began her CrossFit training in childhood, blossoming the ten factors of fitness. This lifestyle built the mindset for excellence. The values of Leka Fineman’s upbringing wrote the story of a brilliant, well-rounded woman who becomes a leader of athletes. 

At the age of 40, Leka became hooked on CrossFit after her brother persuaded her to join a wod. Efficient movements of CrossFit jived with Leka’s natural inclinations. After a decade of marriage divorce etched itself across the page. CrossFit brought purpose and a healthy way to process this plot twist. In this new chapter, Leka navigated being a single mother of two daughters. 

Mindfulness was cultivated from the age of 10, when Leka began to practice yoga. Yoga unites the soul with the body through the breath, much like CrossFit. The importance of taking care of the body through movement, diet, and breathing is a part of yogi and Crossfit athlete training. The physical practices of yoga asana and CrossFit movements differ but the mindset is the same, inner calmness during outer intensity. Leka’s knowledge makes her a trustworthy source for mind & body development. 

Leka did not participate in competitive sports growing up but after only five years from participating in her first CrossFit Open, she impressively qualified for the Games as a master’s athlete. This year will be Leka’s fifth qualification to the CrossFit Games. She motivates the pack of 55-60 year old women. Not only is she an outstanding athlete, she is a resource and inspiration for others. Leka developed a fitness, nutrition, and mindset coaching business offering personalized coaching and destination retreats. She is a master of fitness and holds wisdom that brings gains to the CrossFit community.

Leka Fineman's life has been written for greatness. 

Warrior Leka Fineman

MCU: How does yoga benefit your CrossFit training?

Yoga means union, the connection of breath to movement. Yoga is the Yin (ease) to the Yang (effort) of CrossFit. All my years of yoga practice gave me body awareness, balance, and flexibility which definitely helped in the beginning and continues to benefit my CrossFitting. Before I did CrossFit, yoga was my workout. I was practicing Ashtanga yoga which is pretty intense but now, I don't do yoga to get in a workout, it's more of a work- in, a moving meditation. It is a chance to slow down, unwind, and get centered. Yoga is a recovery, reset, and healing from the destruction that comes from CrossFit.

For over a decade, I have been researching what the optimum diet is for training as an elite level athlete.

Leka Fineman

MCU: The three elements of your business integrate nutrition, fitness, and mindset coaching. What events in your life led you to this destiny? 

I became a certified Health and Fitness Coach so that I can help others to understand what is best for them to be eating, depending on their goals. Each person is different when it comes to food, but there are some basic things that can apply to everyone.

I was fortunate to be raised in a family of wonderful cooks who valued and appreciated healthy, nutritious, and delicious food. I learned to cook when I was a little kid and worked in kitchens throughout my teens and twenties.  As a mom I always wanted to give my kids the best food available and teach them healthy habits for life. For over a decade, I have been researching what the optimum diet is for training as an elite level athlete.

I started coaching because I was constantly being asked about what I ate, and my fitness training. I started teaching strength and conditioning classes to women in my neighborhood in my garage gym in 2015. A couple years after that I got my CrossFit L1 and started coaching at a couple of gyms.

The year 2017, was my first qualification to the games. To prepare, I dove into mindset training. I did Mark Divine’s Unbeatable Mind program and started studying and reading books on mindset. That year I was introduced to Grant Parr, an amazing mental performance coach, and I have been working with him ever since. As an athlete, I have seen what a huge difference your mindset can make in your performance and I love to share these tools with the athletes I work with. 

MCU: What role did your father play in your formative years? 

I didn't get to live with my father growing up; however, we are very close. Even though I lived with my mom growing up, my dad was always in my life and made me a priority. When I was 7, I moved from New York to Northern California. He moved to the Bay Area a year later to be closer to me.  My dad always said "if you don't take a big risk, you don't win big”. He has taught me to never settle and that laughter is really the best medicine. 

MCU: What is your meditation practice? How does meditation affect your mental clarity?

Mediation is a pillar of mindset training and a super power. It is a chance to connect to myself, and to Source. I see my thoughts and let them pass. I focus on a mantra or affirmation or let whatever needs to become clear drop in. I try to meditate every day at least once if not twice. My practice looks like: sitting and focusing on my breath for 10 minutes. Once you begin to make yourself a priority, you have less patience for things that don’t bring you joy.  I always feel better and more focused and calm when I meditate. Practicing to be able to quiet the mind so that when I am  in the stress of life or competition I have the ability to choose how to respond rather than merely react.

Yoga is a chance to slow down, unwind, and get centered.

Leka Fineman
Leka Fineman chills

How to learn from fitness guru Leka Fineman:

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