Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. One of the sport’s most decorated and beloved athletes made a huge announcement yesterday, and we have the details below. And, Emily Beers profiles Jennifer Broxterman as she battles ovarian cancer with the support of her CrossFit community. Today:
Annie and Frederick’s big reveal.
The Norwegian CrossFit Championship partners with Battle Cancer.
CrossFit Contessa finds success as a women’s only gym.
“Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better.” — Des Linden
The Original Queen Of CrossFit To Give Us An Heir
A picture paints a thousand words — but in this case — Annie Thorisdottir’s latest Instagram post prompted thousands of comments congratulating the former Fittest On Earth on the news — she’s expecting!
Annie Thorisdottir and partner Frederik Aegidius took to social media to announce their pregnancy on Monday, their firstborn due on August 5, the week after the 2020 CrossFit Games.
It goes without saying this rules Annie out for the season making it the first year since 2013 the original ‘Dottir’ won’t compete at the CrossFit Games.
The most likely scenario is that her invitation — gained from finishing in the Top 20 in the Open — will be passed down to Australian Madeline Sturt.
Let’s talk about inheritance and the fact this child has hit the genetic jackpot.
Annie and Frederick are no doubt the most decorated CrossFit couple — with 14 Games individual appearances between them — to start a family.
No surprise then to see CrossFit royalty, past and present, have taken to social media to say: Til hamingju or congratulations.
Tennil Beuerlein just celebrated being four months post-partum.
Emily Bridgers also had her first child in October 2019.
Mackenzie Riley will be another absentee from the competition in 2020, expecting her first child.
Too soon to talk about a comeback?
Annie will now join a growing list of former podium athletes who later became pregnant including Kara Saunders (2017), Lindsey Valenzuela (2013), Talayna Fortunato (2012), Valerie Voboril (2010), Tanya Wagner (2009, 2008), Jolie Macias/Gentry (2007), Mary Woodruff/Rigney (2007).
One important caveat — Charity Vale and Carey Kepler had already had children when they made the podium in 2009.
Not since Valerie Voboril — who placed third in 2013 — has a woman returned from pregnancy to once again place on the podium. But, if we’ve learned anything from the past decade, you can never count out “The Original Dottir.”
Norwegian CrossFit Championship Teams Up with Battle Cancer
The Norwegian CrossFit Championship (NCC) has announced a partnership with Battle Cancer for their upcoming Sanctional on February 14-16. The two will be raising awareness and donations for the Norwegian Cancer Society.
Together, Battle Cancer and the NCC will host a challenge for all athletes and spectators at the Sanctional in Gol, Norway. The challenge is to complete 33,000 pull-ups during the course of the Sanctional. The number represents the number of people who are diagnosed with cancer each year in Norway.
“I’m so happy for this opportunity!” commented Roger Grillos, Director of the Norwegian CrossFit Championship. “For me it was a no-brainer when our roads crossed. To use our fantastic CrossFit community in the fight against cancer. I will do my share of pull-ups, will you? Let’s Battle Cancer together!”
Team Battle Cancer
Battle Cancer will also be represented on the competition floor. The NCC invited the organization to field a team at the Sanctional. Scott Britton, Founder and Director of Battle Cancer will team-up with Lauren Calvert, Kelly Friel and James Dollah. The team is sponsored by NCC’s 2020 partner, WIT Fitness.
Team Battle Cancer will compete in the elite division but will not receive official scores, nor will they be eligible for the prize money nor the 2020 CrossFit Games invitation.
“We’re honored to be invited by the Norwegian CrossFit Championship to deliver a Battle Cancer challenge in Norway for the Norwegian Cancer Society,” said Britton. “We can’t wait to see athletes take on our pull-up challenge as well as show some heart as Team Battle Cancer on the competition floor.”
Spectators who cannot attend the competition can still donate to the challenge.
The Norwegian CrossFit Championship is also seeking to strengthen its relationships with the CrossFit community by getting spectators involved in the Sanctional. They have announced that if there are empty lanes in the community division, those in the arena will have an opportunity to come down to the competition floor and compete.
Official Media Partner
Follow the Norwegian CrossFit Challenge on the Morning Chalk Up’s Sanctional page where we will have in-depth coverage and analysis. We will also be providing on-the-ground updates, our team will be there as the official media partner of the Sanctional.
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NO BOYS ALLOWED: What It’s Like To Run A Women’s Only CrossFit Affiliate
That’s the one word that affiliate owner and Coach Mandi Wilson uses to describe her booming business. She’s created a niche market — and her business model is simple — no men.
“I have known for a long time that my specialty is connecting with, coaching and empowering women,” she told the Morning Chalk Up.
CrossFit Contessa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia, opened in 2014. What started with 17 members, a mop bucket and a big goal six years ago is now an affiliate with two locations and 120 members — all of whom are women.
“How we train and what we train is no different from any other well-operated, mixed box. The difference is the culture we have created,” Mandi said.
The box chooses to outsource programming — following Ben Bergeron’s CompTrain Class and Mandi said: “This allows us to be able to concentrate on our members’ needs.” Clearly, building close connections through CrossFit is the top priority.
It might seem like a poorly thought out business plan — limiting your potential membership base by half. But Mandi says, if anything, focusing JUST on females has been the secret to her success.
Jo Brooker-Clarke is a mother-of-five, lawyer and coach at CrossFit Contessa: “I’m sure there are plenty of co-ed boxes that offer amazing acceptance and support. But Mandi made a decision she believed in.”
“Her good energy and positive attitude attracts like-minded women. Not necessarily already fit women, but women who want to get better, be better, be strong and be the best version of themselves,” Jo said.
Candice Lamb is another coach at Contessa as well as a trained Women’s Physiotherapist: “We don’t believe that women need to train DIFFERENTLY from men, but we do believe that we can provide them with a better support system through having an all-female coaching staff: we get it,” she said.
Whether it is through a similar business model or women’s only classes, many affiliates internationally are catering to members who would prefer single-sex training.
CrossFit Alioth in Dubai runs women’s only classes, with female-only coaches five days a week. CrossFit Yas also runs “Yas Ladies.”
CrossFit Buxton in the UK offers a program called CrossFit Lite “for women who would like to become fitter, lose body fat and tone up in a friendly and comfortable environment through fun and enjoyable sessions including beginner CrossFit workouts.”
Living and Training with Ovarian Cancer: “Believe the Diagnosis, not the Prognosis”
In October 2018, Jennifer Broxterman received a phone call from a blocked number. A gastrointestinal surgeon was on the line to tell her she had colon cancer.
“I remember it so clearly — so cold, clinical, straight to the point,” said Broxterman, a 2013 and 2014 Canada East regional competitor from London, Ontario.
Turns out, her doctor was wrong. Broxterman’s eventual diagnosis was a whole lot more dire than that.
Upon further investigation, it was determined the primary source was ovarian cancer, which had spread to her colon. In fact, they eventually discovered two types of ovarian cancer, a slower-growing one and a particularly deadly, rapidly-growing one.
The prognosis: A five-year survival rate of nine percent.
So according to statistics, the 35-year-old Registered Dietitian, whose husband Dave Henry owns CrossFit London, has a nine percent chance of living for five years.
From Diagnosis to Surgery to Rehab
In December 2019, Broxterman underwent major surgery, where doctors discovered her Stage 3 cancer had spread more than originally thought. As a result, she lost her entire reproductive tract, two parts of her large intestine, a part of her small intestine, her appendix, ileocecal valve and part of her bladder.
To say 2019 was a horrible nightmare is an understatement.
But somehow, through the nightmare, Broxterman has found a way to remain hopeful, positive and legitimately happy.
“I actually don’t have any less happiness in my life today than I did before the diagnosis,” she said. “The lows are deeper and the fears and anxieties I feel are stronger than ever, but I come out of those moments with so much appreciation and gratitude and love for all of the things that are still really good in my life.”
Broxterman is adamant she never would have been able to embrace this mindset if it weren’t for CrossFit — and the fitness it has helped her achieve in the last 12 years — and for her community of friends at CrossFit London.
She remembers her first workout back, a couple weeks after she was released from the hospital. Her femoral nerve had been damaged during surgery, which left her temporarily paralyzed and then unable to walk. Only weeks before, she had been back squatting more than 200 pounds and rocking muscle-ups. And now, just walking with a walker was hard.
“I literally just walked one circle around the gym — that was the whole workout — but it was the most amazing walk ever. I had an entire group of people, and my dog, beside me cheering me on,” she said.
She added: “You really just can’t put a price on the emotional support I have received from the community.”
Also because of CrossFit, doctors felt comfortable releasing Broxterman from the hospital earlier than they would have had she not been so fit and strong, and had she not had a husband who was competent in helping her rehabilitate her body.
Broxterman credits her high fitness level leading up to her surgery with making this last year — the worst year of her life — much more bearable than it otherwise would have been.
“Just things like how I had the upper body strength to pull myself out of bed in the hospital when my abs had been cut open and my legs didn’t work,” she said. “Or how I could hold and support myself to sit on a toilet.”
Her 12 years of CrossFit, including competing at the regional level, also made her much more resilient to coping with physical pain, she explained.
“The pain was a 15 out of 10 after surgery,” she said. To get through the pain, she trained herself to focus on getting through just one minute at a time.
“It was kind of like the worst WOD of your life, where you have to dig deeper and you think, ‘OK, three more reps. Just three more reps.’ And then you do those three reps and then you’re like, ‘Shit, another three reps,’” she said.
Broxterman added: “Because of CrossFit, I knew the pain was temporary, that I would get through it. I was way more mentally resilient because of it.”
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On this episode of the Open Gym podcast, Patrick Cummings talks to Charlie Lima who opened College Station CrossFit in 2008. When he did, Lima also became more intentional about creating a support network of mentors he could lean on to help continue leveling-up. Here’s how to build one yourself.
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