Q+A WITH HIGH RISER: CHELSEY HUGHESon
RISE BAR: Can you give us some background about yourself? Where did you grow up? What was your family like? How did you get involved with CrossFit?
Chelsey: I grew up in the country. I played every sport and extracurricular activity offered at my small school in west Texas. My family took lots of weekend trips; seems like we loaded up the suburban almost every weekend. When we weren’t traveling for sporting events, we headed to the lake to ski, hike, camp out, bbq and make s’mores. Although neither of my parents were athletic growing up, they highly encouraged my brother and I to participate in as much as we could. As a result, I had the hardest time selecting my ‘primary’ sport in high school and college. Soccer was my primary sport, but I was always ‘in-season’ with at least three sports at any given time. Eventually I hung up my cleats and narrowed my involvement to competitive cheerleading in college, deciding that being on the sideline at every sporting event was the next best thing to actually competing on the field.
After graduating from Texas Christian University I began a career marketing various large consumer brands. A pro-bono project for the Women’s Sports Foundation ignited my creative juices and sparked a search for a way to transition into sports marketing; ultimately leading me to obtain an MBA from the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. While in graduate school a handful of classmates challenged me to “Helen.” Never one to back down from a challenge, I accepted and soon thereafter caught the competition bug. I began competing for BRICK in the Summer of 2012 and was a member of the 2013 and 2014 Brick Nation squads, which placed 3rd in the SoCal Regional both years.
RISE BAR: What motivates you to rise each day?
Chelsey: I start each day with a short quite time in the scriptures, which sets the tone for my day and reminds me my life has greater purpose than the tasks on my to-do list or the appointments on my calendar. I wish I carried that tranquility with me throughout the entire day, but somewhere it dissipates and I have to ground myself again – squatting or a run in fresh air usually helps, ha-ha.
I’m most motivated on Monday mornings. I love the fresh beginning of a new week where nothing has gone wrong yet and possibilities are endless. The fact that I get to do what I love each day makes it easy to get out of bed. I’m young and it’s important I make the most of each day. Maybe when I’m a retired Grandma I’ll sleep in. Although I hope my excitement for life in old age is just as strong as it is now.
RISE BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite CrossFit workouts?
Chelsey: Favorite = anything new, anything that puts butterflies in your stomach, and anything I get to do outside. If I had to pick a favorite workout it’d probably be some version of Fran because thrusters and pull-ups are two of my favorite movements. Add wall balls and running to the mix and it’s my dream combo!!
My least favorite combination is deadlift and box jumps. It’s lethal. In high school and college all deadlifting I did was Romanian, and I still have to force myself to bend my knees for a standard deadlift. I’m not really a fan of deadlifting in general (not being good at something has that effect! Ha-ha) but when deads are combined with box jumps, I find the workout particularly awful.
RISE BAR: What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
Chelsey: CrossFit allows me to be in an environment where people push their human potential each day. It amplifies my passion to be well-rounded – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; and allows me the opportunity to inspire health and fitness in others. There is little potential to grow bored because there are constantly new challenges and things to get better at. How exciting to think I can continue to learn and improve!
RISE BAR: Can you describe what it’s like while training for a big competition? Do you have any rituals or any regular good luck practices before an event?
Chelsey: Training for CrossFit competitions is much different than other sports. You don’t get to watch film and study the opponent, because there are so many other competitors. You don’t know what the events will be, so it’s crucial for training to be constantly varied. You have to learn to incorporate all aspects of the sport in your training without overtraining or neglecting certain aspects. I don’t try to guess what the workouts will be. Instead, I just try to be as fit and generally prepared as possible. It’s strange to me, in most areas of my life I like to be ‘in the know’; details matter a great deal. But in CrossFit, the unknown is bliss. I don’t fret or worry about what will be thrown at me; I’m confident my training has prepared me to handle it.
I don’t have any crazy rituals before an event. My favorite number is 11 and favorite color is purple, but I’m not obsessive about including either of those things in my routine. The selection of my socks and sports bra is really important. Both have character and I love that, so on game day I choose both carefully. Socks are hidden and I choose appropriately for the day. Maybe I’ll wear my anchor socks to remember to stay grounded. Or maybe I’ll wear my dragonflies to stay light on my feet. I have flying pigs, watermelons, and patterns galore to choose from! Haha Sports bras make a statement and I wear what fits my mood for the day; typically neon or patterns if I’m feeling confident and solid neutrals if I need a little more focus.
RISE BAR: Tell us about some of your current goals.
Chelsey: As an athlete my goals are constantly evolving. I want to add 10 pounds to my clean and jerk and 5 pounds to my snatch by the Fall, while reducing my 30 MU for time by 20 seconds. I have other silly tests that I want to improve like lowering my mile time in a 20lb vest. But all these goal are small components to much, much larger goals. I aim to participate in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 CrossFit Games. I want to stand on the podium as a team athlete and an individual athlete over the course of those three years. I want to be a part of the generation of athletes that makes big strides in developing CrossFit as a globally respected sport in which elite athletes, coaches and affiliate owners have a thriving livelihood.
RISE BAR: Can you describe a moment in your sport that you are proud of?
Chelsey: Winning SICFit in 2013 was a big moment for me. It was my first time going head to head with Games competitors as an individual. I won the final event on monkey bars. MONKEY BARS! How fun is that?! And they wrote me a giant Happy Gilmore style check.
The worst part of the experience was dropping my phone in the toilet moments before the final event, which rendered it useless for the seven hour drive home after the competition. I was ecstatic about winning and literally couldn’t tell a soul until the next day!
RISE BAR: What advice do you have for anyone who is trying to get into your sport?
- Set goals! Challenge yourself!
- Meet people! Go to community events.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Pull coaches aside and pick their brains!
- Allow fitness to be FUN!
RISE BAR: Where do you find inspiration on a daily basis?
Chelsey: Inspiration is all around us; in nature, in books, in art, in other people. I love the city; the hustle and bustle of people attacking their dreams.
RISE BAR: What does your diet look like? Top favorite meal post WOD.
Chelsey: Favorite meal = turkey burger with avocado and sweet potato fries!
My diet is pretty clean. Four days a week Fitness Kitchen LA, a meal delivery service, provides my meals. They customize my meals to make sure everything is balanced. Breakfast is usually some sort of egg-based quiche, turkey bacon and if I’m lucky, sweet potatoes! Lunch and dinner are some combination of lean meat and lots of veggies. I eat a lot of fish, chicken and turkey. I’m not opposed to red meat, but having grown up on a cattle ranch and eating beef my whole life, I’m a little burnt out on it. Plus it takes so long to digest; I prefer white meats. Aside from my meals, I snack ALL DAY LONG. Some people think I live on rise bars because I eat them throughout the day. It’s not strange for me to have three bars a day. And of course, a protein shake or two after training sessions. Working in a gym requires that my food be portable and quickly consumable.
RISE BAR: Tell us about a time Rise Bars saved the day. How do you use them in your lifestyle?
Chelsey: I live my life on the go. I often push the limits on what is possible to accomplish in a given time frame. I typically eat my meals and snacks standing up, usually at the gym, and in a hurry. I want everything to digest quickly so I can go on about my day. And I’m active all day long so I don’t want anything heavy in my stomach, but I need lots of fuel, so I eat small amounts throughout the day. I load up my gym bag each day with on-the-go snacks (aka rise bars!)