Conversations with High Riser Vanessa Longon
Whatever you choose, do it to the best of your ability. That’s the mantra our next High Riser, CrossFit athlete Vanessa Long, lives by. She credits this motivation to her father, who “always taught me to give 110% in whatever I did.” This valuable advice doesn’t just apply to fitness – Vanessa has made it her goal to take her perseverance and initiative to the many different facets in her life, whether it is training clients, coaching high school cheer, or just the daily routine.
A Southern California native, Vanessa got her start in the fitness world at Long Beach State as a college cheerleader. “Being a cheerleader, I was around the constant negative body image, but didn’t really realize it at the time,” she said. Not one to give into discouraging thoughts, she took the experience as an opportunity for positive change. Vanessa began working on her strength and conditioning. “Then oddly enough, the stronger I got the more confident I became in myself, and I started to lean out and looked better than I expected,” she told Rise Bar.Vanessa’s dedication to her fitness enabled a change in career path: she switched to major to Kinesiology and became a personal trainer. After working out with her friend and future coach, she tried CrossFit on a whim, where she “met the best people who I considered some of my best friends. When we started, we just thought this was a new way of working out hard, little did I think how much it would change my life.” Vanessa’s first time at the CrossFit Regionals was definitely a learning experience – she couldn’t finish the competition because her wedding was the same weekend! Although she couldn’t compete for the entire Regional for obvious reasons, Vanessa did what she could and competed for one day. “It was cool because my fiancé and whole family came out to support and cheer me on in the middle of the day between wedding planning.” One of five siblings, Vanessa’s family is tight-knit. “We look almost identical,” she added. Her proudest moment in the sport came from the 2014 Regionals at the 4th event. Her goal? Do all the front squats unbroken and carry out all the reps on the handstand pushups. Her coach had placed all of her gym members on the opposite end of the arena facing her. “When I was on the first set of 21 front squats I wanted to drop it so bad,” she described. “It was slipping and I almost dropped it with a few reps left, but I saw the sea of blue in front of me. I just kept saying to myself, ‘You tell them each day to push when it burns the most. You can do it.’” Her accomplishment wasn’t just for herself, but because she pushed herself in front of the people she coaches every day.
Besides CrossFit, Vanessa has also been training for the weightlifting national competition. She came in 17th out of 50 women at the recently-held USA Weightlifting National Championships. While it was not her best meet, the numbers don’t show that it was a “great lesson to learn and grow from,” as Vanessa describes it. Moving forward, she’s got her sights on the American Open later this year in Washington, DC.
In terms of nutrition, Vanessa sticks to healthy go-tos like meat, veggies, and rice. For snacks, she sometimes indulges her sweet tooth with oreos, chocolate, and peanut butter in her cabinet. And of course, Rise Bars – Vanessa told us about a time that Carob Chip Rise Bars saved the day when she was cutting weight, but needed energy. “I was a happy camper,” she said.
Vanessa’s mission to rise comes from those same people. Whether her clients are beginners or experienced athletes, she wants to make sure that she can be an example for them. “Some of these people have never done any sort of physical activity or it has been years since they’ve done anything. Watching them clean 55 lbs for the first time keeping good technique, their first toes to bar, holding a plank for a minute, or whatever it is and feeling like they conquered the world is amazing to see,” she said. Integrity is important to this High Riser: her motivation stems from her desire to be a better athlete and coach for her gym members.