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Crossfit training builds strength

Nancy McKeage is on her way to compete in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Masters competition to be held July 23 to 25 in Carson, Calif.

The 41-year-old says with age, comes strength thanks to CrossFit.

“I’ve never been stronger actually and I’ve went through a lot of sporting careers and I’ve never physically been stronger,” McKeage said.

In the 40 to 44 age category, McKeage tied for ninth place in the world out of 2,882 athletes during the CrossFit Open competition, held March 6 to April 7.

She now advances to the international games.

The Red Deer resident also finished first in Western Canada in her age class out of 101 athletes and sixth overall in Western Canada out of all 974 female athletes of every age.

In the Open, competitors submit their results after a CrossFit workout each week for five weeks.

Only the top 20 men and women in each of the five master age categories from around the world are invited to compete at the international Masters competition in July.

McKeage also qualified to attend the Western Canada regional CrossFit competition in Vancouver in June, but she doesn’t expect to compete.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning exercise program developed in 2000 that requires all-out physical exertion. Workouts are always a different combination of aerobic movements and weight lifting that use barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettle bells, medicine balls and boxes for box jumps.

“It’s high intensity, constantly varied, functional movements. The idea is to give you a really intense workout using functional movements, like squatting and lifting, in a short amount of time. The result is your heart rate remains high the rest of the day.

“Your flexibility improves. Your strength improves. Your cardiovascular fitness improves. You get a big bang for your buck,” McKeage said.

CrossFit workouts look intimidating, but can be modified to each person.

McKeage started CrossFit in 2008 as a way to get core strong after having two children, now age five and seven.

“It’s all modified for you.

“It’s awesome to see people come in who can’t do a proper pull-up or push-up and within a few weeks they’re on their way to trying and get a muscle pull-up and their push-ups are that much better,” said McKeage who trains at Ignite Fitness in Red Deer.

The functional movements of CrossFit — pulling, pushing, lifting, squatting — are movements people do for every day activities, like lifting a bag of groceries or a child, she said. “It’s more of a way of keeping fit for life.”

After starting CrossFit, it didn’t take long for the former University of Alberta volleyball player and triathlete to realize she missed competition and by 2010 made it to her first international CrossFit Games. At age 38, she placed 32nd.

McKeage said reaching the podium in July would of course be great. But she’ll be focused on giving each workout all she can.

“If I come off the workout not being able to go a second faster, that would have been a good day, that would have been a good workout.”

Athletes at CrossFit Games don’t know what exercises will be included in their workouts until right before the competition.

McKeage said she doesn’t excel at any one CrossFit exercise, but it helps that she is consistent across the range of movements.

“There’s definitely some movements I’m not as strong at as others. I hate thrusters. It’s a hard movement. It’s a lot of weight going down and up. I’m not particularly strong at push-ups.

“I like the gymnastic things. I like the pull-ups, muscle-ups, handstand push-ups,” McKeage said.

McKeage is training two-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week, to prepare for the July games.

McKeage will be back to work as a physical education teacher at Hunting Hill High School in the fall where her husband, also a teacher in the department, both incorporate CrossFit into their classes.



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