interview with CrossFit star Jackie Perez

interview with CrossFit star Jackie Perez

Jackie Perez came in 10th place in the California regional finals last month, in preparation for the Reebok Crossfit Games' WOD Gear Team Series event to be held in Pasadena on July 28 and 29.  She took time out of her busy training schedule to do an interview with, which I thought was inspiring and educational. I'm pulling parts of the interview below; read the full text here.

You became a CrossFit enthusaist -- and instructor -- after years of working as a personal trainer. What got you hooked? Why was CrossFit so different?

I used to spend an hour doing cardio every day and another hour doing weights and strength training, and I didn't feel like my workout was complete unless I did both of those things. When I started taking CrossFit classes, I cut my workout time in half and still got my butt kicked harder than I ever had before. (same principle as the Fit-20 workouts - cb)

We've heard a lot about CrossFit WODs -- Workouts of the Day. What are they?

When you walk into a CrossFit class, there's a workout of the day up on the board and everyone does the same thing for the entire class. One day you might be doing sit-ups and bench presses and tomorrow you'll run three miles.

Every exercise can be scaled to whatever fitness level you're at. When I did my first Fran (a workout which includes multiple sets totaling 45 pull-ups - cb), I couldn't do a single pull-up -- my arms wouldn't bend at all. If I had stopped that first time, I'd never be able to do 40 in a row the way I can now, but I just kept trying -- every class I'd make 10 attempts, until one day it just clicked. I teach classes now with 18-year-old women and 65-year-old women. If you can't do a pull-up, you can do modified pull-ups by hanging onto the rings with your feet on the ground.

This kind of seems like a macho sport. Is it really good for girls, too?

I encourage women to not be afraid to be strong. People are scared to put muscle on -- they want to be skinny, and they think that lifting weights is going to make them big. But building muscle mass actually increases calorie burn, so it will make your body more efficient and can help you lose weight and stay in shape just as much as cardio can. 

What advice would you give women who are thinking about trying CrossFit, but are unsure or intimidated?

You don't know what you like until you've tried it at least a couple of times. A lot of people want to see results right away, but if you don't stick with something and push yourself, you're never going to get there.

You have to be willing to fail, to fall of the wagon and get right back on. 
Set a goal for yourself -- register for a 5K or a 10K, or enter a contest at your gym.

Makes me want to go knock out my next workout!

-Chris Butterworth