On a normal day, Christy Phillips tends to the injuries of high school ballet dancers at the Kirav Academy of Ballet. Says the 28-year-old school nurse, “They’re putting in hours of work, and they’re very focused and dedicated.”
So focused, in fact, that some of the students don’t even know they have a top-performing CrossFitter in their presence (let alone know what CrossFit is). Phillips recently won the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Regional, earning her a ticket to Carson, California next week for the CrossFit Games, where she’ll compete to win the coveted title of “fittest woman on earth.”
Even more impressive is that this will be Phillips’s fifth year in a row competing in the games, a stat that is perhaps more unusual than the fact that she can do 44 pullups in one go. But even though she could be considered a veteran, it doesn’t mean she knows what to expect at the 2013 games.
“CrossFit is very new, both as a sport and a fitness program, and it’s gained popularity really quickly,” says the 135-pound, 5-foot-4 Phillips. “So every year’s games are bigger and better than the last.”
The athletes know very little going into the games, she explains. This year, the athletes don’t know the number or events or how many days they will take place across—nor do they know what day the competition actually begins. Phillips, who will arrive on July 20, says, “Once we’re there, anything’s on the table.”
Still, Phillips has been preparing herself since the last games, where she finished 11th. Along with her training at CrossFit MPH in Logan Circle, to improve her proficiency in Olympic weight-lifting Phillips hired former Olympian Cara Heads Slaughter to coach her through those grueling reps of snatch grips and overhead squats. She’s noticed the payoff not only in her high-intensity lifts, but also in her running. “I found that the longer efforts feel even better now because I have a little more strength,” she says. “The other day I did a workout that was to bring 135 pounds from the ground to my shoulders and overhead, then muscle up and run 400 meters for three rounds. I was doing my 400-meter runs thinking it just felt so great and went so smoothly.”
Along with the ultimate goal to win, Phillips’s first challenge is to break into the top ten and make it to the last event, which is often described as the “Woodstock of fitness,” held in the StubHub Center’s Tennis Stadium.
“It has this gladiator feeling,” Phillips says of the stadium’s atmosphere. “It’s always just scorching heat, the sun is bearing down on you, and you’re just grinding it out.”
Not to mention there are thousands of fans cheering in the stands, including many of Phillips’s local DC supporters and her fiancé, also an avid CrossFitter. “The DC community is amazing,” says Phillips. “Even other affiliates in the area are incredibly supportive. I just feel such a connection to the city.”
What’s next for Phillips after six days of clean and jerks, sprints, deadlifts, overhead squats, and pullups? A break from CrossFit, some wedding planning, and, of course, some well-deserved treats. “When it’s not three weeks away from major competition, I’ll have some treats on the weekend, like ice cream,” says Phillips, who follows a Paleo diet. “Something that’s totally not Paleo at all.”