When Stacie Tovar competed in the CrossFit Games for the first time in 2009, a crowd of 300 watched. In July, when the 28-year-old competed in the Games for the fifth time, more than 25,000 people attended the event.
As the Games have grown, so has Tovar's fame. Shape Magazine named her one of the “Top 10 Hottest and Fittest Women of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.”
The Omahan, who grew up on a farm about two hours from the metro and played volleyball for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was one of two people and the only woman from Nebraska to compete at the CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif. in July. (From Iowa, two masters athletes, or those over the age of 40, and three teams competed at the Games.) Tovar finished 20th out of 40 women, despite a nagging shoulder injury.
We talked with her about representing Nebraska in a worldwide competition, the key to her killer abs and what it's like to make strong the new skinny.
Q: How did you first get into CrossFit?
A: My boyfriend, who is a former UNO wrestler and is now my husband, tried CrossFit in 2007 and was immediately hooked. Flash forward a year, and he was begging me to give it a try. Eventually I did, and the rest is history.
Q: So many people start exercise programs but don't stick with it. What kept you going?
A: CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movements that are performed at high intensity. There are no machines. There is no routine. This approach to training combined with the community that CrossFit creates is what keeps me coming back. The CrossFit community has a shared goal of living a healthier life through clean diet and functional exercise. Once you let CrossFit become a lifestyle, it's almost impossible to fall off of the bandwagon. Being a healthier, fitter, more able-bodied individual becomes a top priority.
Q: Why did you decide to compete in the CrossFit Games?
A: I decided to enter my first CrossFit competition five years ago because a bunch of people from our gym were making a trip to Colorado to participate in a regional qualifier. I'm a competitive person, and I thought it would be fun. As CrossFitters we all have the same goals in mind, and that's to become healthier while increasing our fitness. I'm so thankful that I gave it a try five years ago and feel truly blessed for the opportunities it has provided to me.
Q: What is it like to represent Omaha in a worldwide competition?
A: I'm always honored to represent Omaha and the Midwest in this worldwide competition. I want my efforts to not only represent me but showcase the values that were instilled in me being raised on a farm in Humphrey, Neb. Hard work and discipline are a big part of the culture in the state of Nebraska.
Q: You hurt your shoulder earlier this year. How did it impact your performance during the Games?
A: I have a fracture of the scapula (shoulder blade), a sprained rotator cuff and a sprained lat (back) muscle. Any time you have an injury, large or small, it affects you mentally, emotionally, and physically. It was definitely an interesting experience battling all three injuries at the CrossFit Games, and by the end of the weekend, my shoulder – physically – had, had enough. Because of this, I dropped six places after being unable to complete a 6-inch deficit handstand push-up.
Q: You represent a new brand of fitness for women. Can you talk about body image and the evolving “look of health” among women?
A: CrossFit women have a mantra that reads, “Strength is beauty.” Being supermodel thin is no longer the epitome of what a nice body should look like. It's okay to have muscles and be toned, especially if that means being healthier both physically and emotionally. I'm proud of the “meat” I have!
Q: What kind of feedback have you received about your body and athleticism?
A: I have never received a negative comment about the way I look, nor have I ever received criticism regarding my athletic abilities. I am fortunate because God blessed me with a lot of talent. I am very proud of my physique. I work very hard to look this way. But for me it's never been about the way I look but rather the way I feel and living a healthy lifestyle. I want to treat my body the way it was meant to be treated, which includes a clean diet and sleep just as much as it does exercise. And I guess if I ever did receive a negative compliment, I'd politely ask them to workout with me.
Q: I know you eat clean, but do you have any guilty pleasures?
A: I'm a fan of ice cream, an occasional glass of wine or beer paired with pizza or wings and Spicy Nacho Doritos.
Q: How did you get your abs, and how long did it take?
A: (laughs) I got my abs by CrossFitting. And it didn't take long either. CrossFit involves a lot of core strength development, and, of course, eating clean doesn't hurt either.
Q: How do you juggle work, life and working out?
A: It's not easy, but I make it a priority to find the time. I work for a wellness company where individual health is of most importance so finding that balance is part of our culture. Lucky for me, my employer is very supportive of my CrossFit endeavors. I also have a very supportive family and circle of friends who understand my lifestyle and show support every step of the way.
Q: What is your least favorite?
A: Believe it or not, running.
Q: What are you goals and expectations going forward?
A: At this point I would like to think that I have many years of competition ahead of me. Although you just never know what might happen. At some point I will have to consider taking time off from competition to start a family. The immediate goal is to get healthy and injury-free. Then when my doctor and I feel I'm ready, I will start preparing for the 2014 CrossFit Games.
Stacie Tovar works out at CrossFit Omaha near 89th and L Streets, an affiliate of CrossFit, Inc. To see other licensed CrossFit affiliates, click here.
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