The Bodybuilding CrossFitter: Meet Our Newest Athlete, Ashlie Case

With just two weeks left until her first physique show, Ashlie Case is in full prep mode.  While a typical 18-year-old college student by day, her mornings and evenings are what set her apart.  Early fasted cardio, bodybuilding workout after school, coaching classes all evening at Centerville CrossFitMeet Ashlie Case, and bed at a reasonable hour to rest, recover, and do it all again the next day.

While training at her first gym, she was taken under the wing of Tina Triguero, a local IFBB Professional and trainer of physique competitors.  Tina saw the potential in Ashlie and convinced her to train for her first competition – a goal Ashlie set out a full 12 months in advance. “I want to dedicate myself for a year – go through the whole process. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right.”

A former high school track athlete and cheerleader, Ashlie has always been athletic and competitive. She found CrossFit while still a high school student, achieved her Level-1 certification at 16, and began coaching classes shortly thereafter.

While there may be some animosity between staunch followers of both fitness programs – Ashlie feels she has benefited from both training methods. “CrossFit has helped build my muscles, and now I’m using bodybuilding and my diet to uncover them.” She’s spent the last 9 months going through the entire process – bulking for three months, then slowly changing her diet and reducing her caloric intake to chip away at that perfect shape.  With the changes in her diet, her workouts transformed as well. She no longer had the energy for high-intensity CrossFit workouts, so she increased her bodybuilding efforts.

Ashlie PoseSo, what would a successful first competition look like for Ashlie?  “Bringing my best package,” she says. “I’ll be going up against women who have been doing this for years. I want to know that when I step on stage, I’ve done everything I can to get this look that I have. If there’s a girl that looks better to me, then I’ll know what I need to work on. It’s me competing against myself.”

On becoming the next BarLife athlete, Ashlie confides, “Living the BarLife for me, as a female, is having a lot of self-confidence. It means having all the strength and power to be able to say ‘I lift weights, and everyday I’m in the gym trying to better myself for my future.’”

We couldn’t agree more, Ashlie. We’re so excited to have you on the team, and can’t wait to see you smash your first competition!

 

#thebasicest – Honoring Becky Sefscik

#thebasicest

Becky Sefscik – #thebasicest

#thebasicest…

Our world was rocked this week. On September 1st, we lost a best friend, CrossFit community member, and BarLife OG. Becky was the shit, and we adored her. She was everything we love about our community – always encouraging, brash at times, tough as nails, and faithful to the very end.

She was powerful, not only at CrossFit, the sport she loved so much, but powerful in her ability to make every woman she met feel more confident and stronger in all things. No one ever felt more capable or supported than when they were in her presence.

Becky was the first person to place an order on our website! She stalked the site daily until it was live because she wanted to be the first. Her love, support, and encouragement meant the world to us.

In honor of September being National Suicide Prevention month, and in support of our friend Becks, we’re offering our “Becky” (#thebasicest) tee and tank.**

Be Brave. Be kind. Be Wise.

**100% of all proceeds will be split between the Wounded Warrior Project and Becky’s family to help them move her belongings back to Pittsburgh**

The Bean: Fourth Fittest

Last month, 40 of the world’s fittest 14-17 year old boys and girls got the chance of a lifetime to compete at The Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, California. Among them was Alina (The Bean) Lewandowski, a young girl from a small town in Southwestern Ohio.

Photo by CrossFit Media

Photo by CrossFit Media

When we last hung out, Alina was finishing her last pre-Games workout with Melissa Doss, getting ready to hop on an airplane in less than 24 hours to start this whirlwind trip. We had watched her working weaknesses, getting stronger, and being tested mentally by her coach, Brody Mayse, at CrossFit Excess.

After a much-deserved vacation, we caught up with Alina to see how this experience helped shape her summer.

Once settled in after travel and Games check-in, the athletes met with the Games staff, as well as medical personnel and the safety team to review the extent of their events.  As of Sunday, only six events were known to the athletes. The seventh and final event was to be revealed on Thursday, once the top five in each age group was determined.

Through the first two workouts on Tuesday – a triplet of GHD sit-ups, chest-to-bar pull-ups, and a sandbag run, plus a max thruster – Alina held her own. Her 145-lb thruster was the second-highest by a 14-15 year old girl. She cruised into Tuesday night’s event comfortably in third place, with snatches and sprints ahead of her. Throughout the course of Event 3, Alina’s calf seized up, making sprints incredibly difficult for her.  A workout that should have seen her finish in the top three found her in fifth place.

Not only did this set her back physically, with two more events on Wednesday, but also mentally. Event 4 included a 1,000 m run up through the stadium, and Alina recalls her calf tightening up almost immediately.  “I think I let it get to me, probably more than it should have. On the run…after my first lap, I could already feel it.  I think that did not help my mental game at all.”

But she still performed well enough to stay relevant Wednesday, finishing 7th and 6th, respectively, to head into day three. Brody contacted Dr. Tim Simansky, AKA The Wod Doc, to see if he could help rehab Alina’s calf after Event 5. Epitomizing the spirit of CrossFit, Dr. Simansky worked on her Wednesday night, gave some advice for that evening and the next day, and followed up with her on Thursday.

Both Alina and Brody felt utterly defeated that night – Alina in pain and in danger of not advancing to the final; and Brody, unsure how to motivate this incredibly talented, but frustrated, athlete.

Alina woke up Thursday to a “motivating” text from Brody, who was trying to find the best way to get his athlete through the next round. “I made her angry,” Brody said. “Like, as soon as she woke up.”

“I wasn’t very happy with him; but I think that fueled me to really push,” Alina recalls.  “One of the awesome things was – I came off the row in seventh, and I was like, ‘Just keep going. This is going to be the slow part.’ When I got to the shoulder to overhead, and I wanted to set the bar down, they [her family and Brody] were screaming so loud. I thought my mom was going to fall onto the field! It was good to just look at them and keep going.”

Alina’s effort in Event 6 was enough to propel her into the final event – “Amanda.” Thursday night, the top five teens from each age division battled it out in a couplet of muscle ups and snatches.  While the focus was on the dominant 15 year old, Sydney Sullivan, Alina edged out Megan Trupp for second place in the event, securing a fourth place finish overall.

Despite an injury that could have knocked her out of contention, Alina fought back on the third day, proving she deserved to be there competing alongside the best in the world. When asked what her biggest takeaway was, she replied that she would not let a setback – like her calf – get to her again.  She also said finishing event six – literally falling across the finish line to lock in a spot in the finals – was her best memory.

After the final event, Alina hung out with the new friends she had made. Just hours before they were competing to take home the title of Fittest in the World, and then they were hanging out like regular teenagers.

So what’s next for Alina? “I’m going to hang out with my friends, because I haven’t gotten to all summer. Dinner with friends, hanging out at the pool,” she says with a smile.  They were in the middle of their debrief from the Games, wherein Brody gave Alina the month of August to recover and then they’d start preparation for 2016 in September.

I asked if she planned on being back in Carson in July 2016.

“Oh yeah,” she stated, confidently.

The Bean: It’s Go Time

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Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a series about Alina (The Bean) Lewandowski, CrossFit athlete who qualified for the Reebok CrossFit Games in 2015. Click for part one and part two.

Over the better part of the last 6 weeks, Alina has spent no fewer than 240 hours training – getting stronger, faster, and more skilled.  It’s safe to say 230 of those hours were spent training alone – grinding out 3 hour morning, afternoon and evening sessions in preparation for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games.

Coach Brody Mayse of CrossFit Excess had a special deload week planned for Alina.  It kicked off on Sunday with a surprise group session with some of Excess’ members going through an entire training session with Alina, from warmup to cool down.  Tuesday saw a road trip to Friendship CrossFit to work with bodyweight specialist, Jenny Borda, on muscle-ups.  On Wednesday, Alina and Brody trekked to CrossFit Heights to test out one of the Games workouts.Alina and Melissa

Friday’s final session brought Games athlete Melissa Doss (part of CrossFit Conjugate’s runner-up squad at the 2014 Games) to participate in a partner chipper.  Movements ranged from bar muscle-ups to snatches and handstand walking, and finished with a 200 m partner carry.  Alina not only held her own, but proved she was ready to compete in Carson.

Training with elite athletes this week has given Alina a perspective heading into the competition. “My biggest takeaway is that we struggle and we all have bad days, but you just have to stay positive and believe in yourself,” she stated after working with Jenny.

Melissa Doss offered some good advice as well. “Alina just needs to trust that she’s done the work and go out there and have fun.”

In addition to this being Alina’s deload week, CrossFit HQ released all but the final workouts for the teens.  She says she’s pretty excited for all of them – aside from the row (which is inherently difficult for athletes barely pushing 5 feet tall).

BarLife is stoked to see Alina rock it in Carson next week.  She has proven that hard work, tenacity, and living the #BarLife will pay many dividends.

Alina will be competing in Carson, CA Tuesday July 21 – Thursday July 23 with the top 5 athletes advancing to the final Thursday night. You can find out how to watch the Games here.

The Bean: Behind the Scenes

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Editor’s note: This is the second in a series following Alina Lewandowski, CrossFit Excess member, and CrossFit Games qualifier for the 14-15 year old female division.  You can read our first post here.

Summer school. Sports leagues. Lounging by the pool.  All activities you would expect from a 15-year-old, enjoying their summer break. For Alina, her summer break is a little different.Alina warming up

We’ll start with the fact that, in the weeks leading up to the Games, Alina (Bean) has assumed a schedule of three-a-days: focusing on lifting and a couple metcons in the morning, more skill work in the afternoon, and joining her evening class for a final workout.  In between sessions, she naps, refuels, and works on some of her summer reading for school.

BarLife got to hang out with Alina and her coach, Brody Mayse, this week to truly appreciate the time and effort they’re both putting into this Games prep. Reading her daily schedule on the blackboard, it’s easy to forget we’re talking about a young teenager.  But then she and her coach jokingly argue over the music of choice during the workout. Brody would prefer some heavy metal for heavy lifting. Alina insists she can’t lift unless she can sing along.

The banter between coach and athlete is a joy to watch.  While Alina may jokingly request a lighter Rx for the workout, once the clock turns on, she’s all business. A mutual respect has led them here – a place where Brody understands her strengths and weaknesses, and what it will take to get her to the next level.  And Alina knows she’s being coached by one of the best, and that her best interests are at heart.

Monday’s morning session called for weighted pistols and burpees, along with double unders, clean and jerks, and bar muscle ups.  The weighted pistols were new to Alina, but rather than dwell on the difficulty of the movement, she put her head down and got to work. That has seemed to be her M.O. – show up, do the work, and leave it all on the Weighted pistols floor.

Brody promised this week would be the most challenging for Alina – next week she  leaves for California with her family, and the following week she starts competition.    When we dropped in, Brody claimed he had a few mental tests up his sleeve for the  week. As we’ve seen before, not many physical obstacles have stopped Alina – and  she’s systematically crossing off goals from her 2015 Games checklist.

Next week will be a deload week, focusing on staying healthy and more mental  preparation. Alina says she’s ready to compete – that’s what she’s looking forward  to most.  Oh, and meeting Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, of course.

After her time at the Games, I’m sure CLB will be the first in line to meet her.

Stay tuned for our final installment pre-Games next week!  If you have any questions for Alina, leave them in the comments below.

The Bean: Get to Know Alina Lewandowski

A gymnastics career-ending shoulder injury.  Hip issues resulting in not one, but two hip repairs in one year.  What would you do if you suffered these setbacks?  What if you were only 14?

If you were Alina Lewandowski, you would qualify for the first-ever teen division of the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games – less than nine months after returning to CrossFit.Alina

In December, 2014, CrossFit HQ announced they were adding a teen division – athletes age 14-17 – to the 2015 Games.  Teens around the world knocked out Open workouts 15.1-15.5 for a chance to get their name on the leaderboard.  They had no expectation of eventually ending up in Carson, CA in July.

Then, following Open Announcement 15.4, Dave Castro said that the top 10 worldwide in each age division would be invited to compete at the CrossFit Games.

For Alina, that meant all the struggle, recovery, and hard work had paid off.  One day, she was relishing in a first place finish in the Central East for all girls, age 14-15. The next, she was given the opportunity to compete against the nine other fittest 14-15 year olds in Carson.

“I didn’t want to know my placing in the Open.  I knew I was doing well, but I didn’t want to know how well,” she told BarLife. Making the Games was shocking, especially in the first year of the teenage division, she says.

Has training changed?  Yes and no.  With the help of her dedicated coach – Brody Mayse of CrossFit Excess – Alina has been tackling multiple workouts a day, focusing on increasing strength prior to the Games. Brody notes that Alina’s level of commitment and dedication are what separates her from the average athlete. She has been able to maintain her fitness and training, even with a one-week mission trip this summer.

Alina epitomizes the BarLife philosophy by “Chasing the Feeling.” She embraces being the strong CrossFit girl, and loves to push herself.  She is confident going into a hard workout, knowing she will not be broken mentally.

Alina has aspirations to be a surgeon, and will be a sophomore in high school this fall.

Stay tuned to Barlifeco.com for more on Alina’s journey to the Games.