Sep 13, 2012

UC Alum Competes in 2012 World Cross Fit Games

Leah Polaski competes at 2012
CrossFit Regionals
Former UC soccer player, Leah Polaski, Business '02, recently competed in the 2012 World CrossFit Games in LA with her team CrossFit Atlanta, which aired on ESPN3. Leah recently talked to us about how she got involved with CrossFit and her UC experience. 

How did you get started with CrossFit? How long have you been doing cross-fit?

I started CrossFit in May 2009. I moved to Atlanta from St. Louis a few months prior and was bored out of my mind with my fitness routine, which basically consisted of running and/or the elliptical and lifting weights using the machines at the Y. I had driven by my gym, CrossFit Atlanta, nearly every day since moving and I kept telling myself to Google it. I finally did and emailed to set up a trial session.

I went in and met with Dan MacDougald, "The Godfather" of CrossFit in Atlanta. Thinking I was in good shape (I mean, I had run marathons), he promptly informed me otherwise. After a 10-minute workout, consisting of pullups (using rubber bands as assistance), push-ups (from my knees) and squats (apparently I'd never squatted properly in my life), I was exhausted, sore and absolutely HOOKED!

How did your team do in your recent competition at the World CrossFit games? What was it like to compete at this level?

This was actually my third time competing at the CrossFit Games (the world championship of CrossFit). I competed with the CrossFit Atlanta team in 2010, as an individual in 2011, finishing 30th and again with the CrossFit Atlanta team this year, finishing 10th!

Polaski competing
Competing at the Home Depot Center is such an amazing experience with equal parts fun agony, nervousness and excitement. The growth of the sport can easily be seen in the growth of the Games. It's gone from its first year, 2007, where it was held on a farm in Aromas, CA with the only prerequisite to compete being to show up, to 2012 where the top 50 men, women and teams that competed qualified out of 55,000 athletes. Not to mention, the Games were held at a sold out Home Depot Center, broadcast live on ESPN3 and will be re-broadcast on ESPN later this year.

If someone wants to start CrossFit what advice would you give them?

I would say give it a try! Most gyms offer some sort of free trial session so you can see if CrossFit is right for you.

Each box (CrossFit lingo for gym) is independently owned and operated, and this can be a good and bad thing. Good, in that each has its own vibe, offers its own programming and coaching and most importantly, community.

Bad in that, like any program, there are some bad apples out there. Do your research. Be educated. Visit a few gyms. Quiz the coaches on their fitness background, philosophies and experience. Get referrals, and most importantly, find a gym you feel comfortable in and one where you'll stick around!

Polaski competing
Crossfit gyms are unlike any other gym I've been to. Members tend to become more like close friends or even family. In fact, I've gotten my brother, step-brother and step-sister all CrossFitting!

How did your soccer career at UC help prepare you for cross-fit?

Playing, and more so training for, soccer made me mentally tough, which is very important in CrossFit. There's no denying it, the workouts are hard! In fact, as a competitive CrossFitter, my workouts and training now are actually harder than any soccer game I've ever played. I always say I WISH I did CrossFit when I was playing at UC! But being able to push myself even when my mind and body are saying to stop is a huge attribute, as is the discipline and drive I learned while playing.

What is your favorite UC memory?

That's an easy one! Beating Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament my senior year!!! It still gives me chills.

Why are you Proudly Cincinnati?

I wouldn't be who I am today without my time at UC. I made some of my best friends playing soccer and definitely have some of my best memories from those days!

Most of my family still lives in Cincinnati, and I love to come back to see all the changes taking place on and off campus. It's awesome to see UC, and all of Cincinnati, continuing to grow and improve for future students to enjoy.

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