American CrossFit athlete Breona Evans Wallin is a six-time CrossFit Regionals athlete and a former contestant on The Rock’s Titan Games. A former gymnast and competitive cheerleader, Breona discovered CrossFit seven years ago and now squeezes in several hours of training each day at CrossFit Identity, the box her husband owns in Atlanta, alongside her fulltime job as an accountant.
In between working and training, 29-year-old Breona took time out for quick-fire Q&A about her training, background and CrossFit experience to date. Thanks, Breona!
#1. So, let’s rewind a lot. Were you sporty growing up?
I’ve always really enjoyed being active. I began in gymnastics at a very young age but found that I really had a love for competitive cheerleading. I competed in cheerleading for 18 years, through college at Georgia State University. Strangely enough, I always LOVED the conditioning we did with the coaches in college, so it makes perfect sense that I eventually fell in love with CrossFit as well.
#2. Tell us how you got into CrossFit?
I worked at a gym in college that actually had a CrossFit affiliate inside! To be honest, I used to watch those athletes in awe, thinking they were crazy! One of the trainers, Victor, spotted me at work in a cheerleading t-shirt and approached me about getting started. His timing was perfect as I was in my last year of college, and was definitely looking for a new hobby before I graduated in 2013. I am so grateful for Victor, as I can’t imagine what my life would have been like had I not given it a try!
#3. With your background in cheerleading, did the balance and gymnastic elements come easy to you?
I wouldn’t say they came “easily”, but I definitely enjoyed them more, and still do! I picked up handstand movements fairly quickly, but bar and ring movements definitely gave me a harder time. I will say that having that gymnastics foundation and body awareness absolutely gave me a leg up in learning many CrossFit movements!
#4. Has there been anything you’ve had to work harder on?
Being a smaller athlete, I have to work especially hard on my lifting and strength numbers. At 125lbs, it is pretty intimidating for me trying to keep up with all the amazing women in our sport! It is unbelievable how the strength numbers continue to trend upwards over the years. Working on your weaknesses is never fun, but it is so rewarding to see consistency and hard work pay off over the years.
#5. Have you been able to train as normal during the pandemic or have you had to adjust?
About a week before the United States went into quarantine, I dislocated my elbow in competition in Brazil. On the second day of competition, I was doing a heavy snatch with my team at the Brazil CrossFit Championship and felt a large snap. It has been crazy having the opportunity to recover during a trying time like this. I spent about the first two months of quarantine in a full arm brace, getting physical therapy weekly.
There wasn’t a ton I could do at home or in my gym. I decided to spend all my new free time working on a few of my weaknesses, running and biking. It was a really exciting day when I finally got my brace off and could row! It was a relief to be able to finally incorporate one new movement, haha! I was also able to spend quite a bit of time squatting to try and maintain some strength. Now that I am pretty much fully recovered, I can definitely thank those couple of months for some PRs in the last few weeks!
#6. What does a typical week of training currently look like for you?
I am a full-time accountant, so I spend most of my days in an office. I usually train once a day for several hours when I leave, taking Thursday and Sunday completely off. As I’m healing up my elbow, I’m back to adding in more strength sessions, sneaking in an extra session before work at 6AM. Saturdays are my favorite day to train, as I always get a little extra sleep, a slow morning with lots of coffee, and have the whole day to get workouts in.
#7. Can you share your favourite WOD and what this involves?
My favorite WOD is Fran (barbell thrusters and pull-ups) or anything with muscle-ups! I’m one of the weird ones that LOVES thrusters… or burpees!
#8. How important is recovery and mobility in keeping you strong and healthy?
Recovery and mobility are SO important! I have really taken this for granted previously, but my recent injury has shifted this to my utmost priority. I try to finish every session with a few minutes of accessory work to protect my body. I also prioritize sleep over everything… I can’t train without a full night of rest. I’m very lucky to have my physical therapists inside of the gym and aim to get treatment from them 2-3 times a month.
#9. Do you get nervous ahead of a big event?
Absolutely! I’m always so anxious to just get through the first workout to ease all the nerves. One thing that’s really helped me before that first workout is to really be present, pause, and take a look around… and realize everyone else is nervous too. Pressure is a privilege!
#10. You competed on The Rock’s Titan Games. For all us non-US residents, can you explain what the show is and how you found it?
The Titan Games was an amazing experience! It is a new show, hosted and created by The Rock, which takes competitors from all different backgrounds through various [physical] challenges. I was recruited for the show through social media. I was really hesitant to try out initially, but my husband encouraged me to give it a try, and I’m so glad that I did! I met so many amazing people, including The Rock, which was the opportunity of a lifetime. My husband also had another trick up his sleeve… proposing at the end of my challenge on the show which was the coolest experience and memory ever.
You can keep up with Breona’s training via her social media: www.instagram.com/breonanicole7.