Interviews by Lauryn Lax
Behind every great man stands a great woman. Alongside many of this year’s top male Games competitors, there stands an incredible woman. Meet Virginia Trinidad, Ashley Khalipa, Savanna Holmberg, Hillary Froning, and Sarah Spealler; five incredible women, alongside five incredible Games competitors: Guido Trinidad, Jason Khalipa, Graham Holmberg, Rich Froning and Chris Spealler.
While these naturally gifted athletes earned their ticket to one of the biggest competitions of their lives in this year, they would not be the competitors they are today if it weren’t for these women: Their leading ladies. Their wives.
From cooking enough food to feed a machine, to countless loads of sweaty socks and dirty laundry, caring for the kids, helping run businesses and most importantly, cheering and supporting one another, how do they do it all?
A one-on-one chat with each of these women reveals more about their secrets, superpowers, their experience at the Games and ultimately, the mutual support that each spouse feels both inside and outside the CrossFit arena.
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- 1 Virginia Trinidad: A Newlywed on the Road to the Games with a 1st-time Competitor
- 2 You were married in January, just before the Open started. What’s the past six months of newlywed life been like?
- 3 How do you feed a machine like Guido who trains hard 5-6 days a week, with multiple workouts in a given day?
- 4 This year was Guido’s first Games experience. Describe what it was like for you?
- 5 Now that the Games are over, what are your plans? Is he already thinking about training for 2013?
- 6 Any advice for other CrossFit wives?
- 7 How does Guido support you?
- 8 Ashley Khalipa: Married to 2008’s “Fittest Man on Earth” & 2012’s 5th Place Winner
- 9 How did you and Jason meet?
- 10 How has Jason inspired and supported you?
- 11 What is the most challenging part about being married to a top athlete?
- 12 How do you feed a machine? What’s his breakfast of champions?
- 13 You’ve been through the “Games thing” for quite a few years, what are your thoughts on the experience?
- 14 Do you have any advice for other CrossFit wives?
- 15 Anything else you want to add about being a CrossFit wife? Clarify any myths or misconceptions others may have?
- 16 Savanna Holmberg: Coach to 2010’s “Fittest Man on Earth”
- 17 Describe life married to a CrossFit Games competitor.
- 18 How do you support one another?
- 19 How do you feed a machine?
- 20 You’ve been to the Games before. Describe the experience behind the scenes.
- 21 We saw you carrying a cooler packed to the brim this year. What was in that thing?
- 22 How has your husband inspired you?
- 23 What keeps you grounded in your busy life?
- 24 Have any advice for other wives, or spouses married to someone who is passionate about what he/she does?
- 25 Hillary Froning: Celebrating Wedding and Games Anniversaries
- 26 How did you and Rich meet?
- 27 Describe life married to an amazing CrossFit athlete?
- 28 What is most challenging in the marriage?
- 29 What’s the Games experience like for you?
- 30 How do you feed a machine? Do you follow a Paleo/Zone diet?
- 31 How has your husband inspired you?
- 32 How does Rich support you?
- 33 Are there any myths or misconceptions others may have about being married to a CrossFit athlete?
- 34 Do you have any plans after the Games?
Virginia Trinidad: A Newlywed on the Road to the Games with a 1st-time Competitor
When Virginia married Guido Trinidad last January, the couple had no idea what was in store for the next six months of their newlywed life. Clean eating and training are no question for this dynamite team, and the proof is in the pudding with Trinidad’s third place finish at the 2011 Southeast Regionals, after fighting against a sixth place standing on the second day of the competition.
At the Games, Trinidad nabbed 29th place after a solid 14th place finish overall in the Chipper WOD. The couple resides in warm, sunny Miami, FL where they co-own Peak 360 CrossFit and continue to spread the rapidly growing sport of fitness to the surrounding Miami community.
You were married in January, just before the Open started. What’s the past six months of newlywed life been like?
VT: We started our life together with the OC Throwdown and a week of “us” time in CA, before heading back to Miami for the Open. Fitness is a part of our lives, so I was excited to support him on this trip to the Games—from the Open until now. For as long as we’ve known each other, since he first started CrossFit, he always knew he was Games bound.
How do you feed a machine like Guido who trains hard 5-6 days a week, with multiple workouts in a given day?
VT: I cook a big breakfast and dinner every night. In between, I get help from great local caterers who deliver to the gym. I couldn’t do it without them. Dinners vary daily, lean meats and always lots of veggies.
This year was Guido’s first Games experience. Describe what it was like for you?
VT: Surreal. The dream was happening and I needed to be present in it. We were at the CrossFit Games and my husband was living his dream. The best part: I was with him. Athletes I’d only seen on screen for years were an arm’s-width away. Reebok made us very comfortable in the Athlete Village. I got to see the other wives doing what I’d done for so many years: preparing meals, helping before WODs and feeling nervous and excited just like me! During the triathlon, I cried in my room. I think it was a mixture of reality settling and the fact that I had no idea where he was. I texted and called friends to helped me through it, but I truly believe that I’ve never experienced such anxiety. The unknown was terrible for me. I knew that wasn’t his WOD so not being able to see him throughout it was difficult.
Now that the Games are over, what are your plans? Is he already thinking about training for 2013?
VT: We’ll spend some time in CA doing nothing. Talking, reflecting, having my best friend back. I’ve never felt so connected to someone so to not have him around all the time was hard. We plan on reconnecting, catching up and doing nothing!!! As far as training, my husband is a determined man. He knows what he has to work on and is on a mission to get better. He will train better, harder, smarter. Guido will be better for 2013!
Any advice for other CrossFit wives?
VT: Buy lots of eggs. Ha! On a serious note, if your home-life isn’t the best it can be, it’s hard for a competitor to do well. We should support them, just like any spouse should support their spouse in any new endeavor they take on. CrossFit is our husbands’ sport, their job. Giving them support adds more balance.
How does Guido support you?
VT: Guido let’s me be who I am. In fitness, being a mom and as a best friend. I think that’s a really big deal because I think a lot of people don’t feel like they can be who they are—around other people or their spouse, but he supports me in every endeavor.
Ashley Khalipa: Married to 2008’s “Fittest Man on Earth” & 2012’s 5th Place Winner
Ashley Khalipa’s husband Jason Khalipa and CrossFit go together like almond butter and jelly. Jason and Ashley found CrossFit together in 2007 in a globo-gym where Jason was working at the time. Eight months later, in 2008 Jason found himself at the CrossFit Games, winning the title of “Fittest Man on Earth”.
While Khalipa is passionate about competing, he is also very passionate about coaching and loves helping others improve their fitness. Jason, now a Reebok sponsored athlete and veteran to the CrossFit Games, placed 5th in 2009, 16th in 2010, 7th in 2011, and 5th in 2012. He couldn’t have done it without the support of Ashley and his 14-month old daughter, Ava, cheering him on. The couple resides in San Jose, CA where Jason operates NorCal CrossFit and spends time with his two biggest cheerleaders. Wife Ashley spills on the ups, downs and in-betweens of being married to one of the fittest men in the world.
How did you and Jason meet?
AK: Jason and I met in 2000, during our freshman year in high school. We dated for two weeks and broke up. We officially started dating again our sophomore year and have been together since. We got married in July of 2009, just one week after the Games that year.
How has Jason inspired and supported you?
AK: He is the most hardworking and passionate person I know. He never complains and is always so thankful of the life he lives. He reminds me all the time to never take things for granted and to always live in the moment and enjoy our wonderful life. He is also working very hard to give us a great life and I know it will pay off in the future.
What is the most challenging part about being married to a top athlete?
AK: Having him away so much. Between traveling for Certs, running three gyms and training for the Games, I feel like I never see him. I know it’s hard work and it will pay off in the future.
How do you feed a machine? What’s his breakfast of champions?
AK: When I make dinner, I have to make enough for 4-6 people. Most meals consist of protein and vegetables. His breakfast of champions would be a couple of scrambled eggs with bacon and/or sausage and gluten free toast. Jason doesn’t adhere to a strict Paleo/Zone diet and neither do I. I try to stay away from breads/starches as much as possible.
You’ve been through the “Games thing” for quite a few years, what are your thoughts on the experience?
AK: I’ve been there every year, and it’s been neat to see the Games grow from 400 people in Aromas, CA in a throwdown setting, to now a sold-out arena. I feel silly saying it, but it’s super stressful for me. I hate to say that because I’m not even competing, but I think for the wives and close family members, it gets pretty stressful. Every time I think about the Games, my stomach does flips. I really don’t know how Jason handles it. I guess that’s why he competes and I don’t.
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Do you have any advice for other CrossFit wives?
AK: Just know that our husbands aren’t typical. They work extremely hard, are gone a lot, but they have more passion than most people could dream of. Be supportive and know that you are the constant in their life when CrossFit can sometimes be an unknown variable. Also, it’s important to have hobbies and things you like to do—CrossFit or not CrossFit. I love fashion and style—those are my hobbies.
Anything else you want to add about being a CrossFit wife? Clarify any myths or misconceptions others may have?
AK: We aren’t perfect. I don’t eat perfectly. I don’t have a six-pack and I don’t love to workout. I work out because it keeps me fit, but I don’t do it for enjoyment. I workout to eat things I like to eat. For me, CrossFit is one part of my life and routine, but my life doesn’t revolve around it. I want other wives to know that it’s okay if you don’t love the sport as much as your husband or even other wives. It’s okay.
Savanna Holmberg: Coach to 2010’s “Fittest Man on Earth”
The 2010 Games champion Graham Holmberg had a special coach by his side as he prepared for and competed at the 2012 CrossFit Games—his wife of ten months and love of his life, Savanna Holmberg.
Not only is Savanna a health coach, but she has been by Graham’s side every step of the way since he discovered CrossFit in 2008, made it to the Games in 2009, co-founded Rogue Fitness Gahanna and celebrated his first-place gold at the 2010 Games. Holmberg brought his A-game his fourth year back to the Games, taking 10th place overall. Savanna talks on how the same dedication, commitment and support found in CrossFit keeps their relationship on fire.
Describe life married to a CrossFit Games competitor.
SH: Life as a CrossFit wife requires a lot of sacrifice. You have to be willing to give up time with your husband so he can spend it in the gym. You have to sacrifice your time spent out with others because he’s always asked about what he does. It does offer great rewards. My husband has a great work ethic; because he owns a gym and competes, he is always there. His hard work allows me to work part time so I can take care of his needs and the gym’s needs.
How do you support one another?
SH: I am a holistic health coach so my passion is cooking and being as healthy as I can. We’re a great match. I make sure he eats whole foods and we incorporate super foods in our diets like maca powder, spirulina, goji berries and dark leafy greens. When training season kicks up, I support and push him at the gym. When competition comes around, I am his coach. I also do a lot for the business. It is all about teamwork. You can’t be selfish. You must be supportive even when you are not up to it. I always believe in him 150%.
How do you feed a machine?
SH: Graham doesn’t follow Paleo or Zone. He literally is a machine though! He could probably survive on pizza and chicken but I like to keep him focused on long term health. We drink fresh juice every morning made of carrots, celery, cucumber and an apple. Mainly because he needs to be hydrated first thing in the morning and fresh juice offers tons of live enzymes, vitamins and phytochemicals.
You’ve been to the Games before. Describe the experience behind the scenes.
SH: Wow, the Games is quite an experience. I am always mentally and physically exhausted when we come home. As Graham’s coach, there is no rest for me. When he is competing, I am as close as the judges will let me. When he is done, I get his recovery food and help him “roll out” as he likes to call it. I am back and forth with his family in the stands and keeping track of where he stands in the competition. Back at the hotel, I fix him dinner and make sure he has what he needs for the following day. I have to mentally prepare myself for the Games every year. But it is such an amazing experience! I think my favorite part about the Games this year was seeing much more support between competitors.
Being around the athletes before they compete is totally different than what anyone in the stands can see. You get to see them in their most serious moments. In the end, even if they didn’t do as well as they’d planned, they always cheer each other on until the end. I think men are too competitive in general! It is refreshing to see this side of CrossFitters.
We saw you carrying a cooler packed to the brim this year. What was in that thing?
SH: The cooler….It was more like four bags packed with every necessity an athlete could possibly need. Reebok did a good job giving them things they’d need. But there’s always tape, your jump rope (and then some), wrist wraps, knee wraps, protein shakes, pre-workout shakes…the list goes on.
How has your husband inspired you?
SH: He has inspired me to follow my passion for food and the business I built around it. I was there the day Graham and his business partner moved into their gym. I saw it grow and watched them become amazing trainers. They went from 20 to 150 members in under two years. Their work ethic is admirable. I love doing CrossFit and Graham has really helped me improve my lifts. He is an amazing coach!
What keeps you grounded in your busy life?
SH: My Faith. I need my alone time in God’s Word. We enjoy going to church together, but everyone needs some alone time. [And my motto for life is] Love what you do. If you don’t like it, do something different.
Have any advice for other wives, or spouses married to someone who is passionate about what he/she does?
SH: Find a hobby. It’s important that you stay true to who you are. Just because your husband is awesome at CrossFit, for example, doesn’t mean you have to be.
Hillary Froning: Celebrating Wedding and Games Anniversaries
What is it like living with not only the 2011, but also the 2012 “Fittest Man on Earth”? Hillary Froning knows. Rich Froning and his bride Hillary not only celebrated their one-year anniversary of marriage this summer, but also the one year anniversary of Rich’s 2011 win at the CrossFit Games. And they celebrated it in a big way—Rich making Games history as the first male athlete to win consecutive Games titles. Hillary shares the inside scoop from the Froning home and what makes Rich the athlete that he is.
How did you and Rich meet?
HF: Rich and I went to the same high school for two years. I knew who he was but we were never officially introduced. We met because we used the same hairdresser. I did my hair early Saturday mornings. Like any girl who goes to the salon early on Saturday, there was no make-up, hair a mess and shorts and t-shirt it was! While I was waiting, a car pulled in and it was Rich. After his haircut, he left to get breakfast for our hairdresser. When he came back, he saw my hair being colored and spiked up crazy. She knew what she was doing and she did it well! She is the funniest person I have ever met. I was not laughing that day but now it always makes me smile! That was almost four years ago. Rich and I have talked everyday since and now I can’t imagine a day without him.
Describe life married to an amazing CrossFit athlete?
HF: Being a CrossFit wife is amazing, stressful, encouraging, sacrificial and enjoyable. All the sacrifices I have to make to support my husband are worth it in the end.
What is most challenging in the marriage?
HF: The training schedule and time sacrifices are both challenging, especially for a newlywed couple but I’ve gotten used to it. Luckily, I had a chance to experience the Games before we took the plunge and kind of knew what I was getting into.
What’s the Games experience like for you?
HF: This was my third year at the CrossFit Games. It amazes me to see how much it has grown and changed in just a short period of time. It is an emotional weekend for me, as it is for any wife or family member of any competitor. You want them to do well and you know how hard they’ve worked to be there.
How do you feed a machine? Do you follow a Paleo/Zone diet?
HF: People ask Rich this all the time and are surprised to find out he has no strict diet and will never miss a dessert! He lives off peanut butter and chocolate milk…which he fixes himself, haha!
How has your husband inspired you?
HF: I have cut back on my Mountain Dew consumption because of him. (laughs) I have also strengthened my relationship with God and can thank him in part for that. My husband amazes me everyday with not just CrossFit but with his positive attitude, strong faith and huge heart that anyone can notice as soon as they meet Rich.
How does Rich support you?
HF: He encourages me to pursue my passions in life and is supportive of any decisions I make. I could not have asked for a better life partner.
Are there any myths or misconceptions others may have about being married to a CrossFit athlete?
HF:Not every CrossFit wife does CrossFit, and as everyone has heard before “opposites attract.” This couldn’t be more true with us! I have never played sports, been competitive and only had one pair of tennis shoes when we met and they were 6 years old!
Do you have any plans after the Games?
HF: Rich and I are taking a few days off after the Games to see California and then are going to Michigan to spend some time with his family.