Do you remember the first time you watched competitive Crossfit? Or when you first saw a female athlete and thought, “I want to be just like her”? When I started Crossfit, one of my first friends was a little petite thing with the drive and passion that was unmatched to anything I had ever witnessed in person.
As someone who was younger than me, Alexis Johnson was able to push me when I was insecure and push me harder when I needed it most. Watching Alexis put up fast times and big numbers in all of her lifts, then in the same day, telling me to add weight to my bar was instrumental in my confidence in the sport. I credit a number of early PRs to her for giving me the strength to believe that I can do more than I thought I could do.
But then a PhD program in Texas whisked her away from Detroit in fall, 2013, and as much as we were all devastated to lose such a positive and motivational athlete, it was probably the best thing to ever happen to her, a catalyst for something bigger for the petite girl. Now sponsored by MisFit Athletics and JekyllHyde Apparel, she is well on her way to the Games!
When I found out Alexis had secured her spot near the top of the South Central Region (finishing 5th in the world in 15.1, and 7th in the world in 15.3), I knew I had to chat with her; I wanted to find out more about what gets her motivated and what drives her, and be able to share some details on what goes on in the life of an up-and-coming elite athlete (who deep down is just a loving dog-mom and math student!).
What makes you get out of bed everyday?
My dog gets hungry. Just kidding… obviously coffee.
Your progress escalated quickly over the last few years; what pushed you to the “next level” from just enjoying training to being an elite competitive athlete?
I still train just for the fun of it! And as I progressed, my body was able to sustain a higher volume. That’s the best part… Spending more time in the gym training. Elite? Nah… I still have A LOT of room for improvement.
If you weren’t doing Crossfit, what would be your sport of choice?
Powderpuff football or pole vault.
You were ranked top 10 in the world after event 15.3; how did it feel being up there among household names in the Crossfit community?
Unreal. I had redone open workouts, and I had an idea of where “the current me” would have placed in previous years, but everyone continues to improve. You can only hope that you are improving faster lol.
Do you follow a strict strength training schedule at all?
No. I follow Misfit Athletics exactly how it is written. It is heavy on the conditioning, I am not naturally a strong person, and I was switching from Outlaw, so I was a bit concerned about my strength and Olympic lifts. But, this year I put 50lbs on my back squat, 30# on my snatch, 20# on my squat clean… And my endurance never suffered.
Daily schedule, active day to rest day ratio, diet, favorite/ least favorite movement/ lift.
I completely rest 1 day a week. Another day is a recovery day… Which means about 30 minutes of light biking or rowing.
Favorite movements: Anything on a pull-up bar, power cleans and squat snatches.
Least favorite movements: 125# anything and muscle ups.
Favorite WOD: Anything between 15 and 35 minutes… Even if I hate the movements.
@alecsmith8 challenge accepted. I can't fail when Chipoltle is on the line! They definitely aren't as pretty as yours, and I look more like a 🐋 doing pullups… but this 15 seconds is worth a burrito bowl 😜 #payup #illadmit #ittookmeafewtries #15secondsfeltlikeforever @allsportcrossfit @jekyllhyde_apparel
Three foods you can’t live without.
Haha pretty much. I eat about 1 meal at home, and I RARELY have time to cook. So I usually eat “grab and go” things. For me, this is a lot of Quest bars, raw veggies and chicken/pulled pork/roast beef. My latest obsession is chicken curry salad.
Do you plan the WoD out in advance? What’s the thought process when it doesn’t go as planned?
I always have a goal for every workout. In a competition, I usually plan my pace per round, and even when I will try to redline. I actually don’t plan what sets I will do, but instead, always break far before failure. I train like this most of the time… But, I also try to push my sets closer to failure… Otherwise, you never know what that is. Also, every couple of WODs, I even try to redline early, and hold on for dear life… This is both the worst and best feeling in the world.
When everything goes to shit… Well before this happens, I try to set a new pace and a new goal mid WOD. Once I start feeling sorry for myself, it’s game over.
Are you single? Is it hard dating when you can outlift the guys? Do you have time for a social life between school and training?
I am dating Jordan Cook… I can’t out lift him, but I did beat him in a few open WODs. He and Travis Williams have been awesome training partners all year. Social life outside the gym?… No…. But I tried that a few years ago… It wasn’t for me. I did gymnastics through high school, so I grew up spending my spare time in the gym. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Did you ever go through a “body image” phase like a lot of the girls do when your body started to change?
I’m an extremely obsessive person. During college, what I considered “healthy” eating became an obsession. I wouldn’t eat what others had cooked, and it was just a disaster. I became really thin (92#) and hated it, but I just couldn’t shake the obsession. When I started Crossfit for the first time, I started to realize that I couldn’t do what others could because I wasn’t fueling myself properly. It led me to realize that my lack of energy was affecting all other aspects of my life, and my obsession was even ruining relationships with others. But… I still couldn’t shake it.
About a year after I graduated, I began CrossFit for a second time, but this time I wanted to “do it right”. I met incredible friends at Hines Park Crossfit, made a commitment to fuel my body properly so that I could PR everyday.
And soon enough, that’s what started happening. I had energy for WODs, I could stay late and lift extra, and I loved it! (Before I barely had energy for a 60 minute class). I transferred my obsession to the gym, and I’m okay with that. **Watch this video for more**
What has had the largest impact on your performance from 2 years ago to now?
1) The 30 day 30 minute squat program. It helped my mobility and was a game changer.
2) The decision to follow MisFit.
3) The programming is spectacular, but I also worked with them to clean up movement. I realized that CrossFit isn’t just about getting stronger and faster, but more importantly moving correctly and making every rep look the same.
Felt like Christmas earlier this week when all of my @misfitathletics gear arrived. Thanks you guys! Finally a bag big enough to fit all of my stuff! And I cant wait to rock my first pair of crew socks (i think that's what they're called 😜) I heard you need a pair to be #legit #teammisfit #lookthepart
Do you have a personal mantra, or something that gets you through that pain cave and shuts out everything else?
For me, once I’ve turned it on, and gotten to the point where I’m breathing heavy, and it hurts, I can stay there forever. But, getting there isn’t always easy. First, I always pick a time to beat, and when I want to redline. Second, we’ve all regretted not pushing harder in a WOD… I never want that feeling again.
I CrossFit because I love it. I love people who I have met and the positive community. I want to continue to get stronger, and perfect every movement.
Would you have any other questions for Alexis?
Would you believe in two years from now you could be a completely different person, inside and out?
What is your biggest struggle that keeps you from going to the “next level”?