Name: Tiffani Carter-Thompson
Hometown: Teaneck, NJ
Age: 44 (“I turn 45 in March, and I made a list of things I want to accomplish by then. A major one is a strict pull-up!”)
Occupation: Vice President of Global Communications for the wellbeing beauty brand Philosophy
CrossFitting Since: June 2014
What’s your favorite WOD or movement?
My favorite movement is a clean, hands down. There’s something about lifting weights as part of CrossFit that I really enjoy — I like the strength you build, and I like the mechanics of the multiple movements in order to do it right. A deadlift or a squat is one linear movement, but something about the clean is more technical, and I like that part of it. Karen (150 wall balls for time) is my favorite WOD — I really like wall balls.
And your least favorite?
Anything that has to do with burpees would be, hands down, my least favorite!
What’s your WOD music of choice?
I would say anything old school hip-hop, but I also like that in the morning, Maillard and James play Frank Sinatra or Bob Marley — there’s something very calming about warming up to that kind of music and not going straight into the hardcore hip-hop, because it’s 6:30 in the morning.
So how do you get yourself to the gym so early — what’s your routine?
I wake up at 5:30. I have a Philips sunlamp that gradually mimics a sunrise for 20 minutes before my alarm goes off, and the alarm is birds chirping. I hate getting up in the dark! Then I go into the living room and check the WOD. I’m already signed up and definitely going to go; I just want to be prepared. I don’t like to not know what I’m doing. I turn on the lights, drink a glass of water with lemon and take 15-20 minutes to lie on the couch and wake up. Then I brush my teeth and get dressed, and I’m out the door by 6:15 and at the gym by 6:25, with hopefully enough time to stretch and roll.
Is CrossFit your main way of being active or do you combine it with other forms of exercise?
I would consider it my main workout, but I do combine it. In the warmer months, I like to run, usually on weekends. I also have a Peloton spin bike that I ride once a week. I’ve also been training with James, doing weightlifting every other Saturday.
How important to you is the community element of CrossFit?
I was just thinking about this — I’ve always been one of those “community gym” people. I used to go to a gym in Brooklyn every Saturday with a group of women; you have a routine and you become friends. I’ve always been that way, so I think what I love about CFPH the most is the fact that you really find commonalities with everyone you work out with, and that creates real friendships.You start to develop relationships with the people you see every day — that keeps me motivated, especially by the other women. I like getting there on Saturdays — it’s crowded, Kylie’s there, her kids are there, you start to get to know people, and it’s like a home base, another place you feel very comfortable in. That keeps me motivated to continue to go and makes being there so easy.
What’s your fitness background? What were you doing before CrossFit?
I didn’t do sports growing up, but I was a dancer from 7 years old to about 22. When I was 22, I used to be a substitute hip-hop instructor at Steps on Broadway — a little trivia. I was always interested in rhythmic movement; I’d go to an aerobics class at Jack LaLanne! [laughs] Kylie’s going to read that and die laughing. But in New Jersey, it was like the gym to go to! Later, bootcamp classes became popular, and then classes with weightlifting. I’ve always liked to try what’s new and interesting.
How would you compare CFPH to prior gyms?
There’s no gimmick, no pretense, and it’s not based on how you look. I tell people there are no mirrors at CrossFit, and they’re shocked. I don’t even remember what it’s like to work out in front of mirrors! But you’re so focused on the work, learning, the movement, and cheering on everyone else in class. Also, over time you’re going to learn to perfect many different moves. That’s the beauty of it: You’re not going to get all of it right away. You’re always evolving and learning. One other thing that makes CFPH different is the extras: You can do one-on-one training, PT with Beatrice, and now gymnastics. It’s a very well-rounded fitness community.
What advice do you have for people just getting started?
Know that anything is possible, and CrossFit is literally for every body. At no point should you ever doubt your ability, and your capacity, to accomplish things and to learn things and to grow and get better. My advice really is to not be so self-critical and hard on yourself and consider it beyond your reach. It’s within everyone’s reach, and you have to be interested enough but also willing to be patient and learn along the way — patience is definitely the one thing you have to have. But you’ll start learning and accomplishing new things right away. Two other tips: Don’t be late, and take care of your hands!
What has CrossFit done for you?
It’s made me a stronger person. It’s amazing to me how much I can accomplish that I didn’t think I could. You walk into the box and see the WOD on the board and you’re like, This is going to be terrible, there’s no way. But in the end, you’re like, I just did that! It’s such a feeling of accomplishment, and it’s made me feel like a more well-rounded person because I have a stronger body and mentality. And I like having a stronger body — I do like the muscles!
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