Nicola Simpson was a late starter to Crossfit but that hasn't stopped the Crossfit Leeds Athlete from becoming one of Europe's top Athletes.
Here's an insight into what started her passion for Crossfit and how she intends to attack 2014!
KGB: Hi Nicola thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule of being a top Crossfit Athlete and Firefighter to talk to us today.
How long have you been doing crossfit and what was your first experience of it?
NICOLA: I was on the same team as Sam Briggs at the world Fire Fighter games in South Korea, I always remember a conversation at Manchester airport where she told me about Crossfit, I remember saying I'd like to train that way but think I'm a bit too old to be taught so many new skills.
My first WOD was in Korea when Sam introduced me to Franpee, DB Thrusters and Burpees. I didnt know it was meant to be exhausting so I just got on with it. We did several workouts other the time we were there, I was hooked before I got home.
Crossfit Leeds was opening around the time we got home, Sam took me down and introduced me to Mike Rawlinson, things went from there. I trained for about a month and then was on the team for DWF, we made the final and I didn't even know half the movements!
KGB: Bit of a baptism of fire then! But what great people to get you started in it.
Did you have a background in any sports or activities before starting crossfit?
NICOLA: I had a brief spell with amateur boxing, I won't claim to be the first female to box under amateur rules but I was definitley there at the start. There was once a couple of girls on This Morning claiming to be the first, I had already boxed by then. It was very strange it all had to be kept hush hush. I had 4 bouts and 4 wins.
I come from a sporty family so it was normal to 'go training'. I was always involved in sport as a youngster, I probably didn't do much during my teenage years but as an adult I've always done something. I took up rugby league in my twenties and eventually toured twice with Great Britain. Once in Australia then the following year the World Cup in New Zealand.
There was some cross over to Thai boxing, which started as pre season training. I first fought in 2004, I ended up having around 27 fights, in UK and Thailand. I fought in the world championships 3 times, winning bronze, silver in consecutive years and finally I got my gold, that might have been 2008. I won a Pro British title. Spent time training and fighting in Thailand, which will be happening again for one last time this year.
KGB: Wow so your used to having to a high level of mental and physical toughness then.
You’ve had a pretty good year this year narrowly missing out going to the games by placing 4th at this years European regionals. That’s 7 places higher than last year.
How did you approach this year in terms of goals and training. Did it differ much from last year?
NICOLA: I don't really think my training had changed. I'm always aware you need to work your weaknesses so I do! Sam Briggs had done a lot of programming for me leading up to London ThrowDown, the open, regionals...and I'd trained with Sam and Hayley Knowles whenever I could. Sometimes you don't realise how far you have come until a test such as the regionals. I was determined to stay relaxed this year, it's all got very big, big build ups,TV's, everyone getting excited, nerves can burn so much energy, I held the thought "it's a WOD just at a different venue, it's nothing I haven't done before." I think this worked, I really enjoyed this years regionals more than I have any other comp.
KGB: It looked like a great event, sadly we could only watch it online but we were cheering you on all the way through.
So what are your goals for next year we’re guessing get that lucrative 3rd place and to get to the games?
NICOLA: Yes, I kind of surprised myself coming 4th, so this years trainings main goal is next years regionals. Sam Briggs is programming for me and she knows my weaknesses, I'm into my 4th week of training towards next year. I said before this year that I would go team next year but realise this s not really an option now. I've accepted that this year my life will be in the gym, not that it wasn't before, but I am going to push extra hard. We have recently set up ‘Team UK’ which consists of all athletes who made the regionals and others who will next year, we are trying to train together regularly, this will be like a competition in itself.
I am competing in the European Inferno with Sam Briggs as a partner and we're also involved in Team comp in Australia in November. I don't want to compete in every competition that come up because I feel it stalls your training, once for qualifiers then again for the comp. I look forward to the London ThrowDown in January, the open and regionals.
In October I have a month in Thailand, I'll train Muay Thai and keep a strength programme up during this time, if I feel good enough I finish my month in the ring.
KGB: Sounds like its gonna be a very hard, very busy but exciting 12 months ahead.
A lot of crossfitters are big advocates of the paleo and or Zone diet. What nutritional plan do you follow? Does it change when you’re getting ready for a competition?
NICOLA: I follow the principle of Paleo, I avoid processed rubbish, I don't eat bread, pasta, rice, etc. I eat plenty of meat, veg, nuts, fruit. And eggs, i eat eggs every morning! True Paleo would be no milk but I drink whole milk a lot. I wouldn't restrict myself so that I couldn't eat out and I have occasional treats. I have toyed with the idea of zoning but find measuring food restricting and annoying, I'm not into it.
KGB: What advice would you give women who are thinking of getting into crossfit in general and secondly what advice would you give to women who want to compete at a high level of crossfit too?
NICOLA: I always try tell all women that Crossfit will work for them, I'm still trying to convince my own mum. Unfortunately a lot of what people see on TV and Youtube is elite athletes, this doesn't always motivate women who are so far away from that level, you try tell them 'but if you wanted you could do that' I think Crossfit wants to be inclusive to everyone maybe it should use some footage of an average class at a box. If any women was thinking of getting into Crossfit, I would tell them to go for it, the hardest part is making the decision and going to the box for the first time, after that you'll be hooked so the addiction will take over.
Funnily enough I have a friend at the minute, from the Thai boxing scene, she has just got into Crossfit, obviously she has a very competitive nature and has seen what is going on. She wants to compete but at the minute is overwhelmed by all the movements. I've told her not to worry about the weight she is lifting but to concentrate on technique, once the technique is there the PB's will start coming. I said she should pick 2 skills to focus on and crack and not to worry about them all at one, some have skill transfer anyway. Also record everything, that way when your getting frustrated you can look back and see how far you've come. Everybody starts some where and all those individuals she's been watching on Youtube have been in her position now.
NOT SURE WHAT CROSSFIT IS THEN CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK FOR OUT INSIGHT TO IT.
All photos courtesy of Jens Koch Photography