The Dark Horse
If you have ever felt like you were destined for greatness, you might be able to relate to 24-year-old Crossfit athlete Andrea Ager.
Ager is on the verge of ranking high on a short list of athletes named “The Fittest in the World”, according to the Crossfit Games. She is even being called the “Dark Horse”, because no one was expecting her to do as well as she has done so far in preparation for the games that take place this year in July. She has been one to watch because she has, in a way, been told she won’t make it, that many are stronger than her. Yet she has, time after time, been proving people wrong.
The 24-year-old sped into the gym she trains at wearing little else than a Lululemon pair of short shorts, a pink halter top, and threw her long golden brown hair into a pony tail as she ran in. She greets with a hug, as if you’ve known her forever. The 5-’9”, 145 pound athlete is extremely muscular, yet lean and feminine. She wears star-shaped earrings and lip gloss, and has a big, bright smile. She also smiles with her green eyes that she exaggerates with mascara. She is very energetic. A little all over the place as well, she speaks fast and smiles a lot when she talks. She uses her hands when talking and shifts back and forth as if even in her moments of not training, she is somehow still training.
In college, Ager ran track and field for Colorado Mesa University. Looking to keep up with her athleticism, she kept hearing about Crossfit, a full body workout mixing gymnastics, cardio, and strength training all in one exercise. She thought to give it a try since she heard it would give her a challenge.
“I was instantly hooked,” says Ager. “It worked my body in ways no other physical workout had ever before.”
Now, a year after arriving in California to coach for Brick Crossfit and compete in the games, she has come a long way. Last year, Ager competed with a team and did not place.
“It drove me to strive for better,” she says. “I knew I had it in me to compete as an individual and place. I just knew I had to train harder, so, that’s what I’m doing.”
Ager trains three or more times a day and there isn’t a day where she rests.
“Whether it’s rowing or running, or anything physical on what would be a rest day, I do it,” says Ager. “Resting gives your opponents the upper hand, I don’t want to let them have that.”
Competition is something she does have. Among her strongest competitors is Annie Thorisdottir, who won the Crossfit games in 2011. A close second is Kristen Clever. Ager is currently ranking third fittest in the world.
“I look up to those women, and love competing with them. I love that people said I wouldn’t make it as far as I have and proving them wrong,” Ager says. “I have beaten them in some competitions already, I stand a chance against them now.”
Not everyone thinks she will place this year but that’s not stopping her.
“Last year a Crossfit announcer predicted the top 5 girls for 2012 and I wasn’t one of them,” explains Ager. ” He said, ‘if you aren’t one of those top five, just stay home.’ I love that he said that.” Ager throws her hands upward, and her green eyes widen. “It has pushed me to go so much harder and fight for this when I might not have before.”
With her competition in the games and fast-growing fame, she has not only begun developing her own fan base, but has a few people who are not fans.
“On top of new-forming fans, I have ‘haters’ which I heard are just confused admirers. I get tons of encouraging emails, I also get hate mail,” she sighs. “It used to bother me, but I have had to learn to laugh it off. It’s like, you are the one who’s watching what I’m doing, it’s not the other way around.”
You can’t perform like Ager without incorporating the nutrition of an athlete as well. She follows the Paleo diet, which according to her, is the way our ‘ancestors used to eat’. Anything you are able to hunt or gather is what is acceptable on the diet.
“I eat meat and vegetables, a lot of them,” she says. ” I eat nuts and avocado. I don’t eat grains or dairy, and I don’t measure the amounts of the food I do eat, I just eat when I’m hungry.”
The combination of proper nutrition and training seems like the perfect formula for success, but Ager remains realistic about how to approach the competition.
“I will do well in some areas of the games” she says. “And some areas, I just won’t because of my size.”
The competition is split up into endurance and overall brute strength. Being a track athlete in college has kept her on the higher end of the endurance scale, but as far as lifting heavy weights, that’s where her competitors have got the upper hand so far. She is currently drinking milk in hopes to add some more dense weight which would help her lift heavier in the games. Overall, she hopes she will do enough to get her to place on that podium.
Though it would be great to place in the games, her main satisfaction comes from helping people further their careers in Crossfit and as athletes. On top of her own rigorous training schedule, she coaches several hours a week at Brick Crossfit in Los Angeles.
“I really love helping people,” Ager says. “I love watching how far they come and grow after I’ve been training them for awhile. Whether it’s for the games or just being athletes in general, it’s really satisfying, more so than any competition I can ever be in.”
Holly Holton, a fellow Crossfit enthusiast and Ager’s first friend in California, has also had the opportunity to train with her and watch her interaction with many clients.
“I’ve been fortunate to train with Andrea,” says Holton. “I’ve watched her grow as an athlete and as person. So many women look up to her because she’s so strong yet still feminine. It’s encouraging. It’s inspirational to know we can be strong and still be beautiful and that’s what Andrea is teaching women, you can be both.”