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Cindy Kelley takes first at CrossFit Games
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Cindy Kelley brought home a first place finish from the Reebok CrossFit Games in the Women's 50-54 Division. - photo by Photo Contributed

Cindy Kelley entered the world of CrossFit competition two years ago at the age of 49, taking what was essentially a healthy hobby and turning it into a goal-driven source of motivation. She finished eighth at her first Reebok CrossFit Games and second last year, but in the 2015 games, as part of the Women's 50-54 Division, Kelley trumped her past performances with an overall first place finish.

“There are some of the same competitors, but there's always someone new and someone different,” Kelley said. “The key is to be as well rounded as possible.”

Entering the competition at the ninth position in her division, Kelley climbed the ranks to champion status by placing first in three of the competition's seven events and earning a total of 606 points. For reference, the runner up in Kelley's division scored 586 points.

“You try to train for what you think you're going to need, but sometimes they throw in stuff that you're just not as good at,” Kelley said.

The CrossFit Games events are made up of a broad range of functional movements — moving large loads, long distances, quickly. A key element to the games is the unknown. The athletes engage in a series of challenges unknown to them until right before the competition.

Learning from her first two competitions, Kelley made sure she was prepared for anything this time around by adding extra workout routines to her already packed schedule. As part of Turlock CrossFit, Kelley works out five to six days as week for about an hour or two each day, but to get ready for this year's CrossFit Games she pushed herself further, adding shoulder and upper body exercises into the mix.

“People say, 'Oh my God, that's so crazy. I could never do that.' But that's not really true,” Kelley said. “It's a great sport and it keeps you in shape.”

Now, as the 2015 Women's 50-54 champion, Kelley has a decision to make — will she defend her title next year? The glory is great, and success is savory, but preparation for high-level competition takes time and dedication.

“Every year I say, 'I don't know, this is my last year.' Then I go back,” Kelley said. “I don't plan on not training anymore, but as far as competing it's a whole year away and there's a lot of things that can happen. I'm going to keep training and see what happens.”

For now Kelley is content with her status as CrossFit champ.