Perseverance has driven this all-around utility player from collegiate softball athlete to CrossFit competitor, box owner, and LA Reign member.

What separates a good CrossFit athlete from a great one?

Is it a sub 2-minute Fran time? A certain number of unbroken muscle-ups? Well-roundedness? Or super-human genetics and natural talent?

While all of these things are barometers of greatness and physical ability, there is arguably one trait that separates the elite of the elite from the box beasts and met-con mutilators: Unwavering perseverance. Chelsey Grigsby is a shining example.

The 26-year-old former collegiate softball player says she never considered herself great or supernaturally gifted for the sport of fitness. In fact, during her first workout back in 2011, she couldn’t even complete five push-ups. “I was so embarrassed! I walked away that day determined I was going to rise to the challenge,” Grigsby says.

As a collegiate softball player at Western Oregon University during her freshman and sophomore years, Grigsby was no stranger to competition and played to win. During her junior year, she walked away from softball, and CrossFit replaced the void. “It was a tough decision, but I really came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to do anything more with it following college, so figured I’d spend my time doing other things, like being a student,” Grigsby says.

With her eyes fixed on enjoying the latter part of her college years and training to become a firefighter, the idea of CrossFit competitor didn’t cross her mind until a couple years later, postgraduation. “I really didn’t start taking CrossFit seriously until 2013. I started working with a friend as my coach, who would write out some extra work for me to do on top of the class workouts. I really just had more time to begin to focus, after just graduating college,” Grigsby says.

And slowly, but surely, Grigsby built up momentum, from less than five push-ups to 18 bar muscle-ups. Around the same time, she also took the leap with her friend, Tyler Whitcomb, to open up their own affiliate: C-Street CrossFit in Ventura, Calif. Later that year, Grigsby competed at the 2013 SoCal Regional, where she took 11th overall in her first year as an individual.

“I was hooked. My CrossFit journey has really just been about putting in the training and discovering what I am able to do,” Grigsby says. “I wouldn’t say I am really great at anything, but as I began training more seriously, I found I am well-rounded at a little bit of everything: strength, gymnastics, conditioning. I am that utility player who can jump in and do the work.”

Since her first Regional, Grigsby has been in it to win it. She made an appearance at the California Regional every year, taking sixth place at both the 2014 and 2015 competition — just on the brink of making the cut to the Games. “It’s coming. I know it. This year, I was actually in fifth place the whole weekend, up until the last day. I was in tears on Sunday night because I fought so hard throughout the whole weekend and to have something like that slip away was pretty difficult,” Grigsby says.

Currently, a day in her life consists of doing what she loves and loving what she does. “I wake up early to coach all the morning classes, then get my own training in from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., take a break, then will coach some in the evenings before getting home later at night, eating dinner, then doing it all over again,” Grigsby says. “Nothing crazy, but the gym keeps me busy and I love it…although, I must say, there’s never enough time in the day.”

And while her primary focus is the 2016 CrossFit Games season, Grigsby is also a member of the LA Reign and plans to make an appearance in several local competitions, such as Crush Games in October and East Coast Championships in January.

Coach Dusty Hyland of DogTown CrossFit in Culver City, Calif., who has coached other high-profile athletes such as Noah Ohlsen, Val Voboril, Lindsey Valenzuela, Ruth Anderson Horrell, Kenneth Leverich, and Tommy Hackenbruck, takes care of Grigsby’s strength, conditioning and skill work. Mike Tromello, owner of Precision CrossFit in Agoura Hills, Calif., programs her Olympic lifting.

“My focus this year really is on building strength — that is where I am lacking,” Grigsby says. At 5’5” and 135 pounds, she says she possesses “…a pretty average build, but I’d say gymnastics is more of a strong suit, so I make sure that strength work is the first part of my workout that I target before doing any other conditioning or skill work.”

To support her work in the gym, Grigsby also hired a nutrition coach, Jason Phillips of the Dynamic Nutrition team, to ensure she is getting the fuel she needs to build strength. “Jason has been most helpful! I am your typical girl — didn’t want to eat toooo many carbs or anything like that, haha, but he told me, ‘YES! You need carbs!’ So I have trusted him,” Grigsby says.

Phillips adds, “Our goal has been to continue to increase her strength but not at the expense of capacity or gymnastics. We certainly have been successful over the last year. In addition, we periodize her diet relative to her competitive times of year. And because of the setup, she is able to leverage her hormone levels (specifically cortisol) best during competitive times.”

A typical day of fuel during this time of year might look like:
• Meal 1: Salami, Greek yogurt and some MeeNut butter before coaching the early classes
• Meal 2: Eggs, nitrate-free bacon, and rice or potatoes prior to training
• Post-workout: A high molecular weight carb (highly branched cyclic dextrin) along with whey isolate
• Meal 3: Meat, rice, and veggies post-workout around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.
• Meal 4: Meat, sweet potatoes, and veggies when she gets home from the gym.

“It’s pretty simple, but definitely have those carbs in there,” she says.

The best fitness advice she’s ever gotten? “Dusty reminds me to ‘trust the process.’” she says. “Day by day can be hard; you don’t always see the numbers move. But realize how far you’ve come, not necessarily how far you’ve got to go, and keep at it. You will get there.”

Chelsey Mashup

• Specialties: “I am an all-around utility player; I am not Lindsey Valenzuela strong and Kristan Clever gymnasty…I can take up the slack for barbell or gymnastics.”

• Gym bag must-haves: “My tape, hand grips, weight belt. “

• Role models: “In life, my mom! My mom was a single mom raising my sister and I, she held two jobs, and never showed us her stress. On the fitness side of things, I really like the Rock. He’s come up from a really hard life; but he takes the time for people who really want to meet him and takes time, in spite of his success. I always tell people that’s my Make a Wish if I ever got cancer: I wanna do a workout with the Rock.”

• Favorite benchmark WOD: “My favorite workout is Nutts (it’s a chipper for time: 10 handstand push-ups; 250-pound deadlift, 15 reps; 25 box jumps, 30-inch box; 50 pull-ups; 100 wall ball shots, 20 pounds, 10 feet; 200 double-unders; run 400 meters with a 45-pound plate). The last time I did it (a while ago), my time was 17:30.”

• Favorite movement: “Bar muscle-ups; I’ve done 18 unbroken.”

• Three random things we don’t know about you:

1. “I broke the entire right side of my face when I was 16 while wakeboarding and have a metal plate in my head now.”
2. “I went on “The Price is Right” and won a smoker and a trip to New Orleans right when I moved to California after college.”
3. “I am a coffee fanatic. I worked in coffee from the time I was 15 to 22, so I know every in and out of coffee. I am a coffee snob and if I go out to coffee, I only go to local coffee shops.”

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