Meet Ilia November's athlete!
Interview by Natalie Christopher
CYPRUS GIRLS CAN met up with Ilia and her Mum to hear all about Ilia's journey into CrossFit!!
Natalie: Hi, it's great to meet you both!
Ilia, tell us, you are just 14 years old and you are already so involved in CrossFit! How old were you when you started and how did you find out about it?
Ilia: I used to see people doing CrossFit at the gym my Dad used to go to and it looked like fun. I wanted to try it.
I remember the first time Ilia tried Crossfit. It was a hot August day and she was just 12 years old. I took her to the gym, there was no air-conditioning, just fans. It was boiling. Ilia came home smiling. She took it seriously from the beginning and has been devoted to Crossfit ever since.
I: I really enjoyed it from the start. I started classes and although everyone was older than me, I made friends and bonded with the people. I wanted to go to the gym every day!
Ilia’s Mum: The guys doing CrossFit in the gym had shaved heads and tattoos, but this didn’t intimidate Ilia at all! In fact now she sees them as her big brothers, like family.
I: We always train in groups and
at the gym we always have fun together!
N: That’s so great, but so unusual for someone so young! What did people think about this when you first started?
I: My Mum worried initially about me being to young to start this kind of training, but my Dad read up a lot about it and he was really supportive. Besides, when I started, everything was done very easily, for example I wouldn’t lift a heavy bar, just a broom handle, to practice technique. We built it up slowly.
The 10 elements of Crossfit
N: Did you do any other sports before you started CrossFit?
I: I used to swim with the Nautical Club of Limassol, but I wasn’t very motivated by it and got bored quickly.
N: How often do you train now?
I: My coach, Panayiotis Giorgiades, plans my training schedule.
Now, I train for 1.5 – 2.5 hours a day, 6 days a week. I have school in the morning and then go to the gym at around 5.30pm.
I: A training session involves a warm up, followed by a set number of reps of an exercise, or as many reps as you can do in a specific amount of time.
There are about 20 people in our group and so there is always someone to train with. Sometimes we’re just in pairs or sometimes we can be a group of 7 training together. We can do different numbers of reps, or more/less weights, if we are at different levels. This format is nice because it means we can train together even if we are not the same level.
In the summer holidays I would train twice a day (morning/afternoon), 3 times a week, in preparation for the Games.
A really great thing about crossfit
is that you can walk into any crossfit gym
anywhere in the world and people are always
friendly and willing to train together
It's like having an extended family!
the ultimate goal of anY CrossfitTER...
The REEBOK Crossfit Games!
The Games is a four day event, with athletes competing in 2-4 events a day.
There are 9 different events- although you do not know exactly what each one will involve until a few days beforehand.
The age groups in the CrossFit Games are: 14-15 // 16-17 // 18-34 // 35-44 // 45-49 // 50-55 // 60+
400,000 people signed up for the online competition in 2017.
As it is an annual event, you can compare your results to previous years.
From all those that applied, the top 40 from each age category pass through to the next round, the Regionals.
In this stage, there are online qualifiers again – you have 4 days to submit your workout.
The top 20 from these go through to The Games, resulting in around 700 athletes competing.
Ilia is the first
Cypriot or Greek CrossFitter
-- male or female --
to make it through to The Games!
N: Tell me about your experience at The Games!
I: The exciting thing about CrossFit is that you never know what you’re going to get. I think that’s why so many people like it!
This year at The Games they had something completely new in the obstacle course: climbing over hay!
The workouts are announced anywhere from 1 week to the day before. I got a chance to try the obstacle course the day before.
I had the attitude of “Don’t think. Just go!”
It was stressful but fun!
I prefer cardio to weights. I am strong in the run/swim/run (2.5km/500m/2.5km). Having a swimming background helps me with this. At the Games I can 3rd in this event.
N: Are there many other girls at your gym that you train with?
I: I used to train with my friend Tatian, but she has now left Cyprus to study.
In the morning my friend Krystal trains while her children are at school.
I’ve taken other female friends to try CrossFit, but they think it’s too extreme and they don’t like it.
Although there are many CrossFit gyms in Cyprus, not many of them are high level. When I went to Sweden, I went to the gym and saw so many strong women there, not like in Cyprus.
Cypriot women don’t want to be too
muscly or strong.
This is a big reason that puts a lot of women off getting involved in Crossfit; they think it will lead to them becoming broad and unfeminine.
N: So do you think body image is a limiting factor to get more women in Cyprus involved in CrossFit in Cyprus?
People used to tell me not to do CrossFit
because I would end up bulky and look like a guy
The funny thing is now people say positive things about how my body looks and they tell me I look great!
The “ideal” body perception of women - skinny, not muscly or strong- is everywhere, we see it every day on commercials and on TV.
I: I hope and think that things will change on this topic… There is no ideal body type.
The great news is that the first female owned Crossfit Gym in Cyprus has opened!
Check out Crossfit Lock Down in Paralimni by Andria
N: What are your plans for the future?
I: I turn 15 in December, which means I have one more year of competing in the same age category as last year.
Right now, I am doing the qualifiers to go to the teens ThrowDown in Holland.
In the longterm, I will definitely continue CrossFit as a hobby, but maybe not professionally. I would like to go to University to read Sport Science.
Thank you for sharing your interesting story Ilia!
All the very best for the future and CYPRUS GIRLS CAN wishes you good luck in your Crossfit career!