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Muscle & Fitness: Do you train exclusively for CrossFit, or do you do other work?
Sarah Grace: I incorporate my own strength-training routine into CrossFit, and I also box. I used to box competitively, so that’s a big passion of mine. I used to compete in figure and came to CrossFit having done only strict bodybuilding. CrossFit appealed to me because of the athleticism involved. I’m training hard for the Games, and it’s my goal to make it next year.
That’s interesting. A lot of people feel strongly that it has to be one or the other.
I know that within the Cross- Fit world there are a lot of narrow-minded people who think CrossFit is the only way. And it’s the same thing in bodybuilding—a lot of people think bodybuilding is the only way. But the whole “functional training” argument is an ignorant statement. Because what is functional? Can you really classify what functional is? If you think about what you do on a daily basis, you can say that certain bodybuilding moves are functional. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Strength training— you need that to be better at CrossFit. And CrossFit isn’t for everybody and wouldn’t be something I recommend for certain people to do. So both serve a purpose.
What got you into the world of serious training?
In 2008 I was playing in the Lingerie Football League, and that’s kind of what got me started in this whole thing. I had just been told that I was making the team and would be the starting strong safety. I was in a light practice and I went after the wide receiver for an interception and wound up tearing my ACL, MCL, and meniscus; I completely blew out my knee. The doctor gave me this whole bleak story of how my life was going to be, and it really sparked a desire to come back bigger, better, and stronger than I had ever been. My goal was to lift and get my legs big and strong, and build my quads up, and the first doctor I went to said I would never be able to do it. I said, “See ya.” Then the following year I won my first women’s figure competition and I was squatting 225 for reps—I never thought I’d be able to do that. The injury was horrible at the time, but it motivated me beyond anything else to become better.
Does your physique intimidate a lot of guys?
I’ve been told that, yeah. But I’ve been told that my whole life. I’ve always been a strong girl and competed with guys, and anything guys could do I could probably do it better. As I’ve put on more muscle and built that kind of physique, you get a lot of people who admire you, then you get all kinds of people who make assumptions about you doing steroids. But I definitely think it’s been harder for me with guys, more so than before.
And what type of guys do you go for?
Athletic, of course. I need to have someone who shares the same interest in the gym and sports that I do. I’m an avid sports fan—football, especially. Most important, he has to be someone who is driven and hardworking.
So if you had to choose a CrossFitter or bodybuilder, who would you take, Rich Froning or Phil Heath?
Oh, Rich Froning for sure. But that’s nothing against Phil! No matter what, there’s an attraction to him, because it takes hard work and you have to admire what it takes to get to where he is as Mr. Olympia. But I couldn’t necessarily see Phil jogging with me for a couple of miles.