Kylie Massi is a bit of a local legend. Well, a global legend, actually.
Why? Because, at the age of 45, this humble, hard-working Northern Beaches mum-of-3 qualified for the CrossFit World Games in California, in the Masters category.
And she won.
Yep, Kylie can legitimately claim to be the World’s Fittest Woman (aged 45-49). What an amazing achievement. The things that she can do with her body are astonishing, and puts any of us who say ‘I’m too old to try that’ to shame.
She is really a massively brilliant role model to us all. I’m just in awe of her basically – she trains at the same CrossFit gym as me, although in a slightly different class haha.
I thought you might like a little fitspo today, so I took some time with Kylie to find out a bit more about her, and take a good look at her lovely enormous shiny gold medal.
First of all, Kylie, super congratulations on winning GOLD at the CrossFit Games, what an amazing achievement…
Thank you. I am obviously stoked but it still seems a little unbelievable.
You were ranked number 2 in the world before leaving for California. Did you feel the pressure to bring home a medal?
A little bit. I had a good run at both the CrossFit Open, and then the Masters qualifier, so going into the Games ranked 2nd was always going to come with some expectations.
I tried to put this to the back of my mind and focus as much as possible on just getting out there and doing well, and the outcome was what the outcome was. Most people were very good with me as even though they perhaps were expecting a podium finish, they kept this to themselves and I really appreciated this.
Ultimately, all of the competitors had done a lot of training and preparation for the games, so a lot of it came down to your mental state and how you tackled things on the day, and obviously luck. But the truth is the calmer you are, the better, so you need to wipe out a lot of expectations from your mind.
Cool under pressure, love it. And at what point during the Games did you think ‘I might actually win this’?! Day One?!
I was very happy with how my first day events went, in particular once I got past the Thruster. I was nervous about that one in particular but very happy with my 2nd place.
Day Two was great for me and I was feeling more confident on a podium finish but it was not really until Day Three that I felt I had this, and probably when I was told, I had pretty much won regardless of the outcome of the final event.
Your kids were at home cheering you on in the early hours of the morning. I bet they’re super-proud of their mama…
Very much so. It was hard to leave them at home but with school back in full swing, it was hard for them to take a few extra weeks off.
Every morning they were calling up my husband to find out how I went on the first event, they would then watch the replay, and then watch the second event live. I kept on getting text messages from them giving me tips, “don’t give up”, “push hard”, “concentrate on what you are doing” so clearly they have taken notice of everything we tell them when they are doing sport!
We have been warned though that next time, they are coming with us. We did miss them a lot and they would have loved the arena and the buzz.
Oh, I can’t wait to see you ALL there next year, Team Massi! Their friends must think they have the coolest mum in town. I bet they all behave when they’re at your house?!
Their friends all think I am super fit and have lots of muscles, hopefully this is a good thing but you never know when it comes to teenage girls! They are all really well behaved but that’s just because all their friends are great kids, not because of me.
Is life back to normal now? Has anything changed since winning?
We landed in Sydney and I was driving the kids to school a few hours later, so life at home went back to normal immediately. I also had a lot of catching up to do, in regards to the kids lives, and home.
We joke a lot of times saying that as a Master, this is a part-time thing at best. Life goes back to normal pretty quickly as you have a family to take care of and you need to do the cleaning, cooking, shopping, etc.
We did have a few fun days post competition, watching and cheering Sammy and the Crossfit Athletic team (and all the Aussie and Kiwi teams) but it was back to life very quickly.
What has changed since doing well, is having amazing women like yourself asking me questions on myself, and I have had so many people congratulate me who I barely know.
I am so amazed at the prospect of being an inspiration but I’m also grateful that I can give someone in their forties a reason to start moving, because if someone like me can do well, they can too. That makes my hard work so much more meaningful.
I’m not surprised you’re getting the attention, you are absolutely an inspiration. Even more so that you’ve not been doing this your whole life… How long have you been doing CrossFit?
Started back in July 2011 and only got a bit more competitive since late 2013.
You obviously fell in love with it. What is it about CrossFit that gets you so pumped?
I love the programming, the coaching, the challenge and the community. Being an ex gymnast I have an internal drive to master any move that I struggle with. CrossFit is exactly that. There is always something to improve whether it’s weightlifting, gymnastics or a simple box jump (which I suck at).
We are very fortunate to have such great coaches at CrossFit Athletic so you know you are on the right path to improve and perform, but perhaps the most satisfying thing is realising how many friends we make because of this common bond. And after being in LA, you realise it is pretty universal.
When did you decide you’d like to compete?
I did one of the AllStar competitions back in 2013 and it was a lot of fun. I then had to fill in for someone at the final competition a few months later. It was one of my most nerve wracking experiences and I was worried I did not really belong there and was going to let the team down.
We did pretty well and I felt good, and since then I have competed more actively. This year was great having had the experience of Regionals as part of the team, and Masters in the Games.
What would your top tips be to anyone who wants to switch up from participating to competing?
I think the first thing is to take stock of what you are good at, and what you are not, and then have a conversation with one of the coaches and let them know what your goals are.
You need to be objective as he/she will be and you cannot take this personally. And then you need to listen and work pretty hard, get ready for more volume, eat/sleep well and learn to rest and recover.
It is a journey and for some it will take a short period of time, for others a much longer timeframe. You need to be patient, committed and realise you will make mistakes, have set backs, and get frustrated but it is great fun and worth it.
What sacrifices have you had to make in order to become a World Champ?
I have tried to keep my life as normal as possible but sometimes I feel I spend more time at CrossFit Athletic than I do at home, and no doubt I do.
Luckily my family are all very much into CrossFit as well. I have given up some things that I love doing in order to train but these are my choices and I have plenty of time to revisit them in the future. I try to keep everything even, and my first priority is being a mum, wife, friend and then CrossFit.
Besides big shiny gold medals, what do you get out of the sport?
I get a lot of satisfaction from doing CrossFit, I love the thrill of improvements and I know I am setting a good example to our children.
Over the last few months, I have had a few sponsors pop up (True Protein, and Move Train Perform) and there are a few others that are talking to me. This feels really strange but as long as I believe in the product or service they are providing, I am happy to support.
CrossFit is often the butt of people’s jokes and is largely misunderstood. Why do you think that is?
I think that with many sports or activities, there are always stereotypes that are perpetuated by social media, competitors and others. In CrossFit, there seems to be a lot of focus on how dangerous it is and how passionate people are about the cult.
As it relates to the danger element, there are a lot of CrossFit gyms around the world and some are very good and some are not so good, so you have to do your homework and pick the one that is right for you. You need to find the one that gels with you, and care about your safety. Quality varies whether it is a CrossFit gym, fish and chips shop, electricity company, etc.
As for the passion, well for most people, results are there and that gets people excited so they will always talk about CrossFit. Hard to balance this one sometimes but I’d rather talk to someone who is passionate about something than not.
Absolutely. I love that your kids train alongside you and your hubby at the gym. Do you think you’re the first of many Massi medalists?
Well, all my kids will tell you that they have a lot of medals and trophies from gymnastics and other sports, so I am the 4th Massi medalist.
My hubby still jokes that he has yet to win a medal of any kind!
Millie and Livvy both do CrossFit, for slightly different reasons (stay in shape, and feel good vs I want to go to the Games), and I think that is great. Seb is still doing competitive gymnastics and does some CrossFit type exercise during his gym sessions, and will occasionally do a session with us.
As for Enrico, well he was impressed with the older athletes at the Games and is angling for the 60 plus age group eventually. I hope he can get double unders by then.
Why is being fit so important as a mum?
I think being fit is important because you are living your life as a role model every day to your children. I know as a mum how easy it is to not look after yourself, but we all want to be around to not only see our children grow up and to meet their children but to also be able to actively particpate in their lives. Being healthy and fit gives you that.
Children learn by example and I want my children to know that being fit is fun and normal.
Totally. And you don’t need to be a World Champion to achieve that, right? If you were just taking yourself off to the gym and working hard regularly, that sets such a good example too.
You’re an amazing role model to your kids. You’re also such a good role model to women everywhere, who think they’re too busy or too old to achieve something intensely physical; who inspires you?
My grandmother, she is 94 yrs old, active and a delight. I speak to her weekly and remind myself daily about how lucky I am to have her. I like meeting and talking to people that are passionate about things, be it family, sport, work, art, CrossFit. People that are living their lives fully really inspire me.
Everyone knows it is not the easiest thing in the world to manage and balance but we owe it to ourselves to live.
And finally, what’s next for the World’s Fittest Woman?!
All of the 45-49 Masters women made a pact that we would all be back in Carson next year, so training has started already as I would hate to miss this party. In the meantime, I will do a few CrossFit competitions and try to remain injury free.
Personally I want to make sure I take time with each of my three beautiful kids so they know how important they are, and my partner for life also needs his fair share of attention.
Fitting in time for the odd/regular glass of champagne with friends is up there with the must dos, as is taking time now summer is fast approaching to spend some quality time relaxing and enjoying the magical place we are lucky enough to live in.
Thanks for your time, Kylie.