6 CrossFit Games Athletes To Follow — Even If You Don't Care About CrossFit

Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images.
This week is the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games, the annual competition that invites the "world's fittest" men, women, and teens to test their strength and endurance in a series of surprise challenges and obstacles. The workouts include having to bike, perform lifts, row, finish obstacle courses, and complete a certain number of reps of exercises — but the catch is that the athletes don't know what they're in for until the day of. In the end, the athlete who scores the most points gets crowned the winner. It's like the Olympics of CrossFit, only the Olympians don't know what they have to do until they arrive.
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If a gathering of the most intense CrossFit buffs in the world sounds, uh, miserable to you, that's somewhat understandable given the extreme reputation that CrossFit carries. But watching real people execute superhuman tasks is downright inspiring, whether or not you agree with the CrossFit ethos.
Ahead are some of the women you should keep an eye on this week during the Games, and follow on Instagram for some serious workout motivation.
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A post shared by Steph Chung (@stephchung2) on

Steph Chung @stephchung2

When Steph Chung first picked up CrossFit, she was working as a teaching assistant at Weill Cornell Medicine's Qatar campus. Now based in Abu Dhabi, Chung told The Barbell Spin, a CrossFit blog, that she loves being able to share her love of CrossFit with people in the Middle East. "Many boxes have expatriate coaches, so we all contribute aspects of CrossFit culture from our own countries," she said. "This creates a very unique community in the Middle East, which is still young and developing its identity."
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Tia-Clair Toomey, @tiaclair1

Last year, Tia-Clair Toomey won the CrossFit Games in a dramatic finish. The final challenge involved lunging while holding two 35-pound kettlebells overhead, and for a second it appeared as though her competitor had beat her by 0.19 seconds. Luckily, Toomey ended up with a higher score. Toomey's husband is her coach, and she told CNN his support helped her persist throughout last year. "We put in so much effort throughout the year and it's not just me, it's my family, my friends, Shane. They sacrifice so much," she said. "To be able to come out on top against so many fantastic and incredible athletes. It's something that will stay with you forever."
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Kara Saunders, @karasaundo

There's a misconception that all CrossFit athletes are tough and stoic, but Kara Saunders does a great job of showing the mental work that goes into competing as well. Saunders often captions her photos with an inspirational messages that will resonate with you even if you're not a CrossFit athlete. Last year, Saunders was the one up against Toomey, and many people will be looking too see whether or not the pair faces off again.
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Chyna Cho, @chynacho

After an ACL injury sidelined Chyna Cho's college swimming career, she turned to CrossFit and has been hooked ever since. Today, Cho is a five-time CrossFit Games athlete and owner of a CrossFit affiliate in Newark, California. Follow her for the impressive videos of her lifts — and for absolutely adorable pics of her pitbull named Kai.
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Working hard, so I can play easy @crossfitgames #crossfitgames Photo by @heber_cannon

A post shared by Annie Thorisdottir (@anniethorisdottir) on

Annie Thorisdottir, @anniethorisdottir

Hailing from Reykjavik, Annie Thorisdottir's nickname is "Iceland Annie." Thorisdottir has been competing since 2009, and last year ranked third in the women's division. She's beloved by fans who are drawn to her infectious positivity and smile. "I’m not preaching that everyone should try to become a CrossFit champion," she told Vogue in 2014. "But I want to show them that training can give them more confidence— and that being strong is beautiful."
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Tennil Reed-Beuerlein, @tennil_reed

Last year, Tennil Reed-Beurerlein ranked sixth over all at the Games, and won the obstacle course, but time will tell how she fares this year. "Before I made it to CrossFit Games, it was just my dream to go to the Games," she told AZ Family. "Once made it, something just switched where I was like 'I don't want to go, I want to win!'" Reed-Beurerlein is a 30-year-old from Arizona, and she has a daughter who occasionally makes appearances on her Instagram feed.
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