Fit competition

Kelly Guillory played several sports in junior high and high school, and she has worked in fitness clubs for her adult life. That kept her in shape, but didn’t satisfy the desire to compete.

“I used to teach aerobic classes, and didn’t do a whole lot of weight lifting. Then, in the ’90s I began to do a lot of weight training and thought I wanted to be a bodybuilder,” she said. “That didn’t work out. I didn’t like the subjective nature of the sport.”

Five years ago, however, another trainer at the gym where she worked heard about the CrossFit program and worked to get certified to teach it.

“He sent me an email that sounded like it came from a little kid at camp,” said Guillory, who lives in Slidell. “He was so excited and said, ‘You have got to do this.’ I said, well, if he is that excited about it, I’ve got to try this.”

CrossFit combines strength and cardio work in a variety of unconventional exercises — jumping onto boxes, handstand pushups, one-legged squats, to name just a few. Guillory did more than try it, more than get certified to coach it. Guillory has competed in CrossFit at the highest level, and next week she’ll do so again.

For the third consecutive year, the 47-year-old will compete in the international 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Women’s Masters (age 45-49) division July 23-25 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Making the finals means Guillory is already among the top 20 in the world in this division, where she finished third in 2011 and 12th last year. “I want to get back on the podium,” Guillory said. “I’ve increased my cardio engine. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Olympic lifts. It just depends on how the events stack up. I know I have some weaknesses right now. Time and age take a toll on us all. I have a shoulder that doesn’t always behave properly, but I can push through it.”

To qualify for the CrossFit Games, athletes perform a five-week series of workouts, either at a CrossFit-affiliated gym or by submitting a videotape of the workout. At the Masters level, the top 20 are invited to the finals. Younger competitors qualify for regionals, from which the finalists advance.

Guillory competed in the open category in 2010 against athletes half her age and placed sixth in her regional, which sent four women to the finals. She still has younger athletes try to best her in the Forged Steel CrossFit group, which operates in a building at the Cross Gates Family Fitness Center in Slidell, where Guillory is a personal trainer.

“I tell people it’s where old athletes go,” she said. “When you grow up and you can no longer play team sports, what do you do with that competitive spirit that you once had? CrossFit allows me to be competitive not only with people my own age, but this morning in CrossFit I participated in the 8 o’clock class and a 19-year-old came in and she looked at my time for the 9 o’clock class and she said, ‘I’m going to beat that time.’ She fell about 25 seconds short. It’s pretty cool to be able to kick butt of people the same age as my kids.”