Homework, teaching her dog tricks and perfecting her squat snatch—it’s all just a typical day in the life of 13-year-old Emma Cary, shown here competing at the Rail Splitter CrossFit competion where she placed first.
Emma Cary’s mornings start out much different than those of most 13-year-olds. “I work out at 6 a.m. every day except for Sundays and Wednesdays,” says the seventh-grade student at Marshfield Middle School. “On Wednesdays I go after school. We also have a home gym, so I do something in the evening as well.”
These early morning workouts happen at CFC CrossFit in Marshfield, the gym where Emma’s father started training a few years ago. “In May 2014, my dad started going to CrossFit, then he’d come home and tell us about it,” Emma says. “I always thought it sounded fun, and I wanted to be doing something active, so I went with him about a month later and tried kids CrossFit.” After her very first visit with her father, Mike Cary, Emma was hooked, and she couldn’t get enough. Her mom, Marla, joined in on the workouts as well, and now the whole family works out at CrossFit.
As time went on and as Emma was able to keep up with her grades—she’s a straight-A student and enrolled in a gifted program—her parents let her continue to train and even compete. “I did a competition in Warrensburg a few weekends ago for ages 12 to 14,” Emma says of the CrossFit Believe competition. And she brought home first place. She has placed in several other competitions as well, including a recent second-place finish at the Festivus competition at CrossFit Raw Steel in Springfield where she competed against adults and was ranked on a national leaderboard. Read on to learn a bit about how the 13-year-old makes it all happen.
417 Magazine: How do you balance training with your school work?
Emma Cary: When I have homework at school, I’ll try to hurry up to get it done in study hall or right when I get home so I will still have time to do an evening workout.
417: In addition to physical benefits, what else do you get from CrossFit?
E.C.: I love the feeling I get whenever I improve. We have benchmark workouts—that means you do a workout, then six or eight months later you do the exact same workout to see if you’ve gotten any fitter. If you beat your time by 10 seconds, or 30 seconds, or a minute, even—it’s just fun to look back and think, “Yeah. This has been paying off. I have gotten fitter.” I have so much fun doing it. I remember that I smiled all the way through my first workout.
417: Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
E.C.: “I may not be the best yet, but I will not be outworked.” It’s easy for me to see people on Instagram that are my age and be like, “Oh, wow.” They may be going faster than me, or they can do more pull-ups than me, or they’re lifting heavier than me. But I know that I just have to work hard. Even though they’re working hard, too, I’ve got to outwork them to be better than them.
417: What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about starting CrossFit?
E.C.: I would recommend CrossFit to anybody on any level. Maybe you can’t go really heavy, but you just go in and do what you can do. There will be a movement that you can’t do, but you just do what you can do. Nobody really cares what level you’re at, as long as you do it. As long as you show up and you put in the work.
417: What are your long-term fitness goals?
E.C.: I want to win the CrossFit Games. It’s all over the world, and it’s like the Olympics of CrossFit.
417: What hobbies do you have besides CrossFit?
E.C.: I also love dog training. I have an Australian Shepherd named Jim, and he’s my best friend. He knows about 120 tricks. My favorite trick is probably “go shopping.” He has this little toy shopping cart, and he’ll push it around and put fake vegetables in it.
417: What do you want to be when you grow up?
E.C.: I’d like to do something in sports medicine. Maybe be a physical therapist.
417: What do you like most about doing CrossFit?
E.C.: I like getting better every day and just seeing those improvements in myself. And I like it whenever you think you can’t do something, but you can do it, and you finish it. It’s just such a great feeling.
417: What is your favorite food?
E.C.: I don’t eat it too much, but I like pizza. Mostly I try to just eat healthy. I don’t really have a diet or follow any specific plan, but I just try to eat what makes me feel good.