Rugby Player & Crossfitter: Rachel Flynn

Rachel Flynn Rugby and Crossfitter

Don’t let Rachel’s beauty fool you. She’s smart, tall, strong and tough as nails. A former player of the 2 time Womens National Premier Rugby Champions, the New York Rugby Club – Rachel takes a minute of her busy time completing her Masters, nay, PhD! out west in Cali to describe her experiences as a Crossfitter. Rachel, thank you for taking the time.

Q: Why do you think CrossFit is becoming so popular?
A: I’ve been trying to figure this one out myself. I think it has less to do with the actual workouts. I’ve felt so lucky over the years to have the rugby community. You can show up in any city and the rugby team takes you in, finds you jobs and takes you out for a beer. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have these experiences. CrossFit is kind of like that. It creates communities in a world where people often live isolated lives. Athletes and former athletes are naturally drawn to CF. But I think it also appeals to people who have been bored at the gym, working out on their own, not seeing fitness gains or the weight loss so many people strive to achieve by working out. I have heard a lot of concern though about the growing popularity simply because in order for it to work you have to have trainers (and affiliate owners) who can program for all fitness levels.

Q: Why might CrossFit be an excellent program for rugby players?
A: I would never recommend that rugby players only use CF as their training program. However, I do think that 2 days a week CF can be an excellent addition to a training program that also includes sprint, sprint interval, agility training, a well-rounded strength program and rugby specific fitness drills. That said, I think that short dynamic workouts that CF provides are really good for the explosive power and core strength that is needed for rugby players. It is also fun competitive fitness culture that rugby players are drawn to. Rugby players, typically, know how to push themselves to the limit. Training at a CF (with good trainers) can help push strength goals safely.

Q: What is the most important aspect to one’s diet when training for speed and strength?
A: I’m still struggling with finding the answer to this. I kind of don’t think there is one solution for everyone. I am gluten-free and dairy-free. I’m strict about this having a “cheat food” I love about once a month and I usually regret it. I also keep a really low sugar diet (no processed foods). This mostly works for me as long as I’m getting enough protein and fats. I know people swear by the Paleo diet, but I don’t know anyone who is able to sustain it over time. I’ve certainly gotten leaner and built more muscle when I’ve done Paleo for 4-6 weeks. I’m about to work with a nutritionist to figure out a better solution for me. She is a CF trainer but is in school for nutrition. I guess I’ll keep you posted on what she says.

Q: What are good recovery ideas?
A: As I’ve gotten older this is really key for me to having good workouts regularly. My personal list is tons of water, supplements like fish oil and L-glutamine, yoga at least twice a week, one rest day a week, lots of foam rolling and stretching before and after workouts, sports acupuncture/massage 1-2 a month and 8 hours of sleep (that is what I need and I make sure I get it). I played rugby about a month ago and had to resort to ice baths, Epsom salt baths and ibuprofen.

Rachel is currently training at CrossFit San Diego.