Flexibility for Fitness

Meet Marshfield High School senior Emma Cary, CrossFit’s 2019 “Fittest Teen on Earth,” who is entering her senior year with a full Launch schedule and plans to continue training and competing in CrossFit at the international level.
By Savannah Waszczuk

Access Launch: When did you start taking Launch courses?
Emma Cary: I took my first Launch class my sophomore year because Spanish wasn’t being offered the hour I needed it. There was only one place to fit it into my schedule, and I really wanted to take it! I took even more classes my junior year to give myself more flexibility.

Access: Why do you prefer Launch’s flexible learning options? 
E.C.: I spend so much time training that I really prefer the ability to determine my own schedule. If I train too late, I’m not going to be sleeping as well, and everything struggles because of that. With Launch, I’m able to do my school work at night time, and that gives me more control over both school and training.

Access: Walk me through a typical day in your life.
E.C.: Last year I would wake up around 8 a.m., eat breakfast and take some time to journal and get my day planned. Then I would train from about 9 to noon, eat lunch and then go to school for my two seated classes. I’d come home around 4, have a quick snack, train until 7 p.m., have dinner and spend about 3 hours working on my online classes. This year will look a little different, though, because I’ll be full-time online with Launch.

Access: How did you get started training with CrossFit?
E.C.: My dad started CrossFit in 2014. He would always come home and tell me about his workouts, and I’d grab a broomstick and milk jugs and do my own versions of them. One day he said “You know there’s a kid’s class, right?”  I went, and it turned out that I really found my passion.

Access: Where do you find your motivation?
E.C.: Right after I started with CrossFit, I decided that I wanted to be the best that I could be. A few months later, I learned that competition was an option. I went and watched a local competition, and I thought, ‘Wow, these people are amazing!’ I’ve always been a very competitive person, and at that moment I thought, ‘I don’t just want to compete. I want to be the best.’ I have that same belief with my school work. If I’m struggling with a class, that makes me want to succeed even more.

Access: What competitions have you participated in?
E.C.: I started competing at local and regional competitions when I was about 12. I did my first major competition, which was at the CrossFit Games, in 2019. That’s when I competed in the 14-15 age division and won the title of “Fittest Teen on Earth.” The games were canceled in 2020 because of Covid, and this year, 2021, was my final year being eligible for the teen division. I decided not to go that route, though, because I wanted to push myself more. I decided to compete in the women’s category—most of the women were 25 to 30.

Access: What was it like competing against women who were so much older than you?
E.C.: Well, there were 150,000 women participating in the open this year, which was the first stage. I made it through that and two more stages and am now in the top 40. I’ll be competing in the final round at the end of July. It’s really different competing with people older than me, but it isn’t intimidating, because I know that I have worked just as hard or even harder to get there, and I feel that I deserve it just as much or even more than everyone else. 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Emma did well and placed 16th overall in the July competition. Great job, Emma!

Access: What’s your favorite thing about CrossFit?
E.C.: I’ve met so many amazing people my age throughout this sport. These people understand me on so many levels. I think this is a sport that brings out the best in everyone.

Access: What’s your favorite thing about Launch? 
E.C.: Definitely the schedule flexibility. I love having the option to get ahead on my rest days, which are always Sundays. That way I have a little more time to breathe throughout the week. Also, I do a lot of traveling for competitions and training camps, and I love being able to get ahead before I leave instead of having to catch up when I get back.

Access: What is it like to work with Launch teachers?
E.C.: I have really liked all the Launch teachers I’ve had so far. They’re always really good with questions and being able to explain things over text. In some ways, it’s been almost better for me, because there isn’t always someone for me to ask immediate questions to. I’m forced to ask my own questions and do my own research. I think sometimes that helps me understand things a little more fully.

Access: What do you do in your free time?
E.C.: I love to read sports psychology. Even when I’m relaxing, I like to feel productive and like I’m learning. And reading something that applies so directly to me is really cool. 

Access: What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic?
E.C.: I learned that I really love having a routine! It was easy during the first part of quarantine for me to feel like I had plenty of time to do everything, but really I felt like I was wasting a lot of time. Then it would come to the end of the day and I wouldn’t get things accomplished that I wanted. I think that’s why I’ve done so well in online classes—I can make time for what will benefit me later. 

Access: What would you recommend to other students who are considering taking Launch courses?
E.C.: I would tell other students to really know themselves and know if they’re self motivated. If they’re not, I’d tell them to figure out ways to work on that and to hold themselves accountable. You have to want to learn, want to grow and want to get better, and you can’t do those things if you’re not pushing yourself.

Access: If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?
E.C.: I would love to be able to give my younger self advice, so maybe time travel. I would go back and warn myself that there will be a lot of lows in this journey, but I’d also encourage myself to understand that this will really be the time when I grow—when I’m struggling. I’d tell myself to find opportunity in the setbacks, because they don’t have to define me. 

Access: What’s your favorite social media?
E.C.: Instagram is all I have, so Instagram! 

Access: What are you looking forward to for your senior year?
E.C.: Keeping the momentum going in my training. By being full-time Launch I’ll be able to have complete control of my day. I know that when I’m able to be the best in the gym, I can maximize what I’m capable of in all areas of my life.