I first learned about Anníe Thorisdottir in 2009 as a spectator at the CrossFit Games. She stood out like a sore thumb to me when I saw her with her strawberry blond hair, fair skin, insanely athletic complexity, and the most fierce look I had ever seen in a competitor before.
Anníe grew up in Iceland with her parents and three older brothers. Besides being a very active girl growing up, the competitive dynamics with her older brothers fueled her fire for winning. If you ask any of her family members, you will quickly learn that Annie does not like to lose and will do whatever it takes to come out victorious in any competitive setting. It doesn’t matter whether it is sports, a pull-up contest, or video or board game, Annie always brings her champion mentality with her.
Anníe started gymnastics at a young age and pursued it competitively for several years. In addition to gymnastics, ballet became an important part of her physical expression until she noticed that she didn’t have the typical dancer’s body and eventually decided to focus solely on her gymnastics career. Even though she was good at gymnastics, her stature, athleticism, and powerful nature led her to pole vaulting, where she spent several years training and was on track to represent her country on the international circuit.
Anníe’s curious nature and drive to constantly test herself was heightened when she attended a local boot camp class in Iceland as part of her strength and conditioning program. She became a regular at the boot camp classes and was approached by one of the coaches who mentioned that she should try her luck at a CrossFit competition. Without knowing what CrossFit was, Anníe attended the competition and won. That victory earned her a spot in the 2009 CrossFit Games in Aromas, California. Annie didn’t podium at the Games in 2009, however, she returned in 2010 and took 2nd place and then went on to take first 1st in 2011 and 2012, becoming the first two-time Fittest Woman on Earth with back-to-back victories.
After these victorious years Anníe was faced with adversity in 2013 when she suffered a back injury which left her out of contention for the Games. She worked her way back from that injury and was on the podium again in 2014 taking 2nd place. In 2015 she suffered heat stroke during the Games and had to withdraw from competition. She returned in 2016, but her overall ranking landed her in 13th place. Many fans had discounted Annie’s fire to win and were shocked to see her come back in 2017 to take 3rd place. Annie has now qualified for the 2018 CrossFit Games and is gunning for the top of the podium in Madison, WI.
Beyond Anníe’s competition career she continues to pursue and train CrossFit as a lifestyle and is co-owner of CrossFit Reykjavik in her hometown of Reykjavik, where she coaches and educates members on the benefits of living a fit lifestyle. She has become a role model for girls and women around the world.
Growing up as an athlete my entire life and having had the chance to explore different disciplines of sport, I never felt like any of those sports allowed me to truly dig deep into who I truly am as an athlete. I love to win, but focusing solely on one thing has never been my style. CrossFit’s versatile approach to developing athleticism keeps me in a state where I constantly feel challenged, and for me that is fun, as I feel like I am never done.
Does CrossFit define you, or do you define CrossFit?
CrossFit is my sport and has defined part of how I live my life today. I was fortunate enough to step into the sport right as it started to blow up, and I have grown with it. Seeing how all the athletes and coaches that are part of the sport and the CrossFit community have contributed to the growth inspires me every day to continue to push forward and help define how future generations will experience this approach to fitness and lifestyle.
What are 3 benefits of CrossFit?
- You become cultured, as you get to interact with a very diverse group of people that you maybe would never get a chance to outside of the gym and sport.
- The group dynamics and challenges are always fun.
- You gain a new appreciation for what health really means and what the body is capable of doing.
What are 3 focuses of your training and practice?
- Positive attitude. No matter how hard the problem, there is always something good to be gained.
- Challenge myself. I push myself to find the new me as an athlete. I thrive to become who I want to be tomorrow.
- Make things look good. I believe that beauty is an expression of strength.
It has been a pleasure to witness Anníe being a trailblazer in the sport of CrossFit while pushing the boundaries of what the human body is capable of. I am excited to watch Anníe compete at the Reebok CrossFit Games 2018 this August.
Contributor: Carl Paoli
Note: This interview is an updated excerpt From Free+Style, authored by Carl Paoli & Anthony Sherbondy and is protected by copyright.