What you can learn from the Fittest Woman in Germany

A while ago, I did an interview with Jessica Dannheimer who ranked first in Germany in the 2018 CrossFit Open, is therefore currently holding the official title “Fittest Woman in Germany”.

Jessica found CrossFit during an internship within her sports science degree at the TU Munich in 2012. Beforehand, she tried all the sports available but never sticked to anything and therefore also never made it to an advanced level in anything. Starting out with CrossFit, she was to weak to do a pull up or even push up with proper form. The fact that she made to a Top 50-athlete in Europe should give hope to all of us :-) Here are some things we can learn from Jessica who currently represents her home box and employer CrossFit eo, Munich.

#1: Sometimes, you really need patience!

Jessica describes herself as a slow learner when it comes to physical tasks. Learning new complex movement pattern such as the Olympic Lifts has taken her ages. Just talking with her I noticed how incredible happy and energetic she is all the time. Taking everything with humor, patience and perseverance might be her number 1 success recipe.

#2: When planing your training, listen to your body. Always.

Jessicas training looks as such: She comes to the gym and her coach tells her what to do, piece by piece. There is no monthly, weekly, or even daily plan. When let’s say starting with some squats, she does not even know if there will be another movement or a metcon afterwards.

Ok, this approach might be somewhat exotic and sounds pretty nerve-racking to me. But the interesting part about it is: There are no weights given beforehand, everything gets adapted on the go. This gives great flexibility when it comes to adaption to the day’s form.

What we can learn from that: Not everyday a load must be hit just because it is the RX standard. Not everyday has to be heavy, fast or hard. If you don’t feel great by the time you finished the warm up, it is time to take a step back and for example focus more on technique or range of motion. Don’t feel like you have wasted a session.

#3: Sleep before nutrition

Not saying that nutrition is unimportant. But if Jessica had to give one advice to people new to the CrossFt lifestyle, it would be sufficient sleep. 8 hour minimum. Sleeping, so Jessica, is in the beginning much easier to control than the diet. While adapting the nutrition takes a fair bit of knowledge you have to gain first, sleeping is a very simple thing to do. Just get dense curtains.

#4: Every body has a different comfort weight

Jessica weights herself daily, because it is a requirement of her diet plan “Working against Gravity”. Otherwise, she wouldn’t care about her bodyweight at all. She believes that every human has a different weight on which he or she can perform best. There are people who can lift heavy even when they are light and people who remain fast and jumpy even when they’re heavy. You have to find out in which range your highest work capacity lies. Don’t starve and don’t force feed just to see number x on the scale.

#5: Be open to the intensity

I always thought everyone can fall in love with CrossFit. Jessica disagrees. In her opinion, the number one prerequisite to become successful in CrossFit (and actually enjoying it) is to be open to the intensity. You have to be willing to go into the dark place every now and then. If you don’t want to have that kind of discomfort in your life, you will never have really fun with the sport.