Interview: Haley Adams on Finding the Joy In CrossFit Again After Her Year Away

(Editor’s Note: This is the second part of our interview with Haley Adams. You can read part one here.)

For Haley Adams, returning to CrossFit after a year-long hiatus required a change in mindset. It required her to view the sport — and herself — from a different angle. It also required her to learn to have fun again.

“When I took my break [in 2023], initially, I thought I was done,” Adams tells the Morning Chalk Up. “I didn’t think I was going to go back; I never wanted to do that again, and I didn’t ever want to feel like that again. I was going to Planet Fitness with my mom, walking on the treadmill, and doing a bunch of random bodybuilding exercises. That was all I did for fitness.”

“I was having a great time going and walking and listening to my headphones, and I did not want to set foot inside a CrossFit gym or touch a barbell.”

Things soon changed as she learned to embrace her training again.

“Honestly, now training is like therapy — I enjoy it so much,” she says joyfully. 

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“Having [coaches Hayley and Josh Murillo] here is wonderful; they make it so fun every day. It’s nice just to have people to rely on and know that they care about you and make the call to shut it down if necessary,” Adams says.

“We just have so much fun. And I mean, of course, you have bad days, but it’s nice to have them around when there are bad days. It is a night and day difference for me.”

Communication and trust have played the most significant part in Adams’ evolution. It all started with the simple idea of breaking fitness down into its simple parts to build it — and her — back up.

Her coach, Josh Murillo, describes it: “I think that’s kind of where we started — let’s go to the gym and have as much fun as we can possibly have. And then go from there.”

Adams elaborates: “I think I’m very protective of my head right now just because I know what triggers me and gets me into that headspace. So, making sure we eliminate all those external factors or things that would send me back into that kind of headspace is the biggest thing, at least for me. Because I just don’t ever want to feel like that again.”

Communication is a two-way street between the athlete and the coaches. “[It’s] our job to get her right up next to her threshold and try to push those limits to do the sport, right?” Josh asks. 

“I think that’s what she relies on us for. But at the same time, we need to be conscious and listening. One day, we might have to bump something, or sometimes she’ll come in and say, ‘I’m fired up — let’s go!’” 

This was something that Adams had been missing in her training.

“I’ve never really had that before,” she shares. “Before, even if I felt tired or worn out, it was too bad. I would say to myself, you suck, keep going, train all day. Now I have reassurance from them saying it’s ok to shut it down and step back.”

“Having [Josh and Hayley] and trusting them to help me make smart decisions has been a massive game changer.” 

The 2024 Comeback

As of this article’s publication, the The 2024 CrossFit Open is just days away. So what happens next for Adams? What is the big picture and her goal moving forward? 

It’s simple: “I’m just going to take it year by year — I’m not going to have a 10-year plan. I just want to stay healthy. Stay happy. Stay fit,” Adams says.

“I want to go out there and truly enjoy and do my best and know that I’ve worked super hard this year. I think the main thing is just to really enjoy it and be proud of myself and make other people around me proud.”

Adams is not the only young CrossFit athlete to step away. Earlier, in February 2024, Mal O’Brien posted on her social media that she would sit out the 2024 season while currently taking care of her wellness and finding balance in Hawaii. The two athletes are friends, and Adams could not be more proud.

[Related: Breaking Down the Most Common CrossFit Open Movement Combinations]

“I literally cannot be happier for her,” Adams beamed about O’Brien. “She deserves to feel peace and be happy and whatever that looks like for her like. I’m very happy for her — she deserves it.”

Adams hopes that her personal growth will help others, especially other young women. 

“I think it gives people the clarity and the vision that it’s okay to take a step back and don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just have fun and also be a kid,” Adams says. “I grew up way too fast and put way too much pressure on myself. I think it’s a lesson for adults not to push these kids until they break because it’s starting to become a trend.”

She continues: “We push them to death until they’re 15, and then they burn out. They are lost and sad and experiencing all the same things I did, but a lot of people just don’t talk about it and deal with it. So I think it gives people peace to see that they can take a break and still be good. It doesn’t mean it is over.”

But just because Haley has taken the pressure off herself, don’t think for one moment she has become a pushover.

“I don’t think she’s ever signing up for anything she isn’t trying to win,” Murillo says.

Adams says there’s one big difference spectators will see when she takes the competition floor.

“The most recognizable change will probably be my face,” Adams laughs. “I actually enjoy what I’m doing now. I would get the comment that I looked miserable when I was competing, and I was. Now I’m looking like I’m enjoying it because I am. I just love being out there and doing it for myself.”

We cannot wait to see you smile out there, Haley. 

Featured image: @crispydudes / Instagram

The post Interview: Haley Adams on Finding the Joy In CrossFit Again After Her Year Away appeared first on BarBend.


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