As a nationally ranked CrossFit athlete, Laurie Nelson can do nearly 10 times more pull ups than the average 30 year old man.
Nelson, a 66-year-old Pepperdine University professor, can complete 10 continuous pull ups. Most men half her age can only do one, or even less.
“I’ve been a person who exercises all my life,” said Nelson, who will compete in the Reebok CrossFit Games this weekend. She is ranked ninth in the world among CrossFit athletes over the age of 60.
As a national fitness organization, CrossFit has gyms that employ core strength and conditioning techniques.
Nelson qualified earlier this year for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, which are set from July 13-15 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
“You can look at Crossfit and think ‘Oh, that’s not for me.’ I’ve had lots of problems and it’s been great for me. You have to just give it a try,” Nelson said.
It took Nelson a year after her good friend Michael Anderson opened to finally decide to give it a try. She now trains four to five times a week for an hour and then goes on a hike or some other type of cardio.
Nelson, who has taught at Pepperdine for 38 years as a professor of sports medicine as well as an adviser for pre-med students, met Anderson at the university in the 1980s.
"Michael Anderson was my student at Pepperdine, my colleague here on the faculty teaching physical education classes for several years, and one of my hiking partners," Nelson said in a recent interview with the Pepperdine Graphic.
Anderson said he brought up the idea of her joining his CrossFit gym while they were hiking.
"From the minute she got there, she gradually progressed. She is a natural athlete," Anderson said.
After competing this weekend, Nelson said she plans to return to her normal workouts and the activities she enjoys.
"It strengthens you in every single muscle in your entire body," Nelson said. "I've gone back to skiing and the things I’ve done when I was younger."