Amanda Barnhart: "The Highest Expectations of Myself"

Amanda Barnhart(1)-Amanda-Barnhart

Sean (00:00):

Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On this episode I talk with two-time CrossFit Games competitor Amanda Barnhart. You know they say it’s lonely at the top, but what if entrepreneurs didn’t have to go it alone? Now you don’t have to. Chris Cooper has compiled more than a decade’s worth of hard-won wisdom into 15 free guides on everything from marketing and retention to hiring and firing. You can download them all for free at TwoBrain Amanda Barnhart has competed at the CrossFit Games for the last two years and she is quickly becoming one of America’s rising stars. She took 15th her rookie year and followed that up with a seventh-place finish in 2019. We talked about her collegiate swimming career and how that led her to CrossFit, the ankle injury that nearly took her out of the Games last year and her memorable showdown with Tia Toomey and the one-rep-max clean event. Thanks for listening everyone. Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to do this today. How you doing?

Amanda (01:09):

I’m good. Good as I can be, I guess. This time is a little bit weird right now, but yeah, I cannot be complaining cause I’m, you know, really fortunate. So, yeah, I’m doing pretty good. Thanks for having me on.

Sean (01:21):

Oh, it’s my pleasure. How are you dealing with everything that is going on with the coronavirus right now when you having to basically shelter in place?

Amanda (01:31):

So our gym has been closed for almost three weeks now, so I haven’t been there. I know that a lot of people think that Games athletes just like get access to gyms, you know, anyways, even though they’re closed, which is not the case for most of us, I think. So yeah, I have not stepped foot in the gym in almost three weeks. I have a pretty decent garage set-up going on. But yeah, it’s still super weird. Like just being home all day and being stuck, you know, just going back and forth between basically the kitchen and the garage is what it feels like I do all day long. And my husband’s home right now, so that’s kind of weird too. Like he’s kind of training with me. I mean give or take. He does like half of it with me, which has been great, but it’s still not the same like not having people. Yeah, it’s just super weird and not really having much to look forward to right now has been I think a struggle for a lot of people, but yeah, that’s kind of been the biggest thing. It’s like you don’t really want to look forward, you just kind of want to take it day by day because if you look forward it’s kind of scary.

Sean (02:31):

As far as your training’s concerned, since obviously the Games are up in the air if they’re going to happen or not, how are you able, or how are you trying to keep your training to a level at which you know you’re going to be able to compete if you have to?

Amanda (02:47):

It’s a struggle. I was talking to Kristi Eramo the other day and I was like, I haven’t felt like I have had a legitimately good training day since this all started. I’ll like have little good pieces where I’m like, OK, that was better than last week. We’ll take the small win, like my front squats felt like a thousand pounds the first weekend in the garage and then the next week it was a little bit better. And then the next week it was a little bit better. But I definitely still haven’t felt like myself, even doing things that I’m good at, like a front squat would normally be something that I’m like not super worried about in my training. And that even feels hard. So the metabolic conditioning and all the gymnastics work I’ve been doing just feels really, really, really hard. But I just keep telling myself like the only thing I can for that day and hope that it gets better each week, which it has been. And I know that everyone is struggling right now. So it’s not gonna benefit me to beat myself up about, you know, little things that aren’t feeling great right now because it just is what it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Sean (03:50):

Yeah. What was your athletic background before you found CrossFit?

Amanda (03:55):

So when I was really young, my mom started my sister and I in ballet and swimming I think were the first two things we did and then started competitive gymnastics. And I did that for probably 10 years. After competitive gymnastics, I kind of, I think it was like that teenage teenage age range, which is where a lot of females quit gymnastics just because of like growth spurts and emotions. And I don’t know, I just found that a lot of people quit at that age. So I was probably 13 or 14, quit gymnastics and then started playing volleyball and started running track. And so that’s what I did in high school, volleyball, swimming and track. And then I decided to swim in college for four years, which is kind of a shock to most people who knew me cause they thought for sure I was going to play volleyball in college. But yeah, so I swam and yeah, that was my background. I played a little bit of everything at some point. I think I played soccer when I was really, really young and tee ball at one point, like just did a little bit of everything to kind of like test it all out. But I wasn’t a huge fan of contact sports. So I think that’s why I went the gymnastics and the volleyball route. Like you don’t really—even though volleyball is a team sport, you’re not really touching other people.

Sean (05:10):

Why do you think that swimming was your route to colleges instead of volleyball?

Amanda (05:17):

I think it had a lot to do with I played club volleyball too, so I played volleyball almost year round and I loved it. But I went on like a lot of recruiting trips and a lot of like camps and I just had these like, and I had a lot of ups and downs with coaches. I had like coaches changes a lot through high school, coaches changes a lot through my club sports. And then I would go on all these college visits and see a team of 20 girls and six girls on the court and I’m like, Oh my gosh, that girl has never touched the court this whole game. And that was really scary. Like and volleyball is very, I mean is very biased towards if the coach likes you, like you don’t—there’s no statistics. I mean there’s statistics on like, you know, percentages of kills and stuff like that, but there’s no like proof of this girl should be on the court versus this girl.

Amanda (06:08):

So it’s a lot of like who the coach wants to play and that’s kind of scary when you’re devoting four years to a sport and taking a risk of not playing until your senior year or something like that. I just saw too much of it. And I wasn’t willing to take that risk. So yeah, swimming, it was like, well, all you have to do is prove yourself with the time in the pool. You know, everyone’s going to get to swim. And if you prove yourself to be on a relay, you’re going to get to be on it. Whether you’re, you know, just cause you’re fastest, so much more objective and less subjective, which made me feel better about making that decision.

Sean (06:40):

Gymnastics and swimming are notoriously difficult sports, especially at a young age. What kind of work ethic and values did those two sports instill in you as a kid?

Amanda (06:49):

Gymnastics I think is where, and a lot of CrossFitters say this, but it’s true. It’s like where we learn to train really hard and where we learn to like working out a lot. So like I remember when I quit gymnastics, I couldn’t find anything that fulfilled that. Like we trained four hours a day and nothing, no other sport did that. So I felt like I wasn’t ever working out enough after I quit gymnastics. So that’s why CrossFit is so enticing to gymnasts cause they’re like, awesome. We get to train really, really hard. One of my favorite parts about gymnastics was the conditioning that we did. Usually it was at the end we’d like practice for three hours on all our events or whatever. Then we’d have an hour of conditioning, which was usually like running, strict pull-ups, hollow holds, legless rope climbs, like all of what CrossFit is.

Amanda (07:34):

So once a gymnast sees CrossFit, they’re going to be like, Oh wow, this is so cool. So I think gymnastics really taught me that. Teaches you a lot of body awareness too like, I mean it takes so much body control and awareness to be able to do any of those skills. So that transfers really, really well. And swimming was just like pure mental toughness. I think. The mundane boringness of swimming is really, really terrible. Especially cause I swam a lot of distance in college, which was not fun. I mean we would be, our workout for the day would be 5 one-thousands, and like that was it. We just stare at the bottom of the pool and like have to hold this pace for—it was so boring but hard at the same time. So I think that that taught me like one, how to pace things, which sometimes backfires for me in CrossFit, I think I pace too much, but the swimming in me definitely taught me how to like be able to grind through a certain amount of uncomfortableness and just hold it for a long time. So definitely thankful for that experience even though I’d never want to go back to college swimming again.

Sean (08:38):

How did you go from being a very successful division one swimmer to now being a CrossFit athlete?

Amanda (08:43):

I think college swimming was where I first picked up a barbell, and that was when I realized that I liked lifting. I specifically remember doing power cleans in the weight room with the men’s team and I was power cleaning as much as most of the guys were.

Sean (09:04):

That’s not a shocker.

Amanda (09:04):

I think I power cleaned 175 like my freshman year of college. And this is with a men’s barbell, no chalk, you know, that like scenario in the weight room. So ever since then that’s when I realized like, wow, I kind of like this barbell thing. Like this is really fun. And I don’t remember how I saw CrossFit, but it was at some point during college that I saw it and I was like, Oh, I think I would really like this and tried it once and was instantly hooked and like obsessed with the lifting part of it and couldn’t wait for college swimming to be over so I could actually do it consistently.

Sean (09:40):

When did you decide that you actually wanted to be a competitor?

Amanda (09:44):

I think immediately I knew I wanted to compete, but I thought that that just meant in, you know, like local competitions and be competitive within the gym I was going to. I mean the first gym I went to, I was competitive on day one. So I knew like, Oh, this is really fun. I love competing. I’ve always been super competitive in any sport that I did. So I think that’s as far as I looked. I do remember being obsessive about watching the Games and like, I don’t remember why, was it really hard to watch the Games back in the day? Like you had to have a special ESPN or something?

Sean (10:20):

Yeah, they weren’t on ESPN3 until 2014 when they were actually on ESPN. And then there were post-production shows that showed up afterwards. But that was the only coverage.

Amanda (10:29):

We didn’t have ESPN3, but my grandparents did. So I used to go to my grandparents’ house and sit in their sewing room and watch the CrossFit Games like all day long during those four days when it happened. So I mean, I was very, very much a fan right away. I just had never thought that I could get to that level. And I think it’s just hard to translate. I mean, even now it’s hard for people to translate the level of Games athletes compared to people in the gym. And I mean, back then I just, it didn’t even cross my mind for many years that I would ever get to that level.

Sean (11:00):

Well you wind up going to Regionals in 2014 and again in 2016 but you were on a team. So how did that experience help prepare you for your eventual switch to individual competition?

Amanda (11:12):

Actually 2014 I did not. I was, I think I was an alternate. I think that’s why it shows up that I competed, but I did not compete in 2014, I did go and watch. So that was the year it was in Cincinnati, Ohio or Columbus, one of the two. Went and watched for the first time. I mean, it was hard just to watch and you know, know that I was the alternate and wanted to be out there, just my competitive nature. And then that next year is when I moved and kind of joined the gym that I’m at now. And we made that team in 2016 and that was the first time on the competition floor being around, you know, I think Julie Foucher was there. She was definitely my favorite to watch the years before when I was watching the Games.

Amanda (11:57):

So just seeing her in person and seeing the level of the athletes and I knew I had potential and I was like super disappointed in how I performed that year. Like we had the, I think that was the year of the snatch ladder that the teams had to do and the individuals had to do as well. And I really struggled to hit 155, like a couple of times in the snatch ladder. And I had a traumatizing experience on the legless rope climbs in the team workout. It was similar to the individuals, but one female on the team had to do the same version that the individuals were doing. And I failed my six legless rope climb probably 10 times, couldn’t finish it. And the guys on my team never even got to touch the floor because I kept failing my rope climb and like, I walked away from that experience being like, I never want that to happen again.

Amanda (12:49):

And just, I didn’t have that much fun cause we weren’t overly competitive. So I remember telling my coach that didn’t have that much fun and he was like, well then make it as an individual because you, you know, you can’t complain about the team not being good enough, just do better yourself. So that was probably the moment where I set the goal of saying, yeah, I want to make it as an individual. I think I can. And that was the next, 2017 was the next year that I did. Right. Yeah.

Sean (13:15):

You take 25th that year at the Central Regional, your first appearance as an individual. So after that finish, what changed about your training?

Amanda (13:21):

2017 was the year I graduated from grad school, so I had just graduated like three weeks before Regionals. So I had a lot on my plate that year.

Amanda (13:33):

I wasn’t training very hard at all. I was surprised that I did make Regionals. Honestly considered not even competing because I felt so unprepared for my board exam that was like right around the same time. And I was like, if I fail my boards and show up to Regionals and embarrass myself, like what am I accomplishing right now? But I ended up surviving and I passed my boards and showed up to Regionals and again, didn’t have very much fun because I didn’t do well. I think the final event, I won my heat and I was like, Oh, OK. It was like the bike sprint, burpee box jump over, sandbag clean workout. And I won my heat and I was like, that was the first time I’d crossed the finish line first and felt that feeling of like, wow, that was really fun.

Amanda (14:19):

You know, maybe, and I had finished like six or seventh in that workout and I was like, OK, my goal next year is to be in the top 10. Like I’m done messing around with the fourth heat or you know, the first heat. And I wanted to be in that top heat. And that was kind of what we—my whole life had changed because I finished school finally. And yeah, so that’s kind of when we made the transition to say, OK, like now we’re really gonna commit your life to this. Cause before that I had just trained and was athletic enough and had worked hard enough to make it, but definitely not to, you know, make any statements or do anything super great. So.

Sean (14:59):

You go from 25th in 2017 in the Central to qualifying for the Games for the first time as an individual in 2018. How did you make such a big jump so quickly other than the fact that you didn’t have to worry about school?

Amanda (15:17):

I think just like setting my mind on the goal, you know, I was so focused on it every single day. Like most decisions that I made revolved around being better at CrossFit. Which sounds crazy, but like when you say out loud that you want to make the CrossFit Games, you don’t want to show up and like embarrass yourself. So I was not going to show up to Regionals and not make it, like I was so determined to be the best and be the best I could be. And I knew I was getting better, but that whole year was really hard because you don’t have anything to compare yourself to. You know, I showed up to the Open, which was what, February at that time, and I hadn’t competed since that last Regionals. I had no idea where I was going to be.

Amanda (15:58):

I ended up winning my region in the first Open workout and I was like, OK, I think we’re on track, we’re doing OK. And then like the third week into the Open, I was like in the top 20 in the world and my coach was like, you’re gonna make the CrossFit Games this year. And that was the first time we actually said CrossFit Games. Like we originally had just said, top 10 at Regionals, we want to be in the final heat. We want to be competitive. And then that third week of the Open he was like, Nope, we’re going to the Games. And I was like, I remember my like sitting in his office talking about it and my hands are like sweating. I was like, Oh my God, he just said CrossFit Games out loud. This is so stressful. Cause once you say it out loud it’s like crap.

Sean (16:44):

We’ll be back with more from Amanda Barnhart after this. Ever wished there were a step-by-step guide to business success? Well now there is. Chris Cooper spent more than a decade making mistakes, learning from them and paving the path to wealth. Now he’s mapped it all out so that you don’t have to fly blind. Available to Two-Brain clients, the Two-Brain Growth ToolKit lays out the exact steps you need to take to grow your business and reach wealth all with the help of a certified Two-Brain mentor. To learn more and see if mentorship is right for you, book a free call at Now more with Amanda Barnhart. So you go to Madison for the first time as an individual in 2018. What were your expectations when you showed up there for the first time?

Amanda (17:38):

I think it’s hard cause like as much as you say, there’s no expectations, there’s always expectations that you put on yourself. Especially the fact I won three events at Regionals. Like I had made a little bit of a statement and people were watching me and it wasn’t like I was expected to show up and get on the podium, but I definitely wanted to do well. And in my mind they definitely didn’t walk away disappointed with my finish, but I would’ve liked to do better than 15th my first year. But you know, given the circumstances of the Games, you just never know what the heck is going to happen at the Games. And like learning that in itself and surviving the weekend and like mentally surviving the weekend, is just such a huge learning experience that like you walk away thinking that like a lot of it is fitness and a lot of it is mental.

Amanda (18:27):

It’s way more mental than you realize. So it was in that regard, I was proud of how I did. But yeah, it was just such a crazy experience the first year. I think people always tell you that like it’s a brutal weekend and especially in 2018 or with that marathon row, it just like kind of whooped us all before the whole weekend. So I think that that definitely added to the physical toughness of that weekend, compared to other Games, at least from what I’ve heard. Obviously I hadn’t competed at them. So.

Sean (18:55):

You mentioned the marathon row. What was that experience like just having to sit there on that Concept2 for multiple hours at a time?

Amanda (19:04):

That was one of those experiences where you’re like, you have a hard time feeling like you’re getting a workout because you’re not breathing really heavy. You just feel terrible for three hours straight. You know, like your legs hurt, your butt hurts, your hands hurt. You’re tired of sitting there, your arms hurt, like everything hurts, but you don’t ever feel out of breath, like you want to quit the workout. So I think that’s what makes it even harder. I would so much rather like, OK, let’s focus on my breath, controlling that and do that for three hours versus trying to—I remember the worst pain I had was my hands. I thought my hands were bleeding by the end of it. I had gloves on but you just didn’t know what was happening under there and they hurt so bad. So I was prepared to take my gloves off and just be a bloody massacre. But it wasn’t. But how stupid is that that you have to push through like skin pain for three hours? I would rather push through pain for three hours.

Sean (19:59):

Well you had a couple of big events that year, the first, you win the clean and jerk speed ladder. What stands out to you the most about how you performed in that event?

Amanda (20:10):

I remember going into that event. Well we were super excited because we knew I was good at clean and jerks. We were just worried that I’m not known for like my speed. So we were worried that I wasn’t—because I was what, top five at the end. I think we were worried that I was—the hardest part for me was gonna be making it to that top five, which was true. I ended up getting fifth place going into that final. The final round. I didn’t walk into that final round thinking I would be able to beat Kara and Tia. Cause I knew how strong they were and how good they both are at, you know, Olympic lifting. So I was pretty—I remember I looked to my left when I jumped up on that Coliseum thing and couldn’t believe that one of them wasn’t up there yet. Cause I knew we had kind of like gone at the same time. But you don’t really see much when you’re out there. You see judges moving so, you’re not sure if it’s judges or the person next to you. But yeah, I was totally shocked that I beat both of them in that workout.

Sean (21:01):

What was it like for you when you realized that you had won?

Amanda (21:05):

Pretty surreal honestly, but it was fun. I mean that feeling in that Coliseum is unbelievable. And just the crowd and you know, finally feeling like, wow, like I’ve made it to the CrossFit Games and I just won an event. Like there’s not much that beats that feeling. It makes all the hard work from the whole year be like, wow, this is cool

Sean (21:27):

For me, the most impressive moment that you had at the Games that year came in Chaos when you got to the slug and I want to say you passed six or seven people on that part of the event. Why was that such a good movement for you?

Amanda (21:42):

I don’t know. I think that I’m just really good at moving heavy things. Like not necessarily super, super odd objects, but just my leg power I think is what is really, really strong. So I remember like seeing a bunch of people ahead of me and I had gotten mad at myself cause I had wasted so much time trying to figure out how to hold those straps over my shoulders. And I was like, shoot, you got to catch up. So I just put my head down and plowed. But yeah, I think it’s just pure power.

Sean (22:14):

I’ll never forget when we were editing the post shows, our producer came and said, you guys got to see this because we had never paid attention when he pointed you out and he goes, just watch this. We all were just dumbfounded by what we had just seen. So you take 15th overall.

Amanda (22:24):

Kari Pearce remembers vividly because she was so mad that I passed her like she was standing still.

Sean (22:29):

I don’t blame her.

Sean (22:31):

Oh man. Yeah, it was really impressive. You take 15th overall in your rookie year. How then do you refocus your training going into the next year after you did have some success at those CrossFit Games?

Amanda (22:47):

I think it was just very obvious that I was either in the top five or the bottom five in most of my workouts. I think I had very, very few finishes in the middle of the pack that year. And that told us that we had some very obvious holes that we needed to work on and that my strengths were great and we knew if my strengths came up, I had great chance of winning workouts at the Games. But we weren’t gonna spend a ton of time working on that stuff. So we basically just said, we need to get fitter and we need to get better at gymnastics because those were the biggest issues that came up with the Games that I didn’t do well. And it was either just pure fitness or mostly upper-body gymnastics pulling. So that was kind of what we focused the whole next year on.

Sean (23:29):

What was it like for you then navigating through the 2019 season after all the changes were made? Following the Games?

Amanda (23:38):

Yeah. It’s hard to think of it now. So what the Open, we had the Open later, so I did qualify through the Open. So knowing I had already qualified was a good feeling. I think originally once they made the changes, we had kind of talked about going to Australia because my coach was like one, it’d be really fun to go to Australia, two, because I didn’t place top 10 in the world the year before, I didn’t get invited to Rogue. So although Rogue was in my backyard, we were like, well, you’re not getting invited to Rogue. You’re not going to do the qualifier. Let’s go to Australia. It’s the same weekend. So if you do need to qualify, not many people will be there because everyone was going to be competing at Rogue. So that was kind of our strategy. Then I qualified through the Open. So let’s still go to Australia. It’ll be a really good chance to compete. They run it a lot like a Regional. And then we got to go to Australia for two weeks. So it was a really good experience. And I was happy with how it went. I ended up winning. So, it was a good, it was a weird season for sure, but it was still good that I got to compete once before showing up to the Games.

Sean (24:41):

Then when you do show up to the Games, the format has changed completely. You have to deal with the added mental stress of the cuts. How did that affect the way that you kind of approached that competition?

Amanda (24:51):

You know, going into it, I don’t think any of us knew how drastic it was gonna be. So I think I at least was just telling myself, if I show up and do what I’m planning to do, the cuts shouldn’t matter. I shouldn’t be worried about the cuts if I’m performing like I should be and like how I’ve trained to. If I’m worried about the cuts, we have way bigger issues. So I kind of tried not to think about it and it didn’t really affect me until we were waiting, you know, that final waiting to hear if I did make it. But up until that point, I don’t think we ever even talked about it once we got to the Games.

Sean (25:29):

How did your athletic career beforehand, you know, playing volleyball and running track and swimming where, you know, you do make one mistake and you’re out. How did that help prepare you for what you were going to face at the Games with the added element of the cuts?

Amanda (25:44):

I think that just, you know, competing my whole life and always being on a stage and always expecting, always having the highest expectations of myself. I think that pressure is pressure, but I put more pressure on myself than anyone’s ever going to put on me. So it doesn’t so much affect me knowing what other people’s expectations are because mine are always going to be higher. I learned really quickly running track in sprint events in high school how to handle pressure. I think my freshman year we were at state and in the four by one relay and that was the first time in my life I’d ever been so scared before an athletic event because if I made one wrong move on that relay, we dropped the baton, and it’s over. And I just ruined the season for these two seniors that were on my relay.

Amanda (26:32):

So that was the first time where I was really, really petrified going into an event and I performed, I learned how to—and we ended up getting third in the state that year. So it was like I learned how to channel that pressure and use it as performance as opposed to letting it paralyze you and you know, crapping under pressure or whatever people call it crumbling under pressure. Not to say that, you know, mistakes don’t happen but at least teaches you to know that the nerves are a good thing and that if you’re not nervous, you should be more worried than if you are super, super nervous. That means you care and that means you’re ready to do well.

Sean (27:07):

What happened to your ankle during the ruck run?

Amanda (27:14):

I actually hurt my ankle my senior year of high school. I rolled it, and haven’t really had issues with it since. But you know, once you roll an ankle it’s always possible to happen again. I have no clue what happened. I must have stepped on a rut or something, but it happened so fast. I think it was when I had the 40 pounds on my back. So it was such a dramatic roll just because of the extra added weight. It’s definitely never ever hurt that bad. When I rolled it, it was very, very loud. And I remember thinking, I just broke my ankle. The Games are over. Like for the whole next lap, I was very negative. I was like, Oh crap, it’s over. Like this is it. You better enjoy this last event cause you’re done after this.

Amanda (28:01):

I was really, really disappointed cause I got passed by so many people after it happened. I was close to the top 10, if not in the top 10 when it happened. I think I only fell to 15th, but you know, in retrospect isn’t that bad. But for how hard I’d been training my running and how good I am at moving weird weight like that, I would’ve expected that to be a better event for me. So, yeah, mentally it was probably harder than the marathon row. The last two laps that I ran mentally just because of one, thinking it’s over, and two, the physical therapist in me is thinking how many tendons did I just snap in my ankle because it felt so weird. I actually heard it go like—like it kind of popped in and out. So yeah, mentally it was really, really bad just seeing one more person pass me like every 500 feet or whatever it was is.

Sean (28:56):

So you’re obviously experiencing some pain and thinking that your ankle’s going to be a huge problem. Why did you decide to continue in the competition after that?

Amanda (29:07):

It hurt, but once we looked at it—I didn’t go to medical right away, just went and saw like the PTs that I had with me. They checked it, they said it’s OK. You know, we can take, you know, got permission for what Tylenol or whatever I was allowed to take from Curtis and taped it up and just said, you know, let’s do the best we can. Like it’s not ideal, but I’m definitely not gonna walk away from this. I trained all year for it. The worst part is feeling like, you know, I don’t want to tell people that I’m hurt, but I also don’t want, it’s embarrassing to go out there and feel like you look like you’re doing bad at something for a reason that most people don’t know about. That was probably the hardest part after that is like trying to get over my ego of I know I could do better in this if it weren’t for my ankle and just trying to focus on what I could do and being proud of the effort that I put in and knowing that at the end of the day, it didn’t matter if everyone knew that my ankle was hurt, it was just, you know, trying to do my absolute best and not worry about it.

Sean (30:13):

You find your way into the top 10. Thanks a lot to your winning the sprint couplet. So what did you think about your chances of winding up on the podium once you were into the top 10 and the cuts were done?

Amanda (30:26):

I dunno. I went into the weekend really, really, hoping to be on the podium. I think after the ankle I was really just trying to survive, especially with the points, you know, when you take an eighth place it’s like you have one bad workout at that point when we’re at the top 10, it’s really hard to come back from that. And there was just little things that I struggled with, whether it was because of my ankle or not because of my ankle, that had set me back like that. At that point I’m like, is the podium even possible? I don’t know. So at that point I think I was just trying to focus on doing the best I could do in each workout and not so much worrying about the podium. I was obviously trying to move up. Cause I went in 10th after the sprint. Which the sprint was like a worst case scenario workout with the ankle, the cutting. Oh my gosh. We were actually joking. What would be worst case, you know, cause you have to prepare like what’s going to be worst case scenario, well a sprint, a straight sprint wouldn’t be as bad as a cutting sprint. And they announced it. I thought it was a joke.

Sean (31:44):

Oh man.

Amanda (31:45):

It’s funny because I did—I’m not as fast as I used to be, so I wouldn’t have expected to win that workout on a healthy ankle. But I was a sprinter in high school, so it was funny. I guess my brother was watching from Chicago and texted my dad and said, what’s wrong with Amanda? She runs faster than that. Because he had no idea about my ankle. And my dad goes, Oh yeah, she hurt her ankle. He goes, well that would have been nice to know cause he just had no idea. But it was funny that he knew watching me run was like, something’s wrong. My sister does not run this slow.

Sean (32:17):

You go on to have this epic battle with Tia Toomey in the clean event. I think everyone’s going to be talking about that one for a while. But what was it like being out there against her all by yourself on the lifting platform with all those people watching?

Amanda (32:32):

Gosh, you know, like thinking about it when you put it, you know, when I go back and see clips, when I hear people talk about it. Like, man, that sounds really scary. But in the moment I was not scared at all. I was so excited for the clean. I don’t know, when you’re at the CrossFit Games like that, you just kinda like, you have this power that comes over you that you just feel tougher mentally. Like stuff doesn’t scare you like it normally would because you’re just expecting it, you know, there’s going to be scary things, you know there’s going to be pressure. But that’s what makes it fun. Like that was so much fun out there. From I think as soon as the workout was announced, Tia looked at me and goes, this is gonna be fun cause she knew what the battle was going to come down to.

Amanda (33:16):

So yeah, it was really fun. I feel like we were out there for forever. It seemed like the time between each lift was so long. Yeah I was not expecting—we were kind of thinking like when they announced it that as it got down to less people you were going to get less rest. So we kind of thought like fatigue would become more of an issue. That wasn’t the issue. It was just like the waiting game of like when they were going to send us off to do the next lift. But yeah, super fun. I was disappointed I didn’t get that 265 and a lot of people give me a hard time like, Oh, you obviously could have cleaned it. You’re stronger than that, which I don’t disagree with. But everyone knows that when you’re lifting like that, one small move too far forward on your toes, you can’t save 265 no matter how strong you are. So, now I know I can clean 265, we just got to do it. But yeah, it was really, really fun. I did PR so I was happy, but I was still shocked that Dave didn’t have us stop at 260 and we didn’t get to do a power clean battle cause that would have ended better for me, I think. But still really fun.

Sean (34:26):

Yeah. So you wind up in seventh place overall when it’s all said and done and you do it on a bum ankle, how do you keep yourself from thinking, you know, if I just hadn’t hurt my ankle, maybe I wind up on the podium?

Amanda (34:41):

Yeah, I’ve definitely played that game with myself. The last, you know, right after the Games, looking back at, you know, you can make excuses for everything and like there’s certain events where had absolutely nothing to do with my ankle. I did not let miss that clean at 265 because of my ankle. I did poorly in the sprint because of my ankle, you know, worse in the ruck because of my ankle. So there is definitely points on the table that had a lot to do with my ankle and there was definitely points on the table that had nothing to do with my ankle. So it motivates me for sure knowing that I could walk away from the Games saying I got seventh on a bad ankle in really less than ideal circumstances. So it definitely made me feel excited. Disappointed—not disappointed at the effort and not disappointed at what happened, just disappointed that I ended seventh when I wanted to do better. But, you know, considering the circumstances, was really proud of how it all ended.

Sean (35:36):

You’ve experienced expectations a little bit when you showed up for the first time at the Games because people saw what you did at Regionals. Now the next time you show up at the Games, there will be a ton of expectations on you. How do you expect to handle that?

Amanda (35:50):

Just the same as I had previously. Like if, you know, if there’s more expectations on me, I already have the higher ones on myself so it doesn’t change anything I do. It doesn’t change my mindset. The best part about gaining experience in this sport is that you gain confidence and that you realize that you do belong. And I think that’s a huge, huge part of performing well in the sport of CrossFit is trusting that you can hang and you’re not just trying to keep up with those girls. You are one of the top girls. And that in itself I think makes anyone more dangerous in the sport because if you believe you can do it, then you can.

Sean (36:31):

So final question. Assuming the Games happen this year, what needs to take place for you in Madison for you to look back and say that was a successful season for me?

Amanda (36:48):

I think it’s just showing up to everything. It doesn’t matter as much as everyone thinks it does. And obviously I’d be lying if I said I would be happy with, you know, not doing well. But if you truly can feel like you walked away from every event giving your best effort and doing as good as you can and seeing the progress in your training, I think that’s the best part. Like that’s the most rewarding thing. Like everyone asked me like what was the best part about the Games last year? The best part about the Games last year is when I climbed the pegboard five times when the year before I couldn’t. I got last place in that workout, but I didn’t care at that point because I was just so happy to have—I worked my butt off on that pegboard all year long and I did worse in that workout because there was 500 double-unders and on a bum ankle, but I was so happy after that workout. And those are the moments that like we all train for and like we work on so much stuff in our gyms that nobody sees and we suffer through so many terrible days. So when you can walk away from the Games and say, I felt in that workout my training from the year pay off, it’s like, it’s the best feeling. It doesn’t matter whether you won the workout or not, it’s just, there’s nothing more rewarding than that.

Sean (38:05):

Amanda, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. It has been a pleasure watching you compete and hopefully we get to watch you compete again in Madison this year.

Amanda (38:15):

I really hope so too. Fingers crossed. I think we’ll probably be hearing something sooner than later about that.

Sean (38:21):

Yeah. Let’s hope. I really want to see you and the rest of those competitors out there again this year cause you guys have worked too hard to not have that opportunity.

Amanda (38:31):

Me too. I appreciate it, Sean.

Sean (38:32):

Well thanks. Take care of your family and good luck in isolation not going insane.

Amanda (38:38):

Thank you; you too. Thanks for having me.

Sean (38:38):

You bet. Take care. Big thanks to Amanda Barnhart for taking the time to speak with me. Always a pleasure to talk to her. If you want to follow her on Instagram, you can find her @amandajbarnhart. If you’re in business, you need to know something. Certified Two-Brain mentors have been through it all and they’re available to help you reach success. To learn how a mentor can help you transform your business and add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue, book a free call on Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio everyone. We’ll see you next time.


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