Local nurse preparing for regional CrossFit competition

For Larose native Alyssa Lafont, athletic competition is a way of life.

Four-and-a-half years ago, she discovered CrossFit through social media. Even as a former South Lafourche High School swimmer, basketball player and track athlete, the high-intensity fitness regimen humbled her.

“I never stopped being active since I was little. I swam since I was 3 years old. I would always run,” Lafont said. “When I started CrossFit, I couldn’t do pull-ups or handstand push-ups. I couldn’t lift a lot of weight, and I really couldn’t do a lot of the movements that I can do now.”

The 24-year-old emergency room nurse is preparing to compete in the CrossFit South Regional. The three-day event starts Friday in Salt Lake City.

Lafont qualified by doing the CrossFit Open, a five-week, five-workout worldwide competition. She finished among the Top 40 women in the south region, which is comprised of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.

For the second straight year, Lafont’s performance in the open deemed her the fittest woman in Louisiana.

“It’s a good thing, but I’m never pleased. I’m not settled with that. I want more than just first in Louisiana,” she said. “That’s one of things I love about CrossFit. I like the challenges of you can’t ever say this is the best I can be. There are always areas of improvement, and the community is good too.”

This is Lafont’s third straight year contending at regionals. In 2016, she was part of Team Louisiana out of CrossFit NOLA, which placed 10th in the Team Division. Last year, she competed as an individual and finished 31st.

“I do like team stuff, but I’m more of an individual,” Lafont said. “I like to push myself. I like for me to take all the pressure.”

The regionals encompass six strenuous workouts over the three-day weekend. Lafont and her coach, Ryne Sullivan of Training Think Tank in Georgia, learned valuable lessons from last year’s trip.

“The biggest thing is that I felt like I needed to be less predictable with the workouts that I was writing,” Sullivan said. “The other takeaway was just how much she had to be prepared for the mechanical loading that occurs over the course of the weekend. Six to seven workouts over a three-day window, all done at full intensity, is extremely taxing on the body.”

“That was my first big competition by myself. I felt a little lost,” Lafont recalled. “The workouts were very difficult. I had never been in a big setting like that, so I had a lot of learning to do. I feel a little better prepared. It was my first year, so it was more or less to get the experience, get the exposure.”

For many of the top athletes Lafont will compete against at regionals, like Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Tennil Beuerlein and Margaux Alvarez, CrossFit is their full-time or primary job.

When Lafont, a 2017 Nicholls State University graduate, isn’t working 12-hour shifts at Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center, she drives 45 minutes from Larose to train at CrossFit HomeBrew in Houma. She also coaches a class there once a week.

“On days I’m not working, I’ll have four hours of training,” Lafont said. “It’s like two to three high-volume days, and I’ll get two to three days of rest and recovery. It may not be the most feasible, but working 12-hour shifts is recovery.”

Despite moving from New Orleans to Georgia last year, Sullivan continues to coach Lafont remotely via email, text and Google document.

“I write out her design, which I put into the Google document. I will also have her text videos to me so that I can look at technique across various movements,” Sullivan said. “I make it a point to meet up with Alyssa every time I come into town to see her train and check in with how everything is going.”

At 5-foot-6 and roughly 150 pounds, Lafont is a powerful athlete. Lifting heavy weights are her movements with personal records of 400-pound deadlift, 235-pound clean and jerk and 200-pound snatch.

Sullivan has helped her dramatically improve her cardiovascular endurance and high-skill gymnastics aspects of CrossFit.

“Alyssa is extremely strong with a barbell in her hand,” he said “Since the sport at the qualifying level is largely a gymnastics endurance and an aerobic power test, we largely focused on improving those two things as well as her movement quality to make each rep more economical.”

If Lafont finishes in the Top 5 at the South Regional, she will qualify for the CrossFit Games in August.

“More realistically, Top 15 or Top 20 would be a big improvement I think,” she conceded.

No matter the outcome, she is dedicated to reaching her maximum potential as a CrossFit athlete.

“I learned a lot about structure and commitment and what you got to do to get to the next level. It’s definitely not easy. I just know I want to do well in this sport,” Lafont said. “I give up a lot. The only things I really do is work, workout, sleep. If I do have a free day where I don’t have to come to the gym or go to work, I’ll just hang out with my family and fiancé (Logan Harris) and play with my two dogs.”