Brista Mayfield, an elite Crossfit athlete (and former gymnast) from Anna, Texas, was never thought of as a power athlete. She started gymnastics at the age of seven and continued through college.
Coaches and teammates knew Mayfield for her technique and grace, but not her explosive muscle power. Her Crossfit competition history, work ethic, and DNA prove otherwise.
Since starting Crossfit in 2010, Mayfield has continued to best herself. Year after year, she rises through the leaderboards.
She’s a mother to her four-year-old son, Beau, a wife to her husband, Jonathan, an accountant for multiple businesses, and still manages to fulfill (and continue to refine) her elite training regimen and diet.
Mayfield is basically a superhero. Like many other superheroes, she has an origin story.
At the age of seven, Mayfield got her first taste of competition. “I remember watching the Olympics in ‘96. That was when the United States won their first Olympic team [gymnastics] medal,” she said. The young Mayfield wanted to be just like the Magnificent Seven that she saw on the screen.
She competed all the way through to her high school graduation – winning an Idaho State Championship along the way – where she was offered a gymnastic and academic scholarship to attend the Texas Women’s University. In 2007 and 2008, Mayfield’s team won two USAG National Collegiate Championships.
“After I finished college gymnastics, I still had to another year of school left,” said Mayfield. She got married to her husband Jonathan shortly after.
Without competitive gymnastics in her life, Mayfield was missing something. She had become addicted to rush of competition.
“I liked the challenge… Competing is a way to show how hard you’ve been working. At the same time, I get hooked on the adrenaline rush,” said Mayfield. Her husband was the first one to introduce her to Crossfit.
“He would give me the workouts that they did at the gym and, if I could, I would try to do the workouts at our school gym. I didn’t know a whole lot about what I was doing other than how to do a pushup or a pull-up, but I tried to do my best.”
It first, it was just a way to stay fit but after attending a few classes Mayfield soon found it to be a platform on which she could compete, set goals, and better herself. Eventually, Mayfield officially joined Crossfit. Those who she worked out with were shocked by how quickly she progressed, nailing her first muscle up on day two.
“I remember watching the 2010 [Crossfit] Games and the women were really strong and they looked good and they looked fit and that was my goal, was to be strong and be fit. And then, after that, I was like ‘I could compete with this.’ It morphed into ‘Now I’m training to go to Regionals and trying to make the games,’” she said.
Just for fun, Mayfield competed in the Crossfit open in 2011. “I made to Regionals and then I was hooked. I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was until later,” she said. Mayfield made it to the South Central Regionals the following year and finished seventh.
The Crossfit athlete took 2013 off to have her son, Beau. “A friend of ours who Crossfits with us had a baby. I saw her right after I had Beau, I was talking to her and she said ‘Give yourself a year.’ I think that was the best advice I’ve ever gotten,” she said.
Getting her strength back wasn’t easy. Mayfield’s mind wanted to do certain workouts but her body couldn’t keep up. “My aerobic capacity took the biggest hit. To build that back up definitely took a year.”
Adjusting to life with a newborn, while continuing to train at a high level, isn’t a simple feat. Mayfield was worried that she may never again get back to her previous performance level. Competing in Regionals in a team, with her husband and others, in 2014 helped squash those fears.
In order to keep up with her – and her husband – to keep up with high-intensity training, Mayfield would – and still does – bring her son Beau to the gym. At first, he was on a play mat, as he grew he upgraded to a playpen, and then a play area.
“He has been going to the gym since he was about a month old… But he is used to it, that was the time mommy and daddy were working out with friends. He would even take naps at the gym with the music blaring and people dropping weights. It’s always been part of this routine,” said Mayfield.
In 2015, Mayfield began competing individually again and finished 12th in the Regionals. “There were definitely holes in my game so I had to really focus for the next year,” she said. Mayfield also started working with coach Aaron Evans and joined Crossfit TBR.
Mayfield dialed in her diet in 2016 and finished 11th in the Regionals. “What it really came down to was my mental game. Because at that point everybody has good programming and training. They do the same types of things that I do but it all comes down to the small things.”
One of the things Mayfield did to gain an edge in 2017 was turn to Athletigen for DNA analysis. “The day I got my DNA results, I spent probably too much time looking at it at work. But I was really excited. I was so curious. It was really cool to see what I was made of,” said Mayfield.
Something that she found surprising was that she has a variant of ACTN3 (A.K.A ‘the sprint gene’) associated with power-oriented muscle performance.
As a gymnast, she was wasn’t considered a power athlete, often known for her elegance, technique, and poise. This made her ACTN3 results all the more surprising. Mayfield’s DNA and Crossfit competition history prove otherwise.
Here are two examples of DNA insights that Mayfield used to refine her training:
What does your DNA say about you? Find out at athletigen.com
Mayfield finished sixth at the 2017 South Regionals. “I felt like I did as much as I could. That’s all you can hope for, ‘Did I leave everything that I could out on the competition floor?’”
Mayfield is now training for another run at the Crossfit Games.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get back to [Regionals]... I know what things I need to work on. At this level, it’s minute things that make a big difference. That’s been on my mind every time I work out, ‘What little things can I do to make up those few seconds that I need on every workout,” said Mayfield. “I’m going to kick booty next year.”
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