Q&A With Blake Gallagher and Melanie Clarke

CrossFit’s fittest woman in Nova Scotia of 2015, Melanie Clarke, used Athletigen to help her get there. Melanie’s Athletigen results revealed the genetic profile of her strengths and weaknesses, allowing her to form the precise strategies she needed to win this coveted title.

Melanie Clarke (@melsashaclarke), athlete and coach at Blended Athletics, has had a competitive presence in CrossFit since her intro to the sport in 2010. She participated in the 2014 Canada East Regionals and won this year’s Open in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. In addition to CrossFit, Melanie is an accomplished weightlifter. She qualified for her first Senior Weightlifting Championships in May.  

Fellow Blended athlete Blake Gallagher (@bgally27) is also moving up the CrossFit ranks, recently qualifying for the Zoo Battle finale in December. Blake’s professional hockey experience drives his passion for CrossFit, which he complements by using Athletigen in his training and nutrition planning.

We sat down with Mel and Blake to talk about training experiences, goals, and how they use their Athletigen profiles to bring their CrossFit performances to new heights.

How did discovering your genetics with Athletigen change your training?

Mel: As soon as I got my Athletigen results, I changed my approach to training. My endurance was extremely low, however I have high power; which didn’t surprise me as an Olympic weightlifter. It was reassuring to see that my power was so high. It was also surprising to see my endurance be so low considering my soccer history!  

Athletigen also told me that I have a fast recovery. I hate workouts like Karen, because of how monotonous they are. Most athletes approach Karen with an initially large set of say, 30 wall balls, and try to reach that again. Hitting sets lower than 15 would be embarrassing for many CrossFitters, so I never did, but doing that many reps killed me!

“After learning my Athletigen results, I PRed by over a minute by doing only 10 wall balls at time. If I didn’t know these results, I would of never tried that approach.”

Blake: From a performance standpoint I know now that I’m pretty average at everything. I have good metabolism, but there was nothing glaring regarding what I’m really good at or bad at, other than recovery. I’ve tried to make recovering from workouts a greater priority. Now I feel a lot better from taking two days off a week.

Have you changed your rehabilitation and/or recovery strategies? Any proactive injury prevention techniques in mind?

Mel: I have a high propensity for disc degeneration. In my 4 years of CrossFit I’ve had two significant back injuries and 6-7 smaller ones. I always thought it was a fluke, or something I wasn’t prone to. Now I know I need to take better care of my back. Now I see a chiropractor weekly. It’s become an integral part of my training.

Blake: The genetics of my injury prevention is better than I expected. I do get tendonitis in my right knee intermittently. I need to do more neural flossing, quad stretching, and more proper supplementation.

Why should Athletigen be a part of an athlete’s arsenal of secret weapons?

Mel: We’re all designed differently. Athletigen allowed me to approach workouts in the way that’s best for me, and help me ignore the people around me. Now I have the confidence to know I can still beat them, or do better than them, with my personalized approach.

I used to go towards the things that I like in training. I used to make excuses for most of the other things. Now I know what I need to train more, and I’m learning to like those things, like a 5K run. Training my weaknesses used to be very difficult and I never wanted to do it. Now after seeing my genetic profile, I implement different types of training that I despise, at least on a weekly basis.

Blake: It puts a larger scope on how to approach workouts. There’s so many ways to get to the finish line, but it’s about finding what way is best for you. It may not look the prettiest or the flashiest, but it’s about how do I make it feel better and less painful for myself.

There’s a competitive approach where an athlete asks themselves how they can best approach a WOD for success, but there’s also a training approach where an athlete can focus on the things that they may not be as naturally good at.

Do you use any of the sport psychology markers to your advantage?

Blake: We had the same results in psychology: we are both novelty seeking and warrior (not worrier). Any time I start to take over in a workout or beat someone, I thrive off of that. It makes me better when I’m winning. If someone’s beating me it drives me to win even more. I would never shy away from this – I always find a way to catch up. I used to think like that before, but seeing the results solidified this for me.

Mel: My sport psychology results were more reassuring than anything. I’ve always liked being an underdog. Being from PEI (Prince Edward Island), you were always an underdog in every sport.  It makes sense that I was the warrior because I always have that underdog, can’t be stopped attitude. I like to attack things I’m not good at. 

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What’s your experience with CrossFit and other sports? When did you start in athletics?

Blake: I Started CrossFit in September 2013 and took it seriously following my professional hockey career. I didn’t do any olympic weightlifting training for hockey.

Mel: I started in the Fall of 2010. I played soccer for Dalhousie University for five years and at the provincial level.

How did you know CrossFit was for you?

Blake: I was searching for competition more than anything. My first class was Fight Gone Bad; it filled the void that I needed for competition following my hockey career.

Mel: I didn’t know I wanted to do CrossFit until I tried it. My brother had done it for years and was trying to convince me to do it. I finally went to a class and loved it. After seeing the competition at the games and watching Kristan Clever compete – I thought she was amazing – so I started CrossFit.

What are your long and short term goals for CrossFit?

Blake: Going to the CrossFit Games is the ultimate goal.

Mel: I was in the Canada East Regionals in Toronto last year. My top goal is to be 1st in my weight-class and make some international competition in Olympic Weightlifting.

How will you use your genetic profile to find success in your training? Tell us how you use Athletigen with #PrecisionPerformance on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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