CrossFit Athlete Kelsea Hellyar On Competition And Mixing Business With Fitness - Exclusive Interview

Competition has been a part of Kelsea Hellyar's life since she was young. She discovered her competitiveness as a student athlete. When she graduated and no longer had an athletic outlet for her competitive nature, Hellyar felt like her life was a little incomplete. She was still a fitness junkie, but no amount of working out satisfied her need to compete. 

Then, a friend took her to a CrossFit class. Hellyar immediately loved the tough, grueling workouts and the way they forced her to compete with herself to beat her last personal record with each new workout. She loved the fact that she was again surrounded by super-athletic, super-competitive people who were all slogging through the same workout as her. And she loved the fact that CrossFit was all about the workout — not body shape or size. It was a level of inclusiveness she hadn't seen in other sports. 

Soon, Hellyar found out about regional and national CrossFit competitions, and she knew that she had found her thing. Now, Hellyar is a professional CrossFit athlete and the Chief Brand Officer of Constantly Varied Gear, a fitness gear brand dedicated to changing the narrative around what an athlete looks like.

In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Hellyar revealed how she prepares her body for peak performance, why she never diets, why every kind of body can be athletic, and what it's like to mix fitness with business for Constantly Varied Gear.

Finding a new way to compete

Have you always enjoyed athletics, or is it something that you found as an adult?

I have always enjoyed athletics and found it to be a great outlet for me. Like many athletes, as an adult, I found there was something missing from my life. We don't stop being competitive. We don't stop looking for that rush. That void remains unfulfilled unless we fill it.

What made you decide to become a professional athlete?

I fell in love with the sport of CrossFit. Competition came naturally to me, and I enjoyed getting better. I don't know if I ever decided to become a professional athlete as much as I loved to compete and was willing to try. I wanted to get better. I kept reaching for more — lift more, move faster, compete at a higher level. Once I started to win local competitions, I moved on to international competitions. I've enjoyed the process more than the destination. My goal is to try and get better each day I train.

How did CrossFit become part of your life?

I started CrossFit when my older sister joined a small local gym. I went to "Bring a Friend Day" with her and never left. Being introduced to such a new sport was really exciting for me. At first, I used CrossFit as a means to excel at other sports, but I quickly fell in love with the sport of CrossFit and wanted to get better.

I had never been introduced to a sport where men and women competed right next to each other, doing the same workouts. I loved the idea of displaying strength, speed, endurance, and gymnastics within the same sport and sometimes even the same workout. There were no mirrors in the gym, so the focus was taken away from what you looked like and placed [on] what you could do. I could work out with both some of the fittest people and someone who started that day. I knew this had to be part of my life.

What do you love about CrossFit, and what makes it different from other workout programs?

I love that it doesn't matter what your body looks like. The main goal isn't aesthetic. Strong, capable, and healthy bodies come in so many different shapes and sizes, and each one of them is valued in a CrossFit gym. I love that it strengthens me both physically and mentally. The weight on the bar doesn't care what I look like or what I think I can do.

CrossFit allowed me to develop a trust and confidence in my body that I never knew existed. Now, I can move heavy weights, I can run fast, I can walk on my hands, and I can swing from the rings. I tried a lot of workout programs before CrossFit, and I never tapped into the confidence that I have built with CrossFit. I have developed a relationship with my body out of respect and admiration. I don't look at it as a way just to look good, but [also to] admire the things it can do.

Creating a routine and habits for peak performance

What other kinds of movement do you engage in?

I really enjoy yoga and anything outside — hiking, running, snowboarding, etc.

What are your favorite summer workouts?

Anything outside — lifting outside, bodyweight workouts, beach workouts, running, and trail running.

How do you adjust your daily habits to keep your body performing its best in the summer heat?

I actually perform better in the heat; I love it. The main thing to keep in mind is hydration. I put a focus on making sure I am drinking enough water during the day as well as stretching at night.

How do you keep your body fueled for the intense amount of work you're doing in the gym?

I eat to perform, so my nutrition supports the amount of work I am doing in the gym. I eat a lot throughout the day and never limit the amount of food I consume.

What daily practices help keep your body performing its best?

Proper fuel is really important. If my nutrition drops off or if I haven't had enough water, I feel it in my workouts. The most important aspect for me is the mental game. Keeping stress levels fairly low and maintaining a playful, positive attitude are what keeps me performing my best.

The biggest thing that hurts my performance is doubt. When I start to doubt my abilities or what I'm capable of, my performance suffers. I'm the best when I believe I'm the best, when I am calm and confident. I keep this in check with my daily habits, meditation, stretching, and balance in my life. I make time with my family and friends a priority because that provides balance for me.

How do you incorporate rest into your daily life and weekly workout schedule?

Rest is just as important as the work you are doing in the gym. Sleep, rest days, etc., are what build muscle and keep you healthy.

Mixing fitness with business at Constantly Varied Gear

How did you get involved with Constantly Varied Gear?

My brother-in-law started CVG by making shirts, and I was a full-time social worker at the time. We decided to start a fitness Facebook group to give away some free workouts and leggings. On my lunch breaks, I would record workouts to release to our fitness community. I had no idea if anyone would even do them, but I thought more people should have access to free workouts. My sister and I started building the group as a way to break some of the harmful language around diet culture and all the misinformation in the fitness industry. We had no idea it would become what it is today.

We started to connect with these women all around the world who were sick of all the fitness misinformation and pressure to transform their bodies. Our small group of women started out with about 10 and is now filled with over 80,000 women who support and encourage each other throughout their fitness journey.

What projects are you working on with CVG that have you really excited?

I have so many new projects at CVG that it's hard to just pick one. I am really excited to bring the women in our community new gear that makes them feel like the badasses they are. We have been able to expand our sizing, styles, and types of bras and even move into clothes outside the gym, like skirts and dresses. Seeing women build the confidence to wear the clothes they want is what I live for. We are also able to offer our community free coaching and have a podcast to talk to them weekly about issues they are struggling with, from diet culture to mental health.

I left a career in clinical social work for CVG because I believe we can change the world with the women who believe in this mission and are changing their lives. Keeping with that mission continues to be the most exciting thing I am working on at CVG.

To shop or learn more about CVG, click here.

This interview was edited for clarity.