In August, the best CrossFit® athletes from all over the world gathered in Madison, Wisconsin for a long weekend of strength and endurance challenges at the 2017 CrossFit® Games.

As the big events got underway in front of a packed colosseum Thursday evening, two-time CrossFit® Games champion Annie Thorisdottir, all the way from Iceland, trotted onto the floor to roars of applause from her fans.

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Thorisdottir, the first female two-time champion in the sport, was about to take part in her eighth CrossFit® Games, and once again was seen as one of the favorites heading into the women’s competition.

Although she wasn’t able to come away from the games victorious for the third time in her career, she finished on the podium in third. Not only has Thorisdottir shown that she is one of the fittest athletes in the world over the past eight years, but she also has become a role model for young athletes because of her hard work.

After the Games, our training and fitness writer Trent Tetzlaff got a chance to sit down with Thorisdottir and chat with her about how she got into the sport, her time as a CrossFit® athlete, and even got some training and nutrition tips!

Trent Tetzlaff (TT): How did you first get into CrossFit®?

Annie Thorisdottir (AT): “It was 2009 and I was signing up for random fitness competitions all over Iceland. I had done gymnastics growing up, pole vaulting for a few years, dancing, and after I got out of those I had a hard time finding what to do next. A friend of mine then signed me up for a CrossFit® competition — I decided to participate and ended up winning that competition, and by winning it I got a spot at the 2009 CrossFit® Games. For some reason Iceland had gotten a wild card for one male and one female to qualify from that competition, which was pretty cool because I got to go to the United States and compete in CrossFit®, which I didn’t really know much about at that time.”

TT: What does a typical week look like for you workout wise?

AT: “During a typical week I am training twice a day, one session around 9 a.m. and then the second session usually around 2 p.m. Each session lasts around two to three hours. I also have one full rest day a week, which means I might not go to the gym but I might swim or jog, something that is low intensity. One day a week I also do active recovery, which is usually around an hour of just low heart rate stretching and mobility work. The workouts I typically do really differ. During the offseason I work more on strength, skill, and base conditioning, and when it comes closer to competition I begin to ramp up the volume of the high-intensity workouts.”

TT: How did playing other sports prepare you for CrossFit®?

AT: “I did gymnastics growing up, and I definitely think that it helps a lot because it gives you a good background. Anyone that does sports, especially something with bodyweight involved, like gymnastics, will get better body awareness and will have an easier time picking up new sports. Playing other sports growing up also just gives you that competitive drive. You know how to train, compete, and set goals for yourself which definitely helps you as you get into CrossFit®.”

TT: Take us through your mindset as you approach a competition.

AT: “I think it’s really important to feel that you’re ready, and believe in the process that you went through to get to where you are. Once you get to a competition, I think the biggest thing for me is just believing that I’m in the place I’m supposed to be for a reason and that all the hard work and training is behind you. The competition is where you get to see all of that hard work pay off, and of course it’s a lot easier to have fun when you are doing well, but it’s also just really important to enjoy yourself in being where you are.”

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TT: What is it like to be a two-time CrossFit® Games champion?

AT: “It’s hard to explain exactly what it feels like. The first time I won the Games it really felt amazing because it was something that I had been training for for years, but I never really believed that I could actually do it. Being the first woman in the world to win it twice was amazing in a different way. I think just being able to call yourself ‘the fittest on earth’ — and being able to do that two years in a row — helps me show that I wasn’t just lucky with the events that one year, and it shows that I am consistent and helped me prove to others and myself that I deserve to be there.”

TT: Do you have any specific training advice for CrossFit® athletes out there?

AT: “I think it’s really important to have someone you trust helping you out during your training, whether that is a coach or whoever that may be. But I also really find it helpful to have good training partners. It doesn’t matter if they are at the same level as you, but just having someone that shows up and supports you makes it that much more fun. Lastly, just figuring out what drives or motivates you is something that you can always come back to for inspiration as well.”

TT: Can you talk about your nutrition philosophy?

AT: “Nutrition is like religion. It’s a very sensitive subject for some people mainly because we don’t really know enough about it in my opinion. We’re always figuring out new things, so it’s really important for people to figure out what is best for them. For me, I find it important just to pick foods that are as clean as possible. So I pick very little processed food, but a lot of meats, a lot of vegetables, and always make my own food so I know what is going into it. I also always keep track that I am eating enough, and the right amount of each category. When I look at my plate, I am always looking to make sure that I have my carbohydrates, I have my proteins and my fats, and then it really just differs on what time it is and how many carbohydrates I need for that meal.”

TT: Lastly, body image is huge for women in today’s world — there’s a lot of criticism and opinions around the ideal body. What would be your advice to women out there concerned about what their body looks like?

AT: “I think we just all really need to be happy with our bodies. It doesn’t matter what other people think — it’s up to us to project the image of ourselves, and we’re never going to be satisfied until we are comfortable in our own bodies.”