CrossFit athlete Libby DiBiase exudes inner and outer strength
Libby DiBiase makes working out look good. She does handstand walks — uphill. She deadlifts 315 pounds. A sponsored athlete, her image is beamed around the world on banners and in ads as the epitome of a healthy, fit woman.
DiBiase, a CrossFit athlete and Omaha native, is a valuable commodity in the growing world of CrossFit fanatics. Her physical prowess and outgoing personality attracted the attention of sportswear giant Reebok and supplement company Gaspari Nutrition, who both look to DiBiase to represent their brands.
“What attracted Reebok to Libby was her presence, attitude and performance,” said Jared Davis, associate manager of athlete services at Reebok. “Libby is someone who, from the beginning of the CrossFit movement in 2007, has proven that she is one of the best in the CrossFit community.”
DiBiase got hooked on CrossFit in 2007 while running track at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Unlike other programs, CrossFit varied constantly, staving off exercise boredom with high-intensity workouts. Watching her numbers improve and her physical feats accumulate, she felt exuberated. “It’s the greatest thing ever,” she said. “It’s like a high.”
Since DiBiase started, CrossFit affiliates have sprouted up across the world. Because people work out together, CrossFit is a communal — some say cultish — experience; indeed, “the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective,” according to CrossFit.com.
CrossFit workouts have a reputation for being physically demanding.
DiBiase’s favorite workout, called the Fran, consists of 21 barbell thrusters followed by 21 pull-ups; 15 thrusters followed by 15 pull-ups; and 9 thrusters followed by 9 pull-ups, all completed as fast as humanly possible. Afterwards, “you feel terrible,” DiBiase said. But fighting through that grueling workout is part of the allure. CrossFit inspires both a physical and mental toughness, DiBiase said.
“Sometimes people can be physically strong, but if they don’t mentally think they can do it, some of the workouts can destroy you,” she said. “You have to mentally think you can get through it.”
In 2008, DiBiase went to her first CrossFit games in Aromas, Calif., and placed among the top 10 at the competition. At the time, the games were still a small affair. This year, the Reebok-sponsored games lured 200,000 athletes hoping to qualify for a spot in the final games. ESPN now broadcasts the competition.
DiBiase stands out among this group of CrossFit elite as a multi-faceted athlete and mother. Her fun and lively personality engages people, said Scot Blum, marketing manager for Gaspari.
DiBiase said the mental discipline of CrossFit has crossed over to other areas of her life, including motherhood. Her athletic drive helps her focus on achieving a bachelor’s degree at UNO. She also credits CrossFit with easing her pregnancy and post-delivery recovery. She worked out until the day before her son, Cruz, was born; her last exercise was appropriately called “The Inducer.”
While critics claim that CrossFit promotes injury by overlooking form in favor of going faster and harder, DiBiase brushes it off. Other sports are riskier, she said, and a reputable trainer will ensure that exercises focus on proper, injury-preventing technique.
The benefits of a healthy, fit lifestyle also cannot be understated, she said. As a mother, she’s proud to be an example to her son of living healthfully and enjoying exercise.
“My main goal doing CrossFit is that no matter what I do for my career in this, I just want to have fun,” she said. “My goal is to train hard, eat right, take care of my body and do this as long as I can.”
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