2018 Reebok CrossFit Games

2018 CrossFit Games: Mekenzie Riley Talks Obsession, Success, & Balance

2018 CrossFit Games: Mekenzie Riley Talks Obsession, Success, & Balance

Mekenzie Riley swam competitively for 15 years before she moved to CrossFit, and she hasn't slowed down at all.

Jul 28, 2018 by Roger Lockridge
2018 CrossFit Games: Mekenzie Riley Talks Obsession, Success, & Balance

Mekenzie Riley is no stranger to competitions. She competed for 15 years as a swimmer before moving into the field of CrossFit. She took to that like she previously took to water. In last year’s Games she finished 23rd. While it wasn’t the result she wanted, she’s obviously among the elite in the world of fitness. In 2018, the registered dietician from North Carolina is still working to be not only her best but among the best.

Name: Mekenzie Riley

Age: 30

City: Charlotte, NC

Occupation: Registered Dietician

Instagram: itskenzieriley

Competitive Highlights: 

-2017 Crossfit Games – 23rd overall

-2017 and 2018 Atlantic Regional – 3rd

-2017 and 2018 Mid-Atlantic Open – 1st 

Did you have any other experience in fitness before?

Yes, I swam competitively for 15 years.

What was it that led you to start taking part in CrossFit?

One of my former swim teammates mentioned he did it and recommend that I should try it. 

Were there any other stars at the Games you looked up to when you started?

Chyna Cho and Stacie Tovar were the first women I fangirled over. 

When was the first time you realized that you had the potential to make it to the level of the athletes in the Games?

I competed in offseason elite level competitions where I participated in online qualifiers in order to compete. This was in 2016 and a handful of the other girls whom I contended with that previous offseason had broken through and qualified. I knew if they were doing it, I could stand a chance to do it as well.

Now that you yourself are qualified, what does that feel like? For those of us that will be watching, tell us about how it feels to compete at the Games.

It’s surreal. Still. To know I had a crazy dream, almost an impossible dream in my mind, and little by little I grew and improved over time enough that I made that dream a reality. To stand alongside women I’ve idolized so long and consider them my “equals” is still just . . . surreal. 

Tell me about the difference between training in general and preparing for the Games. Is motivation greater, intensity higher, do you push yourself harder?

Games training is my favorite time of the year. I train high volume most of the year, so that’s nothing new. The outside-the-gym settings, the odd objects, and the weird skills are amplified. The “constantly varied” aspect of CrossFit is increased and it makes it even more fun, in my opinion! 

Who has helped you make it to this point as you approach the biggest event of the year? 

My husband — my best friend and biggest supporter, my coach and all the MisFit Athletics family/community, including all of my fellow athlete friends I get to virtually train with daily.

Mike Molly, my nutrition coach, mental health wrangler, and very good friend. Someone has to be the non-emotion overflowing voice of reason and he is that for me. There are also the affiliates I train at: CrossFit Northlake and CrossFit Mountain Island.

All my sponsors who provide support to me all year long (Romwod, Paleo Power Meals, Nova 3 Labs, SmashPack, Greater Than, Rx Smart Gear, and M2 Performance Nutrition).

My friends and family who always call or text, keeping up with my career in this crazy sport.

How do you balance everything in your life at this point? Preparing for the Games must be time-consuming as opposed to training for general fitness.

It’s not easy, and I admit — I’m not balanced at all, but it’s always in constant pursuit. I think, at this level of anything (being one of the best in the world at what you do), there is a certain amount of imbalance that is necessary. There’s a certain level of “obsessed” that you must be to achieve this level of success. So while I do have other obligations and interests in my life, aside from my family, this is my top priority and it just naturally takes the majority of my focus and attention. I believe that’s what they call passion.

Any advice for those WOD rookies that will be watching and wishing to be you?

If it both scares you and excites you, it might be a good thing to try. Don’t be afraid to dream big and take leaps of faith. No matter what you’re doing in life, if you aren’t fully happy or living with passion and love for what you do every day, change it! Take risks. F*%k fear. Follow your heart and follow your dreams!

Roger Lockridge is from Lewisburg, WV. His work has been featured on numerous platforms and magazines in the fitness industry over the last 10 years. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @rocklockridge.