Kari Pearce is known as one of CrossFit’s most fierce competitors. She’s also known for one specific body part.
“I have gotten so many compliments about my abs over the years and was often asked how someone can get abs like me,” said the 31-year-old American, who has her own workout business aptly named PowerAbs.
Pearce, who has been crowned the United States’ “Fittest Women” three times, said having great abs isn’t as much about aesthetics as it is feeling good about yourself and your body.
“What has also been amazing is how it increases people’s confidence,” she said. “So many people have told me how they never felt comfortable going to the beach or pool before, or even in their own clothes, but now they look forward to showing off their hard-earned abs.”
Spectacular midsection aside, Pearce is set to show off her skills as one of the final five competitors at the 2020 CrossFit Games. Along with reigning champion Tia-Clair Toomey, Pearce will join Katrin Davidsdottir, Haley Adams and Brooke Wells in Aromas, California, for the finale from October 23-25.
Pearce is no stranger to the finals. In her debut in 2015 she finished 21st. She followed that with a string of impressive finishes, fifth in 2016, 10th in 2017, sixth in 2018 and fifth last year. With a background in gymnastics where she spent 18 years training and competing, Pearce said she first found CrossFit in 2014 while living in New York and doing powerlifting.
“I had a college teammate that kept telling me I should try it, but I didn’t want anything related to gymnastics because I was burnt out of it. I saw the Games on ESPN one day and decided that my teammate was right and I could be pretty good at it.”
Pearce, who originally grew up in Michigan, flew out of the gate, coming third in the East Regionals in 2015, and said she was quick to tackle any deficiencies she might encounter in such a well-rounded pursuit like CrossFit.
“Since I came from powerlifting, my conditioning needed much work. My old co-workers would make fun of me for doing the stairs, saying it was too much cardio. However, with some work my conditioning definitely improved.”
Zoom ahead to this year and the CrossFit world found itself in the same boat as every other sport: thrown for a loop by the coronavirus. CrossFit also had to deal with the controversy created by former CEO and founder Greg Glassman, and opted for an online format for the first part of the 2020 CrossFit Games.
This meant 30 men and women competing in their own gyms over two days, vying for one of five final spots. Pearce, who came sixth worldwide in the online, five-week 2020 CrossFit Open (and first in the US), said there is definitely a difference in doing events solo.
“Competing online has its pros and cons, similar to anything else. It is nice being in a controlled environment. I actually decided to travel to California to do Stage One of the CrossFit Games. The spectators are something that makes an in-person competition so nice because I get amped up hearing all of the cheering. I am lucky in that there is usually a good amount of people that come cheer me on, whether it is during the Open or for the Games.”
Standing between Pearce and CrossFit glory is a massive challenge once again. Reigning champion Toomey is looking for an unprecedented fourth title, and is the odds-on favourite after winning the online competition handily.
Pearce said beating her will require a lot of things to go right for the other competitors, and things to go wrong for the Australian.
“Someone beats Toomey by being perfect and also getting some gifts. She is such a well-rounded athlete that no matter what the programming is, you know she will do well. My plan for California is to go out there and do what I know how to do.”
With only five competitors in California, Pearce said rebounding from poor outings will be key as the three days unfold under the watchful eye of CrossFit Games director Dave Castro.
“Something that is always important but especially this year is to remember that if an event doesn’t go my way, then shake it off and move on to the next event. You can’t have one mistake ruin your whole competition.”