CrossFit champion, Lindy Barber isn’t one to step down from a challenge. We got to chat with the inspirational athlete as she recounted her fitness journey, and how she navigated her career despite personal injuries that plagued her for years.
“Game over” – these are the words Lindy Barber used to describe the moment she discovered CrossFit. Barber had been searching for a new activity to curb her competitive cravings, and CrossFit, with its wide range of high energy workouts and intensity, was the perfect challenge. However, after visiting the doctors whilst treating a back injury, it was revealed that, unbeknownst to Barber, she’d been suffering from three different spinal conditions: scoliosis, spina bifida, and spondylolisthesis. She was told she would never be able to lift again, a diagnosis Barber just couldn’t accept.
She went back to the drawing board and completely transformed her training method. Being forced to slow down is often frustrating, but Barber took it in her stride and remained patient whilst negotiating the needs of her body and her training. It’s not just her perseverance that’s admirable, but her reasoning behind it: to inspire other people who have had the same life-changing experiences and show that their dreams aren’t futile. After two years of training, Barber began to compete again, and in 2016 she and her team became CrossFit champions. It was a “moment I will never forget”, she claimed, a manifestation of the physical and mental effort she’d put in to achieve her goals.
Today, Barber runs LB Fitness – an online training program focused on core strength and back health. It features different types of programming, each with varying levels of intensity and focusing on different elements of fitness. Her aim is to educate others on the knowledge she’s gained through her own experiences, and prove that sometimes, it’s limits that are meant to be broken.
What first got you into CrossFit?
I was a competitive soccer player my entire life. Once college sports were over, I still had a strong desire to find a new form of fitness and still had a competitive spirit within me. My sister-in-law invited me to join her at the gym that she was currently going to, which was a CrossFit gym. I went with her to try it out and loved it. I started going regularly on my own and eventually found out it was also a sport I could be competitive in. Game over.
In 2011, after your terrible injury and finding out you had been living with undiagnosed scoliosis, spina bifida, and spondylolisthesis, how did you get back into training?
My training methods changed completely. I had to be more diligent in my movement patterns, the weights that I was using, and the movements that I was putting together in workouts. I had to learn how to really listen to my body and give it a break whenever I felt any pain. At first, I was doing light weights with tempos and holds within the movements to make sure that I was moving safely and correctly, building up a strong baseline of strength. Eventually I got stronger and could go day to day without feeling any pain. I was then able to start increasing my intensity and load. This was all done very gradually over a two-year time frame to allow my body to be strong and healthy enough to compete. My mental toughness also grew from all the restraint, which I know benefitted me in the long run.
What has been your most memorable experience whilst competing?
Winning the CrossFit Games with my team in 2016 was a feeling and moment that I will never forget. To stand on that podium with a first-place T-shirt, a trophy, and popping a bottle of champagne, just five years after being told that I would never be able to lift again, was one of the proudest days of my life. I knew at that moment that there was nothing that I couldn't do. It was amazing.
Who inspires you to achieve your CrossFit goals?
The whole community of CrossFit and the fitness world in general. Once I found out about all the ‘limitations’ I was going to have to deal with, I wanted to achieve my goals even more. Not just for me, but to prove to others in the community who were suffering from back pain, who had also been told that “they would never be able to back squat", that they get to decide how to live their life. That’s your decision and yours alone. I wanted to be that inspiration to help others in the same position that I was in.
What has been the most mentally challenging CrossFit activity?
There are a couple of movements that come up in CrossFit workouts that I avoided in my personal training, which were overhead squats and GHD sit-ups. Throughout my years of training, I figured that out for myself. They were the two movements that always caused me some sort of pain, either during the workout, or in the days following. Once I figured this out, I prioritised my safety and took those movements out of my training program completely. I only performed them if they came up in competitions.
What did your diet look like whilst training for the CrossFit games?
While I was in full training I followed an RP strength template, which included lots of high-quality carbohydrates, proteins, and some fats. I had to eat enough to keep up with the demand of my training, so I counted all of my macros to make sure that I was eating enough throughout the day. The meals themselves were rather bland, but at the time it didn't matter to me. I would do whatever I needed to do to perform at my highest level.
You also run an online training programme ‘LB Fitness’. Can you tell us more about this programme and what we should expect from it?
I do! There are three levels of programming: Essentials, Progressive, and Premium. The Essentials program is a three day a week template programming, which can help anyone, but is especially for those who have had back pain or injury and are looking for ways to strengthen their lower back and core. The Progressive is a four day a week template programming – again, for anyone - but focuses on strength, gymnastics and conditioning. It aims to help you get stronger in an organized manner whilst increasing your skill and conditioning. It also improves your overall fitness. The Premium programming is completely customized programming for anyone who is interested and features me as your personal coach. We will create the program that you are looking for and I would be available to you at all times to give feedback, answer questions, and adjust programming to make sure you get the results you’re looking for.
What does your weekly workout routine look like?
I usually work out 5-6 days a week, but only for an hour a day. I still do CrossFit workouts and usually just follow along with my gym's programming. I like to throw in some extra lifting and running on some days just because I enjoy it, but right now it's all about working out because it's fun and I feel good doing it.
After all your hard work, what is your favourite way to treat yourself?
I don't need a reason to treat myself, I do that every day no matter what! I love to bake and cook so whenever a recipe catches my eye, I love to spend time in the kitchen to create exactly what I'm craving. My husband doesn't mind too much either!
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