A Different Path: Crossfit

A Different Path
A Different Path

This legendary CrossFitter couldn’t run a mile 10 years ago.

IF YOU RAN into the pretty, petite and soft-spoken Christmas Abbott on the streets of downtown Raleigh, Olympic weightlifter might not be the first thing to come to mind.

But with a name like Christmas, she’s used to raising a few eyebrows.

Abbott is a CrossFit celebrity and co-owner of Raleigh’s CrossFit Invoke, former Reebok-sponsored athlete and author of the best-selling book “The Badass Body Diet.”

And about 10 years ago, she could barely run a mile.

A self-proclaimed “rebel” growing up, Abbott, now 34, admits to drugs, drinking and smoking from her teenage years into her early 20s. In 2004, she was working as a defense contractor in Iraq when her life changed.

“I woke up one day and knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. The sound of incoming mortar bombs will give you a new perspective on life,” Abbott says.

She started working out with colleagues who were in the Special Forces. They were doing workouts like she had never seen before – hard, heavy, intense. It was her first foray into the world of CrossFit – a competitive fitness sport that early on was unofficially adopted by various branches of the military. CrossFit uses a combination of high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics and more.

She was hooked. She moved to Raleigh in 2009 and started coaching at a local CrossFit gym during the day and worked at The Raleigh Times at night as a waitress. She led a bootcamp called “30 Days of Christmas” and saved enough to open CrossFit Invoke in 2010. Her facility is one of the largest in the area in terms of equipment, members and coaches.

Abbott tries to be at Invoke during most weekdays, but she admits her travel schedule can be tricky. She goes around the country training for competitions, giving seminars and motivational speeches and has been named a host for the upcoming “Spartan Race” on NBC Sports.

HarperCollins, which published her first book in March 2015 has signed her for a second book aimed for release in early 2017. She’s launching a new online nutritional program in 2016 and is also developing a corporate wellness program.

“As my past indicates, I get in trouble with downtime. What can I say, I’m a woman of excess,” laughs Abbott. “But in all seriousness, I would much rather work my butt off and contribute something positive than find myself back into my old lifestyle. That terrifies me and pushes me.

“Since I started my life over, I’m on a different path. And the longer I’m on this path, the further removed I am from what I could have spiraled into. When I am on the road and get to meet people who changed their lifestyle because they heard my story, it means everything to me.”

Caroline Barnhill

Caroline Barnhill is a Raleigh Magazine features contributor and writer who has called the Raleigh area home for more than 20 years. A proud North Carolina State University alumna, she resides in Holly Springs with her husband, Chad, and their two sons Jack and Samuel. When she's not writing, you can usually find Caroline testing out a new recipe or having her patience tested by her young children. In related news, she's never been known to turn down a glass of wine.