LARGO, Fla. — Nearly two dozen people gathered at CrossFit Westchase Wednesday night to sweat. Some came to work off frustrations. Others, to strive towards personal fitness goals.
Lexi Youngberg was there for both those reasons.
“I’ve need to work on lifting heavier going forward,” said the 28-year-old California transplant, who has only been living in Florida for a few months.
Youngberg stood out among the crowd of dead lifters and barbell hoisters. She not only held her own but exceeded other athletes in many fitness disciplines-- all on one leg.
“She was our first adaptive athlete,” said CrossFit Westchase co-owner Guy Gyorkos. “Just kind of talking with her and getting to know her and what movements worked well for her was kind of just where we started.”
CrossFit Westchase opened five years ago and has multiple locations. Youngberg was attracted to the gym because of its approach to working out. It mirrored her own -- CrossFit is for everyone -- even women with a missing limb.
“I became an amputee at 16 after a boating accident,” she said after a 45-minute workout. “I lost a best friend in the accident and it put life in perspective.”
Youngberg has always been a competitive athlete. She grew up playing soccer and figure skating in southern California. She got a chance to run Division-II track at Azusa Pacific College and was recruited to run the U.S. Paralympic track, where she competed for six years.
CrossFit got her attention and she put her focus into it. She tried to make the CrossFit Games this year for the first time but came up one slot shy. Only the top five adaptive athletes earn a spot in the competition. She finished sixth.
“Never be afraid to not go for it. Have fun at whatever you’re doing but always give it your best,” she said. “I don’t always consider myself adaptive because I’m out here doing everything else with everyone else and pushing myself just as hard.”
Until the chance to advance to the CrossFit Games returns, Youngberg will be grinding at CrossFit Westchase. Her drive to succeed and prove amputees are strong athletes, too is a big reason why. Her confidence is infectious at the gym.
“Anytime you see someone like Lexi doing (things) it makes you think about maybe some of the excuses you’re making yourself,” said Gyorkos. “When you see someone like Lexi overcoming what she has, it’s pretty awesome.”
Youngberg moved to Florida to study to become a certified technician for prosthetics and orthotics. She hopes to help others who have lost limbs understand the possibilities within athletics.
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