World-renowned CrossFit athlete Julie Foucher, also known as "one of the fittest women on Earth," not only seeks physical health but also looks to become a mentally fit person helping people to become healthier through the sport.
The 26-year-old has been one of the most successful women in CrossFit, one of the fastest growing sports incorporating interval training, weightlifting, gymnastics and other exercises.
But what makes her so special is not her four CrossFit Games appearances -- she finished second in the 2012 CrossFit Games and made a slew of top-place finishes in regional competitions -- but her pursuit of a medical career as a student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.
On Saturday, Foucher visited the 2015 Coaches Throwdown CrossFit event at Jamwon Han River Park in Seocho-gu, Seoul, and sat down with The Korea Times to talk about her love for the sport and how she links her medical career and CrossFit.
"What's unique about CrossFit is the community," Foucher said. "In general, it's more about supporting each other to be better every day, no matter what level you're at. So everyone is very supportive and you meet a lot of your best friends at the CrossFit gym and get to know each other very well."
After picking up the CrossFit in 2009, it took just six years for her to become one of the top stars of the sport. And she humbly said that she was "lucky."
"While growing up, I did gymnastics, and track and field, and then when I started college, I didn't really know what to do, because I didn't have any sports anymore. And so when I heard about CrossFit, and right when I walked in the gym, I knew this is exactly where I needed to be.
"I started with good coach right away, and so I proved a lot really quickly in the first year, just surprised myself that every competition I did somehow made it to the Games," Foucher said.
Among CrossFitters, she is admired for her grit and determination to the sport, which were displayed when she suffered a torn Achilles but continued to compete and finish events in a compression boot during the 2015 Central Regional.
Though she said she is rehabbing and the condition is getting better, she called it the end to her competitive athletic career in June and said she will focus on her medical career and try to become a doctor who can help prevent diseases through the sport.
"We see it all the time that people start doing CrossFit and they can cure diseases and stop having medications because they become so much healthier. There's always a place for medicines, but I think a lot of times people become so reliant on just taking medicines and they never address anything else. If you're not taking care of yourself, eating well, exercising, sleeping, then medicines are never going to make you feel 100 percent better."
Despite her pitch and the sport's growing popularity, many people are afraid to start the sport because it is also known for its grueling workouts. However, Foucher said the sport is scalable to people in all ages and all athletic abilities, so that they should not be intimidated.
"The best thing to do is just walk into a CrossFit gym. If you walk into the gym, you realize that probably a bunch of people there look just like you. Then you'll realize, ‘OK,' saying, ‘If they can do it, I can do it too,'" she said, She recommends a program called "Cindy" ― doing five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats as many times as possible in 20 minutes ― for beginners.
Foucher participated as an endorser of Reebok, the sponsor of the event, at Saturday's event. She was introduced to some 3,500 CrossFitters there and displayed some of her moves to enthusiastic cheering.
"It is my first visit to Korea and I was really impressed how quickly CrossFit is growing here too," she said. "I've been to five to six gyms (in Seoul) in the past couple of days and there was so much enthusiasm and people were so passionate about it."