An Interview with Julie Foucher CrossFit Games Athlete
Why she uses a weighted vest for CrossFit workouts
Hyperwear ambassador, Julie Foucher, is not your average athlete. A 4x CrossFit Games competitor, who placed 2nd in 2012 and 3rd in the 2014, is also a fulltime medical student at Cleveland Clinic. We met her after seeing video of her using our Hyper Vest weighted vest for CrossFit training.
The video was a preview of the top athletes for the CrossFit Games and many of them were wearing a weighted vest for CrossFit training. One of them, Julie Foucher, was well on her way to the 2015 Games as one of the favorites when she tragically tore her Achilles tendon during regionals at the end of May.
We recently sat down with Julie Foucher to talk about her grueling training schedule, the road to recovery, how she stays focused on her medical career and her love for Hyperwear products and weighted vest for CrossFit training.
Q: How did you get started in CrossFit?
Julie Foucher: I got started with Crossfit back in 2009 when I first met my fiancé. He was looking at the CrossFit.com website and I immediately was curious and wanted to know what it was all about. So we started doing some Crossfit workouts and shortly after we joined our local CrossFit affiliate.
Q: Have you always been athletic?
Julie Foucher: Yeah, sports have always been a big part of my life. I grew up doing gymnastics all through high school. I also ran track so once I got to college and I no longer had that environment of being on a sports team I felt lost and I was really excited to finally find CrossFit and feel like I was part of a team again, have a coach and a place to go train.
Q: How do you pull off being a top CrossFit athlete and a medical school student?
Julie Foucher: I’ve been really lucky that I have been able to balance training for the CrossFit Games and being in medical school at the same time. I’ve been able to structure my schedule through medical school so that I could spend more time training in certain years. And then in other years, like my 2nd year of medical school I decided I had to take the year off of competing because that was just too demanding. So I’ve been able to shift my focus ￼here and there so that I could focus on training for a competition or focus more on med school at different times.
Q: What do you love most about CrossFit?
Julie Foucher: The thing that I love most about CrossFit is the community. It’s so much more than just exercising and improving your health. It’s about supporting each other to be better in all aspects of your life. Once you’re part of a CrossFit gym and part of that community you immediately have a support network and you have people who are going to help you and want you to succeed in anything that you are doing in life.
Q: How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Julie Foucher: CrossFit has completely changed my life and impacted it in numerous ways. Not only has it given me a platform to compete but also it allowed me to help and inspire other individuals to live healthier lives. It’s also helped me meet some of my closest friends and build relationships with people that I’ll continue for the rest of my life. And I know I will always be a big part of CrossFit whether I’m competing or whether I’m doing it just simply to be healthier and have functionality hopefully later into my life. So it’s completely changed the course of my life.
Q: What do you do for fun when you are not doing CrossFit or Med School?
Julie Foucher: I’m usually just hanging out with friends, going out to eat and grilling in our backyard. I like to just take time to chill with friends and family I really care about. I also love being outside in the Summer. I like to be on the lake or somewhere near the water. And in the Winter we like to go skiing and snowboarding.
Q: What advice would you give someone looking to start CrossFit?
Julie Foucher: For someone looking to start CrossFit I would tell them not to be intimidated and not to be afraid. It might seem from the outside to be a little bit scary, especially if you’ve never lifted weights before. But if you walk into a CrossFit affiliate and you find a good coach you will be able to build ￼yourself up from square one. So you start with the very basics and you will quickly see that there are people in the gym that are just like you. There are people that have been athletes their whole lives, or people who haven’t worked out at all until their 30s or 40s. You are able to scale the workouts and learn the basics so that you can get an effective workout that’s tailored to your abilities. You really only have to compare yourself to yourself.
Q: What athletic accomplishment are you most proud of?
Julie Foucher: I’m most proud of my consistency at the CrossFit Games. From the first year I competed in 2010 until last year I’ve never placed outside the top 5. I think that even more than my best placement, which was 2nd in 2012, I’m more proud of the fact I’ve been able to stay consistent and continue to get better along with all the other top athletes over these last few years. And I know that my training has prepared me well to stay with that group and continue to perform well every year.
Q: What do you think it takes to win the Games?
Julie Foucher: To win the Games I think it takes a lot of training and dedication through the year. It also takes some sort of natural talent. But the most important part is the mental aspect. You have to have the confidence you can win and the resiliency to bounce back whenever something doesn’t go as you expected. Undoubtedly something is going to happen over the course of the weekend that doesn’t go your way and that doesn’t mean it’s over. So I think the people who have been able to win have been able to overcome that and have the mental strength to still have confidence no matter what happens.
Q: Who’s on your money to win the 2015 Games?
Julie Foucher: I don’t know if I want to put my money on any one person to win The 2015 Games. I think that it would be great to see someone new up there on the podium for the women. I think there are a lot of girls who have the potential and hopefully it will be a really close and exciting competition.
￼There are people like Annie Thorisdottir who’s been up there several times and she’s always going to be a strong competitor. Obviously Camille, the reigning champ, will be hard to beat. And then you have some other new faces, like Sara Sigmundsdottir from Iceland, who is also looking really strong.
Q: If you could add an event to the games what would it be?
Julie Foucher: If I could add an event to the Games it would something longer. There is usually a long event. I really liked the triathlon that we did in 2012 so I think I would make sure there was something really long, around 2 hours.
Q: What does a typical training week look like for you?
Julie Foucher: Typically I train 5 days a week and then the other 2 days are my active rest days. So I’ll do a swim, longer run or row lower in intensity but still allowing me to move and get some training in. On my training days it could be anywhere from 36 hours or sometimes even 7 hours in the gym depending on the day or time of year. I’m always doing a CrossFit workout, some sort of weightlifting, Olympic lifting and gymnastics skill work. And usually some sort of longer workout like a sled push or farmer carry.
Q: Do you take days off?
Julie Foucher: I very rarely take a day completely off. I usually like to do something just to get my body moving and help it recover. Whether it’s rowing a 5k at a really slow pace, yoga or going for a jog. I usually like to get something in.
Q: What’s the biggest weakness you’ve had to overcome?
Julie Foucher: The biggest weakness I’ve had to overcome is my onerep max strength and with that it was more mental than physical. For me it was hard to learn how to get in the right state and mindset to go for a real onerep max lift. I think over the last few years I’ve been able to really push my boundaries and grow a lot in that area.
￼Q: What are your recovery secrets after a CrossFIt competition or a hard training session?
Julie Foucher: I think recovery is really important. I spend a lot of time making sure that I get a lot of sleep and let my body recover. I think nutrition is a huge part of recovery as well. Also doing little things like mobilizing, using a foam roller, getting a massage. I usually get a massage and see the chiropractor once a week when I’m training a lot. I use the normatec a lot which provides compression and gets the blood flowing throughout your legs and arms. The mark pro has also been a really great tool to help my muscles recover. It becomes almost a full time job just making sure you recover from the workouts too.
Q: What’s your typical daily diet like?
Julie Foucher: Usually when I wake up in the morning I’ll have 3 eggs and a green smoothie, which consists of frozen bananas, frozen grapes, a lot of greens, chia seeds and maybe some almond butter. Sometimes I’ll also have another fruit or some sweet potatoes depending on if I’m going to be training a lot that day. Lunch and dinner is usually some sort of meat, vegetables and sweet potatoes. After I train I usually have a protein shake with coconut water, some more sweet potatoes and some little snacks throughout the day.
Q: Do you have favorite cheat meals or snacks?
Julie Foucher: My favorite cheat meal is anything with chocolate, especially chocolate ice cream. I usually have some sort of chocolate everyday; I like really dark chocolate, like 8590% cacao is usually my go to cheat.
Q: What do you like about the Hyper Vest Pro weight vest?
Julie Foucher: I like the Hyper Vest Pro weight vest for CrossFit because it’s really comfortable. It fits really close to your body and allows you to move naturally when you are training. It doesn’t get in the way. It allows you to do things like pullups, handstand ￼pushups, and running without hitting you in the face or coming undone or anything like that. It becomes part of your body.
Q: What do you prefer about the Hyper Vest Pro to other weight vests?
Julie Foucher: Other weight vests that I’ve used have had bulkier weights or haven’t been as close fitting. I find the Hyper Vest Pro to be great because it really fits close to your body and doesn’t move around or get in the way when you are working out.
Q: What does using a weighted vest for CrossFit workouts add to your training?
Julie Foucher: The Hyper Vest PRO has been a crucial part of my training over the past few years, especially for developing my gymnastics proficiency. I use it a lot when I’m working on skills like handstand pushups, pull ups, muscle ups and rope climbs. It allows me to make gains much quicker than I would if I weren’t using it. I know that if I can do strict handstand pushups with the vest on, when I take it off they are going to be so much easier in competition. I also use it for MURPH.
Q: When did you first start using weighted vests for CrossFit?
Julie Foucher: I first started using the Hyper Vest Pro weighted vest for CrossFit two years ago. I bought the weight vest off of the Rogue website. They offer other weighted vest for CrossFit but I liked the design of the Hyper Vest. I was really excited to find the product and it’s been huge part of my training ever since.
Q: How will you use the Hyper Vest Pro as a part of your recovery?
Julie Foucher: I think now more than ever that I’m recovering from my Achilles repair and can’t do a lot of lower body work a weighted vest for CrossFit recovery is going to be really important for me to keep my upper body strong and provide more variation for all the different exercises that I’m doing.
Q: What do you like about the Hyperwear SandBells & SteelBells?
Julie Foucher: I like the SandBells and SteelBells because they are odd objects. They are not like a barbell or dumbbells that have handles. They are more like something you’d encounter in real life. In the Games in the past we’ve ￼had to pick up odd objects like sandbags that are more difficult to handle. I think the SandBells add a good aspect of variance to your training.
Q: What are some of your favorite exercises to do with the SandBell?
Julie Foucher: I like to use SandBells for things like farmer’s carries which I have normally done with kettlebells and dumbbells. I’ve also done sled drags where I drag a sled behind and hold a SandBell in front. They are great for other things like situps, sprints or even longer runs holding them on my shoulders. Keep in mind you can also wear your weighted vest for CrossFit training all the time.
Q: What’s on your workout playlist?
Julie Foucher: When I workout I like to listen to really upbeat, techno type music like Calvin Harris or Avicii. I also like to listen to country when I’m lifting or doing skill work. Those are usually my two goto stations.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Julie Foucher: I think the best advice I’ve ever gotten is from my Mom; do what you love. I think she’s always encouraged me and my sister to follow our dreams and do what it is we are most passionate about. That has taken my really far already and I think it gives you a lot more satisfaction as you go through life.
Q: Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
Julie Foucher: I think over the past few years competing in CrossFit there are four words I often repeat to myself; desire, deserve, believe, inspire.
I’ve realized it is really important if you want to achieve anything you have to really want it and desire it. Then you have to put the work in to earn it. So you have to deserve whatever it is that you’re going for. And I think the most crucial thing is that you have to believe it’s possible. I think a lot of people struggle with having the confidence to do something and so they don’t set their goals as high as they could. Then inspire, because for me that provides a lot of the reason why I do what I do, hopefully it inspires other people to live their lives more fully.
Q: Who’s your favorite athlete?
Julie Foucher: My favorite athletes to watch are gymnasts. Growing up as a gymnast myself, I love watching the Olympics and watching them compete. So I follow a lot of the gymnasts and look up to them for their dedication and work ethic.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting to workout?
Julie Foucher: I would say set a goal of where you want to be, make a plan and follow it. I think a lot of people get really impatient when they first start and they don’t see immediate improvements. It takes a lot of time but eventually you will start to see improvements If you don’t have the patience to follow through with the plan then you are never going to see the results and you are going to get frustrated. So set a goal, make a plan and stick to it. And try using a weighted vest for CrossFit workouts.