Abigail Domit is a rising star in the sport of CrossFit. Just several years into finding CrossFit, Abbie has already been to Semifinals twice, once on a team and this past year as an individual where she took 16th overall at the Syndicate Crown.
With another year of training, Abbie has her sights set on moving up the leaderboard and making a run at the Games. With the 2023 CrossFit Open coming up quickly, we wanted to catch up with Abbie and learn about her athletic background, how her mindset around body image changed following her modeling career and how she is approaching the 2023 CrossFit Games season.
So without any further delay, get to know Abbie Domit…
When did you start CrossFit and how did you get introduced to it?
I began CrossFit in spring of 2020. My husband, Antun, had started a few months prior and would try to convince me to join on the daily. I wasn’t into it. At the time, I saw CrossFit as a workout class you had a membership for, similar to spin class or Zumba. We had watched the 2019 games documentary on Netflix where I learned there is a whole other side, CrossFit as sport.
But, I still wasn’t entirely convinced. The box nearby had a huge deal doing on and Antun actually got me a 3 months membership without telling me. I acquiesced and decided I’ll go but, once those 3 months pass, I am never stepping foot in the gym again. Of course, by the time I was a week in I was already hooked and wanted more. The timing was perfect with COVID, because I wasn’t able to get back to LA for my work, for that city was much more restricted than San Antonio ever was.
So having to return to Texas for an extended period of time meant an opportunity to start something new. As unfortunate as the pandemic was for evident reasons, it was a blessing in disguise for me, for I desperately needed some alteration in my life.
What was your athletic background growing up?
I was mostly raised in the Midwest, born in Michigan, where lived in a tiny little house in the cereal bowl of America for the first few years of my life. We then moved to the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, where I spent most of my childhood.
I’ve always been very active. I played outside every single day. Growing up in the here we had all the seasons, which meant lots of snow shoveling, leave raking, and lawn mowing. Except I only did that last part once, I usually just watched my brother take care of that and occasionally my older sister.
We had a huge forest behind the neighborhood, “the woods”, where my brother and I spent lots of time building forts, bridges, climbing trees, the older kids would go out there and play paintball. We also had a big grassland, “the commons”, where we’d have baseball games and kickball. As far as organized “sports” I did dance, soccer, gymnastics, track, cheer, then eventually some half marathons as well as just basic body weight home workouts.
Gymnastics was my first true love, once I got signed up for that my whole world changed. It was unfortunate because I started very late. I had taught myself the basics at home in the backyard; backhand springs, front hand springs, back tucks, swinging around the monkey bars at school. I had already won the Presidential fitness award at school every year. In 5th grade, I was the only one who received it so I had to go stand on the stage by myself when they announced my name. My face turned the color of a tomato as some of the boy’s dads yelled out “show us your guns Abbs”! I needed to prove to my mom it would be worth it and I was going to go to the Olympics (ha).
By the time I convinced her I was serious about doing it I was 10 and a half going on 11. I went in blazing through the levels and eventually we had to move to a more serious gym. I told my new coach about my Olympic dreams and he told me the only way that was going to happen was if I made the national team by the time I was 12— and I had just turned 12. I felt my heart shatter like a glass that had been knocked off the table by an elbow. I just couldn’t slow down time, no matter how hard I worked. He said “I think we can get you to college for free”. I trained as much as I could, but eventually I was overdoing it.
My nutrition severely lacked, and there were lots of pesky injuries; black eyes, concussions, broken noses, but when I turned 13 I had my biggest break that took the longest to recover. I had taken a major fall from the uneven bars and cracked my shins on the high bar while doing a dismount and landed on my neck. I thought my legs were definitely broken but instead they were just chipped and the nerves are dead. My main issue was the 3 broken bones in my lumbar. This took some time to heal. I had some growth spurts during those months and by the time I came back I had a whole different body to work with. The skills I used to do were now terrifying. I probably grew 5 inches. I broke my heel as soon as I went back, but went ahead finished the competitive season. That was the end of my 3.5 years as a gymnast.
We decided I needed to heal my body and plus we were moving to Illinois where the nearest gym was an hour away. My mom said we could make it work but, I just didn’t want to keep going at that point. I was about to start high school where things were going to be very different. I had different wants, ready to begin a new chapter in my life. So I cheered.
Technically I cheered in 8th grade but my back was broken almost the whole season so didn’t do much there. Cheer in Illinois was a heck of a time. The head coach was the most incredible woman, she was like another mother to all of us. People always talk about gymnastics being a big advantage going into CrossFit, but they tend to forget about cheerleading and dance. The athletic abilities required will do wonders for someone interested in joining CrossFit. In cheer, you have to throw people, which can easily transfer to moving weight. Plus all the jumping, tumbling, not to mention shouting at the top of your lungs at the same time, that will get you beat down if you’re not used to it.
I was doing track at the same time during the first 2 years. I loved track. We had hardly any girls on the team so each one of us had to do 4 events per meet. I did pole vault, sometimes high jump, sometimes long jump, sometimes triple jump, 800s, sometimes 400s, sometimes 4×800, and 4×400. When we moved to Texas the summer before my junior year I had to decide between cheer or track. My track coach begged me to stick with track, she said I had so much potential and it would be so much easier to get to college that way rather than cheer. Plus, cheer came with a lot of injuries especially if you were any good. In track, all the pain was usually muscular or tendon issues, maybe some broken feet and hip stuff from going round and round the same direction.
But I wanted to cheer, I wanted to cheer in college and be a captain and I loved competing on a stage. So thats what I did, except not quite. I did get to be the captain but, I had broken the same bones in my back again when I was 17, a senior. Doctor told me good luck with the wheelchair I will have to use forever if I decide to keep going. So I stopped. That meant no scholarship, which meant community college, but I didn’t care. Which I didn’t care much about anything during those years anyway. I loved the random jobs I had. I worked tons of hours and never spent a dime so I had plenty to put towards tuition on top of grant money.
Then something else had happened a few months prior before the latest back injury; I had got my first modeling job for Varsity Magazine. It’s a cheer catalog that our choreographer told me to submit photos to in secret one day after practice. I say “in secret” because all the girls were afraid of him, but he had a sweet spot for me because I was the captain plus I competed on his Allstar team where he was the head coach. I got the job and they flew me out to the headquarters and had one of the coolest weeks of my life at that point. I didn’t take on modeling as a career till I was already beginning college but I know if I didn’t stick with cheer after moving to Texas, that opportunity may have never came up and one thing led to another.
Did you know you wanted to compete in the sport of CrossFit when you started or has that evolved as you got better?
1000%! wanted to compete as soon as I joined. If I wasn’t going to compete I don’t think I would’ve even got involved with CrossFit. What got me into it was knowing that the CrossFit games exists. I don’t do this to be fit. Fitness is a natural way of life and it’s something that will always be a part of my day. I think the desire to move and feel physical strain is something that all living animals simply need. So yes, I see my entire CrossFit experience as a competitive outlet.
It looks like you did a lot of modeling back in the day. Have your thoughts on body image changed since finding CrossFit?
As we all know, if you want to be successful at CrossFit you need to be pretty darn strong. And being strong looks different on everyone. For me, modeling was what helped me be comfortable in my own skin. All issues I had with my body were resolved during that time in my life, for the most part. That was a long, wild road in itself, but by the time I got to CrossFit I had already had the mentality that I will be in control of what happens to my body, and I’d never let someone’s opinion of how I look impact me ever again.
Now, the biggest change when finding CrossFit was how I viewed the scale. Today, as an athlete, I weigh myself every morning. I do this to make sure I am maintaining and not losing weight. If I happen to gain a little, I get happy because this is a good thing for my training.
Years ago, I hated looking at the scale, because it meant something so different. Back then, when a number would show up that I actually liked, it was nearly impossible to maintain because it just wasn’t a healthy weight for someone of my height and my natural muscle build. My weight fluctuated a lot back then, that’s why I preferred to look at the scale less. The less I looked at it, the more my weight maintained itself and the better I felt.
In the first few months of joining CrossFit, I gained a solid 10 pounds easily. This was purely from the workouts pushing me and intuitive eating. I needed those pounds in order to simply be healthy, and I felt great and actually appeared very fit. Then I started gaining more and more due to muscle building and “rookie gains”. My friend who was coaching me at the time would tell me I needed to eat everything I can, everyday, for a while and that’s what I did.
I think every girl goes through the whole “I don’t wanna be bulky” phase. And its almost comical because nobody ever actually gets “bulky”. If I look at myself, its obvious that I have gained muscle and overall weight. But, I don’t look that different, my musculature is more defined but not to the point where one wouldn’t recognize me, its still my body that I have always had. Your shoulders don’t magically become wider, they were already super broad. If you see a girl with big legs, I guarantee she already had fairly large legs to begin with.
In modeling, I never got certain jobs like runway shows during fashion week like some of my other friends did. It was because I was “the fit girl”. I had broad shoulders, bigger calves and my thighs weren’t stick slim. Sure, in the moment when they are saying things to your face it can feel awkward, or when they make you leave a job because the thigh high boots won’t fit your legs. Part of me did want to be super thin mostly for how the clothing fit in photoshoots (the camera always adds weight of course), but deep down I loved working out and that was always more important to me than being some basic skinny chick.
To me, being strong was always cooler. I actually would get upset when people weren’t capable of doing certain things because their athleticism lacked. If I was hanging with a friend and they couldn’t jump the fence I’d feel angry with them and say, “what are we supposed to do with you? How are you even going to survive life if you can’t even jump this fence?” I was once looking after this little girl and she wouldn’t do a cartwheel and I became so frustrated with her. She kept saying she was scared and I told her “what could you possibly be afraid of? It’s a cartwheel! You just do it!” I could go on and on about the times I made my friends do pushups because they couldn’t do pull-ups and it disgusted me, but I digress.
All in all I have always viewed people who are fit as far more inspiring than those who are blandly thin and couldn’t throw a hammer past their shoe. Not all fit people look the same but they do move similar. They have a certain stance and gait that is powerful, robust, can’t be broken. When you push a non fit person they fall on their face without grace, when you push a fit person they roll and bounce back in perfect formation.
This whole body image thing we have going on in the CrossFit space, and fitness industry in general, to me its all about power. I’d say it goes deeper than looks, I think its more about owning your shit. Taking full responsibility for everything that happens in your life, now that’s powerful. When you feel that, things like how you look just won’t bother you, you rise above it. But only you can claim your power. Seeing fitness as an appearance thing really throws me off. I see it as a survival mechanism. Its very primal, and dives into our fight or flight. When being chased can you run away fast enough? If they catch you will you be able to fight them off? When in hiding can you control your breathing to stay quiet until they leave? Do you have the balance to tip toe quickly but silently? If you fall off the boat will you be able to swim the distance back to shore? Can you pull your body over the wall? I wonder how did fitness become more about looks than a way of making it through life?
You’ve had great success making it to Semifinals (once on a team and last year as an individual) shortly after starting CrossFit. What do you think helped to accelerate in the sport so quickly?
I think anyone who is meant to be a Games contender is good enough in the beginning. By “good enough” I mean they can pickup on skills easily, they aren’t super awkward at moving weight, naturally decent cardio, all things that show they have potential. When people begin CrossFit (or anything that exists really), they all begin at different places. If you join and you can run a sub 6 mile on day 1, you are sitting in a very different place than someone who can’t do it sub 9.
Someone who’s been doing push-ups and pull-ups their whole life will be in a very different place than someone who cannot do a pull-up without a band. Gaining muscle is something that can take a very long time, but not each person struggles the same with it. What physical activities you did in your background, as well as genetics plays major roles in that realm. Other than that, I’m simply very driven. I wouldn’t dare say I am doing something if I wasn’t all in.
In my opinion, I don’t think I’m accelerating quickly, I think I’m right on time.
What have you been working during this offseason to help move up the leaderboard in 2023?
All aspects across the board need to be better. I don’t have any blaring holes that need to be filled, but overall I need to master everything. Yes, some movements are better than others but nothing drastic.
My first year of doing CrossFit, it mostly revolved around just getting generally fit, and being comfortable doing these type of workouts. I didn’t really have expectations during my first open, but after it completed and I moved on to quarterfinals, of course I wanted to make it to the next round. However, I just wasn’t good enough that year so I hopped on a team to do semifinals that way cause why not? Otherwise my season would have just been over.
My second year, I needed to make more strength gains and fix my lifting form because I was hurting myself. So during that off season I did literally no mono structural cardio. I spent some time working with an Oly coach to help me fix technique. I needed to gain more muscle, clean up my skills, and get my numbers up. By the time the 2022 open came around I didn’t like how my breathing felt, burpees were the worst, and things like running had already started going down the drain.
Overall, I felt very anxious about how my scores ended up, I thought I was going to improve more than I did. But, it was all worth it because quarterfinals went much better than the previous year, so I qualified to compete at semifinals individually this time. All that time spent working to get better at various skills and getting my lifts more technically proficient was what made my placement improve a lot in the quarterfinal competition. Then at semifinals, obviously I wanted to qualify for the finals, but I just wasn’t there yet.
This year, we’ve just been working on making everything better. I had started working with my coach Matt to help me hone in on all the details and give me more structure. I feel really good right now about how everything is going. I am very excited to see how the work has payed off this season. I love the process and I believe everything is right on track with how its supposed to be.
Has your mindset changed from your first competition to now?
Man, oh man! It’s changed so much. I always knew what the goals were but I look back and thought I was oh-so dedicated when in reality, it doesn’t even compare to how I am now. At first, I would try to train a lot but at the same time I wasn’t completely letting go of the life I had. I love making money so I would still try to catch as many gigs as I could even if it meant skipping out on meals or sleep.
Eventually, I realized that if I am going to reach my peak fitness, I am going to have to make some major changes to my lifestyle. When I was modeling, I lived out of a suitcase, ate whatever I found, and put myself in lots of crazy situations. I was going to have to spend money on things like food, water, proper footwear, things I need in order to take care of myself and keep my fitness at a level to perform. The bare minimum was no longer going to cut it. CrossFit has changed me so much, but at the same time my core beliefs remain the same. I’m still a single minded person who is all in on whatever I’m doing no questions asked.
Who is your support team? Who is your coach/ training program? Who else supports you throughout the season?
I have had so many different people give me guidance and support thus far. Although I had only recently got a coach going on about 3 months ago, I have had multiple people “coach” me in different ways. I’ve had various workout partners in order to help me excel and push myself harder, last year I had a weightlifting coach teach me better technique for a matter of months, full time access to gyms so I can train whenever I need, I have also had help from sponsorships. I really feel very supported and I owe it to those people to really go for it and take advantage of whatever resources I can get.
As far as programming, I was doing mayhem for a while, but I really needed something specific to me. But, like I said I started working with a full time coach, Matt Bryant, with Golden Line and it has been going very well for me. It is very different from what I was doing and I love the improvements I’ve been seeing. And of course, my absolute number one is Antun, my husband, he’s there ride or die always. He’s the one who first pushed me to start this sport, and the one who first believed in me to go all the way with it.
What do you enjoy doing outside of the gym?
I’m a pretty voracious reader. I love to spend time in my library snuggled up with a book and my two cats. I read anything and everything; history, anthropology, philosophy, philosophical fiction, psychological thriller, horror, memoirs, whatever really. It works because with training you cannot travel much. Sure, you can take the occasional trip, but certainly won’t be on the go constantly by any means. Books can take you on a journey without having to leave your seat. Other than that we love to go camping, live music, kicking back with friends, good conversation, and going to the movies.
What would the perfect Open workout look like for you?
Hmm…a perfect open workout? I think it would be really fun to do a 20 minute AMRAP of 30 cal row, 30 toes to bar, and 300ft shuttle run in 25ft increments. Why not?!
Abbie trains out of Lone Star CrossFit in San Antonio, Texas. She is currently ranked 131st in the current CrossFit Games worldwide ranking. She will be competing out of the North America West region this year. Make sure to follow Abbie on Instagram, @abbiedomit.