Alejandra’s Full Biography
Name: Alejandra Estrella Vasquez
Demographic background: Born in California, raised in San Luis Mexico and Yuma County.
Athletic background: former marathon runner, amateur boxer and grappler.
Certifications: CF-L1 & USAW
Growing up Hispanic and with limited resources, being allowed to participate in sports was never a top priority for my family’s time. I grew up living a relatively sedentary life, focusing more on academics and video games and not necessarily have the best dietary intake. By the time I was 24 years of age, I looked and felt as if I was twice the age. I weighed in at 220lbs and had no athletic inclination.
Fresh out of nursing school, I knew I needed to make a change so I bought a membership at a local gym. I used the treadmills and occasionally hit the weight rooms, even though I had no clue what I was doing. After a while there, I decided to switch it up and joined a mixed martial arts gym, where I picked up on boxing, kickboxing, jiu jitsu, and my first experience with CrossFit. I began to lose some weight and shortly after, a friend challenged me to run a marathon. I decided I would take on that challenge.
I started with a print out of a running schedule to guide me through this adventure I had no idea how I would accomplish. I just knew I would do my best to put time into the training and then go for what was to come. Fast forward 5 months, I found myself crossing the finish line of the 2010 San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon. Tears of joy and a feeling of euphoria overcame my body the second I was on the other side of 26.2 miles.
The next few years I spent running and practicing martial arts, and then in early 2012 I visited a CrossFit establishment. I remember the workout included running and pushups. Going up against other members of the gym along with the challenge of the work out and hospitality of the coaches, had me instantly hooked.
A few weeks into CrossFit, I found out I had a bun in the oven. As a new mom to be, I knew that I wanted to stay healthy and safe for my pregnancy. After the initial “sick” phase, I turned to CrossFit as my choice of activity, since boxing, grappling, and long distances running were out of the question. CrossFit kept me strong and fit and was able to do most of the exercises in modified forms and also able to complete a Sprint Triathlon for the first time. I worked out up until the day before I went into labor. I had a fast labor and delivery and I attribute it to the strength and stamina that I had through being active during my pregnancy.
As soon as I could go back to the gym, I was back doing CrossFit to get in better shape. For the following two years, I picked up boxing and running again. My workouts were varied and intense. I spent time in all modalities but focused more on amateur boxing and championship bouts in The Valley. Running and CrossFit helped me have an edge that my opponents always seemed to lack… strength and stamina. After 9 bouts, I had earned 3 title belts and defended two of them twice, remaining invictus in my boxing run.
In July 2014, Coach Garnica encouraged me to compete in a CrossFit throwdown. That was another challenge I was very unsure of but I still took on. At that time, I did not know how to snatch properly with even an empty barbell and much less overhead squat anything more than maybe 65lbs. My technique was horrible in all my lifts; I did not own a pair of crossfit nanos, a lifting belt or lifting shoes. I don’t remember even owning a pair of wrist wraps, but I had one thing going for me… my heart and my engine. After several grueling workouts, in the middle of Main St. in Yuma on a hot July day, I had landed 2nd place overall for the female Rx division. I was beat and exhausted but had not felt that feeling of accomplishment since I had crossed the line of that very first marathon. I had so many participating athletes and spectators cheer for me during the challenges, it was amazing. One thing that I will never forget is that even the very athletes I was going up against, coached me and cheered for me during one of the challenges. It was then that I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me but I wanted to make CrossFit more a part of my life.
In 2015 after training for another championship boxing match, the fight was called off a few days before show time. I was highly disappointed; however, as a hybrid and prepared athlete, I immediately jumped ship to add a third triathlon to my books. I came in 1st place in my division and 2nd overall female. What made the experience even more exciting was that Coaches Steven Garnica and Sam Field took on the challenge with me and completed the triathlon with outstanding results. Crossing the finish line together was one of the most awesome experiences I have had in my athletic life. It was almost like it symbolized the beginning of a new journey that was ahead for all of us together. We were indubitably a dynamic trio.
The bonds and friendships made through CrossFit were something I had not quite experienced in any of the other modalities I practiced. I had made good friends and had good coaches, but CrossFit made me see the world differently. In late summer of 2015, I knew that through all my experiences, being a coach in CrossFit was part of my calling. Being able to help others achieve levels of self-confidence and trust along with a component of strength and ability was something my heart yearned to do.
In October of 2015, I took the CF-L1 certification course and a couple weeks later had my official certification in hand. After moving from Coach Garnica’s garage workout area, I began helping with some of the classes we held in that tiny matted space of the storage area. Starting as Hidden Valley Strength and Conditioning, I was part of a crowd with a passion and a vision for functional fitness, but it was also very new and intimidating to stand in front of a crowd that somehow trusted me to help make them better.
We wanted to help people by sharing that very “thing” that changed our own lives. We weren’t sure how we were going to do it, but we showed up and poured our hearts into it every day. As a coach, I walked in wanting to make a difference in others’ lives, a year later; I leave the gym everyday with awesome humans having made a difference in mine.
I am blessed to be part of the now CFHV family and coaching staff and to have the privilege to coach the amazing athletes we have as part of our family.