9 Questions With Reebok CrossFit Athlete Chyna Cho

Chyna Cho Reebok CrossFit Grace
CrossFit athlete Chyna Cho in the women's-only Reebok CrossFit Grace.

CrossFit has been good to Chyna Cho. The sport introduced her to her husband, Freddy, and provided an outlet for her competitive energy when her collegiate swimming career at San Jose State came to a close.

The Reebok-sponsored athlete (and co-owner of CrossFit of Fremont, in Newark, Calif.) hopes the sport will continue to be good to her with an entry in the upcoming CrossFit Games. Cho is making sure she’s in shape and prepared to podium by working out twice a day in Reebok’s new women’s-only sneaker for the sport, the CrossFit Grace (out now for $99.99), getting nine hours of sleep a night, and sticking to a macro-counting diet planned by CrossFit veteran Matt Chan.

Chyna Cho Reebok CrossFit Grace

Reebok CrossFit Grace, $99.99; reebok.com

During a break from training, Footwear News caught up with Cho to discuss the Reebok CrossFit Grace, her workout playlist, and what lifts she loves — and loathes.

How does the Reebok CrossFit Grace compare to the brand’s other CrossFit shoes, such as models from its Nano franchise?
Chyna Cho:
If you look good, you feel and perform good, [and] the Grace is really girly and cute. It’s lightweight, the lightest shoe I’ve trained in from Reebok. The Nano is awesome, it’s extremely sturdy and is one of my favorite shoes — especially the Nano 6 — but it’s a little bit heavier.

Does the Grace compare more to the Reebok CrossFit Speed TR? Or does it perform more like a lighter Nano?
It’s definitely like the Speed, and I love the Speed. It’s very similar to the Speed, but it looks girly and more feminine, and translates into real-life clothing. If I were to travel at the airport, I would totally rock this shoe and not feel like a gym rat.

Can you share your experience working out in the Reebok CrossFit Grace for the first time?
I literally thought, “I look really cute right now.” And I was surprised they held up so well with the things I did. I rope climbed in them, I did super-high box jumps, [and] I did some sled pushes outside.

Chyna Cho Reebok CrossFit Grace Chyna Cho doing a sled push in the Reebok CrossFit Grace. Courtesy of Reebok.

What does Reebok releasing a CrossFit shoe specifically for women say about the sport’s popularity with women?
CrossFit is unique, in the sense that it has created a different view of female culture and community in the fitness world. Women are doing things that they never thought they’d be able to do, like their first pull-up. You don’t really get that opportunity in spin or a yoga class. This lets women do what the men do and compare themselves to men in a really cool way.

How important is it for people giving the sport a shot for the first time to wear CrossFit-specific footwear?
Everything in CrossFit is about movement and moving to the best of your ability, and shoes have a huge impact on that. For example, if I buy a shoe with a really squishy heel that’s lightweight and knit, it can really affect your squat and how you plant yourself into the ground. Or if you climb a rope, the shoe will just totally fall apart. It sets you up for success when you have the right shoes on your feet.

What’s on your WOD playlist?
I only have two songs that I listen to pretty much every time that I go to the gym: “Invincible,” from the band Skillet, and “Rollin’,” from Limp Bizkit. If I’m at the gym, I’m either playing the Spice Girls [station on] Pandora or the Blink 182 [station on] Pandora. It’s the music that everyone knows but doesn’t necessarily like; everyone could sing to Britney Spears or Spice Girls or at least recognize the song, even if they don’t like it. I love being in the middle of a workout and dying and being like, “Oh my gosh, this song. ‘Oops, I Did It Again,’ really? Are you kidding?”

Chyna Cho Reebok CrossFit Grace Chyna Cho performing a box jump in the Reebok CrossFit Grace. Courtesy of Reebok.

What’s your favorite lift?
I really like snatching, not because I’m particularly good at it, but it’s a very rewarding lift. When you make it, you feel so good about yourself. And it goes both ways: When you have a really bad day, it sucks.

What lift do you dread?
My least favorite is probably a deadlift. I feel like anyone can be good at that, and I’m not good at that. I feel like I can’t lift as much as everybody else, and I don’t know why, when I do it all the time. And then I see my gym member and say, “Oh my gosh, he lifts the same and didn’t even make it look hard. He just lifted it.”

Are there any CrossFitters that you are inspired by?
I love Julie Foucher, and I love Rebecca Voigt. I love Julie just because she’s so unassuming and she seems delicate but she’s extremely tough. And she does things outside of CrossFit like school and becoming a doctor; I could never do that. And she’s just gorgeous. And Rebecca Voigt, her passion and dedication and willingness to put herself out there every year to try to make the games — this year will be her 10th time — is remarkable.

Chyna Cho Reebok CrossFit Grace Chyna Cho in the Reebok CrossFit Grace. Courtesy of Reebok.