When you think of South Africa’s top male CrossFitters, the name Alan Foulis very quickly comes to mind. CrossFit False Bay box owner, Regionals Athlete, Dad, Marine Biologist, Movie Buff and all round nice guy, this 30-year-old packs more power inside the box than his Batman suit.
WODup caught up with Alan, to find out a little more about what makes this well-oiled athletic machine operate.
WODup: Tell us a little bit about Alan, how did you get into CrossFit and what was it about CrossFit that initially grabbed your attention?
Alan: Well, I grew up in the Eastern Cape as an only child and attended Selborne College from grade 1 through 12. We are a very close family and my folks both stay on the South Coast in Natal now. I have three degrees, the final one being an MSc in Marine Biology.
I initially came down to Cape Town to play rugby for False Bay rugby club and the assistant coach suggested I go check out a local box. Needless to say, three months later I canceled my contract with False Bay and took up my journey with Crossfit as my first choice sport. I think for me it was about starting to enjoy an individual sport as I had played team sports my whole life. I enjoyed the fact that I was now accountable to myself and did not rely on coaches, selectors, and many external factors. It’s all on me…
WODup: What does an average training day look like for you, and how does it change leading up to a competition?
Alan: On an average day I’ll train twice before lunch time and either a third session after lunch and some chill time or a fourth session later in the day if I have time.
During the week leading up to a competition, I will generally taper my training slightly. Lots of food and sleep, short fast workouts and no more than two a day.
WODup: This year saw you head to Spain to compete at the Meridian Regionals. Tell us a bit about this experience, what was your highlight of the competition and how do you feel South African athletes compare to our international counterparts?
Alan: It was a phenomenal experience difficult to put into words. What I can say is that it was a little overwhelming, to begin with, for myself anyway. It wasn’t my first international event but the sheer scale of the event was sensational. With over 5000 spectators inside the indoor stadium, and some of the biggest name athletes in the sport literally everywhere. I was just trying to enjoy every minute on the floor. As an athlete, you spend significantly more time training than you do competing so I like to soak it all up. The highlight for me was during the last set of power cleans in Event 4, I decided to go unbroken and the crowd in that corner went mad as I did it…it was fantastic. Also, being able to compete with my good friend Billy Pullen was epic and I can’t wait to do it again.
In terms of learning, I feel like now that I have been to Regionals and had this experience next time it will be far less intimidating and my approach while being there will be a lot more focused on getting the job done which means getting to Carson.
When it comes to our local athletes, the biggest hurdle for us is not programming or ability, but the whole process of actually getting there. For the European athletes, it is a short flight with training camps beforehand. Conversely, for us it is fund raising, getting visas, long flights, and foreign cuisines, trying to save money and also stay focused. But I think we will see at least one South African at the Crossfit games next year.
WODup: Let’s talk competition nutrition, what does your diet look like when you’re traveling and competing?
Alan: I like to keep it simple, but I always eat pizza the night before a comp, haha, it’s a little tradition of mine. For breakfast, I have oats with almonds, peanut butter, and milk. Later in the day, I’ll have a protein shake. During a competition, it’s difficult to eat without the appetite so I snack on fruit, nuts, boiled eggs, and sweet potato. That night I’ll have a big meal to refuel for the following days events. Nutritech supplies all my supplements and I honestly couldn’t be happier with them as a brand. They have been fantastic to me and their products have made a huge impact on my performance.
WODup: We know you’ve met some the icons of the sport, but is there any particular athlete you’d still really like to meet?
Alan: I have been fortunate to meet a lot of athletes, but of course meeting the champ Rich Froning would be epic.
WODup: So, we’re only half way through 2016 and you’ve already had a bumper year. What are your goals for the rest of year?
Alan: I am aiming to take part in the SA champs weightlifting event later this year, followed by my first appearance at the Dubai Fitness Challenge. Until then, get fitter I guess 😉
WODup: Competing at the level that you do and having met and competed against so many of the top athletes in the world, what moment stands out for you as the highlight of your CrossFit career to date?
Alan: Shucks, the greatest moment… Hmm, that’s a tough one, I would have to say sharing the floor with Sara Sigmunsdottir at the Granite Games last year.
WODup: Ok, it’s time to get to the very serious stuff, those tights of yours! You’ve been spotted in an array of very trendy and colorful tights? We’re curious to know how big this collection is and is there a lucky pair somewhere in the mix?
Alan: Hahaha! Yes I love my tights and the collection is growing steadily with about 12 pairs at the moment, my lucky pair is definitely a pair of Sara’s tights that she gave me in the USA.
WODup: Finally, we must ask, with between 3 and 4 training sessions a day is there time for a life outside of CrossFit and if so what other hobbies and interests do you have?
Alan: I love going to the movies, haha it’s a real problem 🙂 I am passionate about marine life and sharks specifically, they fascinate me!
I’m also a Christian guy so love spending time at my church, Hillsong. God has been so good to me and I owe this journey to Him.
Author: Nicky Lundin
Founder of WODup. Nicky is a professional business entrepreneur by day and passionate CrossFitter by night. Nicky comes from a trail running and mountain biking background.
She is passionate about health and nutrition and is committed to find and developing new ways to grow the sport of CrossFit within South Africa.