Just when you think you're tough enough

CrossFit Exclusive Interview Tough Takes

Exclusive Interview: Maslina Ismail, Malaysian Female CrossFit and Weightlifting Champion


Maslina Ismail Reebok X45

This is Maslina Ismail – the young lass who took several CrossFit titles in just two years, she is also indisputably the strongest Malaysian woman in theCrossFit scene. Last weekend I had the honor of meeting her and we talked about how she took up CrossFit, what she has accomplished and how she plans to up the ante.

When asked how she picked up CrossFit, she gave a grin and replied,

“Ever saw a fitness deal like Bootcamp on Groupon and wondered what it would be like to try it out?”

That’s exactly how Maslina Ismail started out three years ago and inadvertently started her transformation into a powerful and beautiful lady with an active lifestyle.

Bootcamp gave this 29 year old lass the confidence boost and edge she was looking for after she participated in their 8-week challenge and realised the potential in herself. That spurred the fitness junkie in Maslina into joining CrossFit to further her exploits.

Starting with CrossFit

In CrossFit over the last 2 years, she’s learned and improved her techniques to take third place in the Manila Throwdown in May last year. With this boost to ignite her motivation in the next few months, Maslina participated in the Kota Kinabalu’s X45 Challenge and placed runner-up.

Stepping stone to success, Maslina won 3rd place at the Manila Throwdown in May 2014
Stepping stone to success, Maslina won 3rd place at the Manila Throwdown in May 2014
Maslina Ismail Reebok X45
Maslina Ismail was placed 1st Runner Up in the Reebok X45 Challenge 2014 in the Women’s Open

“In CrossFit, you can never judge a person thinking that person is not muscular and won’t be able to perform the discipline and that person will surprise you,” says Maslina.

Strive for progress

Affiliated with CrossFit Vidatha in Publika, KL, Maslina has been working hard with guidance from her coaches on improving the various disciplines required. She’s also taken an interest in weight lifting which is rare for girls, and finds it fun (especially when she carries more weights than some guys). Good basic and techniques are important in this discipline.

Although she carries really heavy weights, Maslina says, “I’m still trying to grow muscles, do you know how hard it is?”

The misconception is still rive with girls thinking that carrying weights will bulk up your muscles. This is absolutely not true, says Maslina. No matter how hard you try, even after lifting weights for a few years, you will not gain bulky muscles like how men do, which is contributed by the testosterone in their bodies.

Watching her diet, and eating more ‘good and healthy calories’, Maslina believes in refuelling well with sufficient food especially after long and hard workouts. “You still need energy to lift, run and cycle”, says Maslina.

Maslina Ismail Bangkok Brawl
Maslina Ismail won 1st prize in the Bangkok Brawl CrossFit 2015 competition

Maslina Ismail Bangkok Brawl

All her hard work paid off in Thai competitions when she was named the Champion of Bangkok Brawl CrossFit 2015 competition early this month. Held over two days, the CrossFit event covering 5 diverse Workout of the Day (WOD) tested all of her skills as a CrossFitter which are endurance, weightlifting, gymnastics and movement.

Skills include double unders, snatches, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and her weightlifting strengths powered her to first place in the third WOD which involved 75 pound (35 kilograms) snatches and second place in the first and fifth WOD. The winner was based on the lowest accumulated points, therefore Maslina had to be the master of all to average the lowest points to bag the win.

Raising the Bar

For her new found love and passion in weightlifting, Maslina was awarded the Best Female Lifter in the Chiang Mai Olympic Weightlifting Competition consisting of Snatch and Clean & Jerk early this year.

She had three attempts at the Snatch – weight lifted from floor to overhead in one fluid movement – after stating her opening weight and the weights was increased as the competition continues and similarly in the Clean and Jerk. The winner will be awarded a total by combining their heaviest snatch with their heaviest clean and jerk. Maslina won with an impressive total of 135kg.

Maslina Ismail CrossFit

Going through the disciplines in the Manila Throwdown 2014
Going through the disciplines in the Manila Throwdown 2014

Up the Ante

Referring to her focus and goals for this year, Maslina is looking to increase the weight to 200 pounds (90kg) from the current 175 pounds (80kg) in the Clean and Jerk. In the Snatch, the heaviest weight she currently carries is 145 pounds (65kg). To achieve her goals, Maslina will be customising her training, improving her techniques and striking a balance by building her endurance too with cycling and running on weekends. Talk about dedication, she now plans her holiday around competitions and if there’s a CrossFit affiliate center for her to train.

Looking forward, Maslina is anxious to participate in the Asia Championships consisting of competitors from five sections. Malaysia is placed in the South section composing of competitors from Brunei, Indonesia, Guam, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Top 24 individual men and women from each of the 5 sections will advance to the Sectional round of the competition. Upon completion of sectionals, the top 5 men and women from each Sectional will be awarded tickets to the Finals.

Make time, Start something new

Maslina seems to be going strong with many activities like running, cycling, Futsal, CrossFit and Bootcamp. She’s even considering making time to take up rugby! So the next time you get tempted into joining the next fitness class like Bootcamp or even Pilates, go for it! It might spur you to greater heights, by just taking that first step onto the stepping stone.

For more info on CrossFit Vidatha, visit their website.