Crossfit Saved My Life’

The female winner of the Under Armour Test of Will 2017 tells ESTELLE LOW how the sport helped her overcome hard times.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
The female winner of the Under Armour Test of Will 2017 tells ESTELLE LOW how the sport helped her overcome hard times.
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Jemima Djatmiko recently won the women’s championship at the Under Armour Test of Will 2017 fitness competition. She clocked a stunning 130 points during the heats by doing 26 burpees, 51 dumbbell thrusters, 31 TRX rows and 22 sandbag throws in four minutes.

At the finals, she represented Indonesia to face off the best female performers from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and the Philippines in gritty challenges, including vertical leaps, hurdling, box jump burpees, weighted pull-ups, and pulling a 1.5-tonne (1,500kg) car.

Jemima is a fitness coach, athlete and business owner. She has two sons, aged 13 and 11. She trains seven to 14 times a week, averaging three hours a day. Her workouts vary across Crossfit, weightlifting and running.

How did you get started in fitness?

I was chubby since young, all through my freshman year at university. At my heaviest, I was 76kg. When I was 19, I started running to lose weight. Later on, I did bodybuilding to get toned. After four years, I got bored from doing the same exercises. When I found out about Crossfit, I tried it and have been in love with it ever since. I’ve been focusing on weightlifting since 2016. It’s one of the fundamental movements in Crossfit.

What were the most challenging exercises during the Under Armour Test of Will finals? I was nervous about all the jumping movements, such as the vertical leaps, hurdling and box jump burpees as I had twisted my ankle a week before the competition. It was bruised and swollen.

What’s your proudest fitness achievement so far? I have been participating in the Crossfit Games Open since 2013. I won the Fittest Woman in Indonesia title in 2015 and 2017. I’m also very proud to be the overall female champion of the Under Armour Test of Will 2017.

What’s the toughest thing you’ve done?

Not many people know this, but I have battled depression. First, when I was 22 and my first serious relationship didn’t work out, and again when I was going through my divorce four years ago. It was quite bad.

How did you overcome those tough periods? My religion, as well as Crossfit, was a big part of the healing process. Crossfit helped me channel the pain I felt to the physical pain of working out. The Crossfit people don’t just work out with you; they talk to you, spend time with you, and are there whenever you need help.

What are five exercises all women should do? My advice is to stick to the basics. Many women get drawn into trying to target a specific area, but that isn’t an efficient or effective approach.

1. Squat. It tones the legs and butt, and engages several large muscle groups to burn big calories.

2. Push-up. It’s basic, but do it well and often enough.

3. Plank. It builds a stable core to support other exercises, and helps to trim the tummy.

4. Pull-up. If you can’t do one, do the lat pulldown to work towards a pull-up.

5. Running. This is great to improve your conditioning and lose weight. For those who are getting started and carrying some extra weight, go with a low-impact option like rowing or cycling to avoid joint pain.

What’s your fitness mantra? It is this quote from the Bible: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
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