The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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52 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022 BY ANTHONY BROOME K ari Pearce's journey to CrossFit greatness and being among the most physically fit people on the planet was partially inspired by her education at the University of Michigan, where she com- peted as a collegiate gymnast. Pearce, an Ann Arbor native, took a crack at competing at an Olympic level in gymnastics, but it was not to be. She en- tered U-M knowing that she would make some improvements to her skill set, but ultimately there was a timetable on her days in the sport. That made U-M ap- pealing given the options an education would give upon graduation. "I knew that gymnastics was going to be done after [college]," Pearce said. "I just wanted something that I could fall back on. Michigan is one of the top public schools for education in the country. I also looked at a few others, including Michi- gan State, the University of Florida, the University of Utah and North Carolina. But it was mainly the academics that got me there when I visited the campus. And I just felt that satisfaction or feeling in the stomach where it just feels right. I met other girls, and I met coach [Bev] Plocki." Michigan women's gymnastics won four Big Ten championships while Pearce was on campus from 2008-11. She spe- cialized in the vault and was also a three- time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, made second-team All-Big Ten in 2008 and also won the program's Unsung Hero Award that season. Pearce went back and forth on what her life after gymnastics would look like, but she ultimately settled on a degree in movement science. Gymnastics was not forever, so she decided to find ways to fill that void through other forms of compe- tition. "I started studying biology," Pearce said. "I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do after college. At the time, either [be- come a] doctor or a physician's assistant. I ended up switching to the School of Ki- nesiology in the middle of my sophomore year. I realized I love anatomy and physi- ology and learning how the body works. I loved it and I did a little bit of shadow- ing for a physician assistant. I also did some volunteer work at a physical therapy place. I did a little bit of personal train- ing with our strength and conditioning coach. Decided that I love working out and I still want more. I just did not want gymnastics because I put 18 years in. I was done with it but wanted to keep working out and loved how it makes me feel. "He suggested I do weightlifting be- cause I had the perfect body build for it. So, I did the internship and learned a lot, but then I realized I just loved helping people get healthier. It was about a year after I graduated that I decided I wanted to help people get healthier and I wanted to be in this world." Pearce gave weightlifting a shot in ad- dition to her work as a personal trainer, but eventually transitioned into CrossFit and hit her stride as a competitor. She is a six-time participant in the CrossFit Games and four-time Fittest American Female, according to her website. "All over the world and whenever I travel, I have just felt like I had this home away from home," she said. "I had a five- week tour, and it started in France and Austria, all around Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, then ended up in Ireland and Australia. I love just seeing the world, and it allowed me to be able to do that. I feel like in life in general, growth happens when you get out of your comfort zones. It's basically just having these different experiences in different places and get- ting out of my comfort zone to come to. "You get to see people, it's lower stress and the CrossFit Games are always a lot of fun because you get to test your fit- ness. They're among the top athletes in the world and train all year long. It's where you can see how you've gotten better as the year progresses through to compete at the final competition." In addition to competing athletically, Pearce developed the PowerAbs core   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Kari Pearce Parlays U-M Education Into Fitness Excellence Pearce is a six-time CrossFit Games participant, four-time Fittest American Female and founder of the PowerAbs workout program. PHOTO COURTESY POWERABS

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