Crossfitters turned Gladiators: Q&A with Alethea and Khan

True Protein Blog Avatar Fallback reviewed by our Nutrition Team 24 April 2024

Want to know what it takes to be a CrossFit athlete? We met with two of our very own True athletes, Khan Porter and Alethea Boon to talk all things CrossFit as well as gain some insight into the new Gladiators series.

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Crossfitters turned Gladiators: Q&A with Alethea and Khan

1. How and when did you get into CrossFit?

Alethea - I got into CrossFit in 2013 after searching on Google a different way to get fit. I had been doing a little bit of running by myself but needed some variety and wanted to work out with people. So, after googling CrossFit I went to my first class and fell in love with the methodology of CrossFit. I had no intention of competing and looking back that worked in my favor. I honed in on technique with little to no weight for months before incrementally putting weights on the resistance exercises and barbells. Movement efficiency overload meant I was able to work good technique and keep pretty healthy as we built up slowly. I also attribute the patient build up in barbell work to the success and reason I was able to make a 3rd Commonwealth Games for NZ on the Weightlifting Team in 2018.  

KhanI grew up playing various sports and have always loved to keep fit and compete. I watched the 2012 Regionals and decided one day I wanted to compete on that stage. I was working full time as a journalist at the time I started training. I did a few local events, loved them and the rest is history. 

2. What does a typical week of training look like for you? 

Alethea - A typical week consists of 4 days of planned training sessions approximately 2 hours, usually starting at 6pm where I follow a structured program typically consisting of Strength, Gymnastics or Bodybuilding and Conditioning piece or 2. (yes have to move fast to get it all done withing 2-2.5 hours). I also do one additional day where I like to keep flexible with what I do. It’ll be something I really enjoy, like jump in a class, calisthenics, swim, go for a run or bike or even try something new to keep the mind fresh and excited about moving in different ways.  Then there’s always a solid rest day to allow the body to recover. 

KhanIt depends on the time of year. Off season (August – November) I’ll typically do 1-2hrs a day, 5 days a week. This can be one big session or two smaller ones. 

Pre-Season (Dec – Feb) That will go up to 2-4hrs a day, 5 days a week with 1-2 on a sixth day and one full day off. These days are almost always split into two sessions. 

In Season (Feb -Aug) Anywhere from 3-6+hrs in the gym. This includes multiple sessions and training pieces, with recovery work and extra cardio etc. 

3. How do you structure your workouts to incorporate different elements of CrossFit (weightlifting, cardio, gymnastics, etc.)? 

AletheaI structure my sessions according to what needs the most work. But most structured sessions usually follow this outline. Prehab and Strength is where I spend majority of my time over other biases because let’s be honest, I’m 40, I need the prehab and strength is my weakness, so we make it a priority. Then a short 10minute-15min gymnastics or body building piece for maintenance followed by conditioning piece or 2. I like to do one that stings, short and fast 3-6mins, followed by one slightly longer piece that has me breathing and sweating for 15-20mins. I would absolutely love to be able to do more but we make do with the time that we have and really maximize every minute to focus in on what will get me the most return in a competition setting.  

 Khan - Different training pieces typically have different focuses. IN off / preseason I don’t do a lot of mixed modal / CrossFit training, I typically split the focuses of training pieces. Then in season I usually do more classic CrossFit style workouts at competition intensity. 


4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement or type of workout? 

AletheaI am quite bias to workouts that include gymnastics elements considering my gymnastics sporting background but believe it or not I really do enjoy a moderately weighted barbell cycling workout. Grip strength from my gymnastics days serves me well here.   

 Khan - Anything on a cardio machine (bike, row, ski, run and air bike).


5. How do you approach nutrition to support your CrossFit training? 

AletheaFood is fuel! Adequately getting enough, and enough of the right stuff is key to being able to perform both in and out of the gym. I admit as a busy mum I often tend to forget to eat at times because I am always on the go and on those days and the day after I really feel the lack of energy so being sure to prepack and plan meals and supplements around training to support my lifestyle is crucial to ensure that performance in training is fully optimized.  

 KhanNutrition timing is key, making sure I get enough food in around training and enough calories and protein especially overall throughout the day.  

 6. How do you balance CrossFit with other aspects of your life, such as work or family?  

AletheaWith where I am at in life right now, family is my top priority. Ensuring my baby girl Leilani is looked after, happy, learning, active, well fed is a full-time gig, so any training and work I do is currently layered in and around to support and enrich that priority.  It’s been an adjustment to say the least for body and mind to switch focus but a welcomed one when you realize that you are raising and shaping a little human. But one thing I will say is training and pushing myself in pursuit of progress is ingrained in my being, so it is important for my mental health to ensure I make time for training to keep me feeling like me.  

 KhanI prioritise what is important to me, including the people, activities and relationships. I think balance comes down to knowing what you value above anything. When you’re clear in your values it’s easy to make time for everything you want to do. 

 7. Khan, you recently suffered an injury – how has the comeback and recovery been from that? 

KhanSlow and tedious. Coming back from injury really tests your patience and also how much you want something. The constant setbacks, nonlinear nature of progress and the frustration of not being able to use your body the way you have your entire life sucks. But all challenges are lessons and that’s what this has been for me. 

 8. Alethea, you recently had a baby – how has it been, coming back to CrossFit? 

AletheaComing back has been and still is a gradual process both physically and mentally. It’s literally been small stepping stones from the start. From reconnecting with breath for a few minutes a day to gradually rebuilding through progressions like a beginner for almost every movement - lifting, gymnastics and running alike. I have an immense amount of respect for all the mums that have gone through the journey and managed to get back to fitness. It is no Joke!! It was important not to rush on the front end of recovery to let the internal heal after a c-section and then reintroduce movements when control of pelvic floor and midline felt ready. Thank goodness for guidance from a women’s health physio on this one. It created a clearer path back to health before I was able to embark on training for sport and reentering the competitive realm. (Note the difference return to health then return to sport) The journey back to the competition floor last December with a Team “The Fit Mumma’s Club” was a successful journey shedding light, appreciation and the real struggles that mums encounter on the daily balancing life, family and work in pursuit of fitness, health or in our case competition.  It was fantastic to have real and open conversations around motherhood, parenting and beyond with so many through that journey which made stepping on the podium in 3rd place in the Elite field, with all our kids by our side, that much more rewarding. It also really helped me to achieve my postpartum goal to compete and podium at a major competition a reality, and to regain confidence in my body and mind to know that even at this stage of life … I still can!  

Through my actions and example, I only hope that the through my baby girl feels empowered to dream, push, work and put herself out there to live and enjoy life fully and freely.   


 9. What mindset or approach do you believe is crucial for success in CrossFit?  

AletheaI truly believe that an ability to work, stay in your own lane and keep believing when nothing seems clear is an attribute needed to be successful in CrossFit. To be able to set an overarching goal that you put to the side, and just relentlessly work to a plan chasing small incremental milestone, celebrating those wins along the way (because the journey can be lonely and unforgiving) recognizing that you are shifting the needle in the right direction which helps build momentum and with momentum spurs further desire to keep pressing forward to reaching that end goal. Knowing that motivation will not always be there but in those moments choosing discipline over giving in is what sets the Individual Games athletes apart from the everyday person.   

KhanPatience and egolessness. 

 10. You recently appeared on hit TV series “Gladiators”. How was that experience? 

AletheaThat’s one way to spend maternity leave hey. What a whirlwind adventure that I can’t believe I almost said no to! I watched Gladiators as a child and to hear that I was able to even try out for the show was amazing, nerve racking and outright scary for me being 7months postpartum.  I almost didn’t go to the try outs because I was suffering from major imposter syndrome about not being gladiator material and super paranoid about my mum tum. But I had to listen to my own advice here, don’t say no to something just because it scares you. Opportunity usually awaits on the other side, and in this instance, it was absolutely TRUE. My rebuilding had put me in good standing to take on the fitness tests with confidence be selected as a Gladiator to play the role of Elektra, the smallest Gladiator with a with some lightening sparks.  The whole experience was epic, from start to finish, I mean I literally lived out a childhood dream being able to throw contenders off the pyramid, tackle them in Powerball and yank them off the wall. Literally an adult playground working with a phenomenal team of Gladiators and production crew which really opened up a whole new world.  

 KhanAmazing. The days were long and intense; however, we had the best time and above all else met some incredible people in the process. 

 11. Did your CrossFit background help in any way in the challenges on the show?  

Alethea100% yes! To be honest it’s almost as if my whole sporting life has been training to be the Gladiator Elektra. Gymnastics, the acrobatics, agility, body awareness; CrossFit, the fitness, stamina, strength; Weightlifting the power for those hard-hitting tackles and throwing contenders and all sports teaching mental tenacity to focus, compete and compete to win. But for real little 7-year-old me watching Gladiators on my couch at home would be absolutely chuffed to see this all come together. I only hope my little one looks back at clips of and photos of Elektra and thinks her mum is pretty bad ass.  

KhanHugely. I think both Alethea and I played the widest variety of games of any of the Gladiators, despite being the smallest male and female gladiators respectively. That’s a testimony to the quote that CrossFit prepares you for anything. 


12. Is there something specific that you are currently training for? 

Alethea - Postpartum recovery was my focus over the past 12months while building up consistency in training to feel strong. With that being said I have managed to unofficially qualify for the Oceania Individual CrossFit Semi Finals and the Age Group (40-44) CrossFit Semi Finals so with the competition bug now activated we prepare to have positive experiences in both. 

Khan - Semi Finals in Torian.


13. Are there specific competitions or achievements you're aiming for in the future? 

Alethea - As above plus I am always looking at ways to upskill and develop as a coach, mum and athlete. Progress always in many forms both physical and mental means we stay true to our purpose of doing better, being better and leaving a positive impact by doing what we do. 

Khan - I’d like to qualify for the Games on a team this year and then again as an individual and master in 2025.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: all content provided here is of a general nature only and is not a substitute for individualised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and reliance should not be placed on it. For personalised medical or nutrition advice, please make an appointment with your doctor, dietitian or qualified health careprofessional.