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Alyssa Mealey Stookey: Competitive CrossFit and Recovery

Pain provides valuable information about your body and how it is performing. It is important to understand what kind of pain should be listened to and what type is helpful or safe to work through. Negative acute pain is an intense and specific pain that occurs suddenly, often a result of injury. You are not advised to push through injury pain.
Pain Tolerance in Sport, Eddie O’Connor, PhD, Performance Excellence Center

press-to-handstandA gymnast for 20 years, Alyssa Mealey Stookey is a veteran and coach of gymnastics, CrossFit, running – sports that depend on pushing through pain to help develop athletic excellence. Partnered with BMX legend and fitness advocate Kevin Robinson, Alyssa is also on a journey to bring health, fitness and wellness habits to everyone with their initiative, K-Rob and Alyssa’s Journey 4 Wellness. We caught up with her on the road – here is her story.


My twin sister, Lisa Mealey Marquette, and I showed an early knack for gymnastics, which became evident after our parents enrolled us in a local YMCA gymnastic class at age 3. We’ve been training and competing ever since. I am a seven-time Junior Olympic National competitor, and received a full, Division I gymnastics scholarship to the University of Maryland. Following graduation, I went back to my private club to continue training and competing for an additional year in the sport I loved. But by the time I was 23, the high-impact nature of gymnastics forced me to retire – my ankles and lower back were shot, and I had suffered a lot of orthopedic injuries.

There was a competitive void I still needed to fill – for 20 years of my life I spent 40 hours a week in the gym and competing on the big stage. So, I started running marathons and half marathons, and loved that, too. But it was still not individually competitive enough for me. That’s when I stumbled into CrossFit – and I have been coaching and competing in the sport, individually and as part of a team, ever since.

Bicep Curl

In gymnastics, even at a young age, we were always afraid to tell a coach when we were hurt – we didn’t want to be eliminated from competition. At 36, and competing with much younger athletes, I have learned to be smart with my training. And as a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, I am a stickler for proper technique and form to reduce the risk of injury. Pushing through pain to build muscle and endurance is a part of every sport. But what really gives a CrossFit competitor the edge is training smart and really focusing on proper recovery. Recovery includes sleep, nutrition, hydration – and training for mobility and flexibility.

Krob and Me

I have chronic back and joint pain – but I am determined to keep training and competing at the highest level. The CrossFit Open Stage One begins on February 23rd and runs for five weeks. Only an elite group make it on to the next round of CrossFit competition following the Open – and my goal is to be one of those people. My lifelong friend Kevin Robinson – who understands training and pushing the limits – recommended Play Again Now to support my recovery and train through my back and joint pain. After only a week, I am already feeling the difference. I am getting up in the morning without the usual stiffness and pain I have been used to for years. And Play Again Now is helping me recover faster – I just don’t feel as sore. I just want to keep taking it as I step up to the CrossFit games training schedule.

There is so much I want to accomplish. I train and coach, have my Ph.D. in Exercise physiology, and work full time at the Baltimore VA Medical Center in the research department, investigating exercise and functional outcomes for stroke and Parkinson’s patients. I have three awesome kids, and Kevin and I would like to take on more individualized training and wellness coaching through technology and the Internet. Ultimately, we would love to open a gym and health/wellness center of our own.

That’s why my recovery process is so super-important. With a passion for helping and a determination to keep competing, I just want to become the very best version of myself and push others to do the same!

To learn more about Kevin and Alyssa’s amazing wellness initiative, visit their website: www.journey4wellness.com, their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/journey4wellness/, or visit them on Instagram @journey_4_wellness

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