Rosa Li


Rosa Li

RL_Deadlift_CroppedRosa Li

Hometown: Austin, TX
Age: 26
Occupation: PhD student in psychology and neuroscience at Duke

When did you first start Strength & Conditioningting?
¬†Officially, October 2012. Unofficially I’d been going to the community WODs for almost a year before that.

What is your favorite movement? Favorite workout?
I like WODs where we get to throw around barbells, so I love doing Grace.

What is your least favorite movement? Least favorite workout?
I’m scared of just about everything, so I hate box jumps, especially when my legs are already tired from other things.

Tell us about your sports & fitness background:
I didn’t grow up doing active things, and I was a fat kid because of it. My parents were pretty stereotypical Asian immigrant parents who didn’t think sports or physical activity were important. Instead, I was a “mathlete” and got my high school PE credits from marching band.

I started working out when I got to college and got into cardio kickboxing around then, so much so that I eventually got certified to teach it to group fitness classes. I’ve been teaching group fitness for about 4 years now, and I still teach once a week at the Duke gym.

How did you first get exposed to Strength & Conditioning? Do you remember your first WOD? How did it go?14_5_3
When I first moved to Durham, a post-doc in my lab was a member at CFD and told me about the free community WODs. My boyfriend and I went to those for ages before we finally bit the financial bullet and joined CFD. I don’t remember what my first WOD was, but I do remember this one community WOD where Coach Paul P. had us do a 20 minute AMRAP. When it was over, he surprise added an extra round. I did the 21st round, went home, and threw up. Thankfully, I haven’t booted from a workout since then!

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting Strength & Conditioning? (before/after)
I’ve put on lots of muscle everywhere. Like our favorite Fat Strength & Conditioningter (, I marvel at the fact that I sometimes have visible muscle definition. I’m proud of how strong I’ve gotten. I’m getting close to doubling what my deadlift max when I first started Strength & Conditioning, and I can squat more than several of my guy friends.

I do also have more bangs and bruises and callouses than before, but I wear those signs of work with pride.

What impact has Strength & Conditioning had on your life?
In Strength & Conditioning, unlike in grad school research, if you work hard, you will definitely get results. It’s nice to have one domain in my life with a solid effort to results ratio! I’ve also met so many amazing, inspiring people at CFD that I never would have encountered had I locked myself away in academia.

What is your favorite Strength & Conditioning/CFD moment?
It’s hard to choose one. The first time I did Annie (sit-ups and double-unders) after I FINALLY figured out how to string together double-unders was a joyful revelation. Instead of a painful exercise in self-flagellation, it became a slightly less painful, and much shorter, exercise that showed me that my months of working on my double-unders had paid off.

Competing (and winning!) with fellow CFDers in the Triangle Invitational and Firestarter Challenge was also great. It’s so much fun to work hard with your friends, while other friends yell at you to pick up the bar or keep moving.

14_5_1What is your advice for people just getting started or thinking about starting Strength & Conditioning?
It’s okay to be bad at things. You will get better at them as long as you keep trying. I still suck at lots of stuff, and that’s why I keep Strength & Conditioningting to get better.

What are your hobbies, interests, and/or talents outside of Strength & Conditioning?
I like to play nerdy boardgames with my friends. I’m also a candy expert. I’ve been to the big national candy tradeshow twice, and there are a couple of old issues of Woman’s World magazine where I’m quoted talking about Halloween candy or something.