Double Duty — Arielle Loewen’s Tale of Motherhood and CrossFit Games Redemption

ByKelley LaxtonDecember 8, 2023

It was Day 2 of the 2018 South Regional. Arielle Loewen (then Arielle Armstrong) had arrived at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and joined the other women in the warm-up area, preparing to take on the third event of the competition. This was almost second nature to her by then. She had made it to Regionals every year since 2014 with the dream of qualifying for the CrossFit Games. 

Event 3 tested athletes prowess with ring muscle-ups, a handstand-walking course, and single-leg squats. Hoping to make up some points from her rocky start the day before, Loewen knew this was her moment to shine. Handstand walking was one of her best movements. In fact, in the previous three Regional competitions, she earned her best finishes in handstand-walking events. 

At the sound of the buzzer, Loewen jumped onto the rings and performed 9 ring muscle-ups. She then approached the first of two obstacles and flipped onto her hands — but lost her balance as she ascended the ramp. 

She shook out her hands to attempt once more. But again, she failed to cross. 

Arielle Loewen at the 2018 South Regionals | Photo courtesy of Loewen on Instagram

She knew something was wrong. She finished the event in 12th after failing to finish the work before the time cap. Loewen continued to struggle for the rest of the competition, ultimately finishing in 15th place, 10 spots out of a Games-qualifying position.

The day after the regional, Loewen could barely keep water down. But upon returning home, she understood why her performance wasn’t up to par. 

Loewen was pregnant — by two months, as she learned soon after.

The news was met with excitement. She was ready to trade her competition bag for a diaper bag. She had been planning on giving up her maiden name soon, and leaving “Armstrong” as her competitive legacy sounded like the perfect ending to that chapter of her life. 

She was starting a new chapter: Arielle Loewen, mom. 

The Pregnancy

For the next seven months, Loewen continued to work out at CrossFit Midland but scaled down her training significantly. Instead of multiple sessions a day to keep up with her competitive goals, Loewen stuck to the noon class workout, four to five days a week. As always, she also focused on her nutrition, luckily craving “a good meal,” such as meat, potatoes, and veggies, throughout her pregnancy. 

Arielle Loewen While Pregnant | Photo Courtesy of Loewen on Instagram

“CrossFit was definitely good for my physical health, but also my mental health,” Loewen said. “Everything about my body was changing. But the one thing I knew was showing up to the noon class and doing the class workout was my mental escape.”

Regular exercise reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension, improves cardiovascular health, and reduces the likelihood of excessive weight gain while pregnant — all important health issues to be aware of during pregnancy. Alongside the cardiovascular benefits, CrossFit can help maintain strength and flexibility during pregancy, which will assist during labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. 

As Loewen progressed through her pregnancy, she started reducing intensity. Before pregnancy, it was normal for Loewen to flip on her hands and crank out large sets of handstand push-ups or run a 5K. As her body began to change, she modified those movements when her body told her to slow down. She first got rid of handstand push-ups. At 20 weeks she started scaling back running. But Loewen said she did strict pull-ups almost until she gave birth. 

To safely do CrossFit while pregnant, it’s important to evaluate your experience when scaling movements, working closely with a CrossFit coach. Because Loewen was an experienced elite-level CrossFit athlete, she was able to scale periodically by listening to her body. But her goal was not to stay in “competition” shape. Her goal was to keep her body and mind healthy as she prepared for motherhood. 

Unless you are a marathoner and hope to continue those competitions post-pregnancy, the average mom (and even the above-average mom) doesn’t need to be able to run a faster 10K,” wrote Dr. Cooker Perkins in the article “CrossFit Training During Pregnancy and Motherhood: A New Scientific Frontier. “She needs to know proper lifting technique as well as functional strength and power so she can appropriately accommodate her growing abdomen and avoid lower-back pain. And once the baby is born, she needs to be able to properly squat, pick up the baby, carry the baby up and down stairs, and place the baby uncountable times in and out of a stroller or a car seat. It goes without saying that baby does not stay 8 lb. 6 oz. forever.”


Blakely Joe Loewen was born on Jan. 19, 2019.

Arielle Loewen With Blakely Joe Loewen | Photo courtesy of Loewen on Instagram

After just one month, Loewen returned to her doctor for a follow-up appointment and was approved to return to CrossFit. With summer just around the corner, Loewen jumped back into the noon class with one goal in mind: Feel confident in her body again. 

But bouncing back after pregnancy was a slow process. It took a lot of mental strength and acceptance for Loewen to be patient with her recovery. 

Loewen’s first workout back was snatches and toes-to-bars. Before her pregnancy, Loewen could crank out a set of 20 toes-to-bars. When she returned, she could only do singles. 

“It was a really humbling first workout back. I had to have the realization of, ‘I’m injured physically. It feels like an injury, and I have to give myself grace,’” Loewen said. “It took nine months to grow my daughter, I’m gonna give myself nine months to cycle through 10 toes-to-bars.”

Photo courtesy of Renewed Strength CrossFit on Instagram

Returning to the Stage

In just nine months, Loewen’s life had changed drastically. Instead of spending most of her effort on training for the CrossFit Games season, she was now focusing on being the best mother she could. 

Still, CrossFit was the one thing that gave her a sense of normalcy. It was the one hour a day she was allowed to spend on herself. 

Photo courtesy of Loewen on Instagram

In 2021, Loewen was going to the noon class every day, and when the CrossFit Open came up, she thought she would sign up like everyone else. It was going to be programmed anyway, so why not have fun with her community?

She was only doing it to test her fitness and join the fun, not to return to her competitive days.

“It felt like old times, but I love the Open because it’s so chill. … I just show up to the noon class,” Loewen said. “Nobody cared if I did great or not. And the class that I was with, the community was awesome. And they had always told me, ‘You still got it. You’re good.’ But it wasn’t until I did the Open that I was like, ‘Oh, this was fun. I enjoyed it.’”

Loewen finished the 2021 CrossFit Open in 243rd place worldwide. She went on to take 59th in North America in the Individual Quarterfinal, securing a ticket to the Granite Games Semifinal in Eagan, Minnesota, two years after giving birth.

Her competitive fire returned. 

After Quarterfinals, Loewen began training a bit harder for Semifinals. She would show up before the noon class to add in extra training before hitting the group class. 

But still, Loewen had no expectations. She hadn’t expected to even make it to Semifinals, so she treated the weekend as a fun taste of competition. 

Loewen won the 2021 Granite Games. 

After, Loewen and her husband walked back to their hotel room, flopped onto the bed, and cried. “We’re like, ‘What just happened?'”

After debuting at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games, Loewen has returned to the Games each year since, getting better at every appearance.

Arielle Loewen at the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games | Photo by Joy Silva

“You’re Not Done”

“I train a lot different than a lot of my competitors,” Loewen said

On the competition floor, Loewen carries a smile and excitement with her — even at the peak of pressure — because although she spends most of her time focused on being the best mother she can, Loewen can also keep up with the fittest women in the world. 

For the 2023 season, Loewen retired from the noon class and trained by herself in her garage gym to accomodate her busy schedule. 

She wrote most of her own workouts, while Bryan Ridout — the owner of Midland CrossFit — programmed her strength training.

Unlike the four hours a day Loewen would spend in the gym before her pregnancy, she had just two hours to train hard. The rest of her day was spent doing what she values most: playing with her daughter and being the best mom she could be. 

Despite the reduced training time, Loewen ranked fourth worldwide in the 2023 CrossFit Open, won the Individual Quarterfnal in the North America Region, and took third at the North America West Semifinal, earning her third-straight CrossFit Games appearance.

Through a show-stopping performance at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, Loewen finished the season as the third-Fittest Woman on Earth, becoming the only woman that year to raise the American flag on the women’s podium.

“It was cool to know you’re not done. You can still do great things post-birth,” Loewen said. 

2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Women’s Podium | Photo by flsportsguy photography

Every Mom Is a Super Mom

Although some might consider Loewen the fittest mom after the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, she doesn’t feel she should hold the title of “Fittest Mom on Earth.”

“Moms have a lot of pressure on themselves. The last thing I want a mom to see is if you’re not competing at a CrossFit Games level, you’re not doing enough. … We already have so much unrealistic expectations of ‘you have to fit back in your clothes, you have to lift what you lifted before.’ All your kid wants is you and for you to love them. It takes time and patience.”

After facing the challenges that come along with giving birth and becoming a mother, Loewen realized that regardless of fitness ability, every mom is a super mom. Whether they are doing CrossFit to get back in shape after birth, to be able to pick up their kid when they are a toddler, or to prove to themselves they can overcome challenges, parenthood is no small feat. 

“Everybody has a purpose. I’m lucky and thankful that my talent has brought me to the CrossFit Games. … Other girls, their journey might not look similar, but it’s still just as important, just as amazing, just as great,” Loewen said. “Comparison is the thief of joy. So I’d hate for them to look at me and be like, ‘I’m only successful if I make it to the Games after having a kid.’ No, your journey is different. And it is more than enough. It’s awesome.”


Kelley Laxton is a sportswriter and editor for CrossFit, LLC. Graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in journalism and sports media, she has become passionate about promoting women in sports through her writing. Kelley has previously written for Her Sport, the first women’s sports magazine in Ireland, and continues to share the stories of strong women in the Sport of Fitness. She currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and enjoys her morning CrossFit class at CrossFit NCR.

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