Those who know Michelle Kinney would say that strength is a word that defines the avid cross-fitter.
As a prominent athlete in Guinness World Records 2020, the story behind her record titles best showcases how this adjective describes her physical and mental drive.
Michelle's story began when she was in high school – a young softball player who was directed by her coach to join the cross-country team in order to stay in shape during the off-season.
Refusing to do anything halfway – she did the sport so well she was eventually recruited by Mississippi State University for Track and Field, going on to join their softball team, and earning three letters for the college.
It was after graduation that she learned about the sport that would ultimately earn her a string of Guinness World Records titles – for most burpee pull-ups in one minute, most weight lifted by Atlas stone lifts in one minute (female), and most weight lifted by Atlas stone lifts in three minutes (female).
"I had a friend tell me about a CrossFit gym in town, so I visited. And I loved it, I loved the competitive atmosphere, I loved being coached – I loved pushing myself," she recalled.
Fast forward years later and Michelle would become part of Reebok’s initiative to shatter more fitness records in 24 hours than any other shoe brand on the planet.
When Reebok launched its new Nano 7 sneaker in 2017, the company sought out prominent cross-fit athletes from around the world to participate in a series of record attempts while sporting their new product.
Michelle, being declared the "12th Fittest Woman in the World" at the 2014 CrossFit Games, was perfect for this ambition.
After her first ever CrossFit session Michelle was hooked. She had a minor setback in the beginning when she realised the challenges of CrossFit, but nevertheless persevered until she earned several awards within the community.
"We use weightlifting, we use gymnastics, we use cardiovascular training in this well-rounded program to create well-rounded athletes."
She brought this competitive spirit with her to the gym in Los Angeles, California, where she and other professional athletes would be going after another accolade: Guinness World Records titles.
"When I found out that I had the chance to break a record in the CrossFit realm, I was super excited. I grew up flipping through the Guinness World Records books, and to have an opportunity to achieve one or more was super exciting – and I couldn’t wait."
Her first title involved mastering a title that combines two of fitness’s most difficult exercises: a burpee and a pull-up.
In this challenge, she needed to gather her strength and focus on stamina and speed to be able to break the record.
Though it was no easy feat, Michelle accomplished an impressive and enduring total of 19 in just 60 seconds – earning her the record for most burpee pull-ups in one minute (female).
Later that day her second and third titles involved Atlas stone lifts – which are defined as spherical weighted stones used for strongman/strongwoman competitions in The World's Strongest Man events. These stones are lifted off the ground and placed onto raised platforms.
For both the one minute and three minute attempts, she could use stones of multiple weight, and was required to lift the stones on and off of a 4ft (122 cm) platform repeatedly until time was up.
After time had passed for each attempt, Michelle had successfully achieved the record for the most weight lifted by atlas stone lifts in one minute (female) at 539.77 kg (1,189.98 lb), and the three-minute record by lifting 1397.06 kg (3,079.99 lbs).
"I think it’s super important to challenge yourself regularly so you don’t go backwards, right? You always continue to improve – I think challenges are what wake me up in the morning and what lets me have this vigor for life, so I think having challenges and goals for yourself is going to improve you in whatever realm of your life."