Paula and Nina Villanova “Our mum and daughter duo”

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

Paula- Never a gifted athlete, or even an athlete, I have been working hard to get into shape…and will be running in next month’s Boston Marathon. I have run two other marathons in the past 6 years. I am also  running for Goodwill’s Marathon Team, “Running for Great Kids” in support of their youth programs. The link is:  I like the structure of the training schedules and seeing my progress. Having such a big goal forces me to stay on task with my training. I work full time in Boston, so it’s an additional challenge to schedule my running in addition to other activities. 5:30 a.m. CrossFit has fit into this schedule nicely. I’m also a painter, and after the marathon is over, I’ll be able to be at the easel again!

Nina-  I’m 33, a recovering attorney who loves her career in retail, I was a competitive college rower, then I was a rowing coach for years, I’ve run 3 marathons, I love skateboarding (although my skills are quite limited), cat person, I almost exclusively read non-fiction, cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and I don’t travel enough.

2. Tell us your CrossFit story (where were you before RCFBC and where are you now?)

Paula- After On Ramp at Bare Cove last August, I joined a box in Brockton for a couple of months that was close to my job at that time. It was a great experience but the new job in Boston began and with some other big life stuff, I had to take a few months off and decided to start all over again back at Bare Cove.

Nina-  I love sports, and have been running and rowing since high school.  I sort of burnt out on both and really missed the weight lifting I used to do in college.  I knew I needed to keep doing something, but it was harder and harder to get out there and run.  When I heard about CrossFit, I knew I had to try it, so I talked my mum into going to On Ramp with me, and the rest is history.  I love it.  I love the element of play that comes into our WODs – dodge ball, tire flipping, supporting others while trying to find a new max, oh and my favorite, hanging out upside down doing handstands – it’s like being a kid again, and it’s SO fun!

3. What does being part of RCFBC community mean to you?

Paula- The RCFBC Community has been very welcoming and supportive. It’s inspiring to see seasoned athletes perform the WODs and it’s also inspiring to see the rest doing their best while increasing strength and ability. This seems to be a CrossFit feature because both boxes I have belonged to were the same in this regard.

Nina-  The community is everything.  Knowing that no matter how I feel going into the box, I am going to get the support of the community so I can do my best.  It reminds me of being on a team, you work hard, you encourage your teammates to work hard, and everyone is better for it.  It’s also nice having a piece of that community at home, we can support each other with eating, practicing goats, or just discussing a tough WOD, or exciting accomplishment.

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Paula- Raising two great kids! But from a fitness perspective, I can at least jump up on a box now…I had to start out on stacked up weights. Even though I still have to scale everything, I’m seeing progress weekly which is very exciting and keeps me coming back. It may be slow, but it surely is steady.

Nina- When I was a kid my dad always talked about how when he was younger he did 25 handstand push-ups every night, I never even thought about trying it.  I still have to use 2 abmats to get my HSPUs, but I’m getting there, and it’s a cool feeling (and seeing my dad’s reaction to a HSPU in our living room was pretty cool too).  I’m also really proud of double unders – being able to do those is just downright cool.

5. What are your challenges and goals going forward?

Paula- I want to be able to complete a “Toes to Bar” by the end of the summer. Also a handstand and a pull-up.

Nina- Every month I try to find one thing to get a little better at… so my current “mini-goal” is to need less bands to do pull-ups, I’ve already ditched my fat + medium band combo and am down to two medium bands.  Ultimately, I’m going to get that unassisted pull-up. I also want to break through some of my max lifts from college when I was a competitive rower.  My biggest challenge is to remember that it’s always going to be a process, it’s never going to get easier, but I’m going to be able to do more.

6. Outside of CrossFit what do you enjoy doing together? 

Paula-  We love to go out to eat and travel!

Nina-  My mum is my favorite running partner.  We’ve helped each other train for 6 marathons now (and I’m going to need her help again this fall), we’ve done some trail running, and a couple of mountain run-ups (talk about a chipper!)  My mum and I always have fun together, she is an awesome painter and she and I have always loved going to art museums and galleries together.  We also love traveling.  We’ve been to Denmark, Sweden, and NYC (among other places), but there is a whole world to see .  Thursday nights are our “date night” when we go out to dinner and catch up on our week (and sometimes talk CrossFit), almost nothing gets in the way of Thursday nights.  And we’re both crazy animal lovers.


Paula and Nina are two strong and dedicated women. The article coach Ali wrote about “How is life like CrossFit” plays a role in both of their lives daily. There is a lot I didn’t know about Paula and Nina before reading this article. CrossFit is a big part of their everyday life and we love seeing their faces in the box everyday. Keep the PR’S rolling ladies!

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