When she was in her early teens, Anna Donauer heard an old story for the first time, the story of the two frogs who fall into a milk churn. In the story, the frogs struggle to get out and one of them gives up and drowns, whereas the other works so hard it turns the milk into butter and climbs out.
Since then, the 2020 Austrian National Champions has called herself Anna Makes Butter. She’s spread that never-give-up mentality to every aspect of her life, and she’ll be heading to the CrossFit Games for the first time this year.
With three degrees in Professional Sports, Marketing and PR, Anna is currently the CrossFit coach behind Team Butter online and also coaches in-person. It sounds like the 30-year-old athlete has it all figured out, but it hasn’t always been that way.
Originally from a small town near Vienna, Austria, Anna found CrossFit after a burnout, which resulted in her quitting her job. She’d worked too hard and, when she was asked the relatively straight-forward question “what makes you truly happy?” she couldn’t think of an answer.
“For me, CrossFit was kind of a lifesaver,” she told BOXROX over a phone interview. “I started to travel and explore other countries and other CrossFit Boxes. I met other CrossFit athletes which was inspirational and got stuck in the CrossFit world.”
This took a while however, as Anna wasn’t hooked from the beginning. Her first class involved Turkish Get Ups and she hated it. She couldn’t understand why anyone would want to take a kettlebell and lay down and stand up and lay down again.
“I was like, ‘I’ll never do CrossFit in my life again; this is nonsense,’” she said.
Yet somehow her friend convinced her to stick to it and, after a while, she realised that the weird-looking pull ups were actually a smart way to lock out at the bottom and put your chin over the bar. It’s efficient.
She’s gotten so good at it that she became Austria’s National Champion without really intending to.
“It was crazy, seriously it was crazy,” Anna said about getting the invitation to the CrossFit Games. “To be honest I didn’t want to do the Open in the beginning because it’s a lot of pressure and I didn’t prepare for it, it wasn’t on my agenda.”
Yet three days before the start she realised the Open was the qualifier to many Sanctionals, which she was intending on doing because they’re fun, she enjoys live competitions and she loves being on the competition floor with other great athletes. So she signed up – and won four out of the five workouts nationally.
“I still haven’t really realised it because it happed out of nothing,” Anna said. “I never had it in my head, I never thought about going to the CrossFit Games, ever. Then, all of a sudden, within five weeks, everything changes – my whole plan for the year changed.”
Now, she’s doing everything she can to prepare for the Games properly and be ready to give it her all during competition.
She’s aware of the criticism National Champions face; she wasn’t a big fan of the new structure either, especially the cuts, and she loved Regionals.
“I’m not in the top 100,” Anna said about her Open ranking (she finished 120th worldwide). “To be honest I do think that I don’t belong there [at the Games].
“Which does not mean that I don’t want to go there – it means everything to me, it makes me so happy – but I’m still aware of the fact that there’s many people in the world who are not going to the Games who are better than I am.”
“Athletes like me, we are not on the top level, it’s hard for us to talk about ourselves like ‘we’re going to smash it’ because we know that we won’t place in the top,” she continued.
Which doesn’t mean she’s not putting the hours in already and has in past years. Anna is a Regionals athlete, became Indonesia’s National Champion in 2018 and is now the Fittest Woman in Austria.
“I’m still going to do my best; I’m going to enjoy every single second and I take it seriously,” she said.
As for her hopes for the Games, Anna wishes to make many like-minded friends at the ultimate proving ground of CrossFit competition, fill herself with new experiences and learn as much as she can.
“I know the ultimate result is not going to change my life, so to me, I’ve already won because I can go to the CrossFit Games and that’s everything,” she said.
The CrossFit Games will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, between Wednesday July 29 and Sunday August 2. Anna beat 333 women who took part in the 2020 Open in Austria in the Rx category.