Meet Dana Paran, a Filipino-American athlete who has broken down stereotypes and redefined what it means to be a CrossFit champion. Dana’s path, as one of the first people from her background to make her imprint on the global scene, is a powerful symbol of dedication and diversity.
Dana’s path to success is paved with sacrifices that reflect her unwavering commitment, including a daily routine that revolves around rigorous training, meticulous nutrition, and forsaking ordinary celebrations in pursuit of greatness.
Through an exclusive AHN interview with Dana, we witness not just a remarkable athlete, but a true advocate for change and a trailblazer for a more diverse and inclusive future in sports.
Join us as we discover more about her journey in the world of CrossFit.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO REPRESENT THE PHILIPPINES AND ASIAN ATHLETES IN THE WORLD OF CROSSFIT?
Mixed emotions. I feel very privileged and extremely proud to represent the Philippines as one of the first Fil-American athletes – the fact that I am one of the first points out the lack of DEI (diversity – equity – inclusion) in the sport.
Representation matters. Seeing professional athletes that represent minorities is crucial for aspiring athletes. I hope that I can inspire Filipino/AAPI/Asian athletes to continue to break stereotypes.
COULD YOU SHARE A SPECIFIC INSTANCE WHERE YOU HAD TO MAKE A SIGNIFICANT SACRIFICE TO PURSUE YOUR GOALS?
Honestly, from the outside looking in, my entire career is one overarching ‘sacrifice.’ My daily activities are all dictated by the fact that I need to be able to train for 5-8 hours, fuel my body to sustain my training, and get enough rest and recovery to do it all again when I wake up.
For now, I miss out on celebrating weddings, date nights, vacations, and holidays all in the pursuit of greatness. On the days that my motivation battery is at 0, I am able to lean on the fact that all of the elements of my training are not actually a ‘sacrifice,’ but a temporary expenditure for tomorrow’s success.
AS AN ATHLETE WHO HAS COMPETED IN VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL ASPECTS OF COMPETITION?
“Have courage” is a mantra I repeat to myself in moments of doubt – whether I am training or before the 3-2-1 countdown in competition. To me, having courage means having strength in the face of something that frightens me, hardships, or adversity.
It’s an affirmation to myself that “I belong here & I believe in myself.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED IN FINDING SUPPORT IN A SPORT WITH LIMITED SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR ATHLETES LIKE YOU?
CrossFit is a niche sport and Asian brands actively marketing in the CrossFit space seem close to non-existent. I have tried to branch out to brands that market to the general ‘fitness’ industry but have been met with little interest on their end for partnerships.
While it is discouraging to be rejected, I am hopeful that a “no” today will become a “yes” tomorrow. The reality is every competition I go to I have Asian spectators approach me to say how special it is to see themselves in an Elite athlete. I am hopeful that, as we show that we belong in CrossFit, Asian athletes will have many opportunities to align with brands that mirror who they are.
AS YOU AIM TO ELEVATE YOUR ATHLETIC CAREER TO NEW HEIGHTS, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GOALS YOU HAVE SET FOR YOURSELF?
The CrossFit Games is the biggest and final stage in our sport.
Only the fittest of the fittest in the world qualify and it is an amazing opportunity to showcase what got you there in the first place. As I work towards that opportunity, I have been sure to ‘stay in my lane,’ recognizing the aspects of my training that are conducive to success and tailoring my training, recovery, and the people around me to ensure that I’m moving forward.
While competing at the Games (and other Elite level competitions, such as the Rogue Invitational) is an athletic goal, another of my goals will always be encouraging diversity in the sport & making fitness inclusive to those who have historically felt unwelcome. I am actively networking with individuals and brands that align with my purpose to amplify that message.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO ANYONE PURSUING THEIR PASSIONS, WHETHER IT BE IN SPORTS OR ANY OTHER FIELD?
Being successful doesn’t have to come at the expense of your well-being. As a society, we have accepted that drops in physical health should be attended to, but mental health is overlooked or ignored.
I’ve realized that protecting your peace & knowing when to take a step back to “refill your own cup” is incredibly important. You cannot push through with an empty cup & it’s okay to acknowledge that you need to rest and recover in order to keep moving forward.
CONNECT WITH DANA
Facebook: Dana Paran