March 09, 2023

#094: Shaylin Laure – Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion & 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer (TYR Wodapalooza 2023 Series)

Hosted by Fran Racioppi

What does it take to become the World’s Fittest law Enforcement Officer…twice? What about the World’s Fittest Veteran? An FBI Agent? Or the first female to win the Honor Graduate award at the US Army Infantry Officer Basic Course under a single standard for men and women. 

Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff sit down with Shaylin Laure for a Wodapalooza 2023 conversation on overcoming stereotypes and resistance from superiors who didn’t believe women could keep up with men. In this Day 2 conversation Shaylin also lays out her plans for the CrossFit Games and explains how she intended to win the Women’s Rx…which she did! 

Follow Shaylin on IG at Shaylin_Laure. Follow Jessie on Instagram and FB @jessiegraffpwrClick here or use code JED for $10 off your first order of Modballs.

Learn more on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. 

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

Listen to the podcast here


 

Shaylin Laure – Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion & 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

What does it take to become the world’s biggest law enforcement officer twice? What about the world’s fittest better, an FBI agent? For Shaylin Laure, it’s all in a day’s work. Integration of women into our combat arms branches like infantry, armor and Special Forces has redefined our military.

As one of the first females in the infantry, Shaylin had to face all the same challenges and standards that were met all while overcoming stereotypes and resistance from superiors who didn’t believe women keep up and she didn’t surpass those standards. She beat most of the top men.

Shaylin became the first female to win the Honor Graduate Award at the US Army Infantry Officer Basic course under a single standard for men and women.TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

She had many amazing stories and accomplishments for us to talk about. I sometimes forgot she was actively competing in the women’s RX, pretty much right before and right after we interviewed her. She competed in five rounds and won all of them. On top of that, she even used her real-life hero skills to solve the mystery of the missing coconuts.

She was all over everything we can have been impressed since the minute we sat down with her. We also dug into the details on Modballs, the 20 Gram 100 Calorie energy balls redefining the definition of clean energy. I ate about a bag of those over the course of the entire weekend. I know they’re fueling Shalyin and everything that she does.

Learn more about Shaylin on Instagram at Shaylin_Laure. Follow Jessie on Instagram and Facebook @JessieGraffPwr. Subscribe and follow @JedburghPodcast on all social media. Check out our website JedburghPodcast.com Once you’re there, click the ModBalls logo for $10 off your first order.

Shaylin Laure, thank you for joining Jessie Graff and me. We are super excited to have you.

It’s my pleasure to be here.

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement OfficerI’m impressed with everything that you’ve been doing, two-time World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer. You have also won the 2022 Women’s Veteran Occupational title. I figured as a veteran, maybe I would compete with you but I’m not going to. You’re going to take me out. You are a former infantry officer in the US Army, the first female to win the honor graduate at the Infantry Officer Basic Course. You are one of the first real leaders as female in what was traditionally a male-dominated and male-only organization. Coming from the infantry and Special Forces, I commend you on that. It is truly an honor to sit here with you.

Thank you so much.

Most importantly, she’s also an FBI agent. Nobody fuck around with her. We’re going to get into all of it. There are many different places we can start but we got to start now. You already competed. You won the Women’s RX Division for the first event. Tell us about it. What’s going on? How’s it going?

It was 3 rounds of 24 chests bar and then 12 dumbbell bench press with the 50s. Those are heavy. That was the divider. Most of us when I’m broken that first round realized we messed up. We straight into 16 Calorie aqua bike, 12 bar-facing burpees and then 24 snatches with 75 pounds.

The chest to bar and the duck were four sets.TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

3 rounds and then 1 set of everything else. It got heavy quickly, then the cardio stimulus hit hard with the bike. By the end, I was hurt badly. I was racing a girl down in lane three. We both picked up the barbell at the same time with four snatches left. I was able to get across the line, maybe a half second before her. I died but it was worth it.

You got 1 more event and 2 next. Talk about the strategy. What’s the strategy? You got to put it all out there at each event but at the same time, you got to think, “There are a lot of events.”

I’m going to be honest with you. Normally, my strategy during the CrossFit competition, because you’re trying to qualify for something would be different. My strategy is to have fun and not give a fuck. I drink and had some shots. After I wrote the mechanical bowl, I had a great time and here we are.

Normally, an elite athlete’s strategy during the CrossFit competition is to have fun and not care. Share on X

That relaxed mentality allowed you to put it all out there.

My job puts into perspective competing because both of them you get that adrenaline spike. At work, if I do something, I take a misstep, “Someone could die.” Here, I can take last and nothing in this world changes. No one’s life is online. It puts it into perspective for me, because this is not where I need to be stressed. This is where I need to release the stress and have fun.

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

“My job puts into perspective competing.”

When I do get stressed and overwhelmed competing, it doesn’t enhance my life. It makes my life more overwhelming. That’s not something I’m interested in. It’s been hard to learn how to shift my mindset from being a competitive athlete and trying to win every time to having fun and enhancing my life and being healthy. That’s what I’m doing. Hopefully, the rest of the week won’t be as fun as I have been.

I find the same thing that competition is one of my favorite ways to find that line of like, “How far can I push in the tense moment without having the consequences?” If you are in a real-life situation where someone could die and you are pushed with everything you have and you burn out too soon, those consequences are crazy. In competition here, you can push that limit, burn out, pass out and be like, “Now I know where that line is.” It gives you the freedom to find out things that you need to know in a situation where lives are at stake.

Talk about the difference between this event with CrossFit Games and some of the other competitions.

I’ve been to the semifinals. In my first year, I accidentally made it. I was not training for it whatsoever. I happened to be fit enough to qualify. I was like, “I might as well go.” My mindset was, “I’m going to go. I might take last but I’m here.” That was a win, just being there. Learning the ropes was my first ever individual competition. It’s not ideal but I learned much. I made so many friends. I had such a good time. At semis, my goal was to qualify for the game. It’s a different mindset. I wasn’t going out to dinner with people who had come to watch me. I was doing a flash doing my mobility, recovering and getting to bed early. It was different. My team took a second at the map and it was worth it.

In 2023, I’m going team again, which is a big announcement because I was going to go individually. My teammates are going to be Alexis Johnson, Brandon Lockett and Logan Collins for making a run for the podium at the games. That mindset from 2022 will be the same in the semis of 2023. Making it to the games is not the win in 2023. Winning the games is a win. It’s a different mindset from this.

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

“Making it to the games is not the win this year. Winning the games is the win.”

Do you enjoy that mindset and the process of everything you have to do to maximize your performance?

I do but I get burnt out if I do it all the time. It’s a big difference between off-season competition and in-season competition.

That’s an important thing to be aware of.

Let’s take you back. You’ve been a gymnast, played rugby, have been in competitive sports your whole life and then you came into CrossFit. Talk about that journey and what you learned from being in childhood sports that prepared you and put that mindset and then also that call to serve.

I was fortunate to have parents who if I saw a sport and I wanted to try it, will encourage me and let me. I played a lot of different sports growing up. Soccer was my main one. I started when I was three. I played through high school. I made my college team. I did not like how the coach dealt with women. He would promote drama and cliques instead of promoting the team.

I sign up for rugby. I was like, “This looks like fun.” I got a lot of yellow cards and soccer for being aggressive. I thought rugby would be a great thing to try. I loved it. It was the highlight of my college years. I played women’s rugby until I joined the military. I wasn’t able to play in the military because you’re so focused and busy with other things. When I found CrossFit was in the military. It was my way to have a competitive outlet and something to strive for with my workouts instead of going to the gym and going through the motions.

You don’t want to be the best at working out. You want to be the best at something.

You want to have a purpose when you’re in the gym because it’s going to make your workout so much more productive.

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

“You want to have a purpose when you’re in the gym because it’s gonna make your workout so much more productive.”

It changes everything, your intention and how hard you push and your goal. I love goals.

I want to talk about integration. You brought up your soccer coach and you didn’t like the way that your soccer coach necessarily interacted with the women on the team. You bridged a very important and serious divide that was a top-line topic of conversation for many senior people in the government and the US military of how do we bring women into combat arms, being infantry, field artillery and Special Forces where I come from.

That was polarizing. On the other side, not involved in those conversations but the one whom the door opened to and you walked through it. When you go into the military, as an officer, they give you the choice. At least for me, they gave us a list of ten and said, “You got to pick.” I don’t know how it was for you but I picked infantry, what do you get?

We had an order of merit list in Officer Candidate School. Our class was allotted a certain number of spots in each branch based on the Army’s needs. The first person on the order meritless got their first pick all of them. The last person got whatever was left. The bottom 40% probably didn’t get what they wanted. That middle 30% maybe got their 2nd or 3rd pick. If you weren’t at the top of the list, you weren’t going to get what you wanted. Our class only had five infantry spots, which is way fewer than usual. The top five people want infantry.

Why choose it?TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

While I was a local cop, we would have these duty-to-warn kill lists that were put out. If there are people in your jurisdiction on a kill list, you have the duty to warn them that they were on it. I thought it was absolute bullshit that we were doing nothing other than warning them and being aware of something suspicious going on around their house because their name and address would be on the list, which is easy to find on the internet.

They’re doing it to terrorize people. It was effective. I go on a coffee break with my coworkers. I’d be like, “I have no political goal here. No money to influence this.” There’s nothing we can do other than be proactive and do our job. For me, it wasn’t enough and keeping my community safe, being reactive. I didn’t like it. I went and talked to a recruiter. At the time, infantry was not open to women. It was support services.

Cops being reactive is not enough to keep the community safe. Share on X

I was like, “I’m good. I’ll keep doing this where I can make a bigger difference. I don’t need to go support the people on the frontline.” When infantry open to women, I went back and enlisted because if I wasn’t going to be on the frontlines, I felt like I was making a bigger difference as a cop. That was the only thing I wanted to do in the Army.

How long had women been allowed into the infantry when you started? Was it pretty immediate?

I went the next day.

Had anyone made it through?

I believe Congress allowed women in December 2015 because I was flying back from Utah. I help my sister drive out there. I was like, “Tomorrow, I know what I’m doing.” They didn’t put the first class of enlisted women through basic training for the infantry until June 2016 but because I had my college degree and wanted to be an officer, I went through a different basic training that wasn’t infantry. I wasn’t branched yet so had to go through OCS and then earn the branch. I was maybe in the 2nd or 3rd eye bullet class that had a female limit, which was OCS was the beginning of 2017. I went in April 2017 to eye bullet but I joined in October 2016, going through basic training in OCS.TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

Talk about some of the challenges. Not everybody you had to deal with and whether they were suited or whether they were even the cadre and the instructors were receptive to you being there.

I realized quickly that I had chosen to do something where I was not going to get any support whatsoever. I went with all the enlisted people to basic training but my MOS was an officer candidate. Everyone else has their MOS already, which would be like infantry armor.

It change that because when I went in ‘03 when you went to basic training, then you went to OCS, we already knew in basic training where we were going, then when we went to OCS. As long as you didn’t screw it up, you are going there.

Unfortunately, our MOS is officer candidate and then you get your branch when you earn it on the order of meritless at OCS. Everyone asks you as an officer candidate, “What branch do you want?” All the drill sergeants would ask that. We’re at the grenade pit throwing the one live grenade you do at basic training.

You’re qualified after that.

The sergeant is like, “What branch do you want?” When I said infantry, he laughed. There were no words. He was laughing hard. He almost cried.

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

“When I said Infantry he just laughed. There were no words.”

Did he think you were joking?

He was like, “You’re never going to make it.”

He didn’t think you would make it through the training.

He didn’t think that any woman could make it through the infantry. I don’t remember if his branch was infantry or not. It probably was. I went to OCS. We had a captain and a staff sergeant as our cadre for our platoon. Our staff sergeant was infantry. I was number one on our order of merit list going into our final platoon leader operation in the field.

What did you have to do to be number one on the merit list?

There were a lot of things that went into the score. One of them was your PT scores and test. It’s the Army PT test that everyone takes. There were a bunch of written tests. We had a bunch of history courses, military history and a bunch of other military courses that are in a classroom and you take written tests.

Do they still wear the ascot?TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

Yes.

That was so bad.

I still have mine.

I also do. You have to. You can’t get rid of it. You got to walk around with an ascot on your neck.

What is an ascot?

It’s like a bandana-type thing that goes around your neck and then there are different colors. It signifies what phase of the training you’re in.

How many people were in your class that you’re having to be number one?

There were 90 of us.

There are 3 platoons of 30 or 40.

How many of those were women?

In OCS, it was maybe 20% females.

To be number 1 in those 90-ish people, you had to be to all the men in things that included physical training.

In OCS, you have your female score in the old Army fitness test. The new one changed is gender neutral as it should be. When I went through, there was the female standard pass and then the male standard pass. In OCS, it was not gender-neutral. In the infantry, it was. Now it’s gender-neutral, as it should be but when I went through, I was not competing against the guys with our PT test standard to get the same score was different.

How is that different from where it is gender-neutral? Why is it important that women be held to the same physical standards in combat?

Anyone doesn’t care whom they’re fighting. You can either do what’s required to keep you and your platoon safe in combat or you can’t. No one cares if you’re a male or female. You either meet that standard or you don’t. With support services, it’s the same thing. Can you do your job or can’t you? It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, your one-rep max snatch does not matter. Can you carry the weight for the distance in an appropriate amount of time?

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

“No one cares if you’re a male or a female. You either meet that standard or you don’t.”

I can understand that if I were going into battle, I would want to know that every single person around me is fully capable to help me if I’m in trouble.

Back to the scores. The other score was leadership. It’s how you brief an OP order. You’re the platoon leader. You’re briefing your squad and platoon OCS. You’re briefing your squad or the platoon and then you lead them through the operation and there are up four which are set up and defensive positions. You’re doing an assault, a raid or whatever it happens to be. I was number one on the MLS going into that. The staff sergeant who didn’t believe women should be in the infantry was a migrator for my first lien and you get two tries. He gave one point above failing intentionally. He did not want me in the infantry. He knew I was number one.

Who told you that?

It was very obvious. All of my platoonmates were like, “That was one of the best lanes.” Everyone knew it. The captain graded my next lane and gave me one point below perfect. It was pretty much the same situation to get to polarized scores. At graduation, I ended up fifth. I got that last infantry spot. That staff sergeant told me he was going to laugh when I failed eye bullet, which is your infantry Basic Officer Leader course. It was my next course to be an infantry officer to be bred branch qualified.

It teaches you how to be an infantry officer.

At this point, you’re a commissioned officer not branch qualified. He said this in front of the battalion commander and everyone. I looked at him and was like, “I’m going to laugh when I’m the honor graduate.” That’s what I did.

It’s awful but running up against men who have no experience to understand what women are capable of is important for us to rise to that challenge and be like, “We can do everything that you’re asking for. We can excel and rise above many men.” That’s why what you did is important to show the world what we’re capable of.

It was worth every bit of effort. I remember during OCS rocking every Sunday morning getting up. Everyone else was sleeping in. I would go for a ruck every single week because I knew that by gender-neutral standards, I have to carry the same weight the same distance and go faster than all the guys if I want to be an undergraduate. I was in the gym. Every second I got, my platoonmates knew I was crazy. You have to be a little bit crazy to do it.

Even in that situation where you’ve got someone who is dedicated to holding you back and proving that you can’t do it, even being at that disadvantage of like, “We don’t have as much testosterone.” The extra work that you had to do to not just keep up with men because he’s trying to make you look bad. You have to excel against what a lot of the best guys are doing. That is hard.

How are you approaching that ninja warrior? Men and women are facing the same course.

That’s what I love about it because I love that opportunity to show the rest of the world what women are capable of. We can be strong. We can conquer these obstacles. I do understand that it’s going to take a lot more work for me to be as strong as them. I have to be more scientific and understand exactly how many hours I need to fully recover before I go again because I may not recover as quickly. I may not be able to do a super hard workout and then go play rock climbing and then go play on obstacles the next day.

If I want to maximize my strength, then I have to take the perfect amount of recovery and do all the foam rolling and everything. I have to be more disciplined, dedicated and scientific about all of my training and then understand exactly how to approach the obstacle most efficiently because I’m not going to have the same pull-up and grip strength as the top ninja guy who is training as hard as I am. How can I break down every detail of the physics to be as efficient as possible so that I can make up for any deficit in testosterone?

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

“I just have to be more disciplined, and dedicated, and scientific about all of my training.”

It’s hard but it’s also rewarding. Women will come to me and be like, “I was told that I couldn’t build up my body strength because I was a woman.” I was in gym class and I couldn’t climb the rope. They’re like, “That’s okay. Women can’t do that.” For women who are adults to look at what we’re doing and be like, “They told me it was physiologically not possible so I didn’t try,” and then seeing their eyes open and be like, “I want to be able to do that. I want to be strong too,” that’s where we can have this amazing impact that is so rewarding. For me, I get to share that message. For you, you can take that and save people’s lives and change the world. That’s the next level of being a hero which is amazing to me.

How do you find balance? You’re competing at an elite level as an athlete. You’re serving as an FBI agent, which is a grueling job on its own and the requirements that come there. How do you balance yourself between training and that workload?

There are a lot of training sessions I’ve had to run out of the gym and say, “Can someone please clean up my equipment? I have to go to work.” We’re always on call. My job comes first. I’m never going to get that call and be like, “Sorry. I have to finish this workout.” The last time it happened, I had a 5-interval workout with 4 minutes of rest in between them. The intervals were the most important and they called me after the fourth interval and I had to leave.

I left but it presents challenges. I have to make sure I keep my priorities in check and that my job is more important than CrossFit. Being there for my partners is more important than my workout. My partner has also given me so much grace. They’re supportive. They are my family and they treat me like I’m theirs. I couldn’t do it without them. I wouldn’t want to do it without them. I wouldn’t do it without them.

I have no free time during the week. I’m training or I’m at work. On the weekends, I get that little bit of downtime to collect myself and prepare for the next week. I spend it with my dogs because they’re my world. Having that as my reset is the best thing ever. I also have so much support at the gym. All my friends are from the gym. They’re either my co-workers or they go to the gym. I don’t have time to see people. They help with the dogs. They helped me in every aspect of my training and recovery. I couldn’t do it without them either.

It’s amazing that you get to share that with people because it’s like you get to do the ultimate multitasking where you get to have that connection and friendship with all of your people and have that piece come at the same time as training your body. That’s so valuable.

We’ve been having a lot of discussions about nutrition. I’m sitting next to probably one of the most disciplined eaters I’ve ever met in my life. I seem to have lost a lot of that discipline but can you talk for a few minutes about how you approach nutrition and how’s that a big part of your training?TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

I do count my macros. I functional eating as my nutrition coach. I learned I was severely undereating for how much I was performing. As a woman, it’s very intimidating to eat more food than all the guys. All my coworkers are males and I outeat every single one of them. It’s intimidating to eat more than them, not feel self-conscious and think, “Am I going to have love handles after this meal?”

I still have that struggle. Fortunately, my coach is awesome at working through that with me. I have Kenzie Riley as my programming coach with Misfit Athletics. She is also awesome about that. I was like Kenzie, “I wanted to do a cut. I was 5 pounds lighter. I could be a faster runner. I’d be better at gymnastics.” She’s like, “Get the fuck out of here.”

It’s hard. I hope that all the women going through that struggle realize that the elite athletes struggle with that too. I mostly eat whole foods. I’m like an 80/20, like 20% I’m going to go enjoy life because life’s too short to skip the cookie every time. I’m going to eat the cookie and I’m going to have a second cookie. I’m going to enjoy every bite of it. I’m going to let it fuel my performance instead of going to the gym, working off the cookie and feeling like I have to earn it. It’s my fuel to perform. Without that fuel, I can’t do this. It’s a mindset change that everyone still struggles with. It’s important to be able to see it as fuel and choose things that are going to fuel your body appropriately most of the time and then enjoy life the rest of the time.

Modballs has been a part of that.

Modballs are a godsend because they are clean fuel. They have phenomenal ingredients but it tastes like a candy bar. It’s like up pop before bed when I have that sweet craving. I should probably take them during my workout but I do them all the time. It takes care of that sweet craving and I don’t feel guilty about it. I take it during my workouts and it gives me fuel. It’s an absolute godsend.

TJP - E94 Shaylin Laure Wodapalooza 2023 Women’s Rx Champion 2x World’s Fittest Law Enforcement Officer

“Modballs are a Godsend. They are clean fuel. They have phenomenal ingredients but it tastes like a candybar.”

There’s kale in it. They are superfoods.

The ingredients are good.

One of the big things too is you’re not drinking an energy drink with Modballs. You’re consuming it. It’s real food. It’s not processed. They’ve been a big part of your training. We’re integrating them into the show. I’ve been eating them all day.

There’s spinach, broccoli and brussels sprouts. I can’t taste that in here at all. It does taste like a candy bar.

Those to me taste like an Almond Joy. They’re my favorite. A lot of people like these peanut butter ones better. These are also delicious and it tastes like a no-bake cookie almost that has chocolate and peanut butter in it.

If you use code JED, there is $10 off your first purchase.

Also, code SHOO FLY if you think I’m better looking.

As we close out, Jedburgh and World War II had to do three things to be successful every day. They had to be able to shoot, move and communicate. I probably heard something like that before. Those were core foundational tasks. They were habits. If they were proficient at those things, they wouldn’t have to focus and they could apply their effort and their intention to more complicated challenges that came their way every day. What are the three things that you do every day to set the conditions for success in your world? I didn’t load you up with that one before. I was surprised.

I bet it’s extra hard having some up and down the schedule where it’s unpredictable. It makes it difficult to have that consistency.

If you're not having fun or if you’re not telling the people you love that you love them, then what are you doing? Life's too short. Share on X

At this point in my season in life, if you’re not having fun, what are you doing? Life’s too short. If you haven’t told the people you love that you love them, what are you doing? If you’re having fun and you love what you’re doing, everything is out.

Have fun. Tell people you love them and love what you’re doing. It’s super inspirational what you’re doing, what you’ve done throughout your career in athletics now and in the past, what you did in the military and what you’re doing for our country as you continue to serve the FBI. Continue the hard work and continue to set an example. We talk about leadership on the show. That’s our most important thing. Leaders lead from the front. You’re showing us that every single day. Thank you for everything you’re doing.

Thank you for joining us.

 

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