A Pro Wrestler in Nova Scotia Shares Their Fitness Routine

Wrestler and MasterChef Canada winner Jennifer Crawford works out to maintain their emotional and mental health as much as their physical strength.

Whether Jennifer Crawford is doing pullups in their barn or lifting 270 pounds in a barbell squat in their driveway, they’re constantly striving to increase their strength. This hard work enables them to throw down their opponents as a professional wrestler who performs under the moniker Moon Miss.

Even though Crawford still doesn’t self-describe as a “fitness person,” strength training and physical activity serve several functions in their life. They have always loved expressing themselves in corporeal and kinetic ways—using movement as a creative outlet. They’ve been an athlete since childhood, starting out as a kid who was into golf, and then playing varsity rugby in university.

(Related: This Basketball League Is Breaking the Gender Barrier)

Primarily, fitness helps them stay sober and well. For years, “I used alcohol as an answer to every feeling,” Crawford says, whether those feelings were joy or despair, until it became clear that drinking usually made life worse—and that it was time for a big change.

2019 proved a pivotal year. They were living in Toronto and working as a senior policy analyst. After years of struggling with alcohol and a CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) diagnosis, Crawford got sober and enrolled in an outpatient trauma treatment program.

“I spent six weeks learning how to regulate my nervous system and take good care of myself—that was a piece that was always missing for me,” Crawford says. “That program changed my life.”

Fresh out of treatment, Crawford—who had no culinary training—started filming for MasterChef Canada, a competition show for amateur home cooks. They won the contest and used the cash prize to buy a farmhouse in Nova Scotia, near where they grew up.

Once settled in the Hants County region north of Halifax, they joined a local wrestling gym and developed the persona Moon Miss, a drag character they had already created for a different cooking show, a YouTube series called My Queer Kitchen. (In one episode, Crawford teaches viewers how to make only in–Nova Scotia Moon Mist ice cream, which is a combo of bubble gum, grape and banana flavours.)

Crawford now co-produces wrestling events in Nova Scotia through their promotion company, Glory Hold Pro Wrestling, creating space and community for gender-queer youth in what is otherwise a “very cis-male-dominated” world, they say. “Glory Hold aims to make that world just a little bigger.”

Though there’s a lot of theatre and performance in the ring, the wrestlers are serious athletes who train hard and often get hurt. Last year, Crawford had a freak accident during a match and sustained a tibial plateau fracture. They were on crutches for eight weeks.

“At its weakest, my right leg had atrophied to five inches smaller than my left,” says Crawford. They spent most of 2022 slowly rebuilding their leg strength with lots of low-weight, high-rep rehab, and by the end of October, Moon Miss was back.

Crawford says that they have faith their body is “hard-wired to heal, as long as I don’t do anything stupid and stay out of my own way.” Here’s a breakdown of all that they engage in to feel healthy, both physically and mentally.

(Related: The Unique Way This Female Fitness Instructor Uses Movement and Compassion to Support Women)

Jennifer Crawford Masterchef 3Image: Carolina Andrade

SETTING THE BAR Crawford revels in the painstaking work it takes to achieve a goal—like being strong enough to do a pull-up, after training every day for months and months, “until you finally get your chin over that bar. Only you know what you’ve been up against—it’s not just gravity. There’s something divine about that.”

Jennifer Crawford Masterchef 6Image: Carolina Andrade

FREE SOLO After years of working out in group settings, Crawford now mostly trains on their own, in a barn they’ve outfitted to meet their fitness needs. “I push myself much harder when I’m alone,” Crawford says. “But I realize that most people have the opposite experience.”

Jennifer Crawford Masterchef 5Image: Carolina Andrade

BUCKLE UP During matches, Crawford gets into a specific mindset as Moon Miss. They picture Moon Miss as an alien here to visit “the earthlings,” on a quest to become the greatest wrestler in the galaxy. “Like, ‘I’m touching down—it’s my time to shine, baby. Let’s go!’”

Jennifer Crawford Masterchef 4Image: Carolina Andrade

TOP DOG Daisy, a street dog rescued from Cairo who “fell into” Crawford’s life in June 2021, arrived with a significant amount of anxiety and physical limitations (she only has three legs). While she can’t join her owner for long walks or swims, she loves hopping in the car for a ride.

Jennifer Crawford Masterchef 2Image: Carolina Andrade

BIG DIPPER Last March, Crawford started a daily cold-plunge ritual at a local waterfall. “I’m still coming every day, even when it’s cooler out, and I’ll keep going as long as I can,” they say. “But I stay in the water a lot longer in the summer.”

Jennifer Crawford Masterchef 7Image: Carolina Andrade

CHOPPING BLOCK Crawford says they learned to cook because they love to eat, and their inventiveness in the kitchen is also clearly a creative outlet. Food is more than fuel: “It’s comfort and art and healing, connection and community. I went through a period of my life where I counted macros and it made me feel terrible. I will never do it again.”

Jennifer Crawford Masterchef 9Image: Carolina Andrade

IN GOOD TIME “If there’s anything I have 10,000 hours of practice with, its femininity,” Crawford says. They also perform in drag shows as Moon Mister, their character’s masculine alter ego, “because if there’s anything else I have spent 10,000 hours studying, it’s masculinity.”

Next: This Ultramarathoner and Mom Is Bringing Reconciliation to the Trail-Running World

Originally Published in Best Health Canada