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The Quest For The Crossfit Games

April 7, 2010

Every year, off the beaten trail in Northern California, there is a gathering of thousands of people from all over the globe who come to witness an incredible spectacle of guts, glory, and ultimate display of human performance.  This event takes place over the course of two grueling days in the middle of July, and in the end, one male and one female athlete are crowned “fittest man & fittest woman in the world.”  This event is called the Crossfit Games.

How can the Crossfit Games claim that the winner is the fittest person on the planet?

Most athletic competition that we see is very specialized.  For example, whoever wins the Boston Marathon this year is obviously incredibly gifted at running and has great cardiovascular endurance.  The winner of the Tour de France is quite possibly the best cyclist in the world and has worked incredibly hard to get there.

Could either athlete be considered fittest person on the planet?

Well, if I asked either person to show me their best vertical leap or had them show me their one-rep-max back squat they would probably be put to shame by your little sister.  Nothing against cyclists or runners (I do both!), I’m just saying that neither have functional skills other than what is necessary for their sport –  so they are very specialized.  In my opinion, if you want to be “fit” and especially healthy (unless of course your goal is to be world class in your sport), you must develop other general skills as part of your fitness routine.

What Crossfit teaches people is that everyone is an athlete.  Even though some people are more athletically gifted than others, we are all built to be accomplished in the same sorts of movements and skills.  We are all meant to push, pull, throw, jump, lift, run, and climb.  Quite simply, we are all built to move.

What the founder of crossfit, Greg Glassman, has done is combine body-weight gymnastic movements (pushups, pullups, squats, handstand pushups, etc.), Olympic lifting/barbell lifts (clean and jerk, snatch, deadlift, back squat, etc.), and metabolic conditioning (including running, rowing, jumprope, etc.) and developed a strength and conditioning program that is general, inclusive, and universally scalable (that means it’s for everyone!).

Taken to the extreme, though (as I tend to do), Crossfit has become a sport.  Specifically the sport of fitness.  Crossfit athletes are measured by the amount of work that they can do in as little time as possible, so everything is usually done against the clock.  The sport has grown so rapidly now that there are 2 qualifying rounds in each region of the planet to get to the Crossfit Games.

Last year I competed in the Crossfit North East Regionals in Albany, NY, where over 200 men and over 100 women competed for the top 5 spots to get to the California Crossfit Games.  After the two-day event was over, I ended up placing 14th overall, which I was pretty happy with since I had never competed in an event like this one before.

In this year’s quest for the Games (now having 2 years of Crossfit under my belt), I began with a my first competition in Milford, CT on the weekend of March 20th – 21st.  The competition was held at Crossfit Milford and roughly 135 men and 65 women showed up to compete for 30 spots to move on to the Crossfit North East Regionals in Albany.

The Day One workouts:

Workout 1 (Saturday) “Pullin”

For time:
800 meter run
30 Snatches, 115/75
800 meter run

Workout 2 (Saturday) “Fast and Furious”

3 rounds for time of:
20 Box Jumps (24/20 inches)
20 Chest-to-bar Pull-ups
20 Wall Balls (20/14lbs, w/10 foot target)

After Day One’s workouts, I had put up times of 8:57 and 8:37 respectively, and to my surprise I found myself in 6th place.  I actually think that the most painful part of the day was that evening when I soaked my legs in a nice ice bath for 20 minutes to try to rejuvenate some of the soreness from the first day.  Yikes!  What a brutal experience.

Day 2 workouts:

Workout 3 (Sunday) “Serious 7”

Each athlete has 7 minutes to get their 7 rep max squat clean.  When the athlete says “Go,” the judge will start the clock.  Each athlete has 40 seconds to complete their 7 rep max.  They can do as many attempts as they want within the 7 minutes; however, you only get 40 seconds for the 7 reps from the first pull.  Rest and number of attempts is dependent on the athlete.

I placed well in the first workout on Day Two, putting up 205 pounds, and won a spot in the final heat in the last workout of the day.

Despite the fatigue, soreness, and nerves, I zoned myself in by sitting and visualizing what I wanted to do in the last workout.  I was ready to ignore pain.  I was ready to dig deep.  By the time all the finalist athletes were called to compete in the last workout, it was on.

Workout 4 (Sunday Final)

4 rounds for time
Stones, ground to shoulder, 112/65 pounds
100 meter sandbag run, 40/18 pounds
15 Overhead Squats, 95/65
15 Deadlifts, 225/135
15 Burpees

The video of this workout speaks for itself.  It was a grueling challenge, but I had hundreds of people cheering me on and a monster strongman competitor named Rob Orlando for a judge who pushed me along and screamed at me the whole way.  I don’t know that I’ve ever dug so deep before but somehow I stayed conscious to finish in 15:33.  I was hoping for a sub-15 minute time so I had a shot at cracking the top 3, but I ended up in 4th place in the end.

Have a look at this video compilation of all 4 workouts.  I would have themed it with some music, but I wanted you to get a feel for the energy and the atmosphere from the event.

 I have something to admit to you though:  I might be the 4th fittest guy in New England am not special.  I’m not that athletically gifted, I’m not naturally big and strong, and I’ve never been an all-star athlete.  What I do boast, though, is a commitment to my health and persistence to do well.  My secret is that once I commit to something, I always give 100%.  I Crossfit because it’s my sport and because it challenges me to lean over the edge of what’s possible.  It keeps me alive and satisfies my competitive nature.

What do you do in your life that drives you to lean over the edge?  Where do think you could challenge yourself more and keep your spirit burning bright?  Find it.  Do what you love, and love what you do.

Thanks for everyone’s huge support!

Your health coach,

Dr. Ryan Hewitt

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