November 15, 2015 by Bronson Dant

Recently we had two teams compete in a local Fitness Competition, one all guys team and one all ladies team. A few of the athletes are new to CrossFit and haven’t done anything like a competition before. None of them are seasoned competitors but were adventurous enough to join in the fun and see where the experience would take them. All the competitors did an excellent job and we loved their enthusiasm and energy.

Competitions are usually more intense and carry a higher level of risk than what we do in our everyday fitness program. They are a unique way to test your fitness against your past performance and others in your peer group. Elite competitors are the people you see on TV doing crazy, amazing things. Those athletes are the epitome of the Sport of CrossFit. What we do in the gym every day is much less specific and centered around getting people healthy and increasing their level of fitness. This is what CrossFit is truly about.

    

After the competition, we asked the newer athletes some questions about their experience. Everyone has different goals. Not everyone looks at things the same way. Even though the feedback differs among each person. You will see a common thread of bonding  and support from team mates, excitement and energy in the atmosphere, and the importance of proper movement in high stress situations.

– How long have you been doing CrossFit workouts?

Steve – I’ve only been doing CrossFit workouts for a little more than 3 months. I’ve always had a decent background in lifting weights, including Olympics lifts, in my younger years – but never anything in the style of CrossFit workouts.
Sarah – I have been doing CrossFit for about 5 months
Angie – I’ve been doing CrossFit since January of this year. Three years ago, I did CrossFit for a year and a half.
Paul – Since January 2015
Ben – I started CrossFit a little less than a year ago.

– What was your main motivation for starting CrossFit?

Steve – Turned 40 and started feeling out of shape sitting at a computer all day. I wasn’t motivated anymore to go to the gym just to “lift”. I also got tired of hearing my wife always talking about how much I’d like it if I did it. Plus, I was truly a little envious of her fatigue/soreness when she’d get home from workouts.
Sarah – I started CrossFit to try and jump start myself back into a regular work out program
Angie – I wanted a place where I could stay motivated to work out and reach goals. For me, it was so easy to become unmotivated and be inconsistent at a conventional gym. CrossFit keeps me motivated and helps me see my progress. I love that my coaches are constantly emphasizing form each class because I feel like it’s such an important factor. You also become friends with other members and we cheer each other on.
Paul – Heard good things about it, but didn’t know what CrossFit was.  PCR opened up 5 minutes from my house and I stopped in on a Saturday to check it out and haven’t stopped since.
Ben – I started CrossFit because I was tired of “the old gym routine” and seeing little if any results.

– When you started, did you ever see yourself doing any kind of competition and why?

Steve – Definitely not – I don’t think I even realized local competitions like that existed. CrossFit was just something I was vaguely aware of on ESPN once a year.
Sarah – I never envisioned doing a competition due to being rather shy and also pretty much a beginner with CrossFit. I was really surprised when Jamie approached me about doing a competition.
Angie – I am competitive but for some reason I didn’t see myself doing any kind of competition. I didn’t join to compete, that’s just not my goal. There’s something about the idea of doing lifts for reps or time in a competition setting that doesn’t sit well with me. I know I do that in regular class but in a competition, it’s different –  you kick it up a notch and go faster than you normally would push yourself in a regular workout. If you’re doing it with proper form and you like competing, that’s great. You see so many people who don’t do things properly, it’s cringe worthy and I get genuinely concerned they’re going to get hurt somehow.
Paul – No, but then our gym did the five week CrossFit Games in March.  I figured for $20 why not try it, we were doing the workouts on Saturdays anyway.  It was really rewarding to see where you scored with others in your age group.  It motivated me to do better next time.
Ben – Absolutely not.  Have you seen the CrossFit games?  I knew there was no way I would EVER be in that kind of shape, and I assumed that you probably needed to be in freak condition in order to compete.

– How was the competition different from what you see in classes at CrossFit PCR?

Steve – There wasn’t really anything different about the exercises themselves. The main difference was just the level of intensity. People at this competition were not messing around! Also, the event lasted the entire day so that’s a big difference. The other difference (and I might be a little biased here!) was that the two PCR teams had a lot better form than many of the other teams. We probably could have placed a little higher if we “cheated” a little on the movements, but that’s not how we roll.
Sarah – The competition was a bit different than the CrossFit classes due to there being a new piece of equipment that we had not used before and of course more focus on getting the workout done FAST to score higher rather than focusing so much on “perfect” technique, though form was still important to have reps count as always!
Angie – When competing as a group, you don’t want to let your teammates down or feel like the weak link, so there’s some extra pressure to contribute the most you can. There are also multiple workouts in a day instead of 1 so it’s definitely more tiring.
Paul – Its INTENSE!  You have to use all that you have been taught on form and function and not let adrenaline take over.  Every rep counts and if you are throwing weight around improperly you won’t be efficient.
Ben – It seemed MUCH faster and it was hard not to sacrifice form for speed.

– What was it like? Were you scared or nervous? 

Steve – With about 250 competitors plus a large number of supporters packed into the venue it was a pretty intense environment. For whatever reason, I wasn’t really nervous but I was pretty excited to get the ball rolling. But I enjoyed the intensity level. It was just all-out-as-hard-as-you-can-go-until-the-clock-stops intensity. Plus, I think I wasn’t really nervous because of the team dynamic – being part of a team makes all the difference because your teammates are all right there with you.
Sarah – I was extremely nervous going in! I was worried about some of the lifts that I was not as comfortable with.
Angie – There was a ton of people which made it very high energy and fast paced. I wasn’t scared; I would get a little nervous 10 minutes prior to each workout. It’s those 10 minutes of waiting until it’s your turn to go, when the butterflies kick in a little bit but I just tell myself, “it’s just another workout”. Once the workout starts, the nerves go away and the adrenaline kicks in. The aches & pains, nerves , and soreness disappear during the workout.
Paul – I’ve done two competitions now and I’ve been nervous because I’m still new to CrossFit, but not scared.  The trill of beating another team is exciting.  It justifies the hard work that goes into training for these competitions.
Ben – I was definitely nervous, but the team atmosphere was very encouraging.  Also, it was fun to just cut loose and go, go, go.  To me, it was more exhilarating than scary.

– Was the experience what you expected or different, and why?

Steve – It was pretty much what I was expecting. Mike/Lyndsey had talked to me about it a few times leading up to the event so they had me prepared.
Sarah – The experience was a bit different than I expected. The weights for the most part were really light an manageable (with the exception of the very last workout). It was sort of easier than I though it would be work wise, but more mentally challenging with so much going on around you and really needing to focus on not loosing count and hearing what your judges are saying. Communication with team mates in a really loud and charged environment was honestly one of the more challenging aspects of the event.
Angie – The overall experience is what I expected but I didn’t expect so much time in between each workout. We had over 2 hours in between each work out so it was a lot of waiting around.
Paul – This competitions bring out the best athletes.  Some of the competitors/teams are amazing.  Now I just want to keep getting better each workout.  I’m not going to be sponsored by CrossFit anytime soon, but I’m working hard each workout to improve myself.
Ben – I honestly did not know what to expect other than there would be teams of people and we were going to compete.  Now I understand why people like competitions.

– Did you learn anything from doing the competition?

Steve – Beware of GHD sit-ups.
Sarah – I learned that it’s OK to move faster and not have “perfect” form every time, but that technique will improve as you just get through the work outs, not necessarily always thinking so hard about what you are doing. (Though I swear Bronson was bleeding from his eyes watching me clean and jerk). One big thing I learned at the competition- that great coaching really shows. I saw a lot of consistent “no rep” form, though many judges did not actually call it  out. Though I know every rep I did may not have been totally correct, I understand what to aim for and really feel we had the advantage of good knowledge based on good coaching on our side
Angie – After a competition in the past, I did learn that if you are going to compete in a group, make sure you share the same approach. If you’re competing to just have fun and do the best you can but the rest of the group wants to overachieve or vice versa, there may be some problems.
Paul – I was humbled by what others are able to accomplish.
Ben – I learned that hydration, active stretching, and proper nutrition pay off when it’s time for squats, deadlifts, and burpees.  And, I learned I’ve got lots to work on in the gym.

– Would you do it again and would you recommend other people to give it a shot?

Steve – Definitely – as long as Mike Condon is on my team again! I definitely recommend other people give it a shot. It’s an experience that not a lot of people have the opportunity to be a part of. It’s an extremely satisfying sense of accomplishment.
Sarah – Personally, I would not compete again just because of how I’m wired and my own personal preferences. However, I always think trying new things are good. I would encourage and support anyone to try a competition, especially if they enjoy and atmosphere with lots of energy. It’s definitely a great social environment for getting to know team mates and gym buddies better. I would also recommend a competition to others to give them focus in their work outs at the gym and something to strive for so they are prepared for the event!
Angie – I would definitely recommend people trying it at least once. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to see how you perform under pressure.
Paul – Absolutely.  It was great fun and the people at our gym are great.  When you work with others through adversity like a competition you can’t help but build great friendships with your team mates.
Ben – I would definitely do it again, and I think anybody with a few months of workouts under their belts should get a team together and sign up.  It’s a really good experience.