I got the chance to schedule a last minute seminar in Temple, TX this coming Saturday. Sign up now and tell your friends!
There are plenty of respected CrossFit athletes that plan on over-lapping between CrossFit and signing with the NPFL. It’s an opportunity to display strengths, specialized talent, and perform in an organized season of events that can be easily followed by fans. This is not only a chance for athletes to make a living from competing, but it’s rare an Individual CrossFit Games athlete would get to have the accountability of a team at their side.
In my defense at the end of the article, (whoops!) I explained it as a “Professional spectator league for CrossFit” in a blog I wrote for my fans, and for my people! They follow my path, and they want my perspective of my experiences. I’m not the most politically correct, but I’m spreading awareness. To say we are doing “functional fitness” and not “CrossFit” at the NPFL would have just been silly and confusing.
I love this fresh and exciting advancement of our sport, and whether I get drafted and play in it, or attend events to watch my favorite athletes compete, I will be hoping for it’s success.
Remember field day from elementary school? That’s basically what I’ve been doing all weekend, but field day for strong, fast grown-ups. Getting to pick strengths to “show off” and perform when we’re ready is completely different then at a competition where we’re on a scheduled time, and exposing weaknesses with a group! Because of such a relaxed atmosphere, it seemed like the “PR FRIDAY” chant we spread around caught like wildfire, and eventually revealed everyone’s best. The day flew by, as we entertained ourselves with fun races, events and challenges.
Here’s one of my first events, where CrossFit Games athlete Becca Voigt (who later ended up deadlifting 395 lbs!) and I Handstand walked against each other so we could get a competitive distance in 60 seconds. We went all the way across the field and back, and were only beat by Kristen Clever!
I love this video because it showed the ENERGY of the day. Notice a few things: Kris, Courtney and Pam sneaking up behind me during my interview… being clowns. The video showed my OHS PR, and on my missed jerk I was fine, it didn’t even sting! Even though it might look a little shocking. My favorite was the max gymnastics events in 90 seconds where I won the 15″ rope climbs and also the muscle ups.
The second day was intense, because the boys’ field was going to be cut in half after all the coaches made their selection in who was going to be invited back for Sunday. The final day was going to be a showcase of teamwork talent, guided by certain coaches, to see who is able to best deliver and serve their team. One of the standout performances I remember that were really fun to watch were Ronnie Teasdale and Pat Burke (both my old and new training partners) tying to win the rope climbs. Noah Olsen stringing together 22 muscle ups in a row, it was truly amazing the way he didn’t even need to catch himself in the dip. My friend Wayne Willette got 345 lb Clean and Jerk, while still being able to do 50 HSPU in 90 seconds.
The professionals signed athletes of the LA Reign were flown out to socialize and hang out with everyone and watch their lifts. It was a surprise to me that a few had already signed, because it was kept secret until they showed up today all wearing their team gear. Lindsey Valenzuela, Tommy Hackenbruck, Kenny Leverich, Becky Conzelman, and Elizabeth Akinwale are all signed by coach, Dusty Highland, so it was great to see everyone!
I flew to Los Angeles this weekend to participate in the first of the National Pro Fitness League’s Combines. The National Pro Fitness League is made up of five teams with 14 athletes each, picked from all over the nation. Some athletes are already signed and many more are trying out at the combines in Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and Boston. We had to register, and then be invited to participate, and the athletes that make it past the Friday/Saturday tests make it to the finals and perform on Sunday. Eventually, the signed athletes will join teams and will battle other teams in the league. It will be a live spectator sport built for the off-season of CrossFit. I love team workouts, as that’s how I first made it to the Games in 2011, so I’m thoroughly excited about working together and having accountability and support from teammates from all over the place!
Attending a combine and trying out in front of coaches takes me back to running Track & Field in high school and looking to get picked up by colleges. Using all of our hard work in training for years to add up to this one moment and test of our fitness. We can’t “get stronger” now, we can’t “get faster” now, this is not training; we’re all here for the test. I’m trying to stay positive and remind myself I’m here to have FUN, and no matter what, I know it will be a great training opportunity
It makes me even more nervous because it’s not a competition. It’s based on a coaches perception of what our potential is, based on the performance of one day. There will be no winner, or competing with each other, it’s instead a huge venue packed in with people that are testing their skills “whenever they want” over the course of 8 hours, knowing their scores will be analyzed. Another thing they’re looking for is if we would be good teammates. There’s a lot of compromising and strategizing on teams, and it takes a special athlete to mesh well with team competitions.
My training partner, Pat Burke and I flew out to Los Angeles to go to the first combine for a few reasons. Who doesn’t like California and it’s gorgeous weather? As we were pulling away at the airport we were looking out the window at all the snow everywhere and I said, “Wait, are you sure? You sure you don’t want to go back to the gym and train in this?” We were ready for some sun! Another reason I wanted to come to this one is because of all my friends that are trying out too. I miss my communities in downtown LA, West Hollywood, Studio City, and Lawndale, and even though I won’t be able to visit the gyms, it will be nice just to be around my friends. This state is such a big part of who I am, it feels so good to be here.
Pat’s a 5x CrossFit Games athlete, and has been in the Marines and competed at the highest levels of our sport year after year. He’s what we call an “OG” an original gangster, meaning his experience level is pretty decorated. I’ve learned so much from him since I moved back to Colorado in December, so getting a chance to compete with him will be new and exciting. I hope if this all goes well and we end up signing with teams that we make the same team, but anything could happen in the draft. If not, it’ll just make our daily training sessions that much more competitive!
The 2014 Open Finale
Watching the 14.5 workout announcement live felt like I was in a surreal world where the only thing that mattered were the athletes under that roof and the announcement of their torture. I could feel the anticipation in the air before Dave Castro said exactly what the workout was. The tension from the athletes of finding out only a few minutes before they actually performed must have sent their brains spinning with ideas at full speed.
When he announced it was burpees and thrusters, everyone exchanged knowing looks to their friends since it was apparently so obvious that it was going to be a couplet of those two movements. But when for the first time in three years of the Open they surprised everyone and said “Everyone will do all 164 reps, because it’s FOR TIME”… it was so awesome to see the crowd freak out. For some people it meant they would be doing a looooong version of the workout, hoping to finish, and for others it meant they would be sprinting their heart out to race to the finish line. There will be no “oh I could have gotten an extra rep” it will be more along the lines of “I just wanted to be DONE.”
The entire night I was thinking of what my strategy would be. I was trying to game the thrusters, as I figured that would be a hard part for me, especially to go unbroken. I loved the idea of going for time much more then thinking of the workout as an amrap. Usually during the Open, when I have a “as many rounds as possible workout” I set a goal, and pretend it’s for time anyway. For example, in 2012 for 12.1 when it was 7 minutes of burpees, my coach and I decided it wasn’t an amrap for me, it was 150 burpees for time. I ended up falling short and getting 141, but was very happy with how far that mind set has gotten me.
When people asked me what my goal was- I always say- to do my best! I know if I give up early or not. I know if I start my ‘end of the workout firey kick’ too late or just right. Goals are nothing more than an educated guess, there’s no reason why you “shouldn’t or should” get the random number you put in your head you thought you ‘should be capable of.’ Unless it’s a workout you’ve done before, then you can actually set a few reps more/ 15 seconds faster… a goal that’s realistic and tangible.
I ended up doing 14.5 on Friday at San Francisco CrossFit. It was a really fun atmostphere and I hadn’t brought my gear and a member even volunteered their knee sleeves, which convinced me to get it over with. Jami Tikkidten was my judge, he is one of the most well known coaches in the world for our sport, visiting from London, and coaching Annie Thorisdottir. (So no pressure!) He convinced me to do all the thrusters unbroken even though I wasn’t sure at first that was the best strategy for me. I knew the burpees would be fatiguing, but I don’t mind them, I knew I would just have to stay consistant and zone out. Step-up burpees are my favorite- I’ve usually always gone with them in the past because they aren’t draining where I feel like I needed to stop, but instead they’re consistant and don’t change. I finished in 9:58 just narrowly clipping my 10 min goal, convincing myself at 5:00 that I was halfway. I recommend breaking early, as this is not a workout that you want to reach muscle fatigue in the first 30 or so reps, as the workout can be a very long one to have to “pay the price” after red-lining!
I hope more than anything athletes can treat this last workout like a finale to a long five weeks of testing their fitness. There is a time for training, and there’s a time for testing, and this year 209,000 people signed up for the Open to put their best scores forward. I know many people looked at the opportunity saying they “weren’t ready for it” or “could have done better if…” but it’s more of a commitment to yourself then anything. Although it creates fun competition within the gym and your scores you submit on the internet will be attached to your name, there’s something about being a part of something “bigger than ourselves.” CrossFit workouts are meant to be repeated and restested, and the Open is no exception. I love that when they come up again after a year or two years, I can look back and compare scores to see how much “fitter I’ve gotten,” and it reminds me I’m not standing still.
We’re getting stronger and faster every day of training, and making it through the Open should be an accomplishment your are proud of; an acceptance to where you are right now. Not forever, but right now.
Enjoy the ride, and be proud of what you DID achieve.
Check out this interview I did with Athletic Build. We discuss my training, inspiration and diet.
I’m so happy to be sponsored by the great folks at Nutriforce. If you want to give their products a try, use the code Agerbomb40 for 40% off at Nutriforcesports.com.
Try it out and let me know what your favorite is. I love the strawberry NutriWhey.
My friend, Ben Ceccarelli, made this awesome promotional video with me and some of my friends from CrossFit Horsepower.
“Pura Vida” means “pure life” in Spanish. Costa Ricans have made this term popular, saying it as a greeting, and describing any happy or beautiful situation to say…. Life is Good.
I noticed instantly that they have a light-hearted attitude to them. The “Ticos,” natives of Costa Rica, have an amazing ability to laugh in every situation. I noticed even when the boys picked me up from the airport that they straight up pause their conversations to allow time to laaaaughh. Without noticing right away, I actually changed my story telling to socially fit in with their way of life. When I found myself finishing explaining something or answering a question that was ending normally, I would make a joke at the end to make it more happy or ironic and we would all three just take time to laugh cause it just… feels good. Apparently if you’re not making friends out of strangers by finding things in common to sit back and laugh about, you’re doing something wrong. This worked in my advantage because I always try to be funny when I’m teaching. It’s usually a hit or miss but at this seminar I was on a roll- they were like confidence enablers to someone that’s making cheeseball jokes for hours through the seminar. I know I’m not really thaaat funny.
My favorite was when the owners of the gym, Diego and Marco were telling me horror stories about tour guides getting lost in the jungle deep in the rainforest for over seven days in monsoon season. How you could walk hours in one direction thinking you heard a car, and then all the sudden the echo makes you turn around and go in circles. We talked about all the animals that could be dangerous on the jungle floor… panthers, venomous snakes, spiders, wild boars. And then after me being pretty scared, they said, “that’s nothing, you know what freaks me out? We heard that in the states by the mountains some people just have BEARS going through their trash cans in their backyard. Now THAT’s scary- bears don’t mess around! The jungle’s way safer than that…”
Two athletes drove down from Mexico to attend the seminar, and a woman took a 10 hour bus ride in the heat all the way from Panama. There was a girl who reminded me of one of my cousins because of how many questions she had and how close she stayed by my side, who flew from Guatamala to attend the seminar. I have never seen such perseverance for an event I think of as a good time, where I show up and get to have face time with my people, while spilling everything I’ve ever learned into their brains. Here people are going out of their way to attend and take part in special days where they devote time to their personal development. A few girls from last year’s Latin America Regionals attended, and it was so cool thinking I could help them train against Games competitors that will represent their region this season on the big platform. I was inspired by everyone that attended with such enthusiasm.
After a day full of hiking miles in the rainforest to a giant waterfall, we went zip lining through the canopies. My favorite was our guide that looked at me after they told him I was visiting from the states as a professional CrossFitter, he looked at me and asked if that was some kind of dance. Ha! Later, after realizing we were into fitness I made a comment saying it must be hard lifting people up and pulling the heavy wires down all day and he said, “Ya you have to be very strong but we worry since we’re sweating all day from it that we’re not going to build as much muscle… like it is too much fast moving.” Oh it sounds like we sparked his interest!
It was easy to see that the owners of CrossFit 506 who toured me around their country for days after the seminar, were close. Business partners and best friends since childhood, they played devil’s advocate constantly. While one was always trying to scare me, telling me that people used to die on zip lines before they had built in breaks that slow them down, Nicho saying no one’s ever died in Costa Rica, and it’s very safe. Diego would tell me that they see crocodiles swimming next to them while they’re surfing if they go too deep, but the “people pleaser” would assure me when in the ocean they’re not territorial so they leave you alone. If one told stories about how territorial the crocs are when in the river, and how they kill anything in order to protect their 75 year long claim on territory…. the other would remind me- its ok, we are not planning on going in any rivers. When we saw red and blue rainbow macaws, I learned how they stay in couples and mate for life. I learned that if one dies the other commits suicide, but of course, the bright side is sometimes another macaw couple adopts it, and they live as a happy triplet for the rest of their lives! This went on and on until one night we went kayaking right at sunset, and I had to hope to God we would be safe…
We pulled out the kayaks… dragged them the short trek between the house and the rolling waves. They felt light after training all day, and we took them far, too far out, away from the shore. They started making fun of me and we were laughing so hard because I could NOT stay in mine! I was wobbling everywhere and they were joking about how the sharks come in to the shallow water at night to hunt because the water’s cooled off. I’m like that’s not funny- and I would splash into the water until I couldn’t even get in. They realized my kayak had a hole in it and was sinking fast. So we switched, and after they were talking in Spanish to each other for a long time, I started panicking this was serious… Diego ended up having to drag the full of water kayak as I paddled us to shore. Nicho was racing back, as his kayak also was sinking, and ended up having to pull his as well, trying to swim on his own. The moon was our only light, as I with no experience paddled as hard as I could to get this huge load to the beach, barely missing the huge groups of rocks to the right and left of our path. My arms were so tired, it reminded me exactly of rowing a 5K as hard as I could- but with someone on my back! They are so lucky I CrossFit….. After about half an hour, we had MADE it! We were all exhausted, and the boys kept talking about how they were trying to act calm but were scared to death of the sharks that more than likely were swimming below us.
I had a first world moment after I bought a shady iPhone 5 charger that didn’t work at all. Driving three and a half hours from San Jose to the beach on winding unpaved roads, having to swerve around people that were walking on the side of the road, and pulled over worker trucks. I mentioned if they had a highway to this beach it would probably cut the time in half. They instantly opened my eyes with saying, “This beach is secret and desolate and newly discovered. The way it is, is exactly what we would lose if there was a highway here.” I realized that proved I just didn’t get it…. And I made my best efforts to appreciate the road and the village from that moment on. This is why Ticos are the most happy, content, and upbeat people in the world, because life is pure, life is good, and they appreciate everything. They get it.
I ended up getting a little sick while I was there. My diet had changed while I was visiting, and I needed to talk to a doctor (I’m ok…..). On the phone he assured me he and his father are two of the most prepared and educated doctors in their country. To make me feel comfortable, he told me, “since I was so trusted and highly spoken of he considers me family. We are connected, we are all meant to help each other.” God guides us in so many ways, there is no way to possibly pretend there is such thing as coincidence. I tend to be more trusting then I should be, but I know I’m not the only one that’s watching out for me- if I was I would be in trouble.
Right now I’m staying at a beach house on the desolate North Pacific coast of the country. There are random ants and spiders crawling on the walls. There are no windows, just an entire wall of open shutters on one side of the room. The beach is lit up from the moon and just a short distance away from the house are the waves of the ocean hitting the sand…. and it’s loud tonight. Just another day of surfing and I’ll be back to my training partner and my gym at home, back to normal. For right now I’ll keep up with my bare feet on the platforms we made, a light, medium, and heavy barbell for whatever I come up with. My imagination runs wild with our rings hanging from the trees, and using the beach as our track…. Now this is CrossFit.
Pura Vida….. life is good.
Just as expected, The Battle of London was high energy, and exceeding expectations with the athletes, programming, and excellent judging staff and organization.
I learned a lot about myself as an athlete this weekend. I took 7th out of 150 individual females. I met some of the most aggressive European competitive exercisers there are, and I was impressed how much their culture has grown in just one year. It is obvious to most CrossFitters now that you can’t have lifting be a side hobby. It’s now an extreme focus, and most the men I saw looked like legit weightlifters with impeccable form and numbers. Of course you can tell who’s seasoned and who’s new, but the depth of strong people that can move weight, -and move it well, blew me away.
The arena was my favorite part of the experience. The 4,000 tickets that filled the entire sold-out Olympic Stadium, where the Handball Championships were held in the 2012 Olympic Games!
Heavy Grace, 30 Clean and Jerks for time at 80/55kg, 185/125lbs, was probably what hurt the springboard flooring. The second day because of the holes in the floor under the platforms, we were allowed to use the arena, only if we were not using any barbells. It was unfortunate but this happens at competitions often, maybe we just need to go back to parking lots, they seem to take the beating well. So the bodyweight championships began, with instead of a snatch ladder, a burpee ladder! There’s a first for everything… ever minute you moved down a chain of empty barbells and completed 3,6,9,12…. All the way to 27 hunched over burpees… and then a final amrap round if you made it there. I thought the staff did a great job making adjustments and substituting the final and keeping it exciting with a workout that began with 15 bar muscle ups!
I had made some friends from Ireland last year that I’d kept in touch with. We followed each other through the season, and we spent hours catching up over Nando’s chicken. I travel a lot, and most of the time by myself, so it’s nice to be able to connect with people, which gave me a reason to watch the masters, the men’s heats, and sit front row cheering with them. That’s what it’s all about, right? Next year if I come back for Battle Of London, I plan on scheduling a few seminars the weekend before. Then I can actually get to know the athletes and gyms in the area beforehand, and adjust to the time change for competition! I can’t remember the last time I took a nap during a competition, and during this one I took three! They were just little cat-naps, and I’m used to crazy sleep schedules, but that 9 hour time change is tough. When I woke up early on my first day of competition my mom was texting me that she “stayed up late tonight so that she could tell me good luck and to remind me to have fun!” She knows I can get really intense sometimes, but that’s the athlete part of the game, we care so much about our performance. At 3am Denver time I had done two events and was jumping as high as I could to rile up the crowd and get them to cheer for the last person getting their last reps.
One event that involved single arm KB squat cleans, and most people had never done them before. Every athlete in the warmup area trying to learn, with their coaches communicating to them in Spanish, German, Icelandic, and thickly accented English, proper form and technique. Everyone wants the edge, but each still sharing information and using tactical cues to help other athletes prepare.
Why do I like the Battle of London so much? The diversity.
The clashing of countries and languages coming together because at the end of the day, no matter where you’re from: if you love Fitness, you’re in. If pull-ups, running splits, and squat clean PR’s keep you up at night and day dreaming at the office about ‘what you’re going to do next time’ …. you’re in.