The sport of CrossFit is here to stay and even though the future is far from clear and linear, what I can confidently tell you is that the future will be jam packed with adventure, excitement, and a fresh new look as to what it means to be an athlete, coach and spectator of this sport.
Having been a part of the last three CrossFit competitions prior to Part One of the 2020 CrossFit Games, I felt the urge to open up and share my endless number of notes I’ve compiled throughout my experience with all of you, and showcase how exciting the future of our sport truly is.
DEFYING THE ODDS: AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
Let’s begin with my experience at the Masters Fitness Collective Championship, held in Fort Wayne, Indiana which focused solely on Master athletes ranging from the ages of 35-65+.
For this event, I was personally asked by Bobby Petras, competition director of MFC Championships and one of the founding members of the MFC, to tackle the role of being the Lead for Athlete Control.
Little did I know that my acceptance of this role was forever going to be a moment of impact in my life. I walked away with an experience I will remember forever. Not only did I have the pleasure of getting to know all of the athletes, but I also met all of the individuals who worked tirelessly to make this event happen and was able to witness first-hand just how much time, energy, and effort goes into making an event such as this possible.
Executing an event of this magnitude proved to be much more challenging in our new “COVID-19 landscape” but was pulled off by The MFCC, nonetheless. Mandatory onsite COVID testing was provided prior to the competition beginning on Wednesday and immediately after it ended, to ensure all athletes were safe and healthy.
The MFCC was exceptionally well run and operated to ensure that everyone in attendance was as safe as possible within the current circumstances.
Even more, the MFCC was able to provide athletes with three separate arenas to tackle the programming created by CJ Martin of Invictus Fitness.
The event started early Thursday morning with a swim and kettlebell. Next up, the athletes got to tackle heavy snatches and a grueling run within Fort Wayne’s TinCaps baseball stadium.
Finally, the competition was wrapped up in the air-conditioned convention center room, which was transformed into a CrossFit haven. All that was missing from this competition was the town of Fort Wayne, IN actually being named Madison, Wisconsin.
To hype up the competition even more, I personally had the opportunity to meet and connect with just about every single athlete that took the floor between August 20th and 23rd.
What I can tell you about the athletes who were in attendance is that they were all full of gratitude and excitement to finally have the opportunity to have a platform provided in order to do what they love; share their love of fitness and competition with a room full of other like-minded individuals.
I was reminded throughout the entirety of this competition that age is merely just a number. These Masters Athletes are fast, fierce, gritty as hell, witty, smart and STRONG!
To put the cherry on top, men and women of all ages were throwing down games like numbers on the lifts, crushing challenging time caps, and the 65+ age group effortlessly smashed bar muscle ups and handstand walks. If that doesn’t excite you for the future of those in this sport, I’m not sure what will.
Now what will the future hold for Masters athletes? Will they be incorporated back into the CrossFit games arena at Madison, Wisconsin? Will they have their own competition like that of MFCC? The same question could be asked for the teenagers.
OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW SCHOOL
Continuing my note taking adventures to Three Rivers, Michigan just two short weeks later, I was able to set my athlete control cap to the side and pick up my coaching cap. Off to the Pit Teen Games.
As I pulled into the Pit Fitness Ranch for the initial athlete briefing, my first initial thought was, “Wow, is this OG!” Resembling a very similar vibe to that of Aromas, California, The Pit did not disappoint with both its outdoor and indoor space that was provided to the teenage athletes that qualified.
From having a beautiful modern and crisp looking gym, to incorporating components such as water, steep hill sprints, outside deadlift ladders and trail runs, The Pit Fitness Ranch was essentially a teen athlete’s dreamland.
Identical to the MFCC, The Pit’s main focus was to operate a safe and COVID friendly competition. Those behind the scenes at The Pit were tirelessly working with the athletes to ensure they were as safe as possible with multiple temperature checks, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, limited indoor spectators and more.
With a reminiscent feeling of summer camp, the teenagers were given a very solid yet challenging test of fitness. Multiple max effort lifts were programmed and to keep things nostalgic, there was both a deadlift ladder and a sandbag event. The athletes were pushed to their limits as they had to sprint up a very steep hill which overlooked the entire Ranch.
The teens also had the opportunity to spend an ample amount of time in the water as their swimming capabilities were tested as well as their ability to handle a paddleboard sprint in the middle of a strongman metcon.
As noted above with the MFCC, the teenagers, coaches, and families in attendance shared an experience that will last a lifetime. Everyone was incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to compete and connect with fellow peers in their chosen sport.
With only 46 athletes in attendance, the intimate and focused setting around the teenagers provided an experience unlike any other that I have personally been a part. Every athlete was provided with ample support, recognition, and discovered just how incredibly capable and talented they are at their age.
So, is The Pit Fitness Ranch the future for teenagers? Will we see teenagers incorporated back into Madison? Let’s continue the journey to Cedar City, Utah where I was fortunate enough to be a part of The Iron Games.
THE IRON GAMES: SETTING THE STANDARD
f you have not navigated your way to Southern Utah, go ahead a book yourself a ticket. The town of Cedar City has a beautiful red rock landscape, and youthful spirit. Home to Southern University of Utah, the venue definitely set the Iron Games apart from many other competitions.
Again, attending this competition with my coaching cap on, I also had the pleasure of knowing the majority of the team behind the scenes as I was a part of the inaugural team in 2019 for The Iron Games led by my dear friend and Director, Brigham Neilson.
On the same note as both the MFCC and the Pit Teens Games, The Iron Games also made COVID the main priority. Those working behind the scenes, again, were tireless in their efforts ensuring that athletes and those in attendance were as safe as possible with temperature checks, mask wearing, social distancing, limited indoor spectators, and more.
The Iron Games provided athletes with a very true, games like experience. This is probably why the competition sold out in many divisions on day one.
The competition was made up of unknown variables, surprise workouts, off-site events and variance at its’ core. From dumbbells and 50m pool sprints, to 5k red rock trail runs, and competing under the lights in the middle of a football stadium, The Iron Games provided the total package.
So far, being the sole competition that provided teams with the opportunity to throw down, The Iron Games attracted not only previous games athletes to it’s roster, but also the United States Army Fitness teams.
Having the spirit and presence of teams in attendance created even more games like appeal for those competing, coaching and spectating.
Competitions like The Iron Games really showcase the exciting capabilities our sport has to offer. Will local yet games like competitions continue to be on the rise or will we see The Iron Games transform into a setting for a potential bigger draw similar to a Sanctional?
Only time will tell.
The big takeaway from my traveling across the country and hitting three different competitions, is that athletes, coaches, visionaries, spectators, volunteers, etc. are all willing to come together and provide those within the sport an opportunity to compete and connect.
These three experiences have reminded me that community and creativity are and always will be at the core of the sport and future of CrossFit.
So here is to the future of CrossFit. May we all be the reason that this sport thrives and enriches the lives of many to come.
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