Red Card Roberts
July 26, 2011
I took a CrossFit class once. I couldn’t walk for a week. The day after this class (insert "torture session" here), my arms were so numb I couldn’t even brush my teeth. I just squirted some toothpaste into my mouth and hoped for the best.
Given my experience, I cannot imagine doing CrossFit with any degree of frequency. And I definitely can’t imagine doing it for a living, or hoping to get good enough to actually compete in it. But people do. People like Park City resident Chris Spealler, who owns CrossFit Park City in the Jeremy Ranch area.
Chris has been a certified CrossFit instructor for more than four years. He opened his own studio in 2009 after teaching CrossFit for a few years elsewhere. According to Chris, his classes cater to everyone with a desire to be there.
"At CrossFit Park City, we specialize in not specializing. A lot of people do sport-specific training but they don’t really need to. We believe in variety for fitness. Routine is the enemy. I have clients who are Olympians, soccer moms and weekend warriors. Because everyone works at their personal version of 100 percent, it’s really something anyone can do."
In fact, nationwide tens of thousands have jumped on the CrossFit bandwagon and it’s been deemed the unofficial ‘it’ fitness craze of the year.
The sport is a combination of 10 modalities: stamina, power, strength, endurance, agility, accuracy, balance, flexibility, coordination and speed. There are about 50 basic exercises that are mixed and matched to create the workout of the day and every day is different.
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And though it’s considered a workout, Chris, who was a wrestler in college, started doing CrossFit because he missed competing. "Working out is fine, but I would get bored at the gym. CrossFit is more like a sport than a workout, and that’s what’s appealing to me."
Appealing to him and thousands of other people who will be in L.A. this coming weekend competing in the fifth annual CrossFit Games. Of all the competing athletes, Chris is the only one to have qualified and competed in all five games. And he’s seen some big changes since the games’ inception.
"In 2007 there were only about 60 people competing and it was held on a private ranch in the middle of nowhere. Now it’s a worldwide competition with 25,000 competitors."
In the games’ quest to find "the fittest on earth," competitors have to prove that they are not only fit, but also capable of handling the unknown. No one knows what the events will be and they change every year. The best movements to test for fitness are a combination of gymnastics, power lifting, Olympic lifting, jumping rope, climbing ropes, lengthy runs, and a vast amount of pure grunt work such as getting sandbags over a wall. But athletes never know what is required until the competition starts.
"You really have to be prepared for everything," Chris says. And he believes he is. "The work is done. Now I have to go and focus on what I have to do. I feel good. I’m prepared; I’ve worked hard all year. I just have to bring my A game."
Considering the winner walks away with a cool $250,000, I hope he brings his A+ game. And after talking to him, I’m pretty sure he will. "The only way I can win is if I allow myself to believe I can win, and never compare myself to any of the other athletes. If I compare myself to others, I will only be as good as they are. I want to be the best."
If you’d like to cheer Chris on, the CrossFit Games can be viewed live online at http://games.crossfit.com . There will be three separate streams starting Friday morning, July 29, going all the way through to the closing ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, July 31.
Knowing how hard these workouts can be, I just hope Chris packs a few mints.
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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, public-relations guru and globe-trotting thrill seeker. In a former life she worked in TV news, both as a reporter and sports anchor. She has bagged peaks on six continents, kayaked the Zambezi and Nile rivers, swam with great white sharks in South Africa and tracked mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She was once very nearly sold for 2,000 camels while traveling through Morocco.