“We realize that a lot of the teams ahead of us have people contributing scores that will be going individual. Our team is all about the team.”
In 2012, the team from CrossFit Pacific Beach placed seventh in the Open in SoCal, and 15th at Regionals. They also proudly sent four athletes as Individuals to Regionals in 2012.
However, co-owner Bryan Boorstein says last year’s experience for the individual athletes was an eye opener and inspired a change.
“All the individual competitors approached me after Regionals and told me that they were done with individual competition,” he says. “The truth is, we all realized that there is such a discrepancy between the top five at Regionals, and everyone else, that it doesn't make sense to try and compete with the likes of Fischer, Leverich, Pera and Bridges.”
So, Boorstein and his competitors came up with a different plan for the 2013 season.
“Collectively, we all determined that the daily grind of trying to train for individual competition was futile, and so the team concept was born.”
Team CrossFit PB’s “A-Team,” as they call themselves, consists of previous individual competitors, Matt Lodin (21st in the 2012 SoCal Regional), Anders Varner (29th in the 2012 SoCal Regional), Lindsay Renteria (29th in the 2012 SoCal Regional), and Dorota Ceglinska (36th in the 2012 SoCal Regional), along with Boorstein, and former South East competitor, Jenn Ryan. Their current alternates are Fiona McFarland, Greg Pitts, and Greg Kuchan.
“This year, being able to take multiple people that went individual last year and move them to team, gives us a real opportunity to do something special,” Boorstein says.
With all of these athletes combining forces, they’ve found there to be less pressure — physically and mentally. Boorstein has observed a change in attitude and enjoyment as they prepared together for the Open and Regionals.
“It’s way more fun getting to train as a team,” Boorstein says. “All the guys played team sports growing up. It’s been really cool to bring back the team side of training. It just makes training more fun and relaxing instead of constantly stressful.”
Boorstein and his co-owner Varner, who have programmed for Ryan Fischer and were responsible for programming the 2013 OC Throwdown, knew they needed to revamp their Open preparation programming to focus on team, rather than individual weaknesses.
“We all started working together as a team in the fall. Last year, there was so much focus on the individual competition that the team didn't even start training together until after the Open (we used the open to determine the team members),” he says.
This year, they began training earlier as a team, paying particular attention to their weaknesses.
“Instead of training hard the entire offseason, we took about six months right after Regionals, and concentrated specifically on Olympic lifting,” Boorstein says. “We hired individual Olympic lifting coaches to go see three to four days per week. We went on very intense programming where we were really only doing met-cons twice a week.”
Their strength numbers have improved dramatically since. Boorstein has a 255-lb. snatch, and Lodin and Varner are not far behind, both snatching 240 lb. The women have strength in numbers, too. Ceglinska snatches 145 lb., Ryan, 135 lb. and Renteria, 130 lb.
And they haven’t neglected their other skills.
“We also have a full team of girls that can do muscle-ups,” Boorstein says.
In addition to physical preparedness, Boorstein also pushes working on team communication once a week when the team gathers for group sessions.
“Having the group sessions is really about the communication and nailing down the transitions,” Boorstein says. “The team aspect of (competing), learning how to communicate, ‘OK I have four reps left in me, get ready to go,’ isn’t as easy.”
Forming the “A-Team” hasn’t affected CFPB’s cohesiveness amongst members within the entire box either.
“We had informed everyone, right after Regionals last year, that we would be doing this. Everyone was extremely excited to try and qualify two teams.”
That second team, known as the CrossFit PB Wolfpak, has 107 athletes on its roster and currently sits in 46th place in SoCal.
“We created a challenge system, where anyone from the entire gym could challenge anyone on the A-team, to try and win their spot,” Boorstein explains.
That system was actually put into affect when Boorstein challenged another member for a spot himself on the A-Team, going head-to-head on programming determined and judged by the other A-team members.
Now, with 13.1 under its belt, Team CrossFit PB is content with their current ninth-place standing in the SoCal region. The Open is simply a stepping-stone for this group, as their sights are set on the Affiliate Cup at the Games.
At present, the top three women’s scores are all in the top-60 of the region, and the men’s numbers all show each got at least a few snatches in the 165-lb. set.
“We are OK with that ninth-place result,” he says. “We realize that a lot of the teams ahead of us have people contributing scores that will be going individual. Our team is all about the team.”