Standing 5’11” and tipping the scale at 239 pounds, Scott Paltos is not built like the majority of other athletes in this game – and that’s not the only thing making him stand out.
A true multi-sport athlete, Paltos’ athletic background reads a lot like ESPN’s TV lineup: college football, NFL, amateur baseball, Strongman, Powerlifting and now, CrossFit. But unlike with the other sports, his relationship with CrossFit wasn’t love at first sight.
As a professional athlete and a Strength and Performance coach for the past 11 years, Paltos always valued specialized training. When he was introduced to CrossFit, there were some key components that “didn’t fit” with his training philosophies.
s a sports-specific coach, he demanded a focus on certain modalities. Looking back, Paltos believes some portions of CrossFit could have been adapted to his coaching regimen, but his main focus was to assure that he and his athletes did all they could to excel at their sport. For him, that meant specialized training. “I really did not support some of the fundamentals being preached and modalities that were being used (at the time),” he says. “What I did see as I watched CrossFit grow was a change in methodology and crossover into a realm of all modalities and functions. It took a little time for me to fully accept it.”
A Competitive Community
With his eventual acceptance came a CrossFit Level 1 Certificate, and the birth of PUMP CrossFit & Performance, an East Hanover, N.J., affiliate, owned and operated by Paltos. He says the lifestyle and community are the reasons for his full acceptance of the sport. “In football, strongman and every other sport I’ve been involved in, it’s every man for himself,” he explains. “There is definitely competition amongst individuals.”
What surprised him most is that the athletes he saw as ”competition” quickly became his supporters. Case in point, Rob Orlando, a CrossFit affiliate owner and Strongman-turned-CrossFit athlete is one of Paltos’ closest friends and favorite training partner. “When I first got involved with CrossFit, (Orlando) was there when I had questions and always was willing to have a voice,” he says. “He is also a ton of fun to train with, just because I know we will always go heavy.
“I also found that anywhere I went, the acceptance and support was overwhelming,” Paltos says. “Different boxes may be a little different at first, but at their core, they all feel the same.”
CrossFit’s sense of community is fostered at PUMP. In Paltos’ handwriting, post workout 12.1, the whiteboard read: “Don’t shortchange yourself, you ALL can accomplish so darn much … continue to support each other, the energy was AMAZING … you play a role in the success of this box. KNOW THAT!!!”
Paltos admits CrossFit has forced him to concentrate on technique and movements he neglected, and it allows him to have fun again in training. “Maybe for a few years I got a little stuck in stuff that I was good at only,” he confesses. “I got close-minded in my own training. I would adapt for everyone else, but myself. Not so much anymore.”
Looks like he is going to have to settle for two out of three.
He prepped for the CrossFit Games Open like he normally would, spending some extra time on weaknesses like Olympic lifting technique and some gymnastics movements.
Dealing with Injury
In an effort to avoid another episode akin to last year’s “running fiasco,” he also added some extra running into the programming. While working his weaknesses, he got injured again. While attending a gymnastics clinic, Paltos bulged C2 and C3. The injury occurred five weeks prior to the 2012 CrossFit Games Open. “For those five weeks, I was laid up, doing nothing but getting treatment. My doctors and physical therapists have kept me together in one piece,” he says. “My first day back working out was the Monday before Workout 12.1 was announced.
“I’m still not back to 100 percent. As the Open is going on, I am still trying to get back to where I was in mid-January. It’s a grind, but it’s always fun. I want to prove that if done right and smart, old dudes can compete.”
Paltos’ twins, a boy and a girl, will turn 2 on March 22, a day after his 35th birthday. “My boy is already cranking out toes-to-bar, so if anything, I need to keep doing this so I can keep up with them.”
The scary part is that, even though Paltos’ injury deprived him of five weeks of training, is the only other athlete who was able to match Rich Froning’s 98 reps on Workout 12.2. And although Paltos says he ”deviated from the plan” on 12.3, his 429 reps were good enough for 17th in the region on the longest Open workout yet. Following a 251-rep result on 12.4, Scott is in 28th place in the North East, on track to qualify for Regionals for the second consecutive year.