"I've brainwashed my athletes into believing we're the best," Brad Berlin says.
Shortly after the 2012 Central East Regional, CrossFit Maven opened its doors for business. Now, less than a year later, the box is sending a team to Regionals.
Team CrossFit Maven is the 11th-ranked team in the region. They may be the new kids, and they’re definitely rookies, but they like the game and are confident they can play with the big teams.
“I’ve brainwashed my athletes into believing we’re the best,” Maven coach Brad Berlin says.
He’s only half kidding.
They did well in the Open because they went into each workout with the mindset that they were going to kill it, he says.
“It’s something my dad ingrained in (me),” Berlin explains. “You train hard (and) smart. Why would you not expect to do well?”
It’s not about arrogantly assuming you’re better than others, Berlin argues. It’s about having faith in yourself and your training. Without that, a competitor won’t tap into their potential, he says.
Teammate Dennis Martin says confidence is key to success.
“Confidence is 80 percent of the battle,” Martin says. “We train so hard as it is, but if we’re not confident about what we do, it doesn’t matter how much training we do, we’re not going to get to the end goal.”
It takes confidence to keep reaching new PRs, teammate Melanie Garbarz says. At CrossFit Maven, Berlin has created a culture where there’s no time an athlete is done improving. Each lift can be better, each time made shorter.
“He never puts a thought in our mind that that’s the strongest jerk we can get,” Garbarz says. “For him, there’s no end to your greatness and how good you can get. The atmosphere is really conducive to being really great athletes.”
Although the box is new, the knowledge is old.
Berlin has studied with great coaches like National Champion Strongman Jared Spybrook, Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell and 2010 CrossFit Games champion Graham Holmberg.
“I have a lot of confidence in knowing how to balance powerlifting, weightlifting, running, rowing, long and short workouts,” Berlin says. “Other than that, everything we do at Maven, I stole from someone else.”
Berlin may call himself a thief, but Team Maven athletes call him a mad scientist. His Regional programming strategy, he says, is to concoct every imaginable amalgamation of movements over the course of the week.
“Olympiganza” is something Berlin learned from Olympic lifting coach Fred Lowe. Athletes begin at 50 percent of their one-rep max and complete five reps. If they successfully complete at least three of the five, they can increase the weight by 5 lbs., and it continues until they fail.
“The whole intent is to condition good movement,” Berlin says. “If you want to lift a really heavy weight that day, you have to do a million reps to get there.”
Accordingly, the team is confident their training will pay off at the Regional.
“There’s not much that can be worse than some of the workouts we do here,” he says. “We do seven (workouts) a day here, and you don’t have seven workouts to do each day at Regionals. It’s a different intensity level, but I’m not scared of it.”
To strengthen the team, Berlin has insisted that each teammate work on his or her weaknesses. By strengthening the components of the team, the whole becomes better, he says.
For the first few weeks between the Open and Regionals, team members continued to train individually. They started adding team workouts a not long ago.
“The teams that make it (have) athletes that are really good individual athletes,” Berlin says.
Each teammate brings a talent.
Berlin is a former strongman, Mikki Nuccio is comfortable with heavy weights, Melanie Garbarz is consistent and Dennis Martin is the engine with a 52-second 400-meter run and a 17:05 5K run.
“The dude is freaking Forrest Gump running,” Berlin says.
Team Maven hopes to destroy the competition through their skill and dedication.
“That’s who we are,” Berlin says. “Maybe we’re freaking delusional, but my athletes believe we’re gonna kick ass in the Regional.”
He adds: “It’s my first year with Maven and for all my athletes this is year one. If we go to the Games, outstanding. But my whole thing is to make this a really good experience leading into next year.
“Next year, people are going to be unprepared for what Maven does.”
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