“2013 is about making the Regionals, although I wouldn't say it's the be all and end all ... I don’t expect anything. CrossFit is so varied. Depending which way the dice land could mean a great year or back to the drawing board.”
Last year, Stuart Trees needed one more rep to qualify for the Europe Regional. Now, with changes in his training and focus, he has his sights set firmly on Denmark.
Firefighter and co-owner of CrossFit West Yorkshire, Trees is no stranger to competitions. He was a swimmer and began competing at age 9, winning medals at both County and National levels.
In 2011, Trees entered “The Toughest Competitor Alive” at the World Police and Fire Games, in New York. A fellow firefighter recommended CrossFit to him.
“I took part in the Open in 2011 after only doing CrossFit for a couple of months,” Trees says. “I finished in (88th) place.”
That summer, he also competed in a local competiton, finishing in 17th place, but Trees wasn’t happy with his performance.
“After being ceremoniously clapped to the finish on a push-up/pistol/double-under WOD, I vowed that would never happen again,” he says.
In 2012, he placed 63rd in the Open. His performance on 12.3 prevented him from making Regionals, he says.
“I did the 12.3 (Workout) one morning straight from a night shift, having had no breakfast,” he recalls. “I wasn't happy with my score, as it felt more like a halfhearted run through and I couldn't apply myself fully. I planned to do it again, but had a few elbow niggles, so decided against it, which proved fatal.”
This year, Trees changed his training schedule, and has a more focused approached brought on by his new coach.
“Up until about six months ago, training was sporadic and hit ‘n’ miss. I never had a schedule or any specific focus,” he explains. “In September, I started to work with Darren 'Mickey' Freeman who offered to program for me and hold my hand all the way to the Open. We have focused on my Olympic lifting and targeted my weaknesses with some huge improvements.”
In September, his three-rep max snatch was 137.5 lb. Today, it is 176 lb. His one-rep max snatch is 203.5 lb., and his clean and jerk has improved from 209 lb. to 264 lb.
At the January London Throwdown, Trees finished in 11th place. Since then, Freeman and Trees have focused solely on the 2013 Open.
“’I receive a text or email each day detailing the day’s session. I just get my head down, bully someone into training with me, then feedback my results,” Trees says.
Being a firefighter and ex-international swimmer gives Trees a platform to develop his CrossFit skills.
“My long arms were extremely beneficial in the pool, but aren't a help when having to handstand push-up 85 kg. CrossFit has brought my fitness levels back somewhere near my swimming days,” he says. “The biggest difference is strength. Swimming lacks any serious professional strength and conditioning programming.”
He adds: “2013 is about making the Regionals, although I wouldn't say it's the be all and end all. The last six months have been all about qualification, but I don’t expect anything. CrossFit is so varied. Depending which way the dice land could mean a great year or back to the drawing board.”