Performing on stage can be addictive, especially with the accompanying adrenaline rush and the knowledge that all eyes are on you.
As a drummer in high school, Brendan Marolda was no stranger to that feeling and thrived performing with his band. But his performance on the 2011 North East Regional stage was a different story. His nerves got the best of him.
Unlike most competitive CrossFit athletes, Marolda did not play any sports in high school or college. His high school extracurricular hours were spent “mainly with my band and skateboarding, but then I really got into working out.”
His love for the gym translated into an exercise science major in college and eventually led to a trainer position at a globo gym.
A fellow trainer at that gym introduced him to CrossFit. “I was more focused on the personal training, with the usual client looking for weight loss,” he says. “CrossFit was just completely different from that.”
Marolda soon left the globo gym for a CrossFit box, got his CrossFit Level I Trainer Certificate and eventually co-founded Yankee CrossFit in Farmington, Conn. “My life is CrossFit,” he laughs. “I spend the majority of my time at the box, most of my friends are now CrossFitters, my weekends consist of CrossFit-related activities more often than not. Oh, and in my free time, I CrossFit.”
The 2011 Regional was Marolda’s second trip to a Regional, but his first as an individual athlete. Marolda competed in 2010 on an affiliate team. He names Event 1 of the last year’s Regional as one of his worst experiences with a workout. “I decided to kip the handstand push-ups, and that resulted in about 8 no-reps out of my first 20,” he recalls. “My arms had done the work for 20, so I started to fail and knew it was going to be miserable. I finished the WOD before the time cap, but it was still a horrible time and it put me in the back of the pack.”
He performed well on Events 2 and 3, but at that point it was too late to make up enough ground and he finished in 27th place. “I made several mental and physical mistakes that really cost me,” he admits.
Marolda is responsible for all programming at Yankee CrossFit. “I do some strength-focused cycles, some gymnastics-heavy cycles. I plan everything out a month in advance. I just hate flying by the seat of my pants,” he says. “And it’s really exciting at the end of a successful cycle, when you see huge improvements for athletes.”
In addition to the programming at Yankee CrossFit, Marolda spent about 10 weeks during the winter focusing primarily on Olympic Lifting and some supplemental endurance work in preparation for this year’s Games. He also made it a point to participate in several competitions throughout the year, including all three of the Northeast Series Garage Games, in which he finished 1st overall. “I feel those have given me a little more experience in the competition side of things, which can be very nerve-wracking, and I have learned how to relax a little more.” His goal this year is to make it to Day 3 at Regionals.
Seeded 18th in the North East Region after the close of the Open, it looks like Marolda will get another chance to perform at Regionals and to demonstrate that CrossFit not only instills physical strength, but the mental toughness to excel on that challenging stage.