“It sucks being out of the mix, but I knew I had to do it. I'm OK with that. It really wasn't that hard of a decision. I needed to take care of my family first before CrossFit. That'll pay off in the long run."
After taking second at the 2011 SoCal Regional, and 41st at the Games, Jon Pera stepped up his regimen in 2012 and trained five to six hours a day. His revamped routine landed him first at Regionals and 23rd at the Games that year.
This past winter, he was preparing for a third trip to Carson when a series of unexpected events at the turn of the new year caused him to pull out of the 2013 season.
For some, giving up the Open and a shot at the Games would be the end of the world. For Pera, it was an easy decision to put his family first.
“I see so many people almost throw their lives away for workouts,” Pera says. “I would never leave my family for the Games. Life goes on after the Games. Even if you’re No. 1, that’s not going to support you for the rest of your life. A lot of people need to hear something like this.”
It all began when he got sick in January, and his training was thrown off as a result. Within a few weeks, an old offer he put in on a house was unexpectedly accepted. A few days later, doctors discovered a lump in his wife, Ami’s thyroid. They scheduled her surgery immediately after the family was planning to move into their new home.
“Things can change overnight,” Pera says.
Life at home was already a juggling act for the Peras. Jon works full time and often overtime for L.A. County as a Deputy Sheriff, and he and Ami have three young children, one who has Down syndrome. As one thing snowballed into another, he knew CrossFit would have to take a backseat to his family.
“It was just one of those things that I saw the writing on the wall,” he says.
For the last two Games seasons, the Peras worked into a routine, balancing family and training.
Before the 2011 Games, Ami was pregnant with their third child. She was due right around the weekend of the Games, so they made the decision to have her induced five days prior to the Games.
If Pera has learned anything over the years about himself, it’s that he will always be fully committed. In 2011 and 2012, his heart and soul went into his Games preparation.
“Once I set my mind on something, that’s it,” Pera says. “For the Games, when I decided to go, it was 100 percent the whole time.”
And this same attitude has been applied to his decision to pull out of the Games season for 2013.
“Just like now, it’s 100 percent no,” he says of the Open. “Even people at the gym ask me, ‘Are you going to just do the Open?’ No. ‘Team?’ No. I’m 100 percent no.”
The odds of Pera pulling a Spealler are slim to none.
“It sucks being out of the mix,” Pera says, “but I knew I had to do it. I’m OK with that. It really wasn’t that hard of a decision. I needed to take care of my family first before CrossFit. That’ll pay off in the long run.”
Although he is confident in his decision, he admits “looking at the Leaderboard makes me hungry.”
He even tested a few of the workouts. Completing 13.3 with some friends affirmed to Pera that he hasn’t lost too much ground.
“I got 23 muscle-ups,” he says. “In 12.4, I got 27 muscle-ups.”
Though four reps less that last year, he isn’t concerned.
“I’m really happy, not disappointed at all,” he says. “If I can maintain, then I can build up from there. I just don’t want to go backwards too much.”
And he’s not putting too much stock in the Open placements this year.
“Historically with the Open, it’s never reflective of Regionals finishes,” Pera observes. “I’m proof of that. Kenny (Leverich) and Josh (Bridges) are killing it right now, and I expect they’ll kill it at Regionals, too. (Jeremy) Kinnick is historically at the top; he knows how to get it done. Other than that, it’s hard to say. There are a lot of good competitors. The Open usually goes differently than does Regionals.”
Pera’s not planning on leaving CrossFit for long. Though out for the season, he is emphasizing taking a step back and prioritizing when the situation calls for it.
“We need to keep everything in balance,” he says. “Once the dust settles, I’ll get back into it.”
In fact, he is confidently looking at this time away from the competition scene as an opportunity to prepare for 2014.
“Using the time now will put me ahead of schedule for next year,” he says. “Most athletes train in the fall for the Open. Now, I can take this extra six months to prepare ahead of everyone else.”
In the meantime, Ami’s surgery was successful and the doctors concluded it was non-cancerous. She is now recovering well.
“He really is a one-of-a-kind man, and I am a lucky woman,” Ami says of Jon. “The fact that he was willing to give up the Games this year really meant a lot to me.”
Grateful for his wife’s health, Pera hasn’t left the sport, just as he knows the sport won’t leave him.
“CrossFit will always be there,” he says. “It’s not going to go anywhere. I can workout in my garage if I need to. This was the right thing to do.”