Eric Magee already has an impressive fitness background. But later this month in Carson, Calif., he will finally be able to add one credit that has been eluding him for years: CrossFit Games competitor.
Magee grew up playing hockey and powerlifting. When he joined the Army in 2002, he was introduced to jiu-jitsu and MMA. He became an Army Ranger in the 1st Ranger Battalion and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. When Magee left the Army, he became a professional fighter.
He was introduced to CrossFit as part of his training program. He found it to be a great tool in helping him prepare for fights. After a brief stint in the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter TV show, Magee felt his relationship with MMA had run its course. He was ready for a new challenge.
Magee replaced fighting with CrossFit, became the owner and head coach at CrossFit Hingham in Hingham, Mass., and has been competing ever since.
“Everything about it is challenging,” Magee says. “That’s why I love CrossFit. You can never be a master of everything in CrossFit, which will always make it an endless journey. That drive keeps me going.”
Magee has been working with James FitzGerald since September of 2011. While FitzGerald is responsible for all of Magee’s programming, Magee often trains on his own.
“I train alone mostly,” Magee says. “If I’m lucky, I can get someone to do my workouts with me.”
Fitzgerald sees training solo as an advantage for Magee.
“The advantage to training alone is recognizing that, in the end, you are all alone,” FitzGerald says. “No one is going to help you when you're tired and in pain. Training this way helps.”
Magee’s sights have been set on the Games “year after year,” he says. He narrowly missed an invitation three years ago, when he placed fourth at the 2010 North East Regional. He started off strong at the 2012 North East Regional, finishing Day 1 in second place overall, but a nagging disk injury in his lower back forced him to withdraw.
He finished the 2013 CrossFit Games Open in fifth place. Consistent performances throughout the Regional weekend virtually secured his place on the podium going into the last event, with 15 points separating him from fourth-placed Games veteran Spencer Hendel.
Hendel won the final event, which meant Magee needed to finish the event in 15th place or better to hold on to his spot on the podium.
More than a minute later, when 12 other athletes had already crossed the finish line, Magee was still working through his last squat cleans with two athletes hot on his heels. Magee was able to keep his cool, and complete the workout in 14th place, which was good enough to guarantee his spot on the podium, and earn him an invitation to the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
After nearly two years working together, FitzGerald believes it is Magee’s newfound self-control that helped him finally secure an invitation to the CrossFit Games.
“I knew he had the will and engine,” FitzGerald says. “But he did not know how to run it all together — mind, body, effort. We practiced self-control within the workouts. His patience, within each workout as well as per event, during training session and cycles has been the biggest improvement in this last year.”
Not much has changed in Magee’s programming post-Regional. There has been an increase in the frequency of swimming, biking and obstacle-course training, but the main goal is still to stay healthy and keep refining his skills.
“I’m really looking forward to the experience as a whole,” Magee says. “I have been battling to get there year after year and I am finally ready to go and prove myself. I want to go out and perform to the best of my abilities and leave nothing out there.”
FitzGerald expects nothing less from his athlete.
“Eric’s blue collar work ethic in the gym is infectious,” Fitzgerald says. “At the Games, just look for the guy who tried hard. That is him. He'll definitely throw some weight around, as well. Some people will just go ‘Wow, that dude is just strong.’”