"Second and third? No thanks. I'm out to get first place."
In 2011, 24-year-old Shingo Moromasa left Japan for the United States in search of a bigger dream.
“I worked as a stuntman for Tokyo Disney Sea from the age of 18, and then spent two years playing national corporate football,” he says. “Both were great, but there was always a nagging feeling that there was something else out there for me.”
That something turned out to be CrossFit. A roommate took Moromasa to a box and he knew that day that he’d found a home at CrossFit Insanity. Moromasa soon started pouring all of his energy into becoming a better CrossFitter and competing in Regional Events in Southern California.
“I was thrilled to win my third competition, but didn’t place so well on the next one. That made me even more determined to keep working on my weaknesses,” he recalls.
A year later, Moromasa started thinking about bringing back what he had learned to his home country. He received his Level 1 Certificate and made an appointment to meet Coach Otoya Oshima at Chikara CrossFit in January.
“A big fellow with a huge suitcase came thundering down the stairs and we spent the next three hours talking about CrossFit,” Oshima remembers.
Moromasa says he’ll never forget that conversation.
“This guy! I had to find a way to stay close and absorb everything I could from him,” Moromasa says. “I figured I’d get a part-time job at a bar somewhere.“
Oshima knew an opportunity when he saw one. Later that day, he convinced owner Michael Schaal they should take him on at Chikara.
“Here was an excellent athlete for whom CrossFit was everything, and he comes knocking on our door,” Oshima says. “I told Michael that we should be proud of what we were doing at our box. Someone like Shingo doesn’t come along every day.”
Schaal agreed and Moromasa has been coaching at Chikara since, working his way up from teaching foundation classes in his native Japanese to leading group classes in English. Schaal is pleased with the progress.
“As far as athletes in Japan go, he’s one of the best that I've seen — just an amazing background with gymnastics and American football. Shingo’s really coming into his own, not only as a great athlete, but also as an amazing coach with a lot of passion and hunger to learn and help people,” Schaal says.
Coaching has opened new windows of growth for Moromasa.
“Helping people accomplish things they couldn’t do before is just the greatest,” he says. “I think to myself, there’s no better job in this world.”
For his own training, Moromasa incorporates his own programming with feedback from the other coaches. Schaal is helping him build his mental game.
“Being a somewhat younger, inexperienced athlete, we’ve focused his training on learning himself better and learning how he does in different workouts,” Schaal explains. “Shingo has become a lot more mentally focused than he was in the past.”
Oshima points out that one of the biggest drivers of Moromasa’s growth is his ability to listen.
“Pride can sometimes get in the way for athletes, but Shingo is good at diligently working through each piece of advice.”
For example, Moromasa was told to work on his clean and jerk form with a PVC pipe, instead of a barbell.
“Shingo didn’t touch the plates for days. He just practiced with the pipe every day, over and over again,” Oshima says.
And he just PR’d his clean and jerk by more than 10 lb.
Going into the Asia Regional, Moromasa sits in 28th place in the region. Right now, the three-day event is the only thing on his mind.
“It’s always been my dream to succeed as an athlete. I’ve trained for different things over the years, but lacked a real goal until a few years ago. Now, here’s an opportunity that’s beyond anything I could have imagined, and it’s all mine. To be honest, I’m a little nervous.”
Oshima believes Regionals will be a huge stepping-stone for Moromasa.
“He’ll be different, before and after Regionals — as a person, as an athlete and as a coach,” he says.
Moromasa has a tattoo over his heart that expresses his gratitude to CrossFit Insanity.
“If I win at Regionals, that’ll take me back to California and I can see them again. We still exchange emails and I know they’re rooting for me. When things get tough, I look at this tattoo and channel their expectations into mental strength.”
He adds: “Second and third? No thanks. I’m out to get first place!”