One year ago, Ron Thomas was the new guy at CrossFit New Albany. Today, he is prepping to compete at the CrossFit Games.
Thomas was an athlete in high school, participating in everything from triathlons to bike races. “I always had a desire to be competitive in any way that I could,” he says.
When he discovered CrossFit and became a member of CrossFit New Albany he says his story is similar to so many in the community. “You hear it all the time, but I literally was hooked from the first time I went,” he says. “It gave me a way to express that competitive nature that I think we all have. Not just against yourself, but in a friendly way, with the others in the gym. To see how you stack up.”
At the conclusion of the 2012 Open, Thomas stacks up pretty well – he’s 3rd overall in the Masters Men’s 45-49 Division and looking forward to competing at the Games in July.
This year’s Open wasn’t Thomas’ first attempt. In 2011, the coaches at CrossFit New Albany encouraged everyone at the gym to participate in the Open. His competitive nature kicked in. He gladly joined. “It was really a pathetic display,” Thomas says with a laugh.
At the time, Thomas wasn’t efficient at double-unders and had a hard time with Open Workout 11.1. But the 45-year-old husband, father of four and anesthesiologist found motivation in the knowledge that practice would prevail. “Knowing I’d learn how to do all these other skills … coming in with some design of strength and fitness, I felt like there was a shot if I worked hard and practiced the skills,” he says.
Taking his shot
When he talks about going to the Games in July, Thomas’ voice is excited – but humble. He’s happy with his performance in the Open, but void of any arrogance going into competition. “My goal was to obviously qualify for the Masters Division,” he says. “But I was anticipating a real struggle, to be honest. Just looking at the competition from the year before.”
Qualifying for the Games hasn’t stopped Thomas from eyeing the other Masters qualifiers. When he arrives in California, he’ll be ready to compete. “I have my work cut out for me, there’s no doubt about that,” he says.
Going in, Thomas says he plans to continue training as he usual does. ”Just staying the course,” he says. “The coaching I’ve received here at New Albany has been great. And just take a very broad and general approach to training. Continue to improve on everything.”
Thomas is working toward overall improvement in cardiovascular conditioning and Olympic lifting. Not to mention the limited shoulder flexibility he handles with mobility work.
With a busy schedule and the responsibilities to his family, Thomas says finding time to train can be a challenge. “I’m going to have to be creative with my time,” he says. Even so, there is no doubt Thomas is aware this is his time. “As the sport continues to grow, the average Joe may not have a shot at competing at this level,” he says. “It’s going to grow every year. It’s going to get tougher and tougher to get to Regionals and ultimately the Games. You’re battling father time. You’re battling the clock.”
A family affair
Though this experience, Thomas says he’s learned the lessons of consistency, but also of confidence.
“Consistency is important,” he says. “But also not getting discouraged. Showing up to your affiliate gym no matter what the workout of the day is. Battle those feelings of discouragement. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep moving forward.”
Since Thomas joined CrossFit New Albany, he has found a new tribe – a family inside the walls of the gym. It’s one of the things he loves most about CrossFit, how it can bring a group of people together. “When you’re with a group of people and you suffer through something together, you build a bond,” he says. “There’s a bond and a friendship that’s unique.”
That bond has gone beyond the box for Thomas, as CrossFit has become a family affair.
At home, Thomas’ wife stays active and follows her own fitness program. And the kids are naturals. “They picked up double-unders in two days,” Thomas says. “All of the kids are totally into it. They ask me to write out workouts for them. They’re on the ropes; they’re doing kipping pull-ups every day. They’re basically trying to do everything they see Dad doing and they love it.”
It makes Thomas a very proud father. “I love it because I see the trends in our country with childhood obesity and diabetes,” he says. “I hope it helps them build a foundation of fitness. And, you know, to have the whole family involved it just makes it more fun.”
The whole family will be there when Thomas takes on the likes of Jerry Hill and Scott DeTore in the Masters competition. One thing is for sure – Ron Thomas will not take his shot at the Games for granted.