"So we come from different environments, but we realized we have a lot more in common in terms of CrossFit. What brought us here: our love for working hard and the fun we have doing it.”
The CrossFit Games Open is not just for the athletes you see on ESPN.
It’s also for everyday athletes like training partners David George, 27, and Manny Gonzalez, 29, of CrossFit City Limits in Austin, Texas.
George is described as long and lanky while Gonzalez is short and stocky. The differences don’t stop there.
George is a technician who stresses fundamentals before adding weight on the bar. Gonzalez likes to put up big numbers on the lifts.
The two keep each other honest on things like squat depth and efficiency of movement and to push beyond their own expectations.
During the day, George works as a finance manager with a commercial real estate company. Gonzalez is wrapping up a Ph.D. in education policy and administration at the University of Texas at Austin.
In spite of their differences, both athletes say they are perfect complements to one other.
“It’s funny, if you looked at us, we may seem like complete polar opposites—the odd couple,” Gonzalez said. “He’s tall, I am short. He’s kind of got a punk look—wearing T-shirts and piercings. I am kind of more a Captain America. It’s not unusual for me to come in to the gym dressed up in a suit and clean-shaven. So we come from different environments, but we realized we have a lot more in common in terms of CrossFit. What brought us here: our love for working hard and the fun we have doing it.”
They jokingly call themselves the “Cake-Eaters Club” based on a quote from one of their favorite movies, The Mighty Ducks.
“Basically, it means we mean business when we come to the gym,” George explained. “Whether we are eating cake or lifting barbells.”
As they prepare to enter their second Open, George and Gonzalez say their goal is simple: have fun. Neither of them have goals of competing beyond the Open. Rather than shoot for the next stage of competition, they are looking to accomplish some personal goals and win a “sense of achievement” from working hard.
This is not to say, however, that competition is far from their minds. Both are keen to compete against their friends and peers at the gym and around the region.
Gonzalez has been doing CrossFit since CrossFit City Limits opened in April 2012. George was not far behind, joining the box in January 2013. To keep things fun, Gonzalez and George insist on a specific type of training music.
“We used to listen to a lot of heavy metal, hard rap, and just found that it made us go to a dark place—almost angry or more anxious,” Gonzalez said. “Since listening to more pop, some ’80s music, even a little Britney (Spears), we’ve actually hit more PRs.”
Joking aside, Gonzalez and George attribute their growth in the gym to one another. Their camaraderie has made training sessions not only more fun but also more productive. In addition, they credit the leadership at CrossFit City Limits for adding open gym times to the weekly schedule.
“We had been working out together, doing the CrossFit classes at CrossFit City Limits for well over a year, and really loving it, but we were both wanting just a little more work to work on more skill and strength,” George said. “As January rolled around and we began to think more about this year’s Open, we decided to take advantage of the new open gym class times our box started offering, and it just kind of naturally evolved that we started hitting it hard five to six days every week.”
Gonzalez and George report to the gym every day at 7 p.m. to attack whatever Ben Bergeron has programmed on the Competitors WOD blog for Games and regional competitors.
They say each one brings their own individual strengths and weaknesses to the training sessions.
“We use the opportunity to give each other one-on-one coaching and once we hit the barbells, we work amazingly well together,” George said.
Their partnership has yielded positive results. Recently, George re-tested Open Workout 13.3—a brutal mash-up of wall-ball shots, double-unders and muscle-ups. Last year, he wasn’t able to get a single muscle-up. This time, he got 19.
The other day, Gonzalez hit a new clean and jerk PR of 265 lb. Not to be left out, George recently PR’d with 205 lb.
The duo has become a fixture in the gym, bringing energy to the community. They play their music loudly, encourage all the guys to wear “bro-tanks” for Tank Top Thursdays, and even help coach other athletes during open gym.
“I’ve known them since day one—when each of them started CrossFit—and now, seeing them really want to get better and spend more time on their lifting and skill work … I feel like a proud dad watching them grow,” said Blake Holman, owner and coach at CrossFit City Limits.
“They do a good job of keeping it fun,” Holman continued. “I mean, (George) is in tights right now. It is a more competitive thing, but it’s good for everyone in the gym to see it still doesn’t have to be so serious.”
Holman said not only do the two help motivate other members but also motivate him.
“It’s definitely inspiring,” Holman said. “It makes me want to lift more and work on my own strengths and weaknesses.”
With the Open beginning this week, they encourage every athlete participating—regardless of their abilities and skills—to just do it and have fun.
“Our scores may not be up there with the elite, but at the end of the day, we are both improving in our own ways,” Gonzalez said.” “We don’t lose sight of that.”