"We made it a goal to see how many members we could get to come together as a family and compete together in the Open. With 109 members registered ... I'd say we had a fantastic turnout."
Blake Prime may not be returning to Regionals this year as a competitor, but he didn’t let injuries sideline his passion, helping inspire his box so much that 109 members signed up for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Open. That topped participation in the South East and won the equal number of free tickets for them to attend Regionals.
Blake and Chase Prime were among three sets of siblings to compete in the 2011 South East Regional. CrossFit fans were anticipating seeing how they would fight for spots at Regionals during this year’s Open. And fight they did.
“It was an awesome feeling competing on that level with my brother,” Blake says about 2011. “We went into (Regionals) thinking we were pretty good, but since we had just mastered muscle-ups and never [swung] a kettlebell before, I guess you could say we were not as ready as we wanted. After last year, we made a goal of reaching the Regionals again this year.”
This time around, Chase finished 45th in the men’s competition, and Blake gave it everything he had each workout. But having to complete each movement without full use of one arm, he won’t be joining his brother this year. Blake, co-owner with Lance Rhodes of CrossFit RPM, suffered a multitude of injuries.
“I had a completely torn labrum, a 75 percent tear in my rotator cuff and a torn bicep tendon all repaired on Dec. 22,” he says. “The funny thing is, I can't say what exactly did it. I am pretty sure it simply gave out on me after college football and years of heavy Olympic lifting. I woke up one Sunday morning and just could not move my arm and knew something was wrong.”
However, Blake was not about to let surgery to repair injuries stop him from pushing his brother during each Open workout.
Despite being leaps and bounds behind where he was going into last year’s Regionals, Blake, who has a very strong faith, says he is actually glad the injury happened.
“God used this injury as a way to wake me up and let me know that my training was consuming my life. There is a major problem when I am at home with my 1-year-old son and beautiful wife, and all I can think about is my training for the next day. Our good Lord works in mysterious ways, but His plan is perfect, and the one we should always trust in.”
Blake was determined to score at least one point in every Open workout. He completed 86 one-armed burpees for 12.1; 30 one-armed snatches for 12.2; 15 box jumps for 12.3; 150 one-armed wall balls and 90 double-unders for 12.4; and 3 one-armed thrusters for 12.5.
“I think the hardest workout for me was the seven minutes of burpees. I went in just hoping to get 50. I ended up with 86 and a long seven minutes,” he says. “It got really hard to catch myself and push myself back up using only my left arm. I held on to the back of my right pant leg with my bad arm and just listened to Lance as he coached me through it.”
His brother was inspired. “It was awesome to watch,” Chase says.
With his goal of making it back to Regionals sidelined, Blake set his sights on a new mission. “We made it a goal to see how many members we could get to come together as a family and compete together in the Open,” he says. “With 109 members registered and another 30 younger athletes that were too young to register who also competed, I’d say we had a fantastic turnout. I could not be more proud of our family here at RPM, as everyone gave 100 percent effort and had a blast doing it. The workouts came out every Wednesday, and every Thursday we would have a big throwdown at the gym. The atmosphere was outstanding, and it was such a great feeling to sit back and watch as everyone rallied around each other, pushing each other to do their absolute best.”
Although it is a far trip from Birmingham to West Palm Beach, Blake hopes some of the members of CrossFit RPM will be able to make it to Regionals to watch Chase, who finished 45th in the Men’s Division, and Christina Van Der Hulst, who finished 38th in the Women’s Division, compete.
Though some may think it would be hard for Blake to watch his brother compete, wishing he also was there, he says he can’t wait to cheer him on. “I know that he is going to give it his all, and at the end of it all, I will be there to give him a hug, tell him I love him, and also how proud I am of him. He is a full-time student and works here at RPM in the afternoons, so he only trains once a day, and that says a lot about how much he has been able to accomplish,” he says.
Blake says he is excited to watch Van Der Hulst, who also is making a comeback after a shoulder injury. “After finishing one [two] spot[s] away from making the Games in 2010, she was unable to compete last year due to a shoulder surgery,” Blake Prime says. “Since then, she has showed nothing but hard work and determination to get back into top shape and at the top of her game. She is like a sister to me, and I am so proud of her and the comeback she has made.”
Blake is already planning his own comeback for next year’s Open. “If the good Lord has it in the plan for me, I would love to get back to Regionals and make a strong showing. I know the competition is only going to get tougher so I will have to work hard to get there, but I will make sure to give it my best shot.”