Aaron Bielefeldt arrived at Regionals in 2011 a relative unknown. The 29-year-old had been CrossFitting for three years, but wasn’t a regular on the local competition scene in South Central Texas. In fact, he’d only been training at a 210 CrossFit in San Antonio for a few months when he signed up for the Open. Before 210 CrossFit, he was working out at a globo gym. His goals during the Open were modest and simple: qualify for Regionals and use the competition season as preparation for a run at the 2012 CrossFit Games.
“Going into the Open in 2011, I was very new to the competition scene, so I really didn't know what to expect,” he says. “I really just pushed myself as hard as I could, and tried to get better and more confident every day,” he says.
“I used the Open workouts as normal training, and just wanted to continue to get better, and gain that experience. I started to realize that I had some potential to do well, so that helped my confidence out.”
He did well enough in the Open, but still felt he had something to prove. He considered himself a consistent athlete and wanted to display that at Regionals.
“I realized I did have an opportunity at the present time to do well, so I took on the attitude that I had to prove myself when I got to Regionals,” he says. “I always try to be consistent in all my workouts, and I wanted to carry that consistency over to competition level at Regionals. I knew that I was probably not going to win any of the events, but if I kept pace and stayed consistent that I might have a chance at the end.”
You could say his plan went pretty well.
By the last event of the South Central Regional—a chipper involving a row, burpees, ground-to-overhead with heavy dumbbells, an overhead walking lunge and a final sprint—Bielefeldt was tied with Aryan Barto for 4th place. In the end, he came up a little short, losing out to Andy Lewis by single point.
Bielefeldt admits it was painful to get that close. “It was a really bittersweet moment for me because, on one hand, I finished better than I expected, and did what I had set out to do. On the other hand, I was one point away from making it to the Games.”
He has used his Regionals experience as fuel for 2012. “After Regionals in 2011, my confidence really increased,” he says. “I went in just wanting to make it to the final day. Doing that, plus being in the thick of things to the very end was huge for me. It showed me that I could hang with these incredible athletes. It also showed me that I would have to work that much harder if I wanted to take that next step.”
Since then, the full-time coach at 210 CrossFit has focused on getting stronger and more proficient with the Olympic lifts. At his box, the programming leans toward strength, with a lot of pressing and deadlifting. They also squat heavy at least twice a week.
Bielefeldt credits his coach, Steve Galvan, owner of 210 CrossFit, for keeping him focused, but also keeping the mood light. Bielefeldt’s younger brother, Ryan, plays an integral role in his training. Apparently, both brothers will be making a run at the Games in the near future.
“My younger brother has just started getting into CrossFit on a competitive level, and he has been a huge part of my training,” Bielefeldt says. “He is always pushing me, and it really is like a mini-competition every time he and I WOD together.”
Growing up, Bielefeldt was a competitive soccer player, but an ankle injury kept him from playing in college. Like many others, he is thankful for finding CrossFit, which has given him a second chance at being a competitive athlete.
“I joke sometimes that CrossFit has given me a second chance at being more successful as an athlete,” he says. “I used to think back on my younger days of playing sports growing up, whether it was on my high school teams, or club level teams. I definitely have some regret that I didn't push myself hard enough, or that I wasn't using all the potential that I had. Admittedly, I used to lie in bed thinking about past moments where I might have failed during a game, and how if I could go back … I would do things differently.
“I know I'm wiser now, and I am really trying to take full advantage of this opportunity that CrossFit has given me. I want to look back and say that I gave it everything I had.”
During the latter part of 2011, Bielefeldt focused on strength and took a break from CrossFit workouts. Recently, though, he’s returned to high-intensity work and competition. He won two competitions, including the All Cities Open in Dallas where many of the big names in the South Central also competed.
As the Open approaches, Bielefeldt isn’t taking anything for granted. He knows he needs to qualify for Regionals first, but plans on using the Open workouts as “increased training” for his ultimate goal: a place at the 2012 CrossFit Games.
“I really hope to be peaking going in to Regionals this year and take that next step that I got so close to last year,” he says.
Like thousands of other hopefuls, Bielefeldt is working hard to prepare for all the variables in our sport. Given his showing last year and his recent results at local competitions, Bielefeldt won’t be taking anyone by surprise this year. He’ll be one of the frontrunners in the South Central Region.
400 m run: 1:05
800 m run: 2:24
Max Clean and Jerk: 290 pounds
Max Snatch: 220 pounds
Max consecutive pull-ups: 47
Max Back Squat: 415 pounds
Max Front Squat: 345 pounds
Max Deadlift: 518 pounds
Max Overhead Squat: 260 pounds