"I take for granted how much experience I have," says top athlete Tommy Hackenbruck, looking back at his young, but established, CrossFit career. "Having competed in the Games [three] times and then Regionals and Sectionals, there's a lot of things I've learned along the way."
It is his wealth of experience and wisdom gained from competition that has enabled Hackenbruck to bring about the rise of Utah CrossFit athletes in the South West Region.
Hackenbruck is one of the top competitors in the South West region, and many are familiar with Hackenbruck's story, given his quick ascension and his presence within the CrossFit community.
Searching for the next competitive outlet following his days as a student athlete at the University of Utah, the former collegiate linebacker was introduced to the CrossFit way of life by his wife in 2008. Hackenbruck quickly took to the unique and challenging brand of fitness, and, after excelling in the men's singles bracket over the past four years, the owner of Ute CrossFit is embracing a new role: teacher.
The 29-year-old will not be taking part in the Individual competition this year. Instead, Hackenbruck is more focused on a new set of challenges, including investing in the training of others, as well as preparing to take part in team events this year.
"My own personal endeavors have dropped down a bit," says Hackenbruck of his own preparations, noting that his own training has "taken a backseat" as he has become more involved with preparing his own athletes for the 2012 CrossFit Games season.
Overseeing the training of more than 12 athletes, Hackenbruck is using his various trials and tribulations as a top athlete to develop the right type of programming, which he hopes will have them peaking for the South West Regional come May.
"Right now we do a little bit of that, but more focused on sticking to the basics: Olympic lifts and basic gymnastic skills," says Hackenbruck, who indicated that preparing for the Open compared to the Regional, and later the Games, is a gradual process.
"The more we get closer to competition, the more we focus on getting exposure to different types of training."
And in case you are wondering, the decision to switch things up and transition from men's individual to teams is no indication that Hackenbruck, who finished 2nd at the Games in 2009, has lost a step.
In fact, it might be the contrary, as evidenced by his 1st place finish at the grassroots OC Throwdown event in January. Simply put, top CrossFit athletes just do not lose their degree of fitness overnight.
However, while some might bask in 1st place glory, Hackenbruck views such an accomplishment as just another learning experience in a long line of learning experiences.
"Some of the best in the world were there," he says. "It was a really great opportunity to see where we can get better."