In the first week of the Open, thousands of CrossFitters chalked up and faced their bars in neat lines under bright lights. Andrew Peterson’s gear included a winter hat and gloves.
Peterson did his burpees and snatches in a 272-square-foot garage, in the 20-degree Ohio chill. He and his friends call it, “The Lodge Garage.”
“It feels like old-school CrossFit,” he says. “Like when I read articles on the Journal and see old-school videos of stuff at the ranch, that’s kind of like our gym.”
The 22-year-old has been CrossFitting for a year-and-a-half, but has never belonged to a box. He wanted to do CrossFit ever since a friend and 2012 Central East Regional athlete, Jayce Stewart, introduced him to it in 2011.
After he persuaded his eight housemates, they outfitted their garage. Today, it has three barbells, two pairs of rings, a dip station, a homemade pull-up bar, 315 lb. of bumper plates and a handful of kettlebells and medicine balls.
This is Peterson and his roommates’ first Open. He says it’s given them a chance to feel connected to the broader CrossFit community, despite their humble outfit.
“Sometimes it’s like we’re the only people who do CrossFit because we’re in this little space in our garage,” he says. “But in the Open, it’s not just us. There are a hundred-thousand people going through the same suffering awesomeness we’re going through.”
Two days after 13.1 was announced, they rolled up the big steel door, taped a chunk of wood to the pull-up bar as a burpee target, and pulled out iPhones to turn a normal day’s workout into part of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
“One of us got through 17 burpees, and the phone died,” Peterson says, with a laugh. “Another got through 16 and got a phone call. We had to re-film the whole thing.”
In just one workout, the athletes got to play competitor, coach and judge to one another. While they may not have a box filled with cheering onlookers and fellow competitors, Peterson doesn’t think they’re missing out.
“It’s a much smaller atmosphere, but it’s really competitive,” he says. “We’re guys and we want to beat each other.”
Housemate and fellow athlete, Matthew Cassidy, agrees.
“The community we have there is what pushes and focuses me,” Cassidy says. “Before 13.1, I had only snatched 135 lb. once before. There is no place I would have rather done 13.1 than in the garage.”
While the housemates have dreams of turning the garage into a non-profit affiliate someday, for now, they’re looking forward to doing the rest of the Open, old-school style.
“I think it’s pretty special,” Peterson says. “It’s a small group of us in a small space that’s dirty (and) not heated, but it’s ours.”