March 31, 2014
The Adams Family
By David Tao

“Having the family involved in CrossFit is both a gift and a curse. It has helped bring us closer together, but it also means that when the whole family gets together, the parents don’t have much choice in the topic of dinner conversation.”

Photo and landscape photo courtesy of Chris Greer
Photo courtesy of Shaun Cleary

Siblings Liz, Katie and Jay Adams have more in common than genetics. The trio also shares a passion for CrossFit.

“Having the family involved in CrossFit is both a gift and a curse,” Jay said. “It has helped bring us closer together, but it also means that when the whole family gets together, the parents don’t have much choice in the topic of dinner conversation.”

Jay, a former collegiate running back who boasts a 370-lb. clean, recently left a job in finance to focus on training and coaching full time. This has allowed him to focus on a high-volume workout regimen—most of the time alongside big sister Liz.

“I usually train twice a day, five days a week,” he said. “Rarely do I not train with Liz. Even when we are doing different things, we like to be on the floor training together.”

Training together has brought them closer, but it’s also fueled athletic rivalries. This is especially true for Liz and Katie, identical twins who both exhibit fierce competitive streaks. While all three siblings competed at regionals last year as members of the Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave Ninjas, Katie has since switched boxes to compete on a team with CrossFit Dynamix, located a borough away in Queens.

“I made the switch because it was what was best for me as an athlete and for my relationship with my sister,” Katie said. “As identical twins, my sister and I share a very special bond. But at the same time, we need our space. Training at different boxes has allowed us to grow as athletes as well as maintain a healthy relationship.”

Despite splitting up for the 2014 season, the siblings exhibit similar strengths in CrossFit. Liz and Katie took the top-two spots for the North East on Open Workout 14.3, with 183 and 180 reps, respectively.

“I look forward to any workout with a barbell and a box,” Liz said.

The workout was similar to 2013 Regional Event 5—a heavy deadlift and box jump couplet—which Jay and Liz led 5th Ave to a first-place finish in. That performance helped convince all three they had what it takes to compete at a high level.

“We went into the 2013 regionals just hoping to have some fun and do our best,” Jay said. “I had only been at the gym a few months at that point, and Liz was still recovering from major surgery. I think we surprised ourselves finishing fifth overall, and we understood after that if we train seriously for the next year, a podium spot is well within our grasp.”

“There have also been a few additions to our crew here at 5th Ave that make our team even stronger,” he added. “Ian Berger and Lauren Fleri are well-established CrossFit competitors in the North East, and Tommy Wornham is still very new to the sport, but his ceiling is incredibly high.”

And while the siblings’ biggest strength is moving heavy loads, they’re also attacking similar weaknesses. All three are drilling gymnastics movements in the lead-up to the regionals, especially muscle-ups. Jay and Liz both follow programming by Jami Tikkannen (who also programs for two-time Games champion Annie Thorisdottir), while Katie trains under the watchful eye of Dynamix owner Justin Cotler.

For Jay, training with his sister has been instrumental in helping him improve performance on longer, endurance-based workouts.

“I have been trying to work on my endurance in workouts and learning to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. … Having people like Liz to train with certainly helps this, as she will keep going with minimal rest. Basically, she’s a robot,” he said.

Of course, the Adams siblings’ drive to qualify for regionals and beyond hasn’t come without sacrifice. Liz, who coaches early morning classes, has adjusted to a completely new daily routine—including a 3 a.m. wake-up time.

“I’m usually asleep before 8 p.m., which is a little ridiculous,” Liz said. “My friends call me a grandma.”

All three are hoping their hard work and dedication pay off.

After 14.5, Liz and Jay’s Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave Rhinos sit in third place in the North East (unofficial). Katie’s squad, Team Dynamix Honor, sits in 44th (unofficial), but with a potential shakeup after individual competitors’ scores are removed from team standings, and all scores are submitted, anything is possible.