Jennifer Abel is probably busier than you.
Abel, 31, works the graveyard shift as a 911 public-safety dispatcher for the California Highway Patrol. She has two kids, ages 9 and 11, and her husband works out of town during the week.
Even with this busy and unconventional schedule, Abel finds time to fit in an Open workout every week for five weeks.
She looks at it like this: The Open workouts are announced at 5 p.m. Pacific Time (PT), and scores are due by 5 p.m. PT on Monday. That’s 96 hours.
“You can find at least 20 minutes in those 96 hours to do one workout,” she said.
Brandon Gadoci, 38, has kids aged 9 and 8 and travels every week for work. Gadoci often uses odd spaces and equipment to train when he’s on the road, but he’s done the Open six out of the seven years. He has a very specific strategy for fitting Open workouts into his busy life.
“Do the workout once, and do it where it doesn’t get in the way of doing things with your family or it doesn’t affect your mindset for a whole week, because as important as it is for you to do well, your 8- and your 9-year-old (kids) don’t really care,” Gadoci said.
It’s easy to let the crush of everyday life get in the way of the Open, but as Abel and Gadoci know, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Finding a Balance
Gadoci started CrossFit in 2010 at CrossFit Richardson in Richardson, Texas. At the time he took the competitive side of CrossFit seriously, but then he had two kids 15 months apart and left his job as a financial advisor to become an entrepreneur, which often required travel.
Gadoci scaled back his focus on competitive CrossFit, but kept working out.
“I was unsure of what I was going to do professionally, but (CrossFit) was something I could get a win at every day,” he said.
Then a friend opened a garage affiliate five doors down from Gadoci, which made it more convenient for him to fit in workouts when he was in town.
“I would go at lunchtime or odd hours, like 10 a.m. I text him every day: ‘Dude, what’s (the workout) look like today?’”
The friend with the garage gym just affiliated, and now CrossFit 1310 has its own dedicated space, still within walking distance of Gadoci’s house.
Gadoci’s schedule has calmed down a bit, but he still spends two days a week working in Austin, more than three hours from his home. His schedule doesn’t prevent him from competing in the Open. The workouts are announced on Thursdays, and he completes them on Friday nights, getting them out of the way so he can enjoy time with his kids.
Friday is date night for Gadoci and his wife, who also does CrossFit. During the Open, they do the workout together with friends, then go out on their date.
“Right now I approach the Open as ‘I want to do the best I can with this as like my third or fourth priority,’” Gadoci said.
This doesn’t mean Gadoci does the Open “just for fun.” He takes it very seriously, but doesn’t let the competition take over his life.
“You should care. You should take it seriously. Don’t let the pendulum swing the other way, which is like half-assing it,” he said.
Gadoci simply fits the Open into his life. He gives it everything he has on Friday night, then enjoys a date with his wife. Over the weekend, he takes his daughter to gymnastics and coaches his son’s soccer team.
Make Time for Yourself
Abel started CrossFit about four years ago.
She was a single mom at the time, working nights as a 911 dispatcher.
“I was pretty unhealthy—I was a super skinny-fat person,” Abel said. She noted that CrossFit helped her get fit and was a healthy way to relieve stress.
Abel started at CrossFit Dark Element and now teaches CrossFit Kids and trains at CrossFit Tracy.
Now married, Abel works three 12-hour graveyard shifts per week. Her husband spends the week working out of town, so her kids go to their grandparents' or their dad’s house while she works. When she clocks out, she’s available to take the kids to school or attend school activities during the day.
Abel used to follow a competitive CrossFit program, putting in marathon sessions at the gym, but over time she realized it’s healthier for her to consistently do a single one-hour workout a day as opposed to a three-hour workout followed by five days off.
Although she backed off from the competitive side of CrossFit, Abel still loves pushing herself and seeing how well she can do in the Open.
“We usually have a Friday night lights at our gym, and that happens to be one of my days off. So that’s when I’ll go (do the Open workout), because my favorite part is the whole community and watching everybody work out, judging and yelling at everyone,” she said.
Abel said she’d advise anyone on the fence who thinks they don’t have time for the Open to go for it.
“Push yourself to the limit so that the following year you can see how far you've come. It’s a good judge of how well you’re doing in CrossFit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Abel said.
She has a simple message for anyone who claims not to have time for the Open.
“To people who say they are too busy, I would say make time for yourself. Make yourself a priority,” she said.