Big Changes for David Cornthwaite

May 9, 2012

John Koenig

"The competitor in me wants to make it to the Games on my own. I'm very determined to work towards that over the next five years."

An 8th place finish at last year’s Games with the CrossFit Valley Park team merely whetted David Cornthwaite’s appetite. Last month, he found himself in 14th place in the Open in the North Central Region. In only his second year of competitive CrossFit, Cornthwaite has high expectations for himself.

Cornthwaite’s route to the Games is not a typical one. Not only did he transition from a successful team to a solo act, but he’s now managing the CrossFit St. Louis affiliate for a living, adding a baby son to his life the same day the new job began. As if that’s not enough change to derail a training program, David is also now following Rudy Nielsen’s Outlaw Way programming.

2010 CrossFit Games

Last year’s Valley Park team came together organically. It was unplanned.

“We came to realize during the Open that we were all solid Regional-level athletes. As individuals we had weaknesses that would probably keep us from the Games, but combined we would be a well-rounded group,” says Cornthwaite.

Scheduling conflicts prevented them from training together, but the former college athletes comprising the team all had been in high pressure, competitive situations before. The last workout of Day 2 at the Games was the tipping point, and Team Valley Park didn’t make the cut to the last day.

“It came down to the last workout, our chance at the podium, and we just fell a little short,” he says. “It was hard at the time to not get caught up in the disappointment, because we knew we would challenge for top three.”

The group recovered, realized how impressive it was to finish in the top 10 in their first trip to the Games, and allowed themselves the amazing experience of being there.

A New Box: CrossFit St. Louis

More change was ahead. When a new ownership group became involved with CrossFit St. Louis last November, Cornthwaite was offered the gym management position.

“I felt honored to take over one of the early adopters of CrossFit in the Midwest. It’s going well and keeping me very busy,” he says.

His son was born the same day he reported for work at his new facility. Part of the mandate of CrossFit is to prepare athletes for anything, but beginning a new job managing an affiliate, welcoming a son into the world and continuing to train for the Games all at the same time, is a big load for this competitive athlete.

Individual vs. Team

Turns out, this wasn’t a big deal. There wasn’t an acrimonious break-up of the team.

“The three guys all went separate ways, working at different gyms, so we assumed without discussing it that we’d go individual,” Cornthwaite explains. “But as the Games season drew near there was second-guessing and discussion about putting the team back together.”

While the team may get back together in the future, for now, he is happy as a solo act.

“The competitor in me wants to make it to the Games on my own. I’m very determined to work towards that over the next five years,” he says.

Competing as an individual is much more difficult than as a team member. Generally, team workouts aren’t as difficult; they’re sometimes more like interval work with built-in rest.

“Team events don’t take nearly the same toll on the body.”

The Outlaw Way

Cornthwaite began following the Outlaw Way training program early in the year. Jake Howard, a Valley Park teammate and training partner, introduced him to Rudy Neilsen.

“Rudy’s Outlaw Way programming is awesome, I’m really enjoying it,” he says. “There was an initial shock to the system, as I wasn’t used to the volume of Olympic lifting and strength work,” said Cornthwaite.

In the past few months, he has made much progress.

“I feel the programming is leading me to peak for Regionals,” he says. “This training is more fun, I enjoy getting in different things and working on weaknesses, and I’m looking forward to meeting Rudy in person.”

Regionals and Beyond

Competing as an individual, and knowing where he stands in the region, he is going into Regionals more relaxed.

“I’m working on my weaknesses, upping my volume quite a bit, as Regionals [are] going to beat the crap out of me,” says Cornthwaite.

This offseason he’s been concentrating on getting stronger. Prior to finding the Outlaw Way, he tried John Welbourneʼs CrossFit Football for several months. He successfully added 10 pounds to his frame. But it all melted with the stress of his new job, new son, eating irregularly, and only in the last couple of months has his life settled down enough for the weight to come back on.

Even before Regionals, Cornthwaite is looking ahead. He’s excited to see what an entire year of working with Rudy will do for his skill sets and strength.