“One place is all it takes to make a difference. It motivates you to keep going.”
It’s 7 a.m. on a Saturday and team members of East Valley CrossFit are beginning to file in. After two weeks off, it’s the first time they have all trained together since taking third at the South West Regional.
Getting to the Games
Located in Chandler, Arizona, the East Valley CrossFit team was steady and consistent throughout eight regional events. But Coach August Schmidt knows what got them on that podium then will not be what gets them on the podium at the CrossFit Games.
“Short work periods, high skill. That’s exactly what we prepared for. Games workouts are endurance,” Schmidt said. “They are more grinder-type workouts, so we need to prepare for that kind of stuff, too.”
To start their training session, team members discuss organizational items then start the real work—skills, mobility, gymnastics and body-weight work are the focus for the first hour. There is no concern with time or reps, they are just getting in work and fine tuning what they already do well.
“All those skills are perishable. If you don’t use them, you lose them,” Schmidt explained. “We just have to get them in consistently.”
In 2012, Schmidt said he transitioned his focus from training individual athletes to training a team. In 2014, that decision paid off.
The team started the regional weekend well. The women were able to showcase their strengths finishing first in Event 1—a combination of muscle-ups and clean and jerks—besting the second place team by almost 3 minutes.
They went on to finish in the top 10 for the remaining seven events.
“We went into it like, ‘Hey, I think we have a shot,’ and then when it became a reality, the pressure was on,” said team member Melissa Einbinder. “I think that put on quite a bit of emotional load.”
And now, the team will be making its debut appearance at the CrossFit Games.
Preparing for the Games
With regionals over and time for recovery—emotional and physical—team members are settling into a new dynamic. The focus now is on the bigger picture. With more competitive experience this year than in the past, frustration and ego give way to experience and character.
“The experience helps,” said team member Analisa Marquez. “We don’t freak out, that’s not our nature.”
But training for the CrossFit Games is a whole different bag, filled with new tricks, courtesy of CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro. It’s a larger venue, bigger crowds and more pressure. For the next five weeks, the team will hammer strength and agility workouts during the week, and battle grueling team workouts on the weekends.
As the team heads into its second hour of training time early on that Saturday morning, Schmidt writes five things on the board: farmers walk, tire flip, d-ball, weighted carry and axle.
The athletes survey their equipment, available space and start building.
“Let’s do some dirty gymnastics thing at the end,” said team member Samuel Leehe.
What started out as a list on the board ends up being the following partner workout:
6 legless rope climbs, 18 bar muscle-ups, 36 HSPU (buy in)
Then, 1-km row
Tire flip 40 m
D-ball carry 40 m (150/100 lb.)
Farmers carry 40 m (140/90 lb.)
Overhead walking lunge with axle (110/70 lb.)
They talk through the workout, figure out transitions, discuss possible setbacks, then start the clock.
Almost 30 minutes later, everyone is finished. With five weeks to go, their work will become more intense and more precise.
“One place is all it takes to make a difference. It motivates you to keep going,” said team member Seth Darst. “You don’t know that until you’ve been in that position and you are on the cusp of winning and losing, and you have to dig deep.”