February 10, 2012
Changing Course: Brandon Pastorek
By Jake Woolfenden

After losing to his mother on the Filthy 50, Pastorek took it as a challenge to keep going back to CrossFit.

Pastorek in the Rope/Clean Event of the 2011 CrossFit Games

The Dog Sled on Day 3 of the 2011 CrossFit Games

The Triplet Sprint

With no pre-CrossFit accolades, no Division 1 sports background, and no college degree to his name, veteran Games competitor Brandon Pastorek has proven that an individual with an ordinary background can achieve the extraordinary. 

Growing up on the East Coast just outside of Baltimore, Md., Brandon Pastorek was an average, suburban kid playing youth baseball and football. A child of divorced parents, he continued on this common childhood path until he was 15. “It was around this age that things started to change,” he says. “I found myself getting into trouble and didn’t care about much more than girls and partying. I stopped playing sports and therefore never played in high school or college.” 

By the age of 20, Brandon realized the road he had chosen over the last five years was not a journey he wanted to continue. “I knew it was time to make a change, so I moved to Illinois with my mom, where I hoped to turn things around.”

Even with this fresh change of scenery, old habits die hard. While enrolled in community college, Brandon continued to find himself making life choices that weren’t leading him anywhere or providing any direction. 

One day Brandon’s mom challenged him to go head-to-head on a workout given by her personal trainer, who happened to be a firm believer in this “new” exercise program called CrossFit.  The written workout was “Filthy 50,” but after some negotiations, Brandon was only required to do half of the reps, or “Filthy 25.”  After losing to his mother, Brandon took it as a challenge to keep going back to CrossFit. “From then on I never looked back. I was hooked and CrossFit has been a huge part of my life ever since.” 

Within just two short years after getting beaten by his mom, Pastorek found himself competing against the best in the world during the 2009 CrossFit Games. “I was star-struck my first Games year, competing next to the likes of Josh Everett, Jason Khalipa, and Chris Spealler,” he says. “I didn’t quite yet feel like I belonged next to those guys.”

Since 2009, Brandon has competed 2010 with his team, and in 2011 as an individual at the CrossFit Games. He has earned the right to compete next to the best in the world. Though not widely featured in the CrossFit blogosphere, he has been steadily leading the Midwest by little more than pure example. This guy shows up on the game days that really matter, thus placing a virtual 1st place tie with Phillip Kniep in the 2011 North Central Regional Competition.

In response to a few offseason competitions he has been involved in, he says, “All I care about is February and March, May and July. I don’t get too wrapped up in these offseason competitions because my placement in them doesn’t define my ultimate goal,” he explains. “To be honest, all I need to get is top 60 in The Open and I’ll do the rest when May comes.” His goal is to reach the top 10 at the 2012 Games. Boldly, yet humbly spoken by an individual who knows the value of setting challenging goals; goals that will undoubtedly hold numerous challenges.

This offseason, Pastorek became the co-owner of Crossfit VisOne in Rockford, Ill., with his equally tough girlfriend, and multiple Regional competitor, Tosha Clodfelder-Jeffries. “Taking on the role of owner has been very challenging. Finding extra energy to both run a business and train at a high level is not easy.  But considering where I was headed before CrossFit, it is something I am very proud of.” 

The transition of leaving his long-time home gym, CrossFit Rockford, where he was led by a, “great owner and coach,” to starting his own gym and being without any coach, has also proved to be a big adjustment. “I had a great coach who helped me in my programming and who consistently pushed me.  Now … I have to be that guy for myself and for my members.” 

It is very likely these members are “chasing” their owner and coach as he continues to prove that you don’t have to be a former world-class athlete to become a world-class athlete. Pastorek has set the example for all who proceed him as someone who can achieve great things with passion and a gritty work ethic.

“I want the youth that grow up in this sport to know Brandon Pastorek just like I knew Greg Amundsen.  Having someone to chase is critical in development and my hope is to be a CrossFit legacy and an example for those that come after me.”

Jake is a Crossfit Springfield Coach in Springfield, MO and Co-Founder of LIVXFIT