March 9, 2013
The Chans are on an Eternal Pursuit of Excellence
By Mandi Lo

"Competing is not my goal this year, but we are still training every day, anytime, anywhere."

Photos courtesy of Matt and Cherie Chan

After Matt Chan walked off the podium at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games with the coveted silver medal, he said, “I’ll tell you right now, I expect to be in the top three again next year.”

However, many things can change within a year, and for the Chans, that has surely been the case.  Cherie is no longer focused on competing, and Matt’s goal changed drastically. Now, he simply wants to qualify for Regionals.

Shortly after the close of the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, Matt sustained meniscus damage, a knee injury that prevented him from doing any squats. In addition, the Chans began their “eternal pursuit of excellence.”

They sold their house and cars, gave away most of their furniture and possessions, and entrusted the operation of CrossFit Verve to their partners. With only an airstream pulled by a diesel truck, a mobile gym and their two dogs, they hit the road. Since December, the Chans have not only traveled through New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California, they’ve also spent time in Korea and South Africa. 

Despite the obstacles of being mobile, including having very little equipment and space, the Chans continue to train relentlessly.

“Competing is not my goal this year, but we are still training every day, anytime, anywhere,” Cherie says. “Matt is still so disciplined and regimented and doing his programming every day.”

Their traveling gym consists of dumbbells, two barbells, a set of bumpers and a contraption that turns into a pull-up bar and rings.

The couple has also discovered it is harder to train at other boxes due to gym rules — many boxes don’t allow people to stray from its own programming.

“It has actually made us think a lot about our own gym and that missing component for when others want or need to train outside of our programming,” Cherie says.

Matt’s coach, Joe Alexander, who also coached him in 2012, adjusted his programming around Matt’s knee injury and his living situation.

“It has been a work in progress for both of us,” Matt says. “If he programs something with an atlas stone, I obviously don’t have access to an atlas stone, so I have to call him up and have him change it. Sometimes I will start a workout and if I feel like it’s too heavy, we will modify it.” 

Even though the Chans’ competition goals have changed, their dedication to training for it has not faltered.

“Most people would probably take the year off,” Matt says. “I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like this is my life, so taking the year off is not an option. I would like to recover as fully as possible and compete and if I happen to qualify this year, then so be it. If I don’t, I can say that I gave it my all this year and will still be looking forward to 2014.”