April 4, 2012
A CrossFit Behemoth
By Aja Barto

I don't think I "re-wrote the rulebook" because I don't believe one ever existed. I just focused on what I could control and let the rest work itself out. 


Mental strength in the face of obstacles separates the triers from the quitters and the good from the great.

All you can control are your thoughts and your actions. You don’t have to be the fittest man or woman on Earth to eliminate excuses and strive to be your best — everyone can — and if you do, you’ll be more like them (mentally and physically).

In CrossFit, there are no weight divisions or ideal body types. Big or small, short, tall, young, old, sick or disabled, we’re all thrown into the same pool and asked to see how far we can swim. I’ve seen people of all kinds and variations succeed in CrossFit. Some make it to the top of the competition, and others set themselves apart solely through their unwavering effort.

I get the chills when I read stories and see videos on the CrossFit Journal about wounded warriors or people with disabilities who are doing CrossFit. At a time where it’s easiest to say, “No, its too hard,” or “I can’t because …” I think of them. I remember watching wounded veterans on the Again Faster Adaptive Team take on Cindy and it was inspiring just to watch them move throughout the workout. They paid no attention to their limitations, gave everything they had and put their best effort forth, all with a smile about their face. Just by watching them conquer repetition after repetition, you could see that, to them, the impossible does not exist.

The “no excuses” mentality of these athletes has helped me mold my competitive mindset. Being 6’5” and 225 pounds can certainly add an extra challenge in CrossFit. Yet I believe my size is only as limiting as I allow it to be.

Sure, I have longer distances to travel in certain movements and a larger load to move, but I can’t change my height and weight. It’s what I’ve been given. Excusing my slow times on bodyweight movements because of “my size” would only limit my growth and my potential as an athlete.

So I don’t.

When I feel physically limited because of my size, I step up my mental game. I let the frustration fuel my hunger to train and become better.

With the enormous growth of the sport, we are constantly seeing people redefine what is possible. Who could confidently guess the top score on any of the Open Workouts? Each week we saw people push the edge and set a new standard.

I’m big, but by quieting the voice in my head, believing in myself and staying positive, I made it to the Games last year. Now it’s possible for a 6’5” guy to make it to the world stage.

I don’t think I “re-wrote the rulebook” because I don’t believe one ever existed. I just focused on what I could control and let the rest work itself out.

If I constantly had thoughts like, “The only reason he beat me is because I am 6 inches taller,’ or ‘I had to move an extra 45 pounds, 400 meters,” I would only be digging for excuses. Without excuses, when I fall behind I know I’ve found a weakness that I can, through hard work, make my strength.

So be big, be bold, and be your best. Not someone else’s. Believe you can, and you will.