July 9, 2012
CrossFit Greensboro: Training From a Distance
By Amy Saltmarsh

"We work really well together ... Competing together is always great."


The first-ranked team from the Mid Atlantic Region is CrossFit Greensboro. The team arrived Saturday in Carson, Calif., to prepare for its first appearance at the Games. Team members are ready to challenge their underdog status and push for the podium. This team’s training approach is inspired and unique. Head Coach and owner of CrossFit Greensboro, John Meeks, does all of the team’s programming. Meeks does his best to keep the team on a tight training, eating and sleeping schedule. This has proved to be quite a challenge given the recent relocation of several of the team’s members.

Just two weeks ago, teammates Brandon Chasen and Catherine Onnen tied the knot and moved to Baltimore to open an affiliate. The couple arrived in Carson, Calif., direct from their honeymoon in Greece. While honeymooning, the two videotaped their workouts and sent them in for feedback.

Teammate Cameron Willliams, first-place finisher in the Mid Atlantic Open, lives in rural North Carolina, well outside of Greensboro. Williams performs most of her weekday workouts in a barn and sends videos of her training to her coach and team for feedback. Williams loves working through Meeks’ programming and says it takes away a lot of the stress by having a plan.

Teammate and advertising rep, Alex Kellner travels frequently for work and, like Williams, relies heavily on the feedback of his coach and teammates for improvements to his training. Williams says the team is very vocal and everyone is encouraged to express how each workout made them feel and how their bodies are holding up.

“We really picked up our training. Sundays used to be rest days, but now they are swim days,” Williams says of post-Regionals training.

The whole team tried to get together every weekend prior to Regionals and those located in Greensboro trained together as often as possible. Fridays and Saturdays were multi-hour training days. “We’d leave the gym at 10 p.m., and be back by 6 or 7 the next morning,” Williams says.  

On top of adjusting to the distance between them, the team has also worked hard to accommodate different work and school schedules, and a pretty serious injury. Forty-one-year-old teammate, Tracy Shufford, works long hours as a Physician’s Assistant in Greensboro.

Brendan Lynott balances his time between school, training and coaching.

Leigh Grimes, 41, juggles multiple responsibilities as the Assistant Director of a senior living community.

Seven weeks ago, Williams broke her arm playing football. “It’s mostly healed,” she says. “I tried handstand push-ups yesterday, and they went OK.” 

To keep their sense of togetherness, the team uses the saying, “One heartbeat.” Onnen came up with the phrase when she and her husband announced their move to Baltimore. The team realized it would no longer be able to physically train together leading up to the Games. “We needed something to unite us. At first, we thought it was kind of corny,” Williams says. “But people know us for it and it’s pretty powerful.”

So, is the team nervous about competing? “Nervous?” teammate and Greensboro firefighter Bruce Fields laughs. “Not after the shit we’ve been through the last few weeks.”

The Greensboro team is excited so many of the posted Games workouts include all six teammates. “We work really well together,” Williams says. “Competing together is always great.”