April 28, 2012
CrossFit Lake Charles
By Andrea Kirk
"We've worked together every Sunday. Our training has been essentially coach-less. We've been coaching each other."
CrossFit Lake Charles has a strong team this year. The top three women all qualified for the individual competition, but chose to go the team route; Danielle Sawyer, Megan Norris and Ashley Navarro. Along with them, three male competitors, Ben Vines, Detlef Gharst and Mitchell Sawyer, have been working with an eye on the South Central Regional since last November, when a dozen of their box members started training together for the express purpose of forming a competitive team. 
They were also able to draw from a 100- to 150-member pool, since most of the box members competed in this year’s Open. Needless to say, CrossFit Lake Charles is very excited about the team’s success. The Lake Charles, La., based team pulled together to raise more than $3,000 for the trip to San Antonio. They were also supported by the local police department, a car wash and a raffle, as well as neighboring CrossFit boxes Old Glory, Bridge City and Baton Rouge.
“We had a team at Regionals last year, but we weren’t anywhere near as strong as we are this year,” Danielle says. 
For instance, Mitchell Sawyer got his first muscle-up during the 2011 South Central Regional, but can now string them together in sets of 5 to 7. “We’ve worked together every Sunday. Our training has been essentially coach-less. We’ve been coaching each other,” Mitchell says. 
When asked to describe how their team training differs from the regular Lake Charles programming, Mitchell says,“We train a lot heavier. A lot heavier. We do heavy Frans, pistols, muscle-ups, gymnastics and lots of stretching for mobility. It’s made a huge difference.“ 
As for the personality of their team, Sawyer describes it as a team of type A’s, but together, and on the same page. The entire team follows a paleo-type diet. “We are all very disciplined about both training and nutrition,” Danielle says.  
The Sawyers are a married couple with two small children. Mitchell is a former college football player and MMA fighter who now works as a K-9 police officer. Danielle was a cheerleader and Olympic lifter before starting CrossFit, and is now a registered nurse. The Sawyers graduated together from McNeese State University in Lake Charles. Both feel they are in better shape now than they were in their 20s, when they were playing college sports and agree that CrossFit has strengthened their relationship. “We can both get PRs and celebrate together. When we take vacations we always ask, 'Where can we work out?'"
The Sawyers eat paleo together, and are providing healthy choices for their two children. “We want them to be healthy, but we don’t want to be Nazi about it,” says Mitchell. “We’re not going to tell them you can’t have cake at a birthday party. We want them to just grow into it, like us.” 
The couple’s older, 2-year-old son Colt works out with his parents, and will drop and do burpees whenever the spirit moves him. He can also sumo deadlift a 20-pound kettlebell. Not bad for a toddler. “You’ll see him at the Games in about 20 years,” Danielle laughs. Keep an eye out for a young Sawyer. Fortunately for him, CrossFit Lake Charles offers CrossFit Kids and has an excellent coach, Mary Cole. Little Sawyer will be starting CrossFit with Coach Cole as soon as he turns four.