“It is pretty inspirational to be around him because he has such a strong drive to be his best. He reminds me of the Energizer Bunny — he never quits and his everlasting energy is infectious.”
With the Open just a few weeks away, the CrossFit community seems to have a renewed energy for competition.
At CrossFit Tokai, located in Cape Town, South Africa, athletes have switched gears, both mentally and physically. Coaches at the affiliate are encouraging everyone to register for the Open, regardless of skill level.
One athlete, however, will be registering to compete seriously. Nico van der Walt was first inspired to compete in 2012 after placing well at a local competition in Cape Town. Formerly a long-distance runner and triathlete, van der Walt was a mixed bag in the 2012 Open.
He finished 15th in Africa in the Open and moved on to Regionals. Surprising the community, as well as himself, he finished ninth. That’s when van der Walt started taking CrossFit seriously. He completed his Level 1 Seminar and became a co-owner of CrossFit Takai. He also started training for the 2013 season.
Fast forward to January and van der Walt is a new athlete.
“At last year’s Regionals, I couldn’t do the required seven muscle-ups in the final event, but now I can do at least nine unbroken,” he says. “I also attempted Diane for the first time at last year’s Regional and I couldn’t finish in nine minutes. Now, I do Diane in 3:30.”
With his endurance background, van der Walt is adept with longer time domains. In his training, he focuses more on refining his lifting technique and gymnastics movements.
Instead of relying on a coach, he does his own programming while incorporating ideas from various CrossFit affiliate websites into his training.
“I do bounce ideas off Gina Goosen (co-owner of CrossFit Tokai) and Rika Diederiks,” he says. “They give me honest and objective feedback, as well as some good ideas.”
Following a strict training schedule, van der Walt has clearly mapped out a daily routine.
“I try to do two to three sessions a day. One will be focused on rehabilitation, stability and mobilization for the shoulders,” he says. “The second one will be more aerobic conditioning, and the third is a typical CrossFit workout with an emphasis on weightlifting movements.”
He adds: “I have one active rest day where I’ll do light endurance, Pilates and mobility work, and have a proper rest day where I do rest and schedule a massage.”
Goosen is the closest thing van der Walt has to a training partner.
“Nico has gone from strength to strength over the past few months,” she says. “It is pretty inspirational to be around him because he has such a strong drive to be his best. He reminds me of the Energizer Bunny — he never quits and his everlasting energy is infectious.”
With two operations under his belt, his biggest concern is his shoulder.
“That is why I am constantly doing rehab on them,” he explains. “That makes anything overhead very challenging for me.”