July 21, 2013
Enjoying Every Moment: CrossFit Horizons
By Carter Jee

"I want for them to be seen in the same light as Regionals. Happy, exuberant and enjoying every moment of competition, and not to be concerned with the scoreboard or results." ~Jamie Johnson on his team

CrossFit Horizons was extended an invitation to compete at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games, after third-place finisher at this year’s Australia Regional, Southern CrossFit, was disqualified.

During the three days of competition at the WIN Entertainment Centre in Wollongong, CrossFit Horizons was one of the surprise teams, pushing hard for qualification in their first time at a Regional competition.

In the end, the affiliate finished in fourth place overall, just six points outside the top three.

But it wasn't the performance of the athletes that head coach Jamie Johnson was most proud of. Rather, it was the way the athletes conducted themselves over the weekend's competition.

"I was looking through all the photos of the events and there were a lot of angry and intense faces. But what I saw in our team was happy faces, joy and laughter,” Johnson says. “They were enjoying every minute of competition. That's what makes me extremely proud of them. They embodied the culture of our affiliate and represented us well."

CrossFit Horizons started two years ago in the backyard of Johnson's house in Newcastle with a dozen members.

"Eventually, it got to the point where clients were coming up to me, and telling me to quit my job and open up a full-time facililty," Johnson says. "So I quit my job, sold my house and started CrossFit Horizons."

Two of the team members, Brad Campbell and Rachel Gaynor were part of that dozen.

Campbell works as as physiotherapist and celebrated his 28th birthday with the news that he was going to be competing at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.

"He kinda looks like a Calvin Klein model. He walks around the gym with his shirt off, but his personality doesn't match his looks,” Johnson says.

“He spends more time helping people than he has, and when he talks to you, he is 100 percent engaged with you.”

Johnson describes university student, Gaynor, as the analytical person of the team.

"When she started, she didn't know how to squat and I am amazed by how far she has progressed since then," he says.

Loukas Nadiotis, balances training with the demands of a full-time job and a young family.

"I am amazed by his generous spirit," Johnson says. "Despite his very full life, he is always the first one to volunteer to help another person in the box."

Andrew Beach comes in to replace Ryan Pedder on the team.

"Ryan and his wife are expecting their first child," Johnson says. "We talked about it (him competing at the Games), but at the end of the day there are certain life events that should never be missed."

The fact that Beach is in a position to be competing at this year’s Games is a walking testament to the rehabilitative potential in CrossFit.

"He was in a really bad accident a couple of years ago and he couldn't walk for six months," Johnson says.

“He's trimmed down from 112 kg to 86 kg, and he back squats 170 kg. He does things now that seemed so impossible back then. I'm so honored and proud to have him in the team."

Belinda Murray is another member of the CrossFit Horizons team heading over to Carson, Calif., and is described as “the runner of the group” by Johnson.

“She competed in two half marathons after Regionals," he says. "She only weights 50 kg, but she can clean and jerk well above that."

The final member of the team representing CrossFit Horizons is young accountant Jane McDonald.

"She never thought that she was better than anyone, she just loved working out with her friends and wasn't bothered focusing on getting the best times,” Johnson says.

Programming for the team has been slightly tweaked since accepting the invitation to compete at the Games.

"We are very heavily focused on skills, with a slight change in strength volume," Johnson says. "The team is focusing on building better engines."

Training for individual team members is not completed during the general classes at CrossFit Horizons.

"We don't segregate or isolate our top athletes from the main group. It has bred an amazing culture where everyone comes in with everything they have,” Johnson says.

“At our affilliate, we program a competitor's WOD on top of our general programming. It is up to members as to whether or not they do the extra work."

The responsibility of diet and recovery are also left to each individual team member, with the coaching staff available for consultation.

"Depending on whether it is a strength or metabolic phase of conditioning, they might tweak the macronutrient ratios," Johnson says. "Every one of them has a different engine, so it gets fueled differently."

At the Games, Johnson has two expectations for his team.

"Firstly, I want for them to be seen in the same light as Regionals. Happy, exuberant and enjoying every moment of competition, and not to be concerned with the scoreboard or results,” he says.

"Lastly, I want each individual to walk away knowing that they gave everything they could have given, to themselves and the team. That would make me one very happy coach."