“I’m very loud about being a family man ... as soon as focusing on myself—my training, eating and sleeping—starts sacrificing things that matter most like time with my kids or wife, my multiple businesses or eating chocolate chip cookies, then it's just not worth it to me.”
For Macy Mitchell, being a CrossFit athlete and a family man has been a balancing act.
The 31-year-old loves to train others and power through his own workouts at CrossFit Republic—the box he owns in Springfield, Mo.—but he enjoys being at home playing dress up or watching Frozen with his two children even more.
The former collegiate track athlete can clean and jerk 305 lb. and overhead squat 285 lb., but he’d rather be throwing his kids overhead or chasing them in the yard.
Mitchell finished the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Open in second place in the North Central Region and 27th worldwide. But he won’t be making the trip to compete at regionals. He signed up for the Open with the intention of doing it just for the “fun of the sport.”
“I’m very loud about being a family man,” he said. “This life goes by quickly so as soon as focusing on myself—my training, eating and sleeping—starts sacrificing things that matter most like time with my kids or wife, my multiple businesses or eating chocolate chip cookies, then it's just not worth it to me.”
On a recent episode of the CrossFit Games Update, Pat Sherwood called the CrossFit veteran “a dying breed” and “a one workout-a-day guy.”
A ranking of 12th overall on the 14.3 worldwide Leaderboard prompted Sherwood to share some of Mitchell’s stats: a 2:10 Fran time, a 500-lb. deadlift and 82 consecutive pull-ups. Then he dropped the bomb heard across North Central: “Even with those numbers, he is not going to regionals. Sad, right?”
Mitchell said he is anything but remorseful of his decision to decline a potential invitation to regionals. In fact, Mitchell is calling this year “the most enjoyable and stress-free Open” he has ever experienced.
He committed to the Open this year with a strategy of “once and done,” meaning he never did an Open workout more than once.
His routine this season was simple: work out once a day immediately after coaching the morning class. If he wasn’t signed up to coach on a particular day, he may not train until the following morning. After putting in 90 minutes of training, he would head to his full-time job as the chief operations officer of All American Rental & Sales, a seven-store family-owned business that specializes in rent-to-own and retail for furniture, appliances and electronics.
His routine has not been as high-volume as it was before opening CrossFit Republic 10 months ago, but with less time to commit to training himself, he has been able to be more specific and dial-in on his weaknesses.
“I think it’s actually helped me,” Mitchell said. “I feel more refreshed than I ever have going into an Open, plus the (workouts) have really played to my strengths this year.”
Mitchell qualified for eight NAIA National Indoor Track and Field Championships and set the NAIA record for the 400-m dash in 2002 at Evangel University in Springfield, Mo. In 2011, Mitchell competed at the CrossFit Games with Team CrossFit Springfield and qualified for regionals again in 2013 even after tearing cartilage in his sternum and only being able to fully compete in three of the five Open workouts. He scored just one point in 13.1, the burpee/snatch ladder.
“If I hadn't been injured for part of the Open, I may have had a great chance of achieving a similar ranking to this year,” he said. “Who knows?”
What Mitchell does know is that the Games experience continues to get more intense every year.
“Each year it will take another level of commitment than the year before,” he said. “The workouts are more aggressive.”
Knowing what it takes to pursue the podium, Mitchell’s decision to participate in the Open for the love of the sport came easier than one may expect.
Spending the beginning of his career admiring other old-school athletes such as his favorite, Chris Spealler, Mitchell has kept up with the swift evolution of what it takes to be a CrossFit Games athlete.
“It’s getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “People are coming out of the woodwork and they know how to train better than those guys did back then.”
As an affiliate owner, Mitchell felt that signing up to compete this year was one way to lead by example for the coaches he employs and as a bonding experience with his athletes. He wants them to know it’s OK to compete in the Open just for the pure pleasure of the sport.
"I’m not trying to make a broad statement by this decision,” Mitchell said. “But if I were to try to get a message across it would be that CrossFit is supposed to always be fun, enrich your life, not be stressful and definitely not get in the way of things that matter most. The Open should be just you against you.”
Mitchell’s wife, Jennifer, a CrossFit Level 1 trainer with five years experience, has watched her husband’s rise on the weekly Leaderboard. She has supported his decision but has asked more than once if this was a decision he might regret.
“I said, ‘No Jen, I am committed to it,’” Mitchell said. ‘“I’d rather not talk CrossFit over dinner with you every night.’”
He added he was shocked and blessed to have finished the Open so strong.
“Some think I'm crazy, but it doesn't change my decision to go to regionals,” said Mitchell who has a 4-year-old son, Jett and 2-year-old daughter, June. “This season of my life with my family is just too precious."
Mitchell will not waiver on his decision. As for regrets, he has only one.
“If only I could have gotten two more chest-to-bars and gotten into the 300s in 14.2,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, this goes with the amount of training that I can’t put in. I got up on that pull-up bar with just a few seconds left and I could not get those last one or two. Just complete muscle failure. I gave everything I had in me. I was done.”
Mitchell said training for regionals was simply out of question this year.
“I can go dark once a week and compete with the best of them, but right now, if you threw someone into regionals with people who compete multiple times a day, it could crush them,” he said. “Training multiple times a day just doesn't fit into my schedule right now.”
But don’t count him out just yet. Mitchell plans to improve his “engine” and continue to work on his weaknesses in hopes of a trip to regionals next year.
For now, he’ll be cheering on the regional athletes alongside his family.