June 26, 2012
First Time's A Charm: Spencer Hendel
By Keka Schermerhorn

"My goal every year is just to make it to the Games," Hendel says. "Everything else on top of that is a bonus."


It’s a year of firsts for Spencer Hendel.

First year competing in the North East Region, first time training with a coach other than his father, first time he is not competing as a student, and first time he has been able to train with other athletes in the CrossFit community.

While at school, Hendel followed the programming of his father, CrossFit trainer and former Miami Dolphins linebacker Andy Hendel. The 23-year-old trained alone and often had to improvise due to lack of equipment and facilities.

After graduating from college last year, Spencer Hendel took a job as a coach at Reebok CrossFit One and relocated to Massachusetts. State-of-the-art amenities and fellow CrossFit Games competitors as co-workers were among the perks of the job.

“My first three years, I was training in college all by myself with no one to really push me,” he says. “But now, being in this community with Austin (Malleolo), James (Hobart) and Joe (Masley), it’s easier to get better.”

These days, he trains mostly with Malleolo, following CrossFit seminar trainer E.C. Synkowski’s programming. He trains three days on and one day off, doing mainly doubles and mixes in at least one triple a week.

“Working with Austin is awesome because we are almost exact opposites on so many things and we really push each other,” he says. “But if I feel like I need to work on something specific, something I’m lacking, I usually just give my dad a call and ask him to come up with something for me.”

When the senior Hendel does get such a call, he takes a look at what his son has done in the previous days, checks the CrossFit main site and comes up with something challenging.

“I just give him a grinder,” says Andy, who owns CrossFit Charlotte in North Carolina. “He usually does the workout within an hour, so there is really no time for him to prepare for it. I still like to concentrate on the basics. Sometimes the main site can be an indicator of what’s to come (at the Games), but I think that if you can come up with (the workout), it is probably not going to show up.”

As a seminar trainer, Spencer does a considerate amount of travel, often as much as three weekends a month.

“I really try to listen to how I feel,” he says. “I don’t want to smash myself too much and the last thing I want to do is have to take two days off in a row. The traveling is hard, but it’s really cool to be able to train at other boxes. I’m usually able to get two good training days in when I travel.”

After competing in four regions in as many years, he seems to be ready for a long-term commitment to the North East.

“I sure hope I get to stay for a while,” he says. “I love my job.”

Spencer makes a great addition to an already strong Regional lineup. This year, the top three Games-bound male athletes out of the North East also happen to be top 10 worldwide.

“My goal every year is just to make it to the Games,” Spencer adds. “Everything else on top of that is a bonus.”

His father says he is looking forward to his son’s performance at the Games.

At the Regional, he bested his Diane time by nearly 1:30 and won two of the six events. His methodical performance on the last workout earned him a third-place finish in the event and overall.

“He shows up at the Games … he handles his anxiety very well,” Andy says. “He makes a positive out of it. There are lots of good practice players, but Spencer is an even better gamer. He works so hard to get where he is and he shows up when it counts.”