June 11, 2012
The Fittest Team in Africa
By Dave Large and Jolene Raison

"Maybe the most rewarding aspect of this journey is the friendship and bonds that you create with people along the way."

Between the exhilaration of the win and the thrill of the next challenge lies a long road paved with blood, sweat and tears. It’s a road team CrossFit Platinum is proudly running in South African style.

The Team

The Games team remains much the same as the Regional team, with the exception of Cindy Ellis replacing Jeanette Saul. “It’s a strategic decision,” says coach Julian Reichman. “Cindy placed above Jeanette in the Open.”

Current team roster:

Susan Claassen
Lisa Reichman
Cindy Ellis
Beatrix Snyman
Andre De Bonis
Thabiet Booley
Julian Reichman
Paul Christoforou

Physical Preparation

Since Regionals, the team’s training has increased to 12 times a week. “We are now doing more double days to get used to the extra demands on our bodies,” Lisa Reichman says.

Julian Reichman adds: “We've had to up the volume in order to cover all the aspects we knew we didn't have to focus on for Regionals.”

In addition to working on improving the team overall, coach Reichman says the goal is to strengthen each individual’s weaknesses to iron out any kinks in the team’s armor.

The athletes are open about their weaknesses. “Weightlifting has been my weakness due to my small frame,” Claassen notes.

In contrast, Ellis feels she needs to improve her competency at gymnastics movements.

The team also believes sound technique is required to perform adequately. “I’ve realized that no matter how fit you are, if your technique is lacking you are nowhere in CrossFit,” Christoforou says. “Better technique also makes heavier weights more achievable.”

Mental Fortitude

It’s telling of the general spirit of the team that while physical prowess is an obvious strength, they place exceptional value on mental and emotional fortitude. “There are no limits,” Snyman says. “‘Limit’ is only for someone who says, ‘Enough, I'm not trying anymore.’ Everyday I know I’ll come back better the next day!” 

This attitude is one of the qualities that bind this family of athletes. So it’s not surprising that, while the physical improvements have been significant, the greatest rewards have come from simply being part of the group. “It’s so rewarding to rely on others and know that you are being relied upon,” Booley says. “When I’m exhausted, knowing that my team mates feel exactly the same way I do motivates me to keep myself and them going.”

Teammate De Bonis sums it up by saying, “Maybe the most rewarding aspect of this journey is the friendship and bonds that you create with people along the way. Everyone has a different story and something to teach you.”