May 17, 2012
Going Solo: The Un- and Semi-Affiliated
By Kyle J. Smith

"There is something serene and powerful about training on your own," Scholl says.


Most Regional competitors have been training at their boxes for years, reaping the rewards of a competitive environment and CrossFit-specific coaching.

But a handful of athletes in the North East Region have gone a more unconventional route; either training outside of CrossFit affiliates or only recently joining one.

Dan Goldberg and Sarah Scholl both work in the fitness industry and train at unaffiliated gyms.

Goldberg, a lifelong athlete who sits in 27th place in the North East after the Open, is a personal trainer at Fitness Forum Health Club in Fayetteville, N.Y.

Scholl lives above the training facility she owns, Power X Training in Connecticut. She was an All-American middle distance runner at Georgetown University and is 47th in the region after the Open.

Meanwhile, Jessa Lemoine and Brendan Ryan trained at unaffiliated gyms before joining boxes around the time the Open began.

Lemoine, 5th place finisher at last year's South East Regional, trained at Redefined Fitness in Georgia before moving back to Massachusetts and joining CrossFit EXP. She also is a former University of Georgia pole-vaulter.

Ryan, who finished 51st in the Open, trained at Boston Sports Club before joining Rugged CrossFit. He also played baseball at Boston College.

All four say their respective gyms allow for maximum personalization of their routine and work well with their schedules.

The management at Fitness Forum has no problem with Goldberg performing workouts during off-peak times. Still, he gives a warning.

"Training in a health club can be dangerous," Goldberg says. "I have cracked my head open against a wall trying to do muscle-ups and hurt myself trying to catch a bar I couldn’t drop."

Ryan says he was slow to join a CrossFit affiliate because of the cost.

Having qualified for the Regional, Ryan says he prioritized the cost in order to prepare for the competition.

Approach to Training

Lemoine and Scholl, however, say they’ve enjoyed training outside an affiliate.

"I never felt like I was missing out on the benefits of a community,” Lemoine says. “Redefined Fitness was my own box; we would always have a bunch of us at every competition."

For Scholl, it offers an opportunity to write her own programming — an activity she loves.

"It allows me to really listen to my body, as I have been plagued by injuries my entire life,” Scholl says. “I find that I push myself to the limit and often beyond, regardless of where I am."

This will be her third Regional competition. Her primary objective is to stay healthy.

An athlete for most of her life, Scholl grew up with a father who installed pull-up bars in every doorway of the house. She’s been doing strict pull-ups and walking on her hands since age 5.

When she yearns for competition and training advice, she turns to CrossFit Norwalk, whom she credited for improving her conditioning. Otherwise, she prefers flying solo.

"There is something serene and powerful about training on your own," Scholl says.

At CrossFit EXP, Lemoine often trains with fellow Regional competitor, Tiffany Normandi. They work together on weaknesses such as muscle-ups and longer met-cons. Lemoine also says she’s focused her training on technical lifts included in this year’s Regional workouts.

Ryan, a rookie CrossFit competitor, is practicing the Regional workouts and periodizing to peak at the competition.

"Going head to head with some of the best athletes in the area will really hit on my competitive nature and drive me to push harder on the workouts," he says.

Goldberg, meanwhile, has spent time on the Olympic lifts and on building a big engine.

"I went from 41st in the 2009 North East Regional to 12th in 2011 strictly because I am especially good at struggling and sacrificing for years on end,” he says. “From giving up alcohol to constantly working on weaknesses, staying outside your comfort zone is the key."