Leading up to the 2021 season, Tia-Clair Toomey had won four straight CrossFit Games championships, making her the most dominant female CrossFit athlete of all time. But it’s not easy to stay at the top.
Enter Brooke Wells.
The new season was met by big changes for Wells. After joining the PRVN Fitness family in hopes of being trained by Shane Orr — Toomey’s husband and coach — she developed an unexpected bond with the champ.
The dynamic duo is now combining forces to create unstoppable synergy.
The Dynamic Duo
In December 2020, Wells sought Orr out to take her to the podium in the 2021 season. What started with a help-wanted sign turned into an entourage of training partners and coaches at PRVN Fitness.
It was clear to Orr that coaching both athletes would be a conflict of interest. But, to avoid turning Wells away, he assigned former CrossFit OC3 trainer Nic Johnston to her case, the first coach to join the fold.
“I don’t want to know what Brooke’s doing personally or results-wise. I just want to know mechanically how she’s moving, how she’s physically and mentally feeling, and are we seeing progress?” Orr says.
Orr is hoping to create a hub similar to what Toomey and five-time Games champion Mat Fraser had in Cookeville, Tennessee, he says. Toomey and Wells train together three to four times a week, feeding off each other’s energy during every session.
“If there is an opportunity where Brooke and I are on the podium together, that would be the proudest moment of my life,” Toomey says.
“Shit’s Going to Get Real Tomorrow”
The 21.2 Open announcement was met with vague familiarity. The ladder of dumbbell snatches and burpee box jump-overs was a repeat from 2017, giving Toomey and Wells a baseline of what to expect. Back then, Toomey completed the workout in 11:06, only four seconds ahead of Wells’ time of 11:10.
As the women compared their 17.1 scores, excitement shone in their eyes. It would be another close race in 2021— and they knew competing alongside each other would push them to their limits.
“Shit’s going to get real tomorrow,” Toomey says.
Tia’s Secret Weapon
“In order to stay on top of the mountain, you can’t be satisfied.” — Tia-Clair Toomey
Adding Wells to the PRVN team under Orr’s may have seemed like a disadvantage for Toomey, but it was a win-win situation for both athletes.
Wells’ main focus had been strengthening her mindset, and having Toomey right next to her during training helped her prepare for the stress of competition. In return, Wells pushed Toomey not to let her guard down.
Alongside having a training partner pushing her each day, Orr’s techniques help keep Toomey in front of the pack. The coach uses her numbers and carefully analyzes them against her competitors’ to focus on a training plan that puts her on top.
“Where I see the most value is when we are in the thick of it here,” Orr says. “When they’re doing their rowing intervals, when they’re busting their guts, trying to get that last rope climb … I pinch myself and think, ‘These are going to be the moments I’ll remember the most.’”
Most importantly, Orr has 100% confidence in his wife.
“When you talk to Shane and hear him, he believes in you … and you’re like, ‘Wow, you believe in me? If you believe in me, I believe in myself,’” Toomey says. “He makes you realize how bad you really want it. He’s my secret weapon.”
Watch the full episode of Miles to Madison Ep. 03 on YouTube now.
Related reading: Tia-Clair Toomey’s Secret Weapon