February 12, 2012
Joey Warren's Journey
By John Bourgeois


Joey Warren cleared his schedule last year to focus solely on training for the CrossFit Games. As a two-time CrossFit Games competitor with a 13th place finish in 2010, he rightfully had his sights set high. Imagine his disappointment in missing the Games by one spot in 2011. But such is life in the competitive Northern California Region. 

Warren seemed to take it in stride, perhaps even with a sense of Zen. After the initial disappointment, he wasn’t sure if he was going to compete again. He referred to CrossFit as being more about the journey than any specific outcome. Happy with his own progress as an athlete, Warren said he is amazed that he is still able to add strength and improve his WOD times even today. But this “journey” may not have included more competition for Joey. As Lao Tzu said, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
Clearing his schedule and not making it to the Games left Warren with a lot of unexpected time on his hands. The break from competition after last year’s Regional led him to stop putting his life on hold for the Games, and he has been very busy ever since. 
In addition to his training duties at CrossFit Cadence, he has a new job as the strength and conditioning trainer at Los Gatos High School, coaches football, is going back to school to work on his teaching credential, and recently got engaged. 
However, in the months after Regionals he continued to see gains in strength even with his busy schedule, and he realized that he didn’t need to clear his schedule to be competitive. In an era of CrossFit where we are starting to see full-time CrossFit athletes, Warren seems to be heading in the opposite direction, and his balancing of life and CrossFit is a refreshing approach. Despite planning a wedding for this summer and with these other new demands on his time, Warren is still training hard and has his sights fully set on making it back to the Games.
In the past year, Warren has been focusing on working his weaknesses. Partly out of frustration, he pushed his body to test its limits. He saw initial gains in strength, but reached his body's breaking point when a hip injury occurred during squats. The injury only added to his frustration, and he continued to push hard. Meanwhile, his hip was not getting any better and his strength remained stagnant. This compelled Joey to seek out coaching help from Michael Fitzgerald of Optimal Performance Training. Fitzgerald scaled Warren’s strength focus back a bit and reduced his overall volume of work. Warren said he almost instantly started to feel stronger and more energetic.
Warren stresses the importance of having a coach. For him, Fitzgerald is someone who can understand his strengths and weaknesses and customize a program to get him to the next level. One small obstacle with having a coach oversee his training is that he is not local, and can’t witness workouts firsthand. However, they stay in constant contact and Warren records all of his training results on his blog and video records his workouts for Fitzgerald to track. 
With CrossFit becoming more competitive in NorCal, Warren says he won’t rule out a dark horse making in through in 2012, but expects the same top athletes to be in the mix again. He gives an edge to those who have an intangible “athleticism” that comes from experience in high level competition -- be it CrossFit competition experience or collegiate sports. “It’s fun to see how much CrossFit is growing and getting better, and that pushes me to continue to get better.”