Lightning Strikes Twice: Bryan Wadkins

May 12, 2014

Jennifer Klein

“Who on earth would think, first of all, that they could possibly be the top 20 in the world at anything? I had people telling me that I had a shot, and I thought I had a better chance at getting…

"Who on earth would think ... that they could possibly be the top 20 in the world at anything? I thought I had a better chance at getting struck by lightning."

Photos courtesy of Joe Kim.

In 2009, Bryan Wadkins’ wife Nyra tried this thing called “CrossFit.”

“She came home and said, ‘I think you would really like it. It might appeal to your competitive side,’” Wadkins recounted. “And all I kept thinking was, ‘I hope this wasn’t the same kind of fun she told me spin class would be,’ because spin class wasn’t so fun.”

But Wadkins, a police sergeant with the Costa Mesa Police Department, gave in easily.

“Basically, after that first class I was hooked,” he said. “And I haven’t looked back since.”

Today, Wadkins owns CrossFit RXD in Anaheim, California, and has seen success since he started CrossFit in 2009. He has competed at sectionals (2010), regionals (2010, 2011 and 2013), and the CrossFit Games in 2013. And now, at 41 years old, he will be making yet another trip to the SoCal Regional with team CrossFit RXD, as well as the Games in the Masters 40-44 Division.

Last year was Wadkins’ first trip to the StubHub Center. At 40, he qualified to go to the Games as a masters athlete.

“Who on earth would think, first of all, that they could possibly be the top 20 in the world at anything?” he said of his third-place 2013 Open finish. “I had people telling me that I had a shot, and I thought I had a better chance at getting struck by lightning.”

Turns out he was wrong. Wadkins ended up in seventh place at the Games.

However, leading in to the Games last season was not an easy time for Wadkins and his wife. They were in the midst of a court battle for their then 2-year-old foster son, Andrew, who had been part of their family since he was 3 months old. The months-long trial took its toll.

“Leading up to the Games, I was afraid we’d get summoned to court when I was scheduled to be in competition. We weren’t called in, but I worried about it until the week before,” he said.

With worries for their son, and being in and out of the courtroom, Wadkins was in an altered state.

“At the Games, I was a man kind of torn at the time, because we were in the middle of this really bitter trial,” he recalled. “We’d gone through peaks and valleys where we thought we were going to lose him, that they were going to take him and he was going to go back to his birth parents. We were on this emotional roller coaster for the longest time.”

Despite his pending summons, Wadkins channeled his stress into his Games performance.

“I felt like everything we had been going through—the stress, the emotional pain—no workout at the Games could possibly be worse. I guess in a way it mentally prepared me for competition,” he said. “And it was amazing that I was able to have my son there with us watching.”

The outpouring of support that the Wadkins family received, not only within their own box, but also during and after the Games, was incredible.

“I was a little overwhelmed by it,” Wadkins said. “People just really felt for us. I met some of these athletes and other community members for the first time at the Games, and some sent such loving messages of support. It was touching, and really helped us get through everything.”

And a few months later, a final resolution in court was made and the Wadkins’ began the process to legally adopt Andrew.

With worries of their son’s future now behind them, Wadkins has been able to remain focused during training sessions for the remainder of the year.

“If I’m doing my own training, like I have, I’m getting some strength work in or a good Oly lifting session, and then I do a met-con or two, or a met-con followed by a skills session,” he explained. “That’s a typical day off of work for me, which would be three days a week. Then I train two additional days per week before or after work, and aim for a total of five training days.”

That balance isn’t always easy for Wadkins, who is scheduled to a T.

“I’m a police sergeant, I have a 3-year-old son, I’m an owner and coach at my gym and I’m an athlete. I feel like sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day,” he said. “Sometimes I work out, and 10 minutes after I finish I’m coaching a class. Or on my off days, as soon as I finish my workout I’m headed out the door to head back home to help my wife with our son. I’m always running somewhere.”

Regardless of his schedule, he performed well in the 2014 season.

Wadkins finished 19th in his age division in the Open, taking second, fourth and fifth overall in 14.2, 14.4 and 14.5, respectively.

He carried this momentum into the Masters Qualifier, placing second in Event 2—Amanda.

With a time of 3:55 for the 9-7-5 muscle-up/squat snatch couplet—a big PR for Wadkins—combined with placing in the top 20 for three out of the four events, he earned a seventh-place finish.

Lightning seems to have struck Wadkins twice now, as he is headed back to the CrossFit Games.

But he isn’t waiting until July to enter a competition floor. Wadkins’ affiliate, CrossFit RXD, qualified for the 2014 SoCal Regional with a 23rd-place finish in the Open.

“Team is just a blast! From in individual standpoint, I don’t think that team is quite so daunting on your body, as the workouts are broken up,” he said of the difference between competing as an individual and on a team. “It’s not as much volume, and you don’t walk away as beat up, obviously. And it’s good mental prep leading into the Games.”

Although Wadkins will be competing at regionals as part of the CrossFit RXD team, he plans on only competing at the Games as an individual.

“Some of our best athletes decided to go individual this year, and another is out with an injury. We were able to qualify by bringing up some new athletes who have never experienced regionals,” he said. “With me competing on the team, it will allow them to gain the experience and we’ll have a lot of fun doing it.”

While the CrossFit RXD team plans to have a good time in Del Mar, California, Carson is on the horizon. He hopes this year’s experience is different than the last.

“I’m really just hoping to walk in to this summer’s Games better prepared than last year, to keep myself healthy and to not get hurt.”