Last year, CrossFit North Atlanta entered the final workout of the South East Regional tied for 3rd place. They finished in 5th.
Owner and coach Travis Harkey admits the team was devastated by missing out on a trip to the Games in California. “A team is three to four years in the making,” he says. “Athletes who are the heart of your program, your firebreathers, they are driving the whiteboard. When you are sitting there, and you have someone crying on your shoulder... How you can train so hard and fight for milliseconds? It is insanity."
"The team side comes down to one thing. It is all about the women..."
The team returned to Atlanta, and Harkey and his coaches decided to create a “Games Prep Program” for their elite athletes gunning for the Games. This invitation-only group is separate from the rest of CFNA and is comprised of trainers and competitive athletes, as well as those who are being groomed to become competitive. A member must have been training at CFNA for a minimum of six months in order to be invited into the program that begins after Thanksgiving and lasts through the Games season.
Upon joining the group, each member must express whether he or she intends to compete as an individual or on the team. These intentions are made known to the rest of the group so everyone knows where the others stand. Once members declare an individual status, they cannot later ask to be on the team if they do not make it to the Regional or Games.
The members are even asked to sign a contract that sets forth what is expected of them, declares their intention, and includes a friendly reminder to “check their egos at the door.” Members also are required to post all workouts to a group Facebook page.
Currently, there are 20 members in the group who receive custom programming and commit to working out together. “The team side comes down to one thing. It is all about the women, and their ability to do three movements: muscle-ups, ring dips, and handstand push-ups,” Harkey says. “If the women can’t do them, don’t bother.”
By requiring all of the members of the group to workout together, Harkey has found the men have really stepped in to help the women become more proficient at these skills.
“The evolution of this program and these athletes has had a profound impact on our gym, members, and classes,” Harkey says. “It has not been the easiest road to navigate, but I feel like we are on the right track as we enter the 2012 season. Team unity is as strong as it has ever been, and their training is reaching new levels under the guidance of my managing trainer, team captain, and coach Matt Baird. We’ve rallied the troops."
CFNA's team, CFNA Cockdiesel, got off to a rough start this year with a 16th-place finish in the South East on 12.1. After a solid second-place performance on 12.2, though, they've recovered to claim the 5th spot overall in the South East.