February 10, 2014
Michael Bodi's Second Chance
By James Toland

“Whatever happens in the Open this year, I know that I’ve done the work to give myself the best shot at another regional ... "

Above photo courtesy of Rob Ogle

Top photo courtesy of Josh Peckler

Not everyone gets a second chance at achieving a dream.

But for the past six months, Michael Bodi has been doing everything in his power to make sure he gets his.

The 28-year-old Chicago native trains at CrossFit North Wall and has beefed up his regimen and done plenty of homework on past Open workouts in hopes of a second shot at qualifying for the North Central Regional this year.

Bodi wasn’t a well-known name in the CrossFit community before the 2013 Open. That quickly changed as he plowed through 13.1 and 13.2, making his way to the top of the Leaderboard. With 364 reps on 13.2, Bodi was just four reps shy of reigning Games champion, Rich Froning.

With only about a year of CrossFit under his belt, Bodi cruised to a seventh-place finish in the region during the Open and was on his way to the Navy Pier for Regionals.

The newbie with a background in martial arts continued to impress with a fifth-place finish in Regional Event 1—Jackie.

Then, the unthinkable happened.

After completing his first rep of overhead squats at 235 lb. in Event 2, Bodi felt something snap in his left arm. He knew instantly something was wrong. He headed straight to the medical area to find out what he already knew: his regional was over. Bodi had torn his bicep tendon and was forced to medically withdrawal.

 "It was a nightmare," Bodi said. "I felt like I had let everyone down.”

He said the pain felt like “100 needles were jabbed into my arm all at once.”

“My heart sank for him,” said fellow North Central athlete Josh Silvernail of CrossFit Breakout in Wheeling, Ill. “It looked painful, but not just from the physical pain.”

Silvernail said he couldn’t imagine the emotional toll it took on Bodi when all of his hard work and training was gone in an instant.

But Bodi’s mental toughness helped him move on.

“I immediately gathered myself and looked at next year,” he said. “I was definitely down, but I realized I have another shot next year and everything happens for a reason.”

Still, it wasn’t easy. Like a lot of athletes, Bodi found it very difficult to balance doctor’s orders with his competitive spirit and drive to train. Luckily, his injury didn’t require surgery.

Steve Schwab, Bodi’s coach, knew it would be tough for Bodi to be patient and heal.

“Mentally, and personality-wise, he wasn’t the same Bodi for a while,” Schwab said. “Physically, he was fully back within about eight weeks (August 2013). Since then, he’s been full throttle and back to his smiling self.”

Bodi hit training hard. He left a full-time job in construction so he could train twice a day and coach at CrossFit North Wall. He incorporated swimming as both a training regimen and recovery tool, and worked on improving his strength. He also added more running and cardio.

His numbers returned to where they were pre-injury and he’s still improving. He balances his impressive body weight and cardio abilities with a 255-lb. snatch, 295-lb. clean and jerk, 550-lb. deadlift and 390-lb. back squat.

He has taken his preparation to the next level by doing his share of research.

“I’ve really taken the time to examine and break down trends that I’ve seen in the other Opens,” Bodi said. “I went through all of the Open workouts from past years and looked at what movements and reps were there and tried to anticipate things to expect this year.”

Schwab used the word “prepared” when describing Bodi’s approach toward this year’s Open.

However, Bodi has never been one to get ahead of himself.

“I just want to see what Open Workout 14.1 brings, then go from there,” he said.

“Whatever happens in the Open this year, I know that I’ve done the work to give myself the best shot at another regional,” Bodi said. “There was nothing I could do about getting injured. I’ve learned a lot about pacing and patience since then. All I want is a chance to prove to myself and the other athletes that I can compete.”