March 2, 2013
Prepared: Irving Hernandez
By April Wheeler

"The main thing was that in a CrossFit gym, people encourage one another and there are no funny looks. It's like a family. It is a family."

After years of doing the same routine day after day in a globo gym, Irving Hernandez finally found his place in the CrossFit community. After an eighth-place finish at the 2011 South East Regional and a solid fourth-place finish in 2012, Hernandez has made a name for himself.

“I discovered CrossFit one day while I was working out in a globo gym,” Hernandez says. “Two guys were doing Fran, so I decided to do it. I managed to do it in 3:45. They said that was impressive with strict pull-ups so after that, (CrossFit) is all I do.” 

Hernandez immediately began following main site programming and performing the workouts at the gym.

“Everyone would always look at me funny, but I didn’t care. All I wanted was to get better,” he says, noting that he did his first competition after only two weeks of CrossFit.

Hernandez soon realized he needed to find a CrossFit affiliate to call home.

“I wanted to get better because, in a globo gym, I could not do the Olympic lifts — the snatch and clean and jerk,” he says.

He soon found CrossFit Paragon in Chamblee, Ga., where he noticed one major difference from his globo gym.

“The main thing was that in a CrossFit gym, people encourage one another and there are no funny looks,” he says. “It’s like a family. It is a family.”

At 5-foot-3 and 150 pounds, Hernandez says his experience as a former collegiate wrestler at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Spring, N.C., prepared him for competing in CrossFit.

“It has helped me a lot because in wrestling, you have to be mentally ready, as well as physically ready. So in CrossFit, I feel like I have to give everything I’ve got, like in a wrestling match,” he says. “I usually train twice a day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon, training hard and being ready both mentally and physically.”

“Prepare yourself mentally, because if you only prepare yourself physically … there is not much hope,” he says.

Wrestling also helped him stay disciplined with nutrition.

“My nutrition has always been good coming from a wrestling background. My diet is very important,” he explains. “I am not a paleo person, but I eat clean at least six days a week, and I love bread with peanut butter and jelly.”

Having a programming methodology different from others is one thing that sets Hernandez apart.

“I program my own workouts and use main site, as well as some workouts from CrossFit New England,” he says. “I train very different (from most), and I never know what I am doing until the morning of training. I try to follow what CrossFit is all about, to do anything, at any time, no matter how hard or easy. I just give 100 percent all the time. The only things I try to always do are heavy back squat, front squat, bench press, press and Olympic lifting, at least five days of the week. I always walk in to the gym and then I decide what I am doing.”

Hernandez became one to watch two years ago after posting a video of himself doing Fran in just 1:56. He recently set a new personal record of 1:52.

“When I do any of this type of workout, I just think that I have to move fast and try to go unbroken, even when I start to feel tired,” he says. “After I posted my Fran time, people judged me, but I knew I was going to prove them wrong so I trained a lot harder.”

Since the 2012 South East Regional, Hernandez says he is hungrier now more than ever for a trip to the CrossFit Games.

“I was a little disappointed, but I felt I gave it everything I had,” he says. “I went back to the gym the next day,” he says.

By focusing on his weaknesses, predominately Olympic lifting, Hernandez hopes to make a comeback in 2013.

“Olympic lifting is where I needed to focus more on,” he says. “I punish my weakness by doing them more, so I am snatching five to six times a week. I’ve improved a lot and my Olympic lifting has gotten much better.”

“I feel like I am in much better shape now, and I train to do pretty much anything,” he adds. “Once you’ve done CrossFit, a globo gym doesn't compare. I personally will never go back. CrossFit has made an impact in my life because now everything I do, I do it with all effort.”