March 13, 2012
Pushing Each Other: CrossFit Intensify
By Robin Runyan

"Our box has grown into one big united family. Everyone's here to support and encourage each other."

On a Saturday morning in a small storefront in Springfield, Ore., the athletes of CrossFit Intensify give all they have for many different reasons. Some want to make it back to the CrossFit Games. Some want to compete as an individual on the third day of Regionals, while others want to make it on the Regional team. Some want to set a PR of jumping on a 20” box. All athletes are equally celebrated.

CrossFit Intensify is home to both Ben Stoneberg, 20th in the 2011 CrossFit Games, and Kendall Burnham, 4th in the North West Regional in 2011. Zach Smith, owner of CrossFit Intensify, says their work ethic encourages all athletes to work harder.

“Ben and Kendall's success has had a huge impact on the box,” Smith says. “Not only does it inspire our competitive athletes to constantly improve, but it motivates all of our other members to push themselves harder each and everyday.”

Even though CrossFit Intensify has grown rapidly over the past year, their community has grown tighter. “Our box has grown into one big united family. Everyone's here to support and encourage each other,” Smith says.

While Stoneberg and Burnham set the bar high for the other athletes, their attitudes affect the rest of the box. “Both of them are so modest and down to earth. It sets a good tone for the rest of the box. They want everyone to excel,” says Christina Sloyer, currently in 6th place in the North West Region. “If they weren’t here to set some freakish mark, we wouldn’t push ourselves as hard.”

While many of Intensify’s athletes, including Sloyer, are working toward Regionals, Smith says CrossFit Intensify made an effort to get as many members as possible involved in the Open. “For the rest of our members, we wanted the Open and the Games to be a box-wide event that's fun for everyone. So, we've started a tradition: The CFI Open Battle of the Sexes,” he says. “We're pitting guys (Team Y) against girls (Team X). We put together a scoring system that rewards performance and participation each week of the Open. Each week an MVP is picked by our coaches from both teams and they win prizes. Then after the five weeks of competition the losing team must cook the winning team a paleo feast and we'll host a huge CFI Party for everyone who participated in the 2012 Open. This friendly game for the box has encouraged tons of members to sign up and give it a try. This year we signed up over 90 people and so far it's been a blast. We anticipate carrying this excitement over into Regionals.”

Chelsey Hughes started CrossFit in November 2011 and entered the Open with the encouragement of her coaches. Hughes appreciates the atmosphere in the box. On a big day where they do the Open Workout, many athletes will stay for two more heats to cheer on their friends. “It’s as much fun to root for the other athletes as it is to do your own workout,” she says.

Burnham, who has consistently ranked in the top 5 in the North West during the Open, says the sense of community helps her. “Honestly, we have a really great group of people who support each and every person regardless of size, skill, ability or experience. Watching people meet and exceed their goals and expectations makes it that much better. Additionally, having a strong group of competitive athletes has raised the level of intensity, which in turn helps me reach my potential.”

This positive attitude permeates throughout CrossFit Intensify. “Ben and Kendall both have a tenacious drive to get better at everything they do,” Smith says. “Their work ethic is unmatched. Our athletes and members see their dedication and determination every time they step in the box. This pushes everyone to work harder, to strive for improvement and to tackle their weaknesses so they can catch these two firebreathers.”