March 1, 2014
Redemption from Burpee Muscle-ups
By Kyle Wise

“I wouldn't be disappointed or upset at myself as long as I just went as hard as I could. But my goal is to be in the top five.”

Photo by Tiffany Alanoori

Landscape photo by Tiffany Alanoori


Tennil Reed is just two years into CrossFit and has already established herself as an athlete to keep an eye on in the South West Region.

The 26-year-old is competing as an individual in 2014 after debuting in team competition in 2013.

Reed said her highly competitive nature and diverse athletic background is the reason for her rapid plunge into CrossFit. In college, she played rugby and ran cross-country, and also played basketball, volleyball, softball and track.

“I've just always been involved in a lot of different sports,” Reed said.

A bit of sibling rivalry goes a long way, as well.

“I'm the oldest of five kids, and we've just competed against each other for years,” she said. “I was the oldest and biggest, so I guess I had an advantage. My whole family is pretty competitive and we played sports.”

Reed first encountered CrossFit by watching the Games on television.

“I remember I just saw it for like a second,” she recalled. “One of my friends that I went to school with asked me to go with her, and so I went to check it out and then I liked it.”

Despite spending a great deal of her life in athletics, Reed's first CrossFit workout was a rude awakening.

“I remember when I first started I could barely do any of the stuff, and I was a regular gym-goer,” she said. “I went everyday and I ran six miles a day but then CrossFit was so different.”

It took working out at several smaller boxes across Scottsdale, Ariz., before Reed found one that suited her. She eventually settled with Urban WarFit CrossFit.

“I liked the feel of it and I liked the people,” she said.

Reed's first Open was a learning experience and gave her an idea of what was to come in the subsequent year.

“I didn't know what to expect,” said Reed of her first foray into competitive CrossFit. “I didn't know how good the competition was; I didn't know how to compare myself to the other girls; I didn't even expect to qualify as an individual, but I did, so that surprised me. But this year, I kind of have an idea of where I need to be.”

Reed placed 33rd in the 2013 Open and accompanied Urban WarFit's team to the South West Regional. The team received a DNF on Event 3, a 7-minute AMRAP of burpee muscle-ups. With the disqualification, the WarFit crew finished 27th.

Having experienced regionals in a team environment, Reed is competing as an individual this season. She is placing an emphasis on gymnastic movements, such as muscle-ups, which she considers “the hardest thing for me.” The inability to perform them cost WarFit dearly last season.

“Last year, I learned how to do muscle-ups during the Open, or right after the Open, so I hadn't been doing them for very long,” she said.

Reed is practicing muscle-ups every day and is supplementing them with bar muscle-ups and weighted pistols. Since the movements grow more complex as each stage of the Games passes, they have become a priority.

“It's huge,” she said. “It's a game changer.”

In addition to negating her weaknesses, Reed is improving on the basic movements that frequently appear in Open workouts, such as wall-ball shots and burpees. She is also investing in her barbell efficiency through lightweight, high-volume workouts of unbroken reps.

“I'm not super great at weightlifting and I'm not a super great gymnastics person,” she said, “but I have really good endurance because I ran cross-country in college so I could do lots of reps for a long time and keep the same pace from the very beginning.”

Reed's goal for her first solo season is to place in the top five at the 2014 South West Regional.

“I wouldn't be disappointed or upset at myself as long as I just went as hard as I could,” she said. “But my goal is to be in the top five.”

Though her goal is going individual, she will miss being part of a team: “The experiences, helping others grow, feeling that joy when your teammate accomplishes a goal.”