June 8, 2012
Reinforced Steel: Bayou City CrossFit
By Karen Feiner

"We have worked hard to get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses and support one another in all ways possible."

Bayou City CrossFit flew out the gate at the South Central Regional, taking first on Event 1 and firmly placing a target on its back for the rest of the weekend. After the first workout, they were able to consistently stay at the top of the pack, which allowed them a comfortable stay in second place. 

“Recovery after Regionals was a week off to relax, eat whatever you wanted and put whatever is on your mind from Regionals behind you,” team member Katie Russell says.  
Now, recovery time is over, and the team is preparing for the CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif. Relaxation and comfort are things of the past. 
“There are definite seasoned competitors that take charge in planning and implementing strategies on workouts,” team member Jane Shin says.
One of the more seasoned competitors is Andy Lewis, who went to the 2011 CrossFit Games as an Individual. After qualifying again as an individual for the 2012 South Central Regional, Lewis decided to go team. Interestingly, Lewis has a history with all three teams that are now headed to the Games from this region, so he knows what the team is going up against. 
His CrossFit career started at CrossFit Central, where he spent two years on their team. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, he moved to Dallas and competed on CrossFit Dallas Central’s team for a brief time before moving to his current home in Houston and Bayou City CrossFit. It will be interesting to watch him go up against these teams he knows well and each played a part in shaping him as an athlete.
Lewis is not the only one going back to the Games. Bayou City was ranked 1st in the South Central Regional in 2011. Another familiar face is team captain Charlie Gerzewski. “He always takes command when things are going wrong,” Craig Ralsanen says of his captain.
While Gerzewski seems to be a big voice on the team, he is not the only voice. This team has a coaching combination that includes the winner of the South Central Regionals, Bryan Diaz. This team knows what is necessary in order to compete at the Games, and they are focusing as much on the mental stress as the physical. 
“We have several coaches and coach each other as well,” Shin says. “Team practice programming is a group effort between Bryan Diaz, Vic Zachary and others. Mattison Grey works with us on our communication and the mental aspect of CrossFit … we have incorporated much more communication based team workouts in order to prepare for the Games.” 
Bayou City’s programming and coaching has changed dramatically between the Regional and their preparation for the Games. “Before Regionals, Vic Zachary, the owner of Bayou City CrossFit was programming for us, but since he left for the military right around Regionals, we started following Outlaw after Regionals and love it,” Russell says. “Four of us are following Outlaw programming. The other two are following their own programming.” 
On a team of six individuals with different weaknesses and schedules, training can start to look a lot like Tetris. “We seem to have our little groups within the team, but we are working on connecting everyone,” Shin says. “We train together as a team two times a week. On days that we don’t have team practice, team members try to train together in smaller groups as schedules permit.
Everyone is training with a plan, but not necessarily the same plan.” 
Ralsanen knows his weaknesses and they might be keeping him up at night. When asked about concerns going into the Games he says he is concerned he’ll be “too excited to sleep, or someone gets injured and I have to step in and the weight will just be too heavy for me.” 
A very self-aware athlete, Ralsanen has no problem owning his weaknesses and training them. “Strength is a big weakness of mine,” he says. “I have been trying to focus on that more now.”
As individuals, this is a team that acknowledges their weaknesses, but as a team they also realize their strengths. “We have worked hard to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and support one another in all ways possible,” Shin says. 
It is great for a team to be strong but it is a greater team that acknowledges their weaknesses in their efforts to get stronger. 
With an excellent coaching staff, experience as individuals and as a team and a strong work ethic, Bayou City CrossFit is going to be a team to reckon with when they arrive at the Home Depot Center.