May 15, 2012
Rob Orlando Goes Team
By Kyle J. Smith

"Just do what feels right and always go heavy."

After a DNF in the opening event of last year’s Games, strongman Rob Orlando has decided to go team.

"To be an individual Games athlete these days, it has to be a full-time endeavor. I'm a husband, father, gym owner, businessman, coach,” says the Hybrid Athletics owner. “I had to balance my priorities.

"The DNF was devastating. The biggest sting was letting down all those who had supported me during training and preparation," he says.

Going team is a first for the 37-year-old, who also competed as an individual in the 2009 and 2010 Games.

According to Orlando, the team dynamic will allow him to do what he loves most: be a strong utility player.

His team is well rounded.

Victoria Derewal is skilled at gymnastics and bodyweight movements, Dannel Malloy at strength and high-skill movements and Shanon “Wreck” Morris also has competitive strength and high-skill movements in her arsenal. Meanwhile, Kate Schuh lists bodyweight movements and capacity as her strengths, while Chris Zaffiro names bodyweight and technical movements within his skillset.

Hybrid team members have been practicing the Regional Workouts semi-regularly. Many are following the programming of Outlaw CrossFit’s Rudy Nielsen focusing on strength and high-skill movements to build up confidence from last year.

In 2011, the Hybrid team missed the cut in Amanda on the final day.

“As a team, we just didn't practice enough skill movements,” Schuh says. “Things like (handstand push-ups) and (overhead squats) could have been better. This year we actually followed a program. Everyone on the squad focused heavily on Olympic and gymnastic movements.”

Strength, she notes, isn't an issue at Hybrid.

“It's the skill stuff,” Schuh says. “We worked hard at it in the offseason and we are anxious to put it to work.”

As Hybrid’s head coach, Orlando’s approach to training isn't based on percentages or PRs. He constantly varies the strength routine and says he believes in the power of moving heavy loads long distances quickly. He described his programming as “drive by brail.”

"Just do what feels right and always go heavy," he says.

Throughout his athletic career, strength has been the foundation of his training philosophy. He focuses on building dynamic strength during the offseason and sprinkles on met-cons as the Games approach.

Still, Orlando dedicates time to weaknesses.

"It's all about discipline,” he says. “I force myself to do pistols, for instance, a few times a year because I know they're going to come up in competition."

Since starting his affiliate in May 2008, Orlando has seen CrossFit and the Games grow larger than he imagined.

"But what remains constant is the high quality of people involved," he says, referencing not only athletes, but also other boxes.

Orlando says his dream would be to see both yokes and tires used in this year’s Games workouts. Last year’s events included a farmer carry, as well as a sled push and a sled pull.

Despite competing in the same Regional as the world’s fittest affiliate — CrossFit New England — other teams are not of concern for Orlando.

"I've always believed you should only focus on what you can influence,” he says. “Don't waste time scoping out the competition."

Still, the team understands that a podium finish won’t come easily.

"They know that they are in for a tough weekend,” Schuh says. “But the team is optimistic and ready to put forth 110 percent effort to get it done."