March 1, 2012
From Russia with Love: Danila Shokhin
By Ben Liuzzi
161 burpees in 7 minutes? No problem.
161 burpees in 7 minutes? No problem.

"I got several messages from friends telling me it was my WOD and they were expecting to see me ranked No. 1."


We have seen and heard about the suitability of a gymnastics background for CrossFit Games athletes, but on the back of a 161 repetition performance in Open Workout 12.1, Russian Danila Shokhin demonstrated a new alternative: competitive aerobics

Competitive aerobics, also known as sport aerobics or aerobics gymnastics, involves the performance of a lightning-paced, highly choreographed, explosive routine. The routine is judged on dynamic and static strength, jumps and leaps, kicks, balance, and flexibility. Competition routines are usually two minutes in length and demand extreme fitness levels. Two minutes? Max effort? It sounds like a very famous CrossFit workout. Suddenly, the compatibility between CrossFit and aerobics is less tenuous. 

For Shokhin, the announcement of Open Workout 12.1 was a pleasing one. He says he, “had eyes on 160-plus reps and was confident of putting up a very good result.” In addition to his own expectation, he had some added pressure. “I got several message from friends telling me it was my WOD and they were expecting to see me ranked No. 1.” 

Luckily for the 75 kg man from Solnechnogorsk (Sun City), near Moscow, he could draw on 15 years of successful competitive sports experience in sport aerobics. His was career littered with success; European champion, World Cup winner, and multiple prize winner at World Championship level.

One-hundred-sixty-one reps, seven minutes, and one recording proving it all, the Russian cemented his place at the summit of the leader after one event. Can he stay there? That depends a lot of what comes out of the hopper as Shokhin is battling a shoulder injury. “I can’t do some movements, so if they come up, I won’t be able to participate, unfortunately.” 

The injury requires surgical repair and kept Shokhin out of last year’s Open. Despite that, he entered the 2012 Open to “test himself” and put himself closer to his “dream of competing in the Regionals and the CrossFit Games.”  

Injury aside, Shokhin shows a fire common to many top competitors. “The harder the workouts, the better. I don’t have any favorite movements.”

Clearly a man not afraid to push himself to the limit, Shokhin's first exposure was the famous CrossFit workout “Cindy.” With a phenomenal 39 rounds in the history books, he recalls, “It was quite fun, I liked that it wasn’t just a regular workout, but I had to compete with myself, watch my time closely, and I could compare my results with other athletes.”

Online competition may be the thing to bring out the best in Shokhin. Training alone and without a coach in a small community gym, he must make do with the equipment available and draw on motivation from within. “Everyday, I just want to be better than I was yesterday,” he says. “I don’t really need additional motivation for training.”

Outside of the gym he admires “people who overcome difficult circumstances and achieve their goals despite obstacles. It’s not only about sports, but about life in general. This philosophy is close to me.”

Having now proved his fitness on the world stage, Danila Shokhin  has shown he can push his body to the extreme. At 27 and with only two years of CrossFit under his belt, this may not be the last time we hear from him.