August 5, 2017
Spectator Sport
By Brittney Saline
How do spectators keep up on their fitness during Games week? 
How do spectators keep up on their fitness during Games week? 

Just because you didn’t qualify for the CrossFit Games doesn’t mean you can’t work out while you're there.

The Sport of Fitness is known for having the fittest fans, and Games week is no exception. From official Fittest Fan workouts—like the Bike Event or Run Swim Run, wherein fans can experience the same pain Games competitors endured during Thursday’s events—to open gym-style sessions at the Age Group Pavilion, spectators can get their swole on between heats of their favorite CrossFit Games athletes.

Box jumps in the spectator workout area

“I want to keep up my fitness while I'm here because I don't want to lose any of the (progress) I've made,” said 18-year-old Charlie Golowach as he warmed up for the Fittest Fan take on Run Swim Run Saturday morning.

Golowach—here from Sandwich, Illinois, for his first CrossFit Games experience—was eager to see how his time compared with that of the Games athletes, though he said he was still reeling from a gnarly workout he did on Wednesday at a local CrossFit affiliate: a 200-m farmers carry, 20 incline push-ups and 10 overhead presses with a pair of 50-lb. dumbbells.

“It sucked,” he said. “I’m still very sore from that.”

Samantha Valentine, visiting from American Fork, Utah, said she signed up for Run Swim Run to train for a swim event at an upcoming fitness competition. A former Regional-level team athlete—in 2016, she competed with CrossFit Hyperion at the South Regional—she’s also run a mile on her hotel gym’s treadmill each night.

“My goals are Regionals and bigger competitions, so I want to stay up on things just so I don't fall behind,” the 28-year-old said.

Still, that hasn’t kept her from enjoying Madison’s less fitness-friendly charms.

“Nutrition's been a little bit harder,” Valentine admitted. “We have had some great ice cream and chocolates in downtown Madison.”

She’s not the only one.

A fan swings kettlebells in the spectator workout area

Though lines at Zone- and Paleo-friendly vendors stretch longer than all but the lines for coffee, the “full-on corn dog” has been a staple of the weekend, according to Jake of Big Dog Corn Dogs, a more conventional concessions joint.

“I heard a guy say that when CrossFitters cheat, they really cheat,” said Jake, who has never tried CrossFit himself.

Danielle Wheeler and Kate Syson, athletes from CrossFit Stettler in Alberta, Canada, queued up to do Cindy in the spectator workout area this morning, partly because “we might be indulging a little bit,” Wheeler, 34, said, noting she looked forward to some deep-fried pickles and beer.

Keeping on top of training while at the Games also helps prevent post-vacation soreness, added 33-year-old Syson, who can be spotted alternately doing jumping jacks and air squats in front of her hotel, and wind sprints in a Starbucks parking lot.

“Usually the day back after a week (of vacation) is hell,” she said. “You don’t want to be too sore.”

Aaron Bell, 32, was less concerned about keeping up his fitness during the Games and confessed to a slightly increased doughnut intake this week.

“It’s kind of a vacation/rest week,” he said, though he bikes a quarter-mile from his hotel to the Alliant Energy Center and back each day. "To get inspiration for when I go home.”

A spectator tests out the 150-lb. Rogue sandbag

Still, Bell was among those waiting for a spot on the platforms in the Age Group Pavilion Saturday morning.

“It’s cool that this is available,” he said, waving an arm at the several platforms, Assault AirBikes and Rogue rigs lined up in the Age Group Pavilion.

He said he planned to put the equipment to use for a heavy lifting session before the afternoon’s events.

After all, he said, you gotta “maximize those doughnut gains.”