March 6, 2014
Starting Strong
By Kyle Wise

“It's going to be a hard road and there are great athletes every year, but we've put a team together that we think can do it."
~Brennan Fjord,       Ute CrossFit

In just one week, life-long athlete Brennan Fjord has placed himself in the South West's top five after Open Workout 14.1.

Fjord currently sits in second place, completing one less rep than current region leader Jacob Hutton.

In just one attempt, Fjord performed 435 reps of double-unders and snatches at 75 lb., surpassing his goal to reach 9 rounds.

“I went in with a plan to break it up early,” Fjord said, “and I knew if I did that I could keep a constant pace.”

Fjord's performance wasn't without close calls, as he actually had to start over when his coach, Tommy Hackenbruck, realized Fjord wasn't being filmed more than two minutes into the workout.

“I was kind of bummed because I felt like I started at a good pace,” he said. “But I think in the end it helped me out because it warmed me up a little bit more, and so I waited about 10 to 15 minutes and decided I was going to do it again that night.”

Fjord pursued competitive CrossFit after completing his football career, first at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, then at Southern Utah University. Though he first encountered CrossFit in 2010, it was not part of his training while he was still playing football.

“I think the hardest part, and the slowest transition for me, has been the gymnastic movements,” he said about getting back into CrossFit. “Just because that's something that for football, I've never really had to focus on.”

While playing at Southern Utah, Fjord and the rest of the team had to perform Fran as a conditioning test.

“Fortunately, I did pretty well at it,” he recalled. “If anything, it was just a mental barrier that (we) had to break. Once we got done with Fran, we were like, 'Oh man! We could do anything!'”

Fjord was at a crossroads when his playing days were over. It took some time for him to figure out his next move.

“I kind of … did the same thing every collegiate athlete does,” he said. “I though about doing a (NFL) Pro Day. I finally had come to terms that I was happy with how my football career ended.”

Another opportunity would present itself.

Dan Bennion, the Thunderbirds' strength and conditioning coach, just happened to be married to Erin Bennion of Ute CrossFit. Also on the coaching staff at the time was Michael Cazayoux, another Ute regular. Cazayoux was instrumental in convincing Fjord to sign up for his first Open.

“Michael Cazayoux kept on badgering me,” he said. “I kept on putting him off. I'm like, 'I'm not going to do that.'”

Fjord eventually gave in to peer pressure and signed up for the 2013 Open. It was a good decision. He qualified for the South West Regional and finished in 15th overall.

Then Fjord graduated and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Through Michael Cazayoux and Erin Bennion, I just kind of fell into the Ute CrossFit community and I started working with them and training with them,” he said.

Joining Ute CrossFit brought him into contact with Hackenbruck. Fjord said he owes him a lot.

“He's got an eye for people that know how to work hard and who like to work hard,” he said. “If you show him that you're willing to work for something he'll set you up. He invests a lot in you.”

After competing solo last year, Fjord said he’d like to go team in 2014. After 14.1, the team sits in first in the South West Region.

Returning veterans Hackenbruck and Mary Lampas will join a new group of Hack’s Pack athletes. The team will attempt a third straight Affiliate Cup win.

“We know that there are great teams out there that are training just as hard as we are,” Fjord said. “It's going to be a hard road and there are great athletes every year, but we've put a team together that we think can do it. We just got to make sure that we put in the work and are humble, and hopefully things will play out in our favor.”