April 4, 2013
The Three Pappas Sav-Up
By Lauryn Lax

“My mom taught us both, at a young age, to get things done right the first time with intensity and passion."

Family bonding in the Pappas household has lately involved snatches, burpees, box jumps, and clean and jerks.

Brothers Nick, 22, Dustin, 26, and mom Barbara, 53, are all competing in the Open together. Each week, they complete the workout at their affiliate, CrossFit Sav-Up in Barbara’s garage in Sonoma, Calif.

Currently, Nick is in 25th in NorCal, Dustin sits in 80th and Barbara is in 105th place worldwide.

The family has been CrossFitting together for the past three years. Nick was the first to discover CrossFit in summer 2010 through a friend who had just completed the Level 1 Seminar. He gave Nick the Level 1 handbook and told him to read it front to back, so he did.

“Not long after, I walked into CrossFit Goodland, and learned more than I ever thought possible,” Nick says.

His mom and big brother were intrigued by phrases like, “I did Fran in 2:40,” and say they had to find out what Nick was talking about. A year later, they both decided to give it a shot.

While the boys grew up wrestling, skating and playing football, they admit they never knew what a real workout was until CrossFit.

“I’ll admit that I used to poke some fun at him for how pumped he would get to go workout,” Dustin says. “Deep down, I was just really impressed. I made all the normal excuses like not having enough time, and I get enough of a workout at work. Oh, how wrong I was.”

Barbara echoes this sentiment.

“The warm-up left me sweating and gasping for air, and when Nick asked me to hop onto a 12-inch box, my feet were glued to the floor,” she says. “My first WOD of three rounds, 300-meter row, 30 wall balls (4 lb.), 30 sit-ups, took me 14 minutes, plus 17 seconds. I clearly was an old woman, but it hooked me, because I wanted to get better.”

Three years later, the trio says CrossFit is a way of life.

“There's a quote on our fridge that reads, ‘How do you know someone’s into CrossFit? You'll know. It’s all they fucking talk about.’ You get the picture,” Nick says.

He adds: “I spent a lot of time over winter break thinking about how we should all train for the Open. I finally came to the conclusion that I just wanted to do CrossFit. Nothing crazy … nothing is more CrossFit than main site in a garage gym. So, that’s what we did.”

Dustin built an outside rig for pull-ups, muscle-ups and wall balls, and a lifting platform at their home. Nick applied for affiliation and CrossFit Sav-Up was born.

“Sav-Up. Sav, as in Savage. We said it when we were younger as wrestlers whenever we had to go up against someone that was good. ‘Time to Sav-Up and kick some ass.’ Now, it’s ‘time to Sav-Up and hit this WOD,’” he says laughing.

While the Pappas don’t currently offer a class schedule or memberships, they wanted to make it “a place for good friends to enjoy the simple pleasures of CrossFit and experience an awesome community of athletes.”

Nick, Dustin and Barbara have different goals, but the path is the same.

Nick prides himself in his ability to do five minutes of burpee backflips. Dustin currently boasts a 2:36 Fran and says he’s improved his muscle-up efficiency. Barbara has a 220-lb. deadlift, a 100-lb. thruster and a 9:57 Karen.

“We all have different goals and help each other succeed in reaching them,” Dustin says. “We have a large whiteboard in the garage with our goals and weaknesses. We always know what each of us is working on, and we always remind each other that no matter what, we always are going to do our best. And most importantly, we make sure that we are having fun.”

Nick’s foremost goal is to make it to Regionals.

“He has the best chance of making it this year,” Dustin says.

“During last year’s Open, Nick sacrificed his own training for my participation in it,” Barbara says. “From February through April, he became the voice in my head, his words became my thoughts, his mental capacity dominated and commanded my weak and sluggish mind. He gripped me and never let go and made it his passion that I would succeed every single week. This year is for Nick, and it’s the most fun ever to see him do so well.”

Nick says he is sticking to one strategy that has never let him down.

“I prepare mentally more than physically. If you work on things that will make you a better person, you will find yourself getting better everyday.”

Dustin heeds his mom’s advice along with Nick’s philosophy.

“My mom taught us both, at a young age, to get things done right the first time with intensity and passion, so that is exactly what we are doing, each and every week, each and every (workout). I am inspired by Nick every time I watch him move through a workout and seeing him, makes me push myself more,” Dustin says.

Competing aside, the next goal is to convince the whole family to get involved in their passion and hard work.

“Our dad is next. We’re trying to get him to try it,” Dustin says. “He has not joined in on the workouts yet, but he is our built-in physical therapist. Whenever we have an issue with our bodies, he helps us fix it. His ongoing support is greatly appreciated.”