July 3, 2013
Three Years in the Making: Travis Mayer
By Jeremy Ridgeo

“After realizing my shot at Regionals was over in 2012, my plan was to immediately start doing everything I could to make sure I made it to the Games in 2013."

Travis Mayer’s journey to the CrossFit Games is three years in the making. In 2011, Mayer just missed out on qualifying for the South East Regional after finishing 61st in the Open.

In 2012, a fracture to his L5 vertebra kept him from competing at full strength during the Open.

“It’s tough training day in and day out and looking forward to Regionals, only to have it taken away by a few reps or an injury,” Mayer says.

To say that Mayer, 22, was motivated heading into the 2013 season is an understatement. 

“After realizing my shot at Regionals was over in 2012, my plan was to immediately start doing everything I could to make sure I made it to the Games in 2013,” Mayer says. 

He anxiously awaited the opportunity to train again, and after receiving the go-ahead from his doctor, he reached out to Coach Max El-Hag to help him with programming and to get him where he needed to be. Mayer refused to allow lack of preparation to be the reason he did not make it to the Games. 

In high school, Mayer participated in several sports including basketball and golf, but eventually focused on motocross. His friend, a talented amateur rider, asked him to be his mechanic at a few races, which turned into a full-time career for Mayer. He never lost interest in personal fitness though, and eventually became a certified personal trainer at a local LA Fitness. 

“A friend started telling me about CrossFit, so I started watching all of these videos of Chris Spealler and Mikko Salo doing incredible workouts and decided to give it a shot,” he says.

“My first workout was Fran with 115-lb. thrusters and strict pull-ups, and I have not stopped competing since,” he says.

Mayer finished this year’s Open in 15th place in the South East. At the South East Regional, he gave one of the most consistent performances among the men, placing in the top 10 in six out of seven events. Mayer finished second overall, finally reaching his goal of making it to the CrossFit Games.

“Standing on the podium was a dream come true, and it is a testament to how far I have come that I qualified for the Games,” he says.

Since Regionals, El-Hag, Mayer’s coach, has added longer met-cons and swimming to the variety of work he was already focusing on. 

“For the most part, we have kept the same routine, but have added stones, yokes, biking and swimming to get a taste of the unconventional,” Mayer says.

The focus has been on pushing his training to prepare for the amount of volume he will be enduring at the Games.

“’Pain is temporary,’ is what I keep telling myself.’”

He has also enjoyed 30-lb. jumps in several strength numbers and sees himself as a “more well-rounded athlete now than I was at Regionals.” 

“I have had major gains in overhead strength work, including PRs in my snatch, overhead squat and push jerk,” says Mayer, who hopes to hit a few more personal bests prior to the Games.

Another area Mayer has been focusing on is what he calls “the little things,” such as making sure his eating and fueling before and after training is where it needs to be.

“Max has helped me both mentally and physically to get where I need to be to perform to my full potential,” Mayer says.

“From a coach's perspective, Travis is well suited for the sport for many reasons,” El-Hag says. “First, he is young, and therefore more likely to tolerate the volume necessary for the sport. Two, he has great muscle endurance and aerobic capacity, which allows him to repeat efforts at various loads for both the shorter and longer time frames required for the sport, as well. He is strong, powerful, adapts fast and learns skills relatively quickly. Lastly, I believe his humility and excellent mind set on competition day allows him to succeed and will lay the framework for him to reach very elite levels in the sport over time.”

To add to his busy training schedule, Mayer and a friend recently opened a new box in Alpharetta, Ga. — CrossFit Passion — that has made finding time for his training more difficult. 

“The plan is to hold off the opening until after I return from California so I can focus on being prepared for whatever HQ might throw at us,” he says. “It is going to be great to see what Dave Castro and the others can come up with because the Games always manage to throw something different at you.”

Whatever comes out of the hopper in California, Mayer will be competing with many of the athletes whose videos inspired him to try CrossFit. While Mayer says he’s thrilled to be competing against the sport’s top athletes, he is still going out there to fulfill a dream that was three years in the making.