April 19, 2013
Turning Heads: Brian Rottman
By Jeremy Ridgeo

"I hate losing."

Photos by: Antonio Pandolfo

Many CrossFitters attribute their success to the group dynamic and how working out with like-minded individuals will motivate someone to go a little faster and push a little harder.

Newcomer Brian Rottman, 24, of Be CrossFit, agrees wholeheartedly.

“Without competition, I would not have nearly as much success,” he says.

Rottman finished the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open in ninth place overall in the South East.

At 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Rottman started CrossFit a week before last year’s Open. He watched as his friends competed in the Open, then at Regionals and at some local competitions. It is those same friends whom he credits for helping him to achieve goals he felt were previously unattainable.

“Three or four times a week, a small group of us including Travis Holmquist, Chris Muscarella, and, on occasion, Cheryl Nasso, among others, come together and throw down,” he says.

Rottman refers to these workouts as his “bro sessions,” and says the environment brings the best out of each of the friends. Holmquist, who does much of the programming for Rottman, was a 2012 South East Regional competitor and finished this year’s Open in 67th place. Muscarella, also a 2012 South East Regional competitor, finished 53rd in the Open. Nasso, a former Games competitor, finished the Open in third.

“I hate losing,” Rottman says, “but in our group, if they beat me on something, I make it my goal to turn around and beat them in the next thing, the next workout.”

Rottman trains six days a week for two to three hours a day. A single session may consist of strength work, some every minute on the minute skill work, and then another workout of some sort. Within those six days, he takes an active recovery day and says his off day tends to turn into a racquetball, beach volleyball or swimming day.

Over the past year, Rottman has made it his goal to improve on every movement. In an effort to do so, he has attended a Level 1 Certificate Course and Olympic lifting seminar, as well as spent hours probing the CrossFit Journal for anything that might be helpful. He credits his friend, Nasso, as “the greatest influence on my form and technique,” saying she is a “wealth of knowledge.”

While he appreciates the results of his training, he is clear on what element of his program has brought about the most evident gains – the group dynamic.

“Ultimately, it is the group of people around me that have made me better,” he says. “They make me focus on technique and strategy and, even though it is still a bit surreal, it has paid off.”

Through his training, Rottman has fostered the same love of competition he had when he was younger. He grew up playing all types of team sports and competed in martial arts, Tae Kwon Do, and even attended the Junior Olympics. 

“Through martial arts, I learned how to thrive as an individual in a competitive environment, which obviously translates directly to CrossFit,” he says. 

When taking on the Open, Rottman says he attempted a number of the workouts multiple times.

“If the opportunity presents itself, why wouldn’t I take it?”  Rottman says. “If I can get one more rep than the competitor in front of me, I am only helping myself and improving my place in the region. I would be cheating myself not to take advantage of that.”  

For someone whose initial goal was just to do well in the Open, Rottman is now hoping to turn some heads at Regionals.

“Realistically, I thought I had a shot at the top 48, but to be where I am now is unbelievable,” he says. “The improvements I have seen in the past year have been unimaginable.” 

Despite his success, he feels he can do better and will continue to use his time spent in his small competitive group to make sure he does not become complacent.

“Regardless of my success or if things do not go perfect all the time, I am going to have short term memory and keep marching forward,” he says. “It really is all about being focused and staying humble. The group definitely helps with that.”