April 4, 2013
Unconventional: Quinn Otte
By Alexis Totin

"I had never performed in front of a crowd of that size and everywhere I looked was another dude or chick in better shape than me ... I actually peed myself while warming up." 

Photo by: Jane Brooks




A year ago, 21-year-old Quinn Otte took the South East by surprise.

Unaffiliated and brand new to the sport, Otte finished 44th in the region after the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Open. Having no competition experience whatsoever, Otte was thrown into the South East Regional not knowing what to expect.

“Going to West Palm Beach was an eye-opening experience last year,” Otte says. “First, the only reason I got to go at all was with help from the community. Athletes I had no affiliation with were all willing to lend a financial hand to cover my travel expenses, and for that, I am still humbly grateful.”

“I had never performed in front of a crowd of that size (at Regionals), and everywhere I looked was another dude or chick in better shape than me,” Otte recalls. “I didn't have the right clothes, didn't know what or when to eat, and hadn't rowed 5,000 meters in my life. I actually peed myself while warming up for the third event and had to change.”

Two moments at the South East Regional stand out in Otte’s mind. One was cheering on Kelly Levens through the 100-lb. one-arm dumbbell snatches in Event 3, along with fellow competitor, Shawn Ramirez.

“It was my first taste of the sportsmanship in this sport,” he says.

Second, Otte remembers receiving a DNF on Event 4.

“My preparations had holes that came back to bite me,” he says. “I've never been so athletically disappointed.” 

Otte, a junior at Auburn University, is not your typical college kid. He is known around campus as “the kid with a rat tail,” and is most frequently spotted wearing flannel shirts and/or a kilt. He spends his days chopping trees with his various axes, reading Lord of the Rings, and studying for his strenuous chemical engineering curriculum, all while maintaining a high enough GPA to remain on scholarship. Otte has plans to attend medical school upon graduation.

“Barbells are not life, but they are an essential part of enjoying it to the fullest,” he says regarding his future plans.

Otte was introduced to CrossFit in the garage gym of his mentor, Kevin Lowe. The garage gym eventually turned into a group of unaffiliated athletes that referred to themselves as “Mousclestache.”

The group prefers using whatever equipment they can find to train in ways the ordinary person would not think of. They utilize the outdoors and random objects including old tires, concrete blocks, and tree stumps to move heavy weight fast. They program their own workouts including movements such as armless wall balls and atlas stone shoulder-to-overheads.

“My unconventional workouts are born from my mental approach to exercise and the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ Mousclestache has been formative of my fitness philosophies — light hearts make light weights,” Otte says.

“I workout because I enjoy working out, and it tends to get combined with other things I like. Rucking logs, cutting down trees, climbing, biking, swimming or any combination of these are just good, mind-clearing fun. I also began to enjoy dreaming up original WODs and movements during my time being unaffiliated. When your equipment is a tire, some big rocks, and a telephone pole, all the sudden everything becomes workout equipment. Gyms are too comfortable.” 

Although Otte was unaffiliated during last year’s Open, he completed the workouts at CrossFit on the Plains where owner, Dalton Ard, welcomed him. After Regionals, Otte received his Level 1 Certificate and was hired as a coach at CrossFit on the Plains.

“My job is to help them raise that bar of ‘best’ and allow them to flourish in and out of the gym,” Otte says of his coaching-style.

With access to a CrossFit gym, Otte now primarily trains using Derek Robinson's NOMAD programming, with a few modifications for rucking, biking, climbing and “fun WODs.” School and coaching make finding training time difficult sometimes, so Otte says it is not uncommon for him to workout at 10 p.m. one night and 6 a.m. the next morning.

Otte currently stands in 57th place in the South East after four weeks of Open competition and hopes to work his way into the top 48 for a return trip to the South East Regional.