March 22, 2012
Zeph Littleton: CrossFit Is Everything
By Karen Feiner

"CrossFit provides me with the ability to live an active, healthy lifestyle by assisting me with stress relief, physical relaxation and mental focus."

Zeph Littleton was hesitant to be interviewed at first; he said there was no real story. He doesn’t know his Fran time or any other times for workouts other than the workouts he submits for the Open. He doesn’t follow a strict dietary regimen – he eats whatever his wife and kids do.

In spite of this, he continues to be one of the top CrossFitters in the South Central Region. After Workout 12.4, he is in 11th place, poised for the South Central Regional and another shot at the CrossFit Games.

Littleton started CrossFitting as a soldier in Iraq in 2008. After the military, he took a job digging ditches and CrossFitted in his garage. He tried working out at a box, CrossFit XLR8, whose owner, Molly Gillespie, noticed his athletic potential. She wanted him to train at her box, but he had just purchased $800 worth of equipment for his garage gym. To pay for a gym membership on top of that would have upset even the most understanding wife in the world. 

Littleton turned down the membership, but Gillespie wouldn’t take no for an answer. She called him up and asked him if she could send him to a Level 1 Seminar, and if he would start not only training, but also coaching at CrossFit XLR8. That’s where you’ll find Littleton working today, but if you’re looking for him during a workout, you’ll have to visit his garage.

Littleton has one eye on Carson, Calif., but the other is looking much further. “My goal as a CrossFit competitor in the 2012 Games is to win, of course,” he says. “However, for me, there is much more to it than that. CrossFit provides me with the ability to live an active, healthy lifestyle by assisting me with stress relief, physical relaxation and mental focus. The physical demands of day-to-day life are often too much for an unfit person. For me, those demands, such as paddle boarding, jogging with my dogs, carrying my children and the groceries at the same time, etc., are what make life worth living.”

Like so many of the athletes competing in the Open, Littleton is working to win, but he sees competition differently. He doesn’t know his times for the traditional benchmark workouts. The Open is his benchmark. “Building strong bodies is like building a fast racecar – the competitions are the venues where we show each other the results of all the hard work we invested,” he says.

The Open is his opportunity to see where he is in the region and the world of CrossFit, and for Littleton, the world of CrossFit is much larger than the 68,000 people who signed up for the Open. “CrossFit is everything,” he says.

At the same time, he’s able to keep things in perspective. “I have a lot of support from everyone who knows me, and a wife and two kids that are proud of me,” he says. “I’m living one rep at a time, and as long as I continue to stay focused and grow as an athlete, I will be happy.”

 For many athletes, CrossFit is about more than individual growth and development, and Littleton expresses the communal bond of intensity and insanity perfectly. “CrossFitters are among a group of people who all want to fly, and though that will never happen, we will continue to jump off the ledge, fall and get back up and try again. CrossFit has built that ledge so we can jump together.”