September 19, 2020
Chandler Smith: Brotherhood, Heart, Attitude, Warrior

“I think if I just limited myself to being an athlete, I’d be doing a disservice to the other demographics that I represent. I’m a wrestler. I’m a former West Pointer. I’m an Army officer,” said Chandler Smith during a recent podcast with Dr. Julie Foucher. “All these different intersectionalities that are composed within me, and everyone has their own group of intersectionalities that they represent.”

During the interview, Smith and Foucher discuss the CrossFit Games, Smith’s childhood, his experiences in the Army, and his perspective on diversity, equity, and inclusion within CrossFit. 

Interview Highlights

On the 2020 CrossFit Games 

“Ever since I have started taking CrossFit seriously, I’ve always driven to go train with athletes who are better than me. It’s something that I always feel brings out the best in me, just to be put in kind of an uncomfortable situation in which you're forced to adapt outside of your normal routine and prepare for some of the uncertainties that come with competition.”

On his performance at the 2019 Games and growing mentally 

“Something that’s been the biggest struggle for me in my whole athletic career is managing the mental side of the game … . I think at the Games I had more bad bounces than I had good bounces, but I took them in stride and didn’t let it throw me off my game. And that growth as a person, outside of my growth as an athlete, is something I can be proud of and use that to help my entire actual life going forward.”

On his original decision not to compete at the 2020 Games after Greg Glassman’s tweets  

“We [Noah Olsen and I] felt that we had a unique opportunity to use our position as athletes with some status within the community to help bring about some sort of change that would maybe help support the restoration of the reputation that had been damaged through CrossFit’s perceived lack of concern over the social issues that were the central focus of the national discussion at the time. ...”

“If the Games continued to exist in the format that it had or with the same leadership, we at least would’ve done what we could’ve to try and change it. And that’s something that you can sleep well at night knowing — that you didn’t go out lying down and you did attempt to make a change with something that you care about, because that’s what you do with things you care about: You work to keep them going.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A race, or any test piece, should be approached strategically if the goal is a top performance. For a test like a 1,000-meter row, try to learn to relax on the recovery phase of the stroke. Even in a 500-meter test there is much to be gained in learning to relax and taking your time during the recovery phase. The recovery should take longer than the drive portion of the stroke, in spite of your desire for high intensity. When an Olympic rower is racing on the water at 36 strokes per minute (1.66 sec. per stroke) their oar is in the water (the drive portion of the stroke) for only about .6 seconds. Making a boat go fast is more complicated than rowing hard on a machine, but the lesson of optimizing your effort over the duration of a race is applicable to the erg as well. Using the recovery to conserve energy can be very effective. For rowing, there are essentially two types of breathing: one breath per stroke and two breaths per stroke. During a race, make a conscious decision which one to use. The one breath is inhaled during the recovery and exhaled during the drive. During the two-breath cycle, you inhale in the first part of the drive and exhale before the drive is finished and then inhale again during the first half of the recovery and exhale before the catch. You shouldn’t be told to use the two-breath cycle when you are pushing the intensity up. Begin a test in the one-breath mode and at some point during the piece switch to two breaths per stroke. Stroke rate and breathing are good things to practice in advance of a PR-seeking effort. #crossfit • 📸 @flsportsguy @blacksmifff @thetravismayer @nohlsen

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On his participation in the first CrossFit Community Summit

“Feeling like I had and have the ability to help push things forward, that my opinions are valued in making CrossFit better … that’s what I felt for the entire time out there, and [it] made me an even bigger fan of CrossFit and of Eric Roza, specifically. So I was super energized coming out of there for the future of CrossFit.” 

Chandler Smith OHS

 

On ways CrossFit can be a leader in addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion 

“I think by having discussions to make people aware that there are problems with representation within CrossFit, there’s also problems with socioeconomic mobility in the United States at large. There’s also problems with accessibility with CrossFit worldwide … . By making people understand that these things exist … you introduced them with that point, they get to the next point of understanding why these things happen, and then you get them to the next point of how they can do their part to fix it at their level.”

“By bringing these discussions into the space, we’re turning the space into a place that can, in turn, impact outside of the four walls of a CrossFit box, because people have an understanding that these issues exist and that they have the ability, in some capacity, to help fix these problems. Because of how many cultures and people intermix and how open and friendly people are within the gym, it can become a place where these discussions are had and then the discussions that are had in CrossFit gyms can go out and then help make the world a better place through … burpees.”

On being a minority in CrossFit and representing multiple identities

“It’s probably something that’s pretty common within a minority for any space, where you feel like you have the pressure of your entire subgroup kind of resting upon you. And given how important CrossFit has been in my development as an adult, as an athlete, as a leader, I take that responsibility super seriously, because if it’s not me, there’s a bunch of people who are looking at me directly because I do represent one of the identities that they also are a part of, and if I don’t do it, then there’s a good chance that that identity doesn’t get represented.” 

“Whenever I’m thinking about taking the easier way out or not doing something the right way, I recognize that … this hypothetical kid who’s flipping channels might not ever get the message if it’s not from me, because I am the only person representing a few groups right now, so I take it really seriously.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It was a fast-paced shuffle down in Georgia. @nohlsen, @blacksmifff, and @thetravismayer danced through Day 1 of the 2020 Reebok CrossFit Games to climb the leaderboard with three events remaining. Who will make the #FinalFive? Noah Ohlsen 🇺🇸 - 2nd after four events E1 - 2nd (3:55) E2 - 14th (401 lb.) E3 - 2nd (2:56) E4 - 17T (2:59.70) Chandler Smith 🇺🇸 - 7th after four events E1 - 20th (4:30) E2 - 5th (424 lb.) E3 - 6th (3:59) E4 - 17T (2:59.70) Travis Mayer 🇺🇸- 16th after four events E1 - 25th (4:50) E2 - 9th (416 lb.) E3 - 24th (5:38) E4 - 4th (2:54.10) Visit Games.CrossFit.com. Coverage begins at 12 p.m. PT/7 p.m. GMT. Watch event videos through the link in bio. 🎥 @michaelishustle #CrossFitGames #CrossFit #Fitness #Sports #CrossFitTraining #SportofFitness #Workouts

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Top image courtesy of @flsportsguy 

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