For five weeks, starting Feb. 22, participants from around the country have competed at their local gyms in the CrossFit Games Open for a chance to move onto The Games (and to be named the Fittest on Earth).
Each week participants are given a workout of three movements, and then judged on the number of rounds and repetitions they can do in 18 minutes.
But this is not just any workout – this is CrossFit.
The CrossFit philosophy is that being fit means being ready for anything life may send your way. It means moving large loads, long distances and quickly, according to www.crossfit.com. Its fitness programs use scalable, real-life movements that are constantly varied and done at high intensity.
What does “real-life movements” mean?
“Getting up out of a chair is a squat. Picking up a bag of topsoil or a child is a form of dead lift. Putting groceries away on an overhead shelf is a shoulder press,” according to the Agoge's website.
And The Games are the only true test of fitness, claims the program.
At the CrossFit Agoge gym, 30 locals – from teenagers to senior citizens – have decided to take on the CrossFit Games challenge.
“It's fun and great to push myself,” Stephanie Dudash said.
Dudash has been CrossFit training for more than two years, since a girlfriend recommend the workout to her when she was sidelined by a running injury.
“It's a tight-knit group with common interests and goals,” she said of the program.
Dudash is competing in the 45- to 49-age masters group of The Games, meaning that she must do all the reps and weights that younger competitors perform, but that she is competing only against those in her age group, CrossFit trainer Kelly Brown said.
Saturday, Dudash and the others readied themselves for the start of an intense 18 minutes. Their workout included 15 box jumps onto a 24-inch box for men and 20-inch box for women, 12 push presses of 115 pounds for men and 75 pounds for women and nine toe-to-bar repetitions (hanging from a bar, the athletes bring their toes up to touch that bar). All 15 box jumps must be completed before the participant moves onto the next set, and so on, with each different set. A judge makes sure their form is good enough to count, and participants are ranked by the number of rounds and repetitions they complete.
It's tough, but CrossFit is just the challenge that 18-year-old Steven Moore needed, his mother, Stephanie Moore said.
“I'm not sure where my son would be if this hadn't come into our lives,” she said, cheering her son on, during his 18 minutes.
Steven Moore, who was too busy preparing for the competition to say much, started with CrossFit two years ago. His mother said his grades have improved and his self-esteem has skyrocketed, ever since, and that he works out almost every day, with family members coming to cheer him on when he competes.
“These people are like a big family of different ages,” Moore said, looking out at the gym members. “A lot of people in the community are afraid to join – they're intimidated – but they work with what you can do.”
Steven Moore and his teammate, 17-year-old Tyler Wallace, are planning to return to the CrossFit Games this year. They went last year to compete in the teenager division, which doesn't require one to qualify first, and they got second overall.
They were invited to return to the teenager competition again this year – and their goal is to win first place.