Only a few special athletes from CrossFit gyms will compete in the games and even fewer will find success.
Two teams from Jasper’s CrossFit 205 gym competed August 4 in Alabaster in the Dirty South Games, and one team returned with the silver.
“We’ve never had anyone compete in the Games, so we didn’t know what to expect,” said Sally Greene who along with partner Lisa Earley own and operate CrossFit 205. “We had really high hopes for our athletes, and they surpassed that expectation.”
Greene said, “The Garage Games, a subsidiary of CrossFit, gets with sponsors like CrossFit Alabaster and puts on these local competitions like Dirty South Games that are CrossFit sanctioned. People from all over the southeast compete in these games.”
On a normal day in a CrossFit box, another name for the gym, athletes have a Workout of the Day, or WOD, that will last 45 minutes to an hour. In the Dirty South Games, athletes competed in four different WODs.
Jon Aaron, Daniel Evans, Alyssa Bunch, and Megan Cervantes made up the four-person Team Black that brought back the 10-pound plate with the second-place name plate.
According to Aaron, the toughest part of the competition was dealing with the heat all day. However, because they are each competitive by nature, they were able to stay mentally tough during the competition.
“Because I am so competitive, I just really wanted to take the next step and compete,” said Aaron, whose best category in the competition was the 1200-meter run and the Burpee-Deadlift. “You don’t necessarily have to be athletic to do burpees, you just have to have a lot of grit and determination. Just tell yourself you’re not stopping until you are done with all the reps.”
Evans said the idea to compete began as a simple conversation, and then Greene did what she is good at doing — encouraging.
“Sally really wanted some of us to compete in the Dirty South Games,” Bunch said. “She thought we would do well and began to encourage us. I am very competitive and thought the games would be fun because CrossFit pushes you everyday no matter what the WOD is.”
Kyle Key, an athlete on CrossFit 205 Team Blue, said there is no doubt you must have both mental and physical toughness to compete.
“Physically we were lifting weights that we lift during a normal day although we had to combine multiple WODs, which is tougher,” Key said. “Mentally it was probably worse. I am a competitive person so I didn’t want to stop during a WOD and I definitely didn’t want to let down my teammates.”
Like Aaron, Evans and the other six athletes plan to continue competing now that they have had a taste of the Garage Games.
“The competition really brought out the best in me,” Evans said. “I was able to do more than I thought was possible. The competition has changed my outlook to the point that I will definitely work harder on the moves I felt I didn’t do as well on.”
“It makes you extremely aware of the importance in the correct form,” Brandy Lee, a member of CrossFit Team Blue, said. “In the competition if the form is not exactly correct, the rep doesn’t count and you have to do it over. So it encourages correct form which not only protects you from injury but also increases the results you see from your workout.”
Aaron said his team was shocked by how well they did. “I’m just thankful to have finished all the WODs,” he said. “It was very humbling. I have done many half-marathons and 5ks but nothing like this before.”
According to Lee, the support of the CrossFitters who traveled from Jasper to support the two teams motivated and humbled the athletes.
“I was so excited to see our members travel to cheer us on,” Lee said. “It meant a great deal to me that our gym is so supportive that families would travel with us. The idea of a gym that encourages competition brings an extra level of excitement and camaraderie, which also motivates me to continue to workout and improve.”
“You hear over and over that CrossFit is a ‘family,’” Key said. “And after experiencing the games you learn quickly that it is true. And, we not only cheered our teammates but also other athletes.”
Kelly Farris and Wendy Morrison, athletes who belong to CrossFit 205 in Jasper, didn’t mind driving a couple of hours to spend the day in the August heat cheering on the athletes from their box.
“All of it was so exciting and intense,” said Farris, who wanted to show support and admiration for the people she works out with everyday. “Just watching them go out there made your heart race for them. We needed to be there for these athletes because they needed to know that we believe in them.”
Morrison, who felt proud to be a part of the CrossFit family as the team members’ names were announced, said, “Some families were there showing their support, but as an athlete competing, it is also important to have those there cheering you on that share the same passion and sport as CrossFit. We train with these people and we know what they go through each day in the gym.”
Any day in the gym takes sweat, guts, and an intense drive to keep pushing. Stephanie Holcomb, who also competed on CrossFit 205 Team Blue with Lee, Kyle Key, and Jake Seals, wanted to compete just to prove to herself she could do it. And, she had to muster all the mental toughness she had.
“There was no particular motivation for competing,” Holcomb said. “When I first started CrossFit, I hated the competition in the gym because I knew I had such a long way to go (and still do). There were times I wanted to quit. Being in a competitive environment helped me to learn a valuable lesson — I can do things that at first look impossible.”
Holcomb, who has endured a devastating house fire and an unexpected divorce, credits CrossFit and Greene with developing her mental toughness.
“I feel that being a part of CrossFit has helped me deal with those two major life-changing events much better than I would have otherwise,” she said. “This is why I’m such a fan of getting involved with anything that changes the way you think in a positive way. The competition CrossFit offers not only challenges you physically, but also challenges you mentally.”
Bunch said the CrossFit competitions like the Dirty South Games really fuel the fire of her competitive nature. “I’m glad I found something to continue to push myself after my school ball playing years are over,” she said.
“I have been on cloud nine all day,” Greene said when she and the teams returned to Jasper. “We are so excited about our athletes’ performance. We are talking about building a wall of fame behind the desk. We have some big plans.”
So when athletes head into the CrossFit 205 Box and hear the sounds of construction, they shouldn’t worry. It will just be Greene and Earley preparing a wall of fame for the second-place trophy and the future trophies the athletes will bring back to the box.
CrossFit 205 is located across from Son’s Supermarket. For more information contact Sally Greene at 205-300-3011.