Fittest Games 2016

The athlete room was filled with hundreds of gyms bags, air mattresses, shaker bottles, and an array of carb loading foods. The unexpected cold front had competitors bundled up in jackets, before heading into the Travis County Exposition Center. The anticipation filled the arena, and within a few minutes, the competitors would be in front of hundreds of people. The wait was over when the announcer finally started the clock and said, “Competitors ready? 3…2…1 go!”

The Travis County Exposition Center in Austin, Texas, hosted the 10th anniversary of The Fittest Games on Saturday, Jan. 28-29. The competition was for CrossFit athletes across the country, competing individually or in a team. The Fittest Games tests different domains and skill sets within the CrossFit methodology. The scores were calculated on how well the athletes placed in each event.

CrossFit was established in 2000 by Greg Glassman and is now a world-wide sport in over 13,000 gym affiliates. CrossFit is an elite sport that encompasses Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and high interval training. CrossFit has workouts available to all despite the level of skill or disabilities. The workouts can be scaled down to best fit the capabilities of any athlete.

“I really didn’t know about this event until last year. I wanted to see where I stood, especially against all these amazing women,” said Kim Peabody, 32, a first-time competitor.

Peabody discussed strategies with another competitor as she looked toward the arena floor. She had a moment of hesitation when it came time for her last event. “I think the weight on the barbell is heavier than what I’m used to. I just don’t want to fail out there in front of my friends and family.” Peabody’s goal was trying to avoid last place; she succeeded and placed 25th out of 30 in her division.

The weather remained in the 40s throughout Saturday and was not expected to heat up as the day went on. “Running in the cold weather sucks. I’m worried about trying to grip the logs, buckets, and the wall at the very end of the race. It’s going to be painful,” said Matt Milldrum, 28, a second-year competitor at The Fittest Games.

Milldrum ran up the final hill toward the finish line. He hurled his body to the floor when he finally passed the white line. The 2.5-mile obstacle course was his last event of the day. “The cold air on my throat had my lungs on fire, but you just have to push through it. I would have liked to have done better. No one goes to these events expecting to lose. I just have to work even harder to be ready for next year,” said Milldrum, who placed 27th out of 30 in the event.

But CrossFit isn’t for everyone. “I left CrossFit because it was too expensive. I’m at Golds gym now, and it has everything I need to get the same kind of workout,” said Reyna Lopez, 25. Lopez was at her gym for six months, until she decided CrossFit wasn’t for her. She said she is now thankful that she doesn’t have to pay the $140 monthly membership.

CrossFit workouts can be difficult to learn without consistent practice. The process of each movement requires a large amount of time and coaching to correctly perform without injury. “I have been at CrossFit Austin for almost two years, and I still don’t know how to do some of the movements. I just don’t have time to come every day, or even twice a week,” said Chelsea Decapite, 26, a former CrossFit Austin athlete.

CrossFit has sculpted thousands of athletes over the past 17 years. The range of capabilities within this community is not isolated to just one group of people. The inspiration behind CrossFit extends to the athletes who defy the odds and silence the critics. Even though athletes with disabilities are held back from limiting factors in society, CrossFit does not. For information about CrossFit, visit https://www.crossfit.com/what-is-crossfit