(via The Washington Post)
Just a few years ago, Todd Newell was 130 pounds heavier and unable to run 100 meters. The idea of participating in a competition for “The Fittest on Earth” back then?
“I would have ridiculed it,” says Newell, 39, of Catonsville, Md.
So it’s pretty remarkable that earlier this month, that is exactly what he was up to. I met Newell, who now trains at CrossFit BWI, just as he’d completed the workout that’s the first hurdle in securing a spot at the 2014 CrossFit Games. If you’re unfamiliar with that televised spectacle, it’s essentially the Olympics of exercise, with athletes testing their dominance in a series of surprise (and often borderline sadistic) events; last year’s challenges required endless reps of handstand push-ups, legless rope climbs and weighted one-legged squats.
Don’t expect to see Newell attempting those moves on ESPN this summer. His score for the workout put him in about 94,000th place worldwide (or, more precisely, in a tie at about 94,000th place). That won’t be nearly enough to qualify for Mid-Atlantic regionals, let alone the Games. But he’s perfectly content where he is. “Having [contestants at] all of these levels of fitness together is encouraging my own road to fitness,” he says.
Newell’s attitude is representative of what the CrossFit Open has become — a competition that’s more about achieving experience than victory. The five-week-long showdown, which was launched in 2011 to winnow the field of competitors for the Games, is open to anyone who pays the $20 registration fee. A new workout is posted each Thursday night, and participants have the weekend to get it done under the supervision of a certified judge. (Anyone aiming for regionals has to have it videotaped as well.)
In 2011, just 26,000 athletes signed up worldwide. In 2012, it was 55,000. Last year, registration soared into six figures. And this year, there are some 200,000 folks involved.