Living Skies CrossFit: On the Podium

                Six local CrossFit teams with Living Skies CrossFit in Carlyle have returned from the eighth annual Spring Fling competition which was held in Regina on June 17 – 18. The two-day CrossFit Competition saw two of those teams earn podium finishes: Danielle Steele and Kenzie Craig finished first in the Women’s Scaled Division, while Tyson Hislop and Matthew Klemack finished second in the Men’s Scaled Division.

                Also competing in the Women’s Scaled Division were Brittany Smoliak and Erica Nicholson (9th) as well as Ashley Miller and Katie Mryglod (10th); in the Men’s Rx’d Division were Nathan Corrigan and Cam Jarvis (6th) as well as Scott Nicholson and Brandon Hodgkin (16th).

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                Attending in a different capacity was Living Skies CrossFit’s own Carson Brady who was acting as a judge during the competition.

What is CrossFit?

                CrossFit is a high-intensity strength and conditioning program, which states that its specialty is not specializing – it takes elements from a variety of sports and exercises and incorporates them into one. Although it is a strength and conditioning program, there are also competitions in CrossFit which have become popular.

                “Competition weekend all five of the workouts are released one week before the competition,” Craig explains. “It gives teams the opportunity to both try them and make a strategy for each event.”

                “I just want to add outsiders, when they hear CrossFit instantly think of competitive type athletes, yes some of us train to be competitive, but the majority of the gym members attend each day to better their lifestyle! I love watching the small victories for people like doing a burpee for the first time.”

On the podium with Steele and Craig

                Of their win Steele and Craig, who have both been in CrossFit for three years, were very excited to earn a spot at the top of the podium in something they have both come to love.

                “Kenz and I have only competed together three times [Spring Fling 2016 and Hwy 9 Throwdown 2016 in addition to this year’s Spring Fling],” Steele says, then laughed, “She’s so strong and I need her on my team to do all the heavy lifting.”

                Adding to this Kenzie says, “Danielle and I as partners complement each other well in team competitions because we both carry different strengths. Danielle is really gifted with gymnastics type movements (pull-ups, muscle ups, toes to bar, etc…) and I’m good at cycling a barbell and moving heavy weights. Danielle is also really good at the mental side of competitions, she keeps me from having a melt down and reminds me to stay focused often,” she says with a laugh.

                “The workouts played out in our favour last weekend,” Steele explained. “We were given five workouts over those two days and the top four teams competed in one final workout that was announced immediately before it started. You don’t really know what the workouts are that far in advance, so you just have to be prepared for anything and go out there and do your best.”

                Regarding the competition on the weekend Craig explained that nerves are a factor, but that this is what they’ve worked for all year: “We all work so hard all year and this is the time to prove it!”

                Steele added, “Spring Fling last year was our first competition and we finished 11th, I believe. To win it this year feels pretty good; we’ve put in a lot of hard work in the last year, so it’s nice to have it pay off.”

                Craig added, “Winning is a great feeling. Knowing all the hard work and hours spent training is worth it! It makes you excited to train harder and set new goals. There is always lots to improve on.”

                The pair also plans to compete in The Highway 9 Throwdown in Yorkton this October, while Craig also plans to direct focus on Olympic weightlifting in order to enter a competition this fall as well.

On the podium with Hislop and Klemack

                Hislop began his CrossFit journey nine months ago – through encouragement from friends like Craig who was already involved in it – and Klemack began approximately a year and a half ago – he had been body building, but decided to try out the program and found that he enjoyed the variety.

                The mentality for CrossFit competitions was also appealing: “It focuses a lot on endurance and cardio health, so it’s about putting the gas pedal to the floor and holding it there. The guys that got first on the weekend were impossible to catch. They came out flying. So, you’ve got to be mentally tough in order to push yourself to do what you need to do.”

                “This was the first competition for me and Tyson. Once we got into CrossFit, we both started working towards competition. So, this one was a way to get our foot in the door and see if we liked it… I think we both enjoyed it and would like to continue competitions.”

                Hislop spoke to the weekend specifically saying: “We went in to have fun and just kept working hard. The first event for us went well right out of the gate and that first day we just kept encouraging and pushing each other, and the fans were really encouraging as well, they were great. We were in second after the first day and the second day had more challenging WODs [Work Out of the Day] for us, but we managed to make the final.”

                In the final WOD, which involved the top four teams, Hislop and Klemack finished third, which gave them an overall finish for the weekend of second place.

                “Going in I didn’t know where we would be at, so we just decided to work hard,” Hislop added. “We kept our cool and just enjoyed every moment of it. It was a lot of fun.”

                “And CrossFit Regina ran it perfectly, they did a great job putting it on, and thank you to everyone who came out and watched; they were very supportive. Also, thank you to Carson [Brady], Colin [Wilson], and Scott [Nicholson], and all the other coaches. They’re so supportive and committed, and it’s a family more than anything else.”

Why CrossFit?

                Craig’s decision to first start with CrossFit came as a sort of therapy for her: “I openly shared my story about my struggles with depression and eating disorder a few years ago on social media. I was never active or athletic growing up. CrossFit became a place where I could go clear my mind and be with like minded individuals. It was a place where I could focus on what my body was doing, not what it looked like.”

                “The community that is built at the gym is a place you want to keep going back to! It becomes addicting because you keep seeing changes all the time, mentally and physically!”

                Steele first got into CrossFit with encouragement from a friend, although hesitant, she attended and says she was hooked after the first class: “The thing about CrossFit is that you make it as intense as you want. If you’re there just to get moving then great! There are all sorts of options for people who haven’t worked out in awhile, have mobility issues, have injuries. The competition side of it isn’t for everybody and there is zero requirement to push yourself that hard.”

                “I like that I can track my workouts and see the improvements. One class you might have a 400m run and you might only be able to walk it, but next year when you test it again you might be able to run it all. It’s exciting to see how far you’ve come.”

                Klemack adds, “I was body building before, so was already into a healthy lifestyle, but just liked CrossFit, it wasn’t about appearance, but capability, and I’ve learned skills that I never thought I’d take up like gymnastics; I’m a 23-year-old male who never thought that I’d be on the rings or bars. It was never in my repertoire. It’s really appealing though because you look in shape, but it makes you a more dynamic athlete and is focused on performance. It’s about personal growth and provides a great sense of accomplishment.”

                “If anyone is thinking about trying it out, definitely talk to Carson, he does an awesome job at teaching efficiency in your movements. You’ll learn skills that are not only used in CrossFit, but in everyday life. You’ll just start moving better. I walked in there with an injury and now I feel better than I ever have before. It was a great adjustment in my lifestyle and it’s important for everyone to be physically active.”

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