Vail’s Natalie McLain didn’t know what she’d be required to do at this year’s CrossFit Games, but she knew she’d be ready for it.
McLain is CrossFit’s 30th fittest Woman on Earth, a moniker she earned competing in the 2013 CrossFit Games.
The CrossFit Games is a comprehensive test of fitness. It’s one of those events where you watch some of the world’s finest athletes and ask, “Are they really going to do that?”
“Yes!” comes their answer.
You could ask why, and if you’re McLain, the answer is obvious.
“Because it’s awesome!” she said grinning.
CrossFit is for anyone and gets you ready for anything, McLain says.
The organizers of the games take their “ready for anything” slogan seriously.
Athletes at the games compete in 15 events during four days, learning what they’ll be doing just a couple hours before they have to do it.
“You don’t know what you’ll do before you go,” McLain said.
There are movements everyone knows: gymnastics, body weight exercises, weight lifting, carrying a massive log.
But there are always a few surprises that are not part of the CrossFit regimen.
A rough water swim and softball throw in past years. A zig-zag run this year was one of the “Oh my!” moments.
“That was a surprise,” McLain said.
The 27-year-old is small-ish: 5 feet 1 inch tall and 120 pounds, and she loves gymnastics and other body weight exercises.
McLain found CrossFit at a local indoor rock climbing gym in 2009. She tried it once and was hooked.
At first, CrossFit helped her build strength for her work as a hydrologic technician with U.S. Geological Survey. She began competing in 2010.
CrossFit Inc. is a fitness company founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Glassman.
Workouts vary constantly and are performed at high intensity, mixing aerobic exercise, gymnastics (body weight exercises) and Olympic weight lifting.
Workouts are typically short — 30 minutes or less — and intense.
McLain is now certified as a CrossFit trainer and is a co-owner of CrossFit Venture in Eagle-Vail.
All in it together
Watching a CrossFit workout, you get the feeling they’re all in this together. They cheer and clap and stomp. They’re a rowdy group.
“There’s such a great community,” McLain said.
The CrossFit Games started in 2007 and have grown along with the businesses. For example, in 2007, the CrossFit Games champions won $500. The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games nets the winner $275,000.
In 2013, there were 17 regional divisions; 12 in North America. The top three male and female athletes compete in the CrossFit Games.
As with most other sports, there’s a CrossFit season. During five weeks of workouts, more than 100,000 people post their scores online.
The top 40 from those 17 regions from around the world move to the regional round. If you place top three there, then you move to the worlds in Carson, Calif.
McLain was second in the women’s open division U.S. southwest region, and that was her ticket to the worlds.
Rich Fronig, from the U.S. East Coast, won the men’s open division for the third year in a row. Samantha Briggs, from the U.K., won the women’s open division.