Local CrossFitters take first at national championships

Team members participated in three days of grueling physical challenges

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Adam Neiffer warms up before an event at the CrossFit games.

If those who participate in CrossFit training have one phrase hammered into their heads, it’s, “expect the unexpected.” And never did that phrase ring more true than during a three-day contest where local gym members pushed themselves to the limit in a variety of physical challenges.

“It was a super high energy environment,” said Adam Neiffer, CrossFit Fort Vancouver owner. “The events varied and it was just tons of fun and constantly changing.”

The team’s persistence and adaptability paid off big time, when they captured first place at the international competition at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

“It was kind of surreal,” said Neiffer, who coached the team. “I’m still in shock. It definitely feels amazing.” CrossFit combines the movements of standing up, running, jumping, picking objects from the ground, lifting them overhead, throwing them, pulling, pushing and more into unique and always changing workouts.

It’s also gaining in popularity as a sport, as evidenced by the 2010 International CrossFit Games. The top 65 teams, including CrossFit Fort Vancouver, came from 13 different regions around the world to compete in a variety of different workouts. Details on each event were unknown until about an hour prior to the start.

The Fort Vancouver group consisted of Neiffer, Ryan Smith, Riss Rodriguez, Jess Core, Nathan Loren and Marie Rochet.

They qualified by placing in the top four finishing teams at the regional competition in Puyallup, Wash., in May. There were teams from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska and Utah competing.

“We were really excited to place so well,” Neiffer said. “And we knew we were as prepared as we could be for internationals.”

The group’s training included what Neiffer describes as the, “CrossFit prescription.”

“It’s constantly varied movements,” he said. “We also tried to focus on any weaknesses we had and improved on those.”

Loren, a State Farm Insurance agent from Washougal, has been following the CrossFit training regimen for two years now.

“I really enjoy the camaraderie,” he said. “I think it would be good for everyone, but not everyone likes that much intensity.”

He became involved in the CrossFit team after faring well at the local competitions in February and March.

“I could have qualified individually, but I really liked the team concept,” he said. “It sounded like the most fun.”

At the international competition, Loren was relatively calm for a first-timer.

“I really felt like we were well prepared as a team,” he said. “We worked well together and I wasn’t nervous about performing well. I was really excited about it, and everyone on the team was the same way.”

The three-day competition featured events such as pull-ups, a “buddy carry”, obstacle course, one-legged squat, dead lifting, running, jumping, pushups, lunges and core work.

“My favorite part of it was just being a part of the team, regardless of where we finished,” he said. “It was a tight-knit group.”

Several spouses and gym members came to watch the team compete in the championships, but the real celebration began upon their arrival home at the Portland Airport.

“There was a huge crowd there from CrossFit Fort Vancouver,” Loren said. “They had made signs congratulating us before they even knew how we placed. It was a great time.”

Neiffer agrees.

“I am proud of the gym, team and community,” he said. “We had so much support.”