In 2011, Men's Health Magazine released some article based simply on statistical information to make the claim that St. Petersburg was the "saddest city in America."
Unfortunately, the headline-making "story" made noise on talk shows, popular blogs, and major news organizations around the country. This past weekend, the Fitness Awareness Throwdown 2 dispelled the myth that St. Petersburg is sad, depressed, and unfit.
CrossFit Tecnica and Jonny Reno’s hosted an event over two days in the coldest weather of the season for the area. Competing in five separate heats, a little over 300 athletes participated in the grueling events that tested their will, determination, strength and agility.
"It's a testament to the type of people in the Tampa Bay region who are committed to being fit and achieving their best," said Jason Loguercio, owner and head coach at CrossFit Tecnica in Clearwater. "Our goal with this event is to reach a similar status as the events in Miami, where the crossfit community is much larger."
Loguercio spent 14 years in the Army and first came into contact with the sport of crossfit while deployed in Iraq. Currently in the National Guard, the Florida-native has big plans for the Throwdown event.
"We are in the working stages of building an even bigger version for the next one," Loguercio said.
The event, held at the edge of The Pier, resembled a Dali-like montage of athletes similar to those from the movie 300 with the hyped-up energy of a Tiesto concert amidst the idyllic setting of an Ernest Hemingway novel.
Athletes traveled from all around the country to compete in an event that has grown substantially larger than last year's inaugural showcase.
"I heard a lot about this competition and I really wanted to check it out," said Melissa Freitag, 21, who lives in Tallahassee and has competed in competitions in Wellington, Fla. and Albany, Ga. over the past six months. "The crossfit community is really supportive and exciting to be around and this event is a good showcase for the sport and this area. Even though it's pretty cold, this is a great setting for an event like this."
With D.J. B.I.G. Willie spinning uptempo beats non-stop (I still need to find out what the B.I.G. stands for) and sailboats whisking by in the supreme conditions for win on Sunday, sculpted men and women competed in events on Saturday and on Sunday. The divisions were divided into Mens/Womens RX (the tougher of the two), Mens/Womens Scaled, and Mens/Womens Masters (40-plus), depending on the level and training of each individual.
The heat on Sunday was probably the toughest of the whole weekend with competitors dueling it out in a 12-minute round of what I refer to as "are-you-effing-serious?"
"Tough is an understatement," said Kristin Bodin, 24, who trains out of CrossFit Thumbs Up in South Tampa. "Probably the toughest part is having to make that run with the weight around the building and then getting the energy to repeat what you just did. But the challenge makes you want to do more, so you keep pushing yourself."
For each division, the exercises were scaled according to that level's ability. The men's duel in the RX division looked like this:
— 30 pull-ups
— 12 front squats holding 155 pounds of weight
— 320 meter run with a 45-pound weight around the pyramid-shaped building that half of St. Pete wants to get rid of and the other half wants to keep
— 15 kettle bell swings (kettle bell weighing 70 pounds)
— 10 toes to bar while hanging from a pull-up bar
The goal was to see how many circuits you could get during the 12-minute round.
Each division was slightly different, but all contained relatively the same exercises.
After this first round, everyone received a 10-minute break. The next round included a 3-minute duel of 15 burpees, followed by snatches of 155 pounds for the men's RX division (and lower for the other divisions). The goal was to accomplish as many snatches as possible during the allotted time.
The final exercise of this set on Sunday was a clean-and-jerk of the maximum weight you could do.
"The biggest key to being successful in these events is technique," said Michelle Richards, 23, who is a personal trainer at the Harbour Island Athletic Club in Tampa. "If you train using proper technique, you'll be able to perform any of the exercises they throw at you in these competitions."
Richards finished first in the Womens Scaled division and was able to make it around the circuit 2 1/2 times in Sunday's duel.
All in all, the showcase brought out the best and demonstrated how popular the sport has become.
"I was surprised at the amount of athletes and their ability," said Derek Newborn, 29, who trains at the Omni Club in Ft. Myers.
Newborn, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 205-pounds, was competing in his first crossfit showcase and will use this one as motivation to improve.
"It's an adrenaline rush and I'm excited about training to get better," said Newborn, who finished 38th in the Mens Scaled division.
First place winners:
Men RX — Nathan Flach
Men Scaled — Jonathan Watt
Men Masters — Alan Kalbarczyk
Women RX — Sarina Woodworth
Women Scaled — Michelle Richards
Women Masters — Raquel Camacho
For further information, visit crossfittecnica.com and breezescoring.com.
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