For Some Games Podium Athletes the “Training Camp Life” is Not for Them

August 3, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Brent Fikowski (
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Much of the discussion this season was how many elite athletes elected to join training camps and train alongside others in preparation for the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. The thought process in joining these training camps is that it would lead to podium finishes, but the final results proved different.

One big thing: On the men’s podium two of the three athletes are not associated with a particular training camp, with all three often training alone. The women’s podium had three athletes who are associated with training camps but are often training alone and not alongside other athletes in that camp.

  • This year’s “Fittest Man on Earth” Justin Medieros trains out of his affiliate CrossFit Fort Vancouver under the tutelage of his coach Adam Neiffer. This season he spent some time at the Mayhem Athlete camp back in December as well as some time training with Mathew Fraser. Besides those instances, he primarily trains alone.
  • Patrick Vellner finished on the podium for the 4th time out of his six individual trips to the Games and placed as the runner-up for the second time. The Canadian is a Deka Comp athlete but most of the programming and his coaching by former Games athlete Michelle Letendre is remote. Vellner often trains alone either at his residence or at a local affiliate.
  • Brent Fikowski finished on the podium for the second time in his career with his third place finish. The Canadian trains under his own programming the Professor Project and is assisted by coaches David Spurr and Mitch Barnard. Like Medeiros and Vellner, Fikowski often trains alone, often out of his garage gym.
  • Five-time reigning and defending “Fittest Woman on Earth,” Tia-Clair Toomey started PRVN Fitness alongside her coach and husband Shane Orr. She of all the Games podium athletes does train alongside athletes in her camp most notably Brooke Wells and Will Moorad. Not to mention, in the past she trained with Fraser. She is the outlier because her camp was built around her initially, and has just recently expanded to include other athletes. She still trains alone under the guidance of Orr in certain aspects of her training. While the other coaches of PRVN coach their specific athletes.
  • Laura Horvath finished as the runner-up to Toomey for the second time in her career on Sunday. The 24-year-old from Hungary has bounced around camps the last few years, landing with Ben Smith’s newly former Krypton Athletics this season. She didn’t fully participate with the camp in-person until July, following the training and coaching remotely alone from her native country during the pandemic.
  • Annie Thorisdottir has now stood on the podium six times, with her dramatic and inspiring third place finish at this year’s Games. She belongs to The Training Plan camp that also counts her husband Frederick Aegidius, Björgvin K. Guðmundsson and Henrik Haapalainen as their athletes under the watchful eye of Jami Tikkanen. However, Thorisdottir often trains alone and not in the camp setting in her native Iceland as do the other athletes under the camp.

The bottom line: The podium finishes show that the method of training alone under the guidance and programming of a coach is still a successful model despite the trend of camps with elite athletes competing and training against each other everyday being the popular fad. It’s also worth noting that five of the six podium athletes are Games veterans who have trained this way for a long time and have stuck to what has been successful to them and that is one of the many reasons they stood on the podium on Sunday.

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