Kevin Koester: Finding Flexibility In Fitness
Kevin Koester may be in the 55-59 division, but watching him in the gym, you would never know. The 56 year old father, business owner, and three times CrossFit Games masters champion can perform 48 strict handstand push-ups in under a minute, burpee backflips, and snatched nearly 200 pounds at the 2021 CrossFit Games.
In 2022, balancing two businesses, Invictus Seattle and his steel erection company, as well as a family and fitness, Kevin decided it was time for the Games to take a back seat.
- “In 2022, I had aged up into the next category,” said Koester. “It’s no secret that most of the workouts are scaled from the Rx version. To be 100% honest, I just wasn’t that interested in doing jumping pull-ups instead of bar muscle-ups.” he continued.
- “I thought, maybe it’s the end of the road for me with my CrossFit journey and I’ll do some other things,” he concluded.
While Koester may have taken a step back from winning the CrossFit Games, the 56 year old refused to let fitness take a back seat. In 2022, Koester completed an odyssey race in Portland, Maine requiring athletes to swim and run from island to island and complete eight miles of running and six miles of swimming.
- “The kicker was that I was tethered to my partner, who happened to be a 6’5” triathlete,” laughed Koester.
- “We had a three meter tether that we were tethered together for almost five hours and swimming was not something I had done a ton of,” he continued.
- “You’re talking freezing cold, open water with currents. But we never stopped once. We powered through the whole thing.” Koester added.
Finding his why: With a year of challenging fitness adventures under his belt, Koester soon realized that his love for the sport of fitness couldn’t keep him away forever. By the end of 2022, he decided it was time to lace the shoes back up. But this time, he would go beyond just working out for the love of fitness. This time, more than ever, Kevin Koester decided he needed to find his why.
- “The goal this year is to dominate. And that’s not being cocky,” Koester declared confidently.
Those who know Kevin would agree. The word cocky, wouldn’t even be in the lexicon to describe the 56 year old business owner and father. Beyond the fact that Koester absolutely dominated the Age Group Quarterfinals, taking first place by 50 points. Koester’s humility and generosity are present in nearly everything he does.
In 2020, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Koester opened Invictus Seattle to create a community of people who supported each other and trained together.
- “Being able to give back was why I opened Invictus Seattle,” said Koester.
- “I wanted to invest money into a facility where people could do great things for themselves,” he continued.
That was exactly what happened. This year, Invictus Seattle had 13 masters athletes qualify for the age group quarterfinals and in the three years since they opened their doors have sent multiple masters athletes to the CrossFit Games.
But more than just domination, Kevin knows that this year is about finding out how hard he can push himself.
- “I don’t care what anyone else does. For me, I compete for myself and to push myself as hard as I can.” he said.
And that’s not easy, with two businesses and a family. Just last week, Koester spent the week at his other office across the state in Spokane with limited ability to train as normal.
- “It’s about time management,” Koester said. At this point, that’s the commitment level you have to make if you’re going to compete in the Games. You have to figure out when you’re going to get your training in and get it in,” he concluded.
Finding flexibility in fitness: In 2019, Kevin Koester had already won the Games once, but decided to make a run for it a second time after taking 2018 off. That’s when he found the Invictus Masters programming and decided to start taking things seriously.
- “I followed the programming every day religiously,” said Koester. “It didn’t matter if I was traveling or working, I did the program every day as prescribed,” he continued.
- “And that’s stressful. You have to figure out how you’re going to get up at 4am on vacation and do snatches in the hotel gym,” Koester added.
All that hard work paid off. In 2019, Koester won the Games and in 2021, he would go back to do it again and earn himself a third title. But this time around, he’s taking a bit of a different approach.
- “I’m not as strict anymore about the programming,” said Koester. “I do all the workouts as prescribed, but for instance last fall my team and I went up into the mountains and hiked 11 miles every day with a 60 pound pack in the backcountry.”
Koester admitted that in the past, he would have found it frustrating to take all that time off for fitness, but this time, he was able to understand the incredible benefits that trip brought to his fitness, even if he missed a few days of programming.
- “Tomorrow I’m going mountain biking,” Koester said. “I’m making sure that I’m continuing to live life the way I want to. It’s still a healthy lifestyle, but it does mean that I may not be in the gym every day,” he continued.
- “As we age, it’s so much more about athleticism,” he added. “Use it or lose it is no joke.”
- “So everything I’m doing, whether I’m snowboarding, mountain biking, or working, it’s having that athleticism and continuing to move my body that makes me a better CrossFit athlete.” Koester said, adding that he now focuses on trying to live a balanced life that is not 100% focused on CrossFit.
- “It’s all about functional fitness,” Koester continued. “Every time I’m outside of the gym, if I’m doing something that’s contributing to my functional fitness, I have zero guilt,” he concluded.
Fitness beyond four walls: While finding flexibility in fitness outside of CrossFit might be new to his Games training regime, Kevin is no stranger to fitness outside the gym. Long before the CrossFit Games even came to the Ranch, Koester had already begun building his functional fitness base ten hours a day as an ironworker.
- “For me, it was like doing CrossFit ten hours a day,” said Koester.
- “You’re climbing columns, carrying 30 pounds of tools and bolts on your back and carrying 20 pound beaters,” he said, adding that while he did spend some time in the gym, he also didn’t really need to work out given the physical demands of his profession.
It wasn’t until he moved into an office job that he had the time to start working out. That was when he found CrossFit. Koester also credits his days as an iron worker and later building his steel erection business as the source of his competitive spirit.
- “I believe that no matter what you do in life, having that competitive edge is what makes you successful. I wanted to be better than my competitors [in business].” Koester said.
- “I believe that ultimately, every time you accomplish something that’s really hard, hard things become easier. Whatever that is,” he continued.
- “Whether it’s a downturn in your business or a hard workout, you now have the confidence to stand back up and do it again.” Koester concluded.
The secret to success: While Koester’s new mentality towards training and life has certainly paid off so far this year, he currently sits first at the conclusion of the Age Group Quarterfinals, there’s so much more that goes into his training beyond functional fitness.
- “I would say my number one piece of advice for masters, regardless of what their goal is, is 100% to work on your mobility.” said Koester.
- Koester highly credits his mobility work with his ability to continue pushing his fitness levels even as he ages.
- “I feel like I’ve done things that I’ll do again two years later and [when I do them], I feel better, faster, and more athletic,” Koester said. “I 100% attribute that to my mobility work.”
- “I follow Pliability religiously every day. It’s something you can do everywhere. Yesterday, I was laying on the floor of my hotel room doing mobility,” he added.
- “Everyone wants some easy fix,” Koester continued. “But when it’s all said and done, you have to put in the work.”
And work is exactly what he’s been putting in. While Koester still has the Age Group Semifinals coming up at the end of April to qualify for the Games, it’s clear that the 56 year old is primed and ready for another incredible season after winning the Quarterfinals in his age division by a whopping fifty points. But at least for tomorrow, you’ll find him out on the mountain bike trails and making sure he gets his mobility in before heading back to work to run his two businesses.