We talked with Scott Panchik about avoiding burnout, both as an elite athlete and a regular CrossFitter who works out for fun and health
Setting our sights on the Down Under Championship with an overview of some of the exciting teams and individuals competing next month in Australia
Lia Sterciuc has lived a life worthy of a movie script, from surviving as a political refugee to using CrossFit to train for a Double Deca Ironman (that’s a 48-mile swim, a 2,250-mile bike, and a 300-mile run for those keeping track)
Don’t forget to hit us up with story tips, highlights, quotes of the day and more.
“Fear is the silent destroyer of dreams.”- Gary Haugen
Scott Panchik: Rest Days and Getting Out of the Gym to Avoid Burnout
Scott Panchik is a household name in the CrossFit community.
Since starting his competitive career in 2012, he has competed as an individual at the CrossFit Games nine times and recently competed in the 35-39 division, where he grabbed a fourth place finish. His incredible success on the sport-side makes it easy to forget that he’s owned a successful affiliate for over a decade.
In a recent post on his instagram, Panchik addressed the topic of burnout in CrossFit. This is something that is relevant to both elite competitors and everyday affiliate members. To dive deeper into the post, Morning Chalk Up’s Managing Editor, Joe Genetin-Pilawa spoke with Panchik to learn more about what he does to help his affiliate community stay healthy, motivated and passionate about training.
At Panchik’s affiliate, they don’t program workouts on Thursday or Sunday. They use HybridAF, which allows members 24 hour access to the gym. This gives people the opportunity to come in and make up a day they missed, but the gym only puts out five workouts per week.
“Having those rest days is what drives intensity,” Panchik said.
Panchik has tried it both ways and rest days led him to a healthier body and better results.
“In 2021, I was pushing the boundaries of what my body was capable of doing and I didn’t quite make it to the finish line. I had some injuries there that kept me from finishing the way I would have liked.”
Focus on moving well, not the leaderboard.
“If you’re coming in and the only reason you’re showing up is to beat the time to beat on the leaderboard, then that’s not a good driving factor to show up everyday. It’s about keeping integrity in your movement, and moving extremely well.”
Get out of the gym.
Panchik encourages people to dedicate a day each week to things like hiking, swimming, biking or pickleball. These activities will all lend to overall fitness development, but get you out of the gym and doing things you can’t do in a class.
“It gets you motivated to get back into the gym to get after it.”
Get the community together for workouts outside of the gym.
Panchik also recommends that gyms organize or participate in workouts outside of the normal class schedule. CrossFit Mentality has done track workouts, which helps get different class times together and cultivate a stronger community.
They’ve also done things like a “Pump and Run,” where members did bench press followed by a 5K. The possibilities are endless, but the message is clear — break the monotony of regular training and celebrate the fitness you’re building in the gym.
The bottom line: Panchik has his hands in all aspects of the CrossFit community, being one of the world’s fittest athletes for over the last decade, while simultaneously running a successful affiliate in his community. His advice is so valuable because he is able to pull from his personal experience as an elite professional, while also drawing from his background as a coach and gym owner.
It’s very easy to blur the lines between CrossFit the fitness program and The Sport of Fitness, so this is an excellent reminder to keep priorities in check. Get outside, play sports, hop on a bike or go for a swim. Take rest days and bring your best on the days you are coming to train at the gym.
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🎙️ 🎙️ The Weekly Buzz: Check out the new collab between the Morning Chalk Up and Kettlebells and Cocktails and get caught up on some of the top community, affiliate, and sport stories of the week.
On this week’s episode: Joe and Niki discuss the Rogue Invitational and Patrick Vellner’s and Laura Horvath’s win both in the context of the 2023 and 2024 CrossFit Games seasons and break down the news of CrossFit’s new VP for Affiliates and Operations, Jay DeCoons.
🚣♀️ 🚣♀️ Rowvember 2023 Alert: For the fifth year in a row, Dark Horse Rowing is running “Rowvember,” a month-long, pre-holiday challenge. Dark Horse will provide a rowing workout every day for those who sign up and the goal is to complete as many as possible during the month. Last year, 8,000 people signed up. The goal this year is 10,000.
New Swolverine Athlete: Two-time Mexican Semifinals qualifier Rafael Sancen is the newest member of Team Swolverine, a sports supplement brand that uses clinically proven ingredients. Sancen has placed 12th and 26th in Semifinals, most recently in the North America West event in 2023.
2023 Down Under CrossFit Championship: Dream Teams and a Stacked Roster
As the largest off-season competition in Australia, the Down Under Championship is garnering much deserved attention as the qualified and invited athletes and teams are being announced.
It also happens to be one of those rare competitions where the team division may be even more exciting to watch than the individual division itself, thanks to the inclusion of teams like “Ombré Hombres,” “California Gurls” and “Team Frog Grips.”
But that doesn’t mean the individual’s competition isn’t also full of elite talent.
Let’s take a quick look at all of the athletes who will be competing this December, beginning with three of the main teams to watch:
The Perpetual Warrior: CrossFitter Lia Sterciuc’s Journey To Completing The Double Deca Ironman
Lia Sterciuc did not learn how to swim as a child.
Life in communist Romania in the ‘70s and ‘80s was not exactly conducive to leisure. Particularly that which involved swimming. But at 21 years old, she found herself on the bed of the Dunabe River.
After several years of trying, Sterciuc had finally able to make arrangements to attempt to flee the country and seek asylum in Austria with her husband who had already fled. She would need to leave her infant son behind but was assured that after she and her husband found refuge outside of the country, her son would be rescued and brought to them.
After hiking three miles to the river with her fellow escapees, carrying just a few of her possessions Lia was told to roll up her sleeve so the doctor could give her an adrenaline shot to prevent a heart attack when she jumped in the freezing water.
“I remember I was almost laughing hysterically, like that’s going to kill me. How about being shot while in the water, how about drowning, how about hypothermia,” said Sterciuc. But she rolled up her sleeve and after receiving the shot, the doctor pushed her into the water.
The water was freezing and the freezing October air in Romania that night did nothing to help her situation.
“I just remember I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I couldn’t regulate my breathing. I couldn’t take a deep breath for a few seconds.”
But after a few seconds, Sterciuc found her bearings and allowed the swift current of the river to begin pulling her downstream.
“Six to seven kilometers and then you will be in Hungary,” That’s what we were told,” recalled Sterciuc.
“How hard can it be?” she said. “Well, it was hard. The water was so cold. I remember my legs were numb, my arms were numb, and I literally thought ‘I’m going to die.’ I’m going to be a corpse just dragged along the river,” she said, her voice shaking at the memory.
Less than an hour later, Lia Sterciuc and her fellow escapees would find themselves captured by the secret police, held captive and ultimately sent back to Romania where she would be forced to work for no pay mixing concrete until she “repaid her debt to society”.
It would be another several months before the Romanian Revolution succeeded and it was announced on the news that citizens could apply for passports, allowing Stericiuc to take her one-year-old son and join her husband in Austria, then they immigrated to America.
Available this evening, the documentary features nine teen CrossFit athletes, who competed in Mallorca, Spain last spring, under the Mediterranean sun. Watch this short film documenting this amazing competition, led by John Singleton and The Program.
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