“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”- Amelia Earhart
Charlie Pienaar Refuses to be a “Statistic,” Has Sights on CrossFit Games
It was a normal day hunting bucks in Pennsylvania.
Until it wasn’t.
“All of a sudden there was a malfunction with the weapon. It went off and my foot was in the direct path and was obliterated,” said Charlie Pienaar, now 38, about that day back in 2009 when his entire life changed.
The Fight to Save his Foot
Having been a competitive athlete his whole life, including a Division 1 college wrestler, Pienaar served with the National Guard and got into bodybuilding after college, competing in his natural bodybuilding show just one week before the hunting accident that destroyed his left foot, leaving him to wonder “what my future will look like,” he said.
In the months following the accident, Pienaar underwent more than a dozen surgeries in an attempt to save his foot.
“At one point I had an ankle drop deformity. My foot was turning in and they had to cut a wedge out of the side of my foot and re-fuse the ankle,” he said of some of the challenges he experienced.
Somewhere along the way during the rehabilitation process, a frustrated Pienaar decided it would be best just to amputate his foot.
“I was in the hospital and I was prepped for amputation. I was in a very dark place, where I did give-up and I just said, ‘Cut it off and be done with it,’” Pienaar said, adding that his decision “tore my whole family apart.”
Then, while Pienaar was in the room preparing for amputation, his wife handed him the phone. It was his pastor.
Something about his pastor’s words calmed Pienaar down and led him to make a last minute decision to at least attempt to salvage his foot.
“I realized I could overcome this, and it became a personal choice to want to try to save my leg,” Pienaar said.
Doctors, however, told him the odds were slim.
“I had to go through a couple processes to try to salvage the limb. There were no guarantees that it would even work, but being healthy and fit, I think helped,” Pienaar said of why his doctors were ultimately successful.
Two years after the accident, with six screws and a metal plate in his foot and very little range of motion, Pienaar was finally able to walk again.
Tired of feeling sorry for himself, Pienaar decided he wanted to get back into training and was introduced to CrossFit.
“I didn’t want this ankle to define me anymore. I didn’t want to allow myself to be a general statistic anymore,” said Pienaar, a member of CrossFit Ageless in Latrobe, PA.
“I still walk with a limp, especially when the weather changes. And my left leg is shorter and there’s a slight bow, so I had special shoes made and have a lift in them,” he said, adding that his pelvis is also tilted.
But when he started CrossFit, he decided to focus on all he could do, rather than his limitations.
“You don’t have to be a statistic. You don’t have to give up on life. You don’t have to miss out on things. You make the choice. Life doesn’t get to make the choice for you,” he said.
The Games Dream
Since finding CrossFit in 2015, Pienaar has made huge fitness strides to the point that he has a serious shot of earning one of the five invites to this summer’s Games in the Men’s Lower Extremity Division, something he proved when he placed second in his division in the recent Open, easily qualifying to Semifinals.
It’s a goal he never would have dreamed of had he not traveled to Madison, WI to watch the Games last summer.
“Last summer, we went and watched the Games and I saw adaptive athletes and my wife and daughter looked at me and my daughter said, ‘You can do this, daddy. You should try to go,’” Pienaar said about his push to get to the Games this summer.
And while he does have his heart set earning one of just five spots in the Men’s Lower Extremity division, if it doesn’t happen that’s OK, too, because CrossFit is about so much more than the Games, he explained.
“The Games are like the Super Bowl of fitness, and to make it there would be great,” Pienaar said. But more than that, it’s about inspiring others to believe in themselves, he explained.
“I want people to see that we don’t need to be limited by limitations. There’s always something you can do. I just want to push the envelope of fitness and inspire people to do more, to become greater.”
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Score submissions are due in three separate blocks. The first score submission deadline, for tests 1 and 2 is 12:00 PM PT on Friday, April 8; the second score submission deadline, for tests 3 and 4 is 12:00 PM PT on Saturday, April 9, the final score submission deadline is 12:00 PM PT on Sunday, April 10.
Here are the floor plans for all five workouts and the updated equipment list.
In case you missed it, Lauren Kalil, the host of The Bottom Line, spoke to Morning Chalk Up’s Brian Friend and Underdogs Athletics coach Justin Cotler about the now infamous workout 3 in the individual quarterfinals. Friend encapsulated his feelings on the whole issue.
“The bottom line here is I’m disappointed here in the way that this has been handled, but I’m still hopeful CrossFit will step up to the plate and rectify it.”
Mat Fraser to Program Madrid Championship
Mat Fraser programming his first ever competition headlines a revamped Madrid CrossFit Championship. The European event had to move to Ciudad Real for its inaugural run due to COVID-19. The 2022 season will see the competition return to the Caja Magica tennis facility in Madrid with more athletes, more money, and programming from Fraser and the HWPO team.
“This event is the largest in Europe with the largest purse prize,” said Fraser in a social media post, who retired in 2020 after five straight CrossFit Games titles but has been active in the community since hanging up his shoes. “We will be programming the whole event from the qualifiers to the in-person event in Madrid.”
The details: The Madrid CrossFit Championship will shake out over two rounds with plans for 2,400 total athletes (500 teams) performing in front of an estimated 22,000 fans. The first round will be the online qualifiers that run May 1-15. The second will be the in-person competition that takes place September 9-11.
There will be three workouts released during the online qualifiers. The organizers will announce 22.1 on May 1, 22.2 on May 5, and 22.3 on May 10. Fraser and HWPO will program both these workouts and those during the in-person competition.
The Madrid CrossFit Championship will have a €170,000 prize purse, split between the various team and individual divisions. The individual athletes will have the biggest payouts with first taking €30,000, second taking €15,000, and third taking €6,000.
Caja Magica has served as the site of multiple competitions. The list includes the CrossFit Invitational in 2015 and the Meridian Regionals in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Now it will host the return of the Madrid CrossFit Championship, which further shows how the sport is flourishing in Europe.
Championship programming: Fraser, the five-time CrossFit Games champ, kept his programming secret during his record-setting career. Once he retired, he began providing a glimpse into his training before ultimately releasing the HWPO training program. Now he is taking over the Madrid CrossFit Championship.
Rich Froning Jr., who has a combined eight CrossFit Games titles as an individual and team athlete, also has experience in this realm. He programmed the team events at the 2019 Dubai CrossFit Championship.
Alfonso Chamorro, event manager: “Built by the Spanish community, we are intent that in 2022 the Madrid Championship will become the largest functional fitness ‘reunion’ in Europe. We plan to host over 2,400 athletes, 1,000 volunteers, over 100 brands, and award the largest prize purse in European event history. This is all in an effort to provide an incredible experience for the community: volunteers, spectators, gyms, and partner brands alike.”
The Invisible Epidemic: Energy Deficiency in Male Athletes
Women are often underrepresented in sports and nutrition research but there is one area where there is more awareness around female athletes than male athletes, and that is the impact of energy deficiency.
Unlike men, women who train hard and undereat have a canary-in-the-coal-mine, and that’s their menstrual cycle.
The loss of the eumenorrheic period in female athletes is the most obvious sign of relative energy deficiency, which was once called the female athlete triad. The condition was officially renamed “relative energy deficiency in sport,” or “RED-S” by the IOC in 2014.
While the condition does encompass the female athlete triad, which consists of disordered eating patterns, loss of menstrual cycle, and osteoporosis, it is actually a much broader problem and is most often caused by consuming too few calories to support the activity or training a person is trying to do. It can impact athletes and non-athletes alike as well as men and women of any age.
Every Friday, we’re bringing you an exclusive workout challenge programmed by a CrossFit Games athlete or coach that you can take on at home or the gym. You can post your times or scores in the comment section.
Today’s workout is programmed by the most decorated athlete to come out of the teen division. Dallin Pepper won three “Fittest Teen on Earth” titles from 2017-2019, but it’s his current body of work in the sport that has everyone talking about the future of the now 20-year old. Pepper recorded an impressive fifth place finish at Wodapalooza in January and then followed that up with his best CrossFit open finish in his young career, placing 10th.
Dallin Pepper For Time
Power Snatches (155/105 LBs or 70/48kg)
Time Cap: 12 Minutes
Scale reps down on muscle-ups (don’t break more than 1-2 times each set)
Burpee pull-ups for muscle-ups
Lower weight on power snatches (fast singles if needed)
Some advice from Dallin: “My advice for tackling this workout is to know your strengths. Attack the portion of the workout you feel confident in and be smart on the movement that is harder for you.”
To inquire about submitting an upcoming workout of the week, shoot us a note.
Spartan Games Episode Three
Catch up with how Christian Harris, Corinna Coffin, and Meg Reardon are representing the CrossFit community in the latest Spartan Games episode. And watch as the news that all athletes must wear weighted vests for part of a trail half marathon receives...mixed reviews.
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If there's one exercise to make sure you have down before going heavy...it's overhead squats. Ensuring you're smooth and controlled throughout the movement is the key to avoiding a heavy barbell dropping on your head. Here are three top tips from Kristi Eramo O'Connell to help you lift more and stay safe.
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