“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”- Mark Twain
Age Group Competitor Antonio Nieto Credits CrossFit for Saving His Life
The men’s 40-44 division in the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open in Mexico had a total of 257 athletes enter a score. Antonio Nieto came in first place, which is no small feat for anyone let alone someone who has dealt with hardships throughout his life.
Nieto started CrossFit in 2011 at 30-years-old after a friend told him about the sport. The gym where he started was located in California and Nieto recalls being non-committal to the sport until the owner of the gym kicked him into gear.
“By 2012 I was in and out of CrossFit. I was just too afraid and it was too complex. It was just too much work. I had to learn but you know, I kept going,” said Nieto.
“The owner of the gym was really nice. He was the one who really got me into really liking CrossFit. Whenever I would not go back for two weeks, he would call me and say ‘hey, what’s going on? I thought you were coming last weekend’”
“I wasn’t willing to go through it. I wasn’t willing to learn about the movements because I thought they were too complex.”
Nieto added, it wasn’t until he was watching a competitive team working out that he started to fall in love with the sport and went all in.
“[The team] competed for regionals at the time and they invited me to one of their competitions and I was stressed and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to do this.’ That’s how my CrossFit journey started and I told myself I’m going to learn everything,” he said.
While that is how his CrossFit journey started, Nieto, only a year earlier was battling something much deeper.
“This is where it gets kind of emotional, but in a good way because when I started CrossFit, literally the year before I had gone through a really rough year where I was introduced to a substance,” said Nieto.
“It kind of was taking over my life. And when CrossFit came I was still dealing with that issue and I feel like CrossFit came at the right time.”
“In a way CrossFit saved me because I wanted to learn about all these movements and I feel like if I didn’t have CrossFit at the time this substance abuse that I was dealing with, I feel like it was gonna take over my life.”
“I feel like I probably would have ended up either dead or in jail or homeless but because I have CrossFit in my life I have a community of people.” he concluded.
In fear of shame, Nieto kept his substance abuse a secret and dealt with it for several years. He adds, he was afraid to tell anyone, especially in the CrossFit community and at times isolated himself from them. But it was and still is CrossFit that keeps him on a healthier path.
“It’s something I’ve been free on and off. It hasn’t gone away, but I know how to control it,” said Nieto. “I learned to control the substance abuse. But you know, the reason I feel like CrossFit came into my life is that I would set goals and in those goals I had a purpose.”
Fast forward to today and Nieto has thrived within the CrossFit world. He currently trains under Rise and Reign Athletics, an online programming, which he says has made him a much more conditioned and competitive athlete. He started following the program two years ago and became much more disciplined with his training and following a customized plan.
Nieto trains out of Washington, DC and has found a core group of athletes and coaches to train with at CrossFit Hierarchy. As much as it’s about the fitness, for Nieto it is about the friendships and relationships he’s made in the sport that hold him accountable.
“It for me gave me a purpose and I also felt like I belonged to something,” said Nieto.
“There’s no greater feeling than belonging to something because like these days relationships are very important. People are not willing to build relationships and what CrossFit taught me and what CrossFit has given me is a community and friendships, and it has been easy for me, and so I didn’t want to give up and that’s why I always say CrossFit saved my life.”
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New CrossFit courses have been approved for the Army Credentialing Assistance program—ArmyIgnitED. In addition to the CF-L1 and CF-L2, soldiers can now take the online CrossFit Anatomy course, CrossFit Weightlifting, online Coaching Fundamentals and more.
How To Be Competitive in CrossFit AND Keep a Healthy Relationship with Food
One of the best things about CrossFit is that it awakens the competitor in you. Beating someone on the Open leaderboard or even your fit friend in class are a huge part of what brings you back and helps you to show up everyday.
But, where is that line when we start tipping over into an unhealthy territory? Is it when you feel like your day is ruined because you didn’t PR your benchmark workout of the day? Or is it when you have a low-grade panic attack because you’re out with friends and have to order a meal off a menu versus making one in your own kitchen?
Everyday Hero Games Allows The CrossFit Community To Continue To Celebrate Those Who Serve
Those who serve our community have always been central to CrossFit.
Over the years, the CrossFit boxes and other organizations have hosted workouts, competitions, and fundraisers to support everyday local heroes including firefighters, law enforcement officers, educators, emergency and medical personnel, and those in the armed forces.
In 2021, CrossFit took that recognition to another level by officially including “The Occupational Games” in the CrossFit Games season. The virtual competition allowed for athletes to fight for the title of fittest in their profession. In 2022, CrossFit continued the tradition and expanded divisions to include even more everyday heroes.
However, in 2023, CrossFit announced they would no longer be hosting the Occupational Games,which had traditionally fallen between Quarterfinals and Semifinals. Upon hearing this, Rich Froning’s CrossFit Mayhem knew they had to do something.
“It was actually Rich’s idea when he saw that the Occupational Games were not going to happen,” said Jake Lockert, President of Mayhem Nation and Director of Mayhem Athlete.
“We initially had the idea to do something locally for our first responders with a heavier focus for beginners and those who don’t necessarily do CrossFit,” he continued.
“Then we saw occupational games weren’t happening and Rich thought, let’s just do that,” Lockert concluded.
Thus, Mayhem’s Everyday Hero Games was born. This year, athletes across six professions will compete virtually for the title of “fittest” over the course of three days.
The details: This year, Mayhem’s Everyday Hero Games will run from May 5-7 in a virtual style competition through the SugarWOD app. The competition is free to enter through a seven-day trial on SugarWOD and there will be cash prizes for each category.
Who can sign up?: This year’s competition will feature six professions of everyday heroes, including:
Law Enforcement Officers
Mayhem has also created a seventh category of “other” for those who don’t fall into any of the above categories but still wish to compete and support those who serve our community. This category will not be eligible for the cash prize, but will still be a fun way for those who want to get involved.
What equipment is needed?: In their first attempt at hosting this virtual competition, Mayhem has committed to keeping it simple.
“We want to keep it simple this year,” said Lockert. We want really good workouts. When people see the workouts, people are going to think this is really appropriate for the Everyday Hero Games,” he continued.
“We want to make great events that are fun to do and easy for the gym to handle,” Lockert added.
Fitness For All: In the spirit of keeping the Everyday Hero Games accessible and approachable for all, including those with limited CrossFit experience, the Mayhem team is offering a number of scaling options for those who choose to compete. While competitors wishing to compete for the cash prize must complete the workouts as written, there will be two additional scaled divisions to give everyone a chance to compete regardless of their ability level.
“Chief” (Rx Division)
The big picture: At the end of the day, the Everyday Hero Games are really just an extension of the Mayhem Values and what Froning, Lockert, and their team love to do.
“Our core values are faith, family, fitness, and service,” said Lockert, acknowledging that this competition was an incredible way to combine the last two elements.
“We’re just thankful for all our everyday heroes and we want to make it about them,” he added.
Sasha Nievas' Workout of the Week
Today’s workout comes from PRVN Athlete Sasha Nievas. The Argentinian 24-year-old is a two-time CrossFit Games athlete, qualifying once as an individual and once on team Mayhem Independence. This year she finished the Open in 21st place worldwide and finished Quarterfinals in second place in South America.
Time Cap: 20 Minutes
Scaling options: You can scale the GHDs with V-Ups or Ab Mat Sit-Ups and you can scale/modify the parallette HSPU with regular HSPU or hand-release push-ups.
Some advice from Sasha: “My recommendation is to maintain an average pace on the GHD (or sit-ups) that allows you to arrive with energy for the limiting work that could be the HSPU. Be smart and cut the sets before you get too fatigued. If you feel good, you can go faster and faster in each set knowing that repetitions are descending. Good luck 🙂.”
To inquire about submitting an upcoming workout of the week, shoot us a note.
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