“But it’s fun. It’s a challenge. I meet it head on and it’s a good opportunity for me to show people that I can do things that they don’t think I can do, and kinda prove people wrong.” –Spencer Hendel on the challenges of being a tall Crossfit athlete
In this casual podcast, Commander Mark Divine catches up with Spencer and Andy Hendel about the evolution of Crossfit, the games versus the open, and the difference between Andy’s Masters competition and the regular competition that Spencer will be participating in. Andy specifically talks about his approach and the rewards he gets out of being an athlete over fifty. They both talk about the challenges that they’ve faced and the determination that they’ve shown to overcome them.
Listen to all of Mark’s other podcasts by clicking here…
Get your copy of Mark and Catherine’s new book KOKORO YOGA here.
Love the Unbeatable Mind Podcast? Click here to subscribe on iTunes. We’d love your feedback, please leave a rating and review.
Transcript & Shownotes
Hey folks, welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks for joining us this week. I have a couple of special guests in town, we’re here at SEALfit headquarters in Encinitas, California. Before I introduce the guests, though, let me remind you to go to unbeatablemind.com/podcasts and drop in your email so we can keep you notified of all the cool things going on around here.
And I’ve been asked to ask you to rate this podcast, five stars of course, at iTunes. So go to iTunes.com and rate it. So people can find it.
Okay, so, I’ve got my good friend Andy Hendel here and his son Spencer. Spencer, really nice to meet you. First time we’ve met.
Andy and Spencer–correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’re the first father-son team to go to Crossfit games.
Spencer Hendel: First father-son team
Mark: That is freakin’ cool. So they’re out here at SEALfit training and kind of prepping for the Crossfit games. World Championships happening up in Anaheim next weekend. Right?
Spencer: Los Angeles
Andy Hendel: Yeah, it starts for the Masters, we go on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And the individuals, I think they just go all week.
Mark: (laughing) It just doesn’t stop. That’s… you know, I’d be interested to hear how that compares to Kokoro camp. Just, you know, gettin’ through the whole week.
So for those of you… I’m sure everyone listening to this knows about the Crossfit Games, but if you don’t then we’ll get some inside scoop from these guys. I know, Spence, you’ve been to the games several times.
Spencer: It’s my sixth year.
Mark: You know, that’s impressive in and of itself. I wonder how many guys have had that longevity?
Spencer: There’s a few. Ben Smith, I know this year is his eighth consecutive year. Rebecca Voigt, this is her ninth. She’s awesome. There’s a couple other guys with six under their belt, but I think as the Crossfit games get bigger and bigger, and the weekends get longer and longer, and the workouts get longer and longer I think the lifespan of a Crossfit athlete’s only going to be so long.
Mark: You’re getting a lot of young blood in. It’s just…
Spencer: Yeah, I’m 27 and I’m considered old, right?
Andy: The average age of the Crossfit…
Andy: 24 years old.
Mark: Is it 24 now?
Mark: Is it younger for the women? ‘Cause I’ve seen some really young women just smoke it.
Spencer: It is. The youngest girl this year in the individual competition is 19.
Mark: 19 years old. That is so cool. So the Crossfit games, this is… I remember when Dave Castro launched that sucker in Aromas, California.
Mark: 2007, right. And then, remember that movie “The Road to the Games.” And John Wellbourn featured prominently in that. They thought he was going to crush it and he came in like 65th.
Mark: But Jason Khalipa wasn’t that the year that he won it?
Spencer: It was 2008. James Fitzgerald won 2007.
Mark: Boy it’s come a long way since then. So what do you expect to see in the games this year, that’ll be different from last year? Let’s talk about the Masters.
Andy: Actually, this is my first attempt at the Masters.
Andy: So I’m in the age group of 55-59. I’m 55 years old so that’s a good thing. ‘Cause you’re at the bottom.
Mark: You’re the youngest in the oldest age group.
Andy: And the weights go way down. I couldn’t wait…
Mark: That’s the first age group that they start to scale the weights. I noticed that ’cause I’m in the…
Andy: Especially in the Open. In the games themselves, they scale at almost every age group. 40 to 44, 45 you know, like that. But in the Open it’s… they don’t do a whole lot of scaling, so for me the worst age is like 54. I’m trying to do the same weight as this guy (Spencer). But they’ve changed it over the years. They’ve definitely made it harder for the individuals to compete in the Open and then those select few into the regional competitions.
Mark: There is no regionals for the Masters?
Andy: Well, what we do is an online regional. So what they do is they put out four workouts on Thursday night, like they do for the Open. And you have to do all four workouts in the same time domain as the one workout during the Open.
Andy: So you get four workouts and they have to be completed by Monday. During the Open you’re given one workout to be completed by Monday. So you aren’t doing too many of those workouts over again. And then they take the top… You go in with your score of the Open, and I was 9th, and they take the top 200 of each age group. But the 200th person’s going in with 200 points already. I’m only going in with 9 points. So that’s good. So the person that’s in last place is probably like… he’s allowed to do the regional online qualifier…
Mark: But there’s no way that he can…
Andy: His chances of winning are pretty narrow. And then after those four workouts, I ended up 11th. They take the top 20 in each age group.
Mark: Got it. So technically it’s not a regional though, it’s just another tier of the qualification process.
Andy: Yeah, it’s good. We have to videotape all the workouts, so you do have to send them in. It keeps it a little bit more legit. I just think the logistics of doing the Masters too it’s just not possible right now, so… And it’s not about us, it’s, I mean… It’s about us when it comes to the Masters, but the most exciting are these guys and what they’re doing.
Mark: So Spencer, the games have evolved quite a bit.
Mark: Remember the early years, like say your first year, a lot of the WODs were kind of like the classic early benchmarks, and now they’re just all over the place. Crazy, strange things.
Spencer: The thing I like best about the games is how broad the tests can be. Whereas the Open, it can’t be so broad, ’cause it has to be to the masses. Regionals you can get a little bit more broad, but once again, you have to… you can only do so much… there’s a timeline so to speak. You have to get all these people in to get through the weekend, and blah, blah, blah. But at the games, there’s only forty men, forty women and Dave Scott has an unlimited amount of creativity that he can use, so we saw Peg Board last year, we saw the Pig Flip. I mean, who knows what he’ll bring out this year.
Mark: You did the Open this year as well? How did that go for you?
Spencer: The Open is never really my greatest place to shine. I took 13th I believe in the Open, and they take the top 20 in the east to go join Canada east in the east regional. And they’re the top 40 and I took 4th in the regional, which they take the top 5 to the games. So.
Mark: San Diego, they only take the top 3. Is that ’cause of the size of the region? That’s a super-region, is that why?
Spencer: California, I believe, is one region. Top 5.
Mark: They changed it. Used to be…
Andy: It was two regions at one point. So they take 5.
Mark: Okay. So you took 4th in the east coast region?
Mark: Which earned you a slot at the games.
Spencer: Like a few years ago, California was split into Socal and Norcal, and there they took 3.
Mark: Right. So who else was in your region? Who were the top 3?
Spencer: There were 3 Canadians that made it this year: Alex Vigneault, Patrick Vellner, and what’s the other Canadian? Albert-Dominic Larouche. And then the guy that won it is Matt Fraser. He’s been 2nd the past two years. Trying to get that top spot.
Mark: And what’s the scuttlebutt on this year? Who’s expected to really dominate and…
Spencer: Fraser’s always been looked at for the past couple of years as kind of the next guy to take that top spot.
Mark: What about Ben?
Spencer: Ben Smith, I mean he won it last year, and he’s got as good a chance as anyone to repeat his top spot. There’s just a lot of… And then a lot of the guys, any given weekend… Given the workouts, given how they prepare for the weekend, how they sleep, how they recover, how they eat, their nutrition…
Mark: There is that much variability isn’t there?
Spencer: There’s a lot going into it. I mean, you’ve got the top 40 the top fittest guys, girls in the world, and given all those factors, anyone can come out on top.
Mark: I used to say that it’s actually the fittest man or woman in the world on that day for that workout. You know what I mean?
Spencer: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Mark: It could go either way. Awesome. So do you guys train together that often? For some reason I thought you were both in North Carolina, but you’re in Boston, and Andy you’re in…
Andy: Spencer’s up in Boston and he has a unique group up there. Actually, all those guys are within a couple of gym radius, so Spencer has workouts… It’s like, “Who programs for Spencer?” And it’s like Spencer programs for Spencer, Austin Malleolo programs for Spencer, and Bergeron, you know, does a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of workouts. There’s a lot of guys that are all kind of helping each other out up there.
Out by me… You know, being in the Masters, I mean I don’t have to do half of what he has to do. They’re not going to ask me to do a handstand walk, they’re not asking me to do ring handstand pushups, you know. I have to be able to do rings and muscle ups and things like that, but, you know, I can get away with just my own program that I do at my gym. And I just workout my weaknesses. And then he has a thing called the “HAM plan,” which he puts out there, he and Austin put out there for the people who would want to follow that kind of program. So he send me his stuff, and I pick and choose what I can do, and what I can’t do. It’s usually about half the weight, half the time…
Mark: (laughing) Right. Spencer, training for the games is pretty much a full-time job. How many workouts a day do you typically do?
Spencer: At the peak of training probably 3 or 4 workouts a day. You know. Some of those workouts are for time, some of those are just for completion. Some of its heavy lifting, some of its technique work, some of its auxiliary, you know, practice on your weaknesses things like that. 2 or 3 sessions a day, making sure you’re getting in ample nutrition, making sure you’re sleeping well at night. And then on top of that, I own a gym, and I have to coach. So given the time of year, I do put a little bit more work on my part-time employees and my other coaches. I really appreciate them for that, but I still coach about 2 or 3 classes a day.
Mark: What’s the name of your gym?
Spencer: Reebok Crossfit Medfield.
Mark: Medfield. All right.
Spencer: About 30, 45 minutes from the city. The heart of Boston. Kinda southwest of the city.
Mark: Is it a competitive Crossfit gym?
Spencer: Not at all. No, we do participate in the Open. And we do have some competitive athletes in the gym. But my main target athletes are going to be about 40 years old is the average age, and like I said, my stay at home mom class at 9:30 is probably my favorite class whatsoever. We just talk about the town, and talk about local gossip and what’s going on, so it’s fun.
Mark: A little exercise in on the side, right?
Spencer: It’s just a good… You know, I’m so focused on competition and they’re just focused on being fit for life, and doing what life has coming at them. It’s just a different take on life. So it’s a good change of pace.
Mark: Andy, you used to be a football player, right?
Andy: Yeah. My background…
Mark: How did you get into… Tell me about your background.
Andy: My background is obviously football. I went to college, actually I went as a walker Scholarship at North Carolina State. They had a league called the United States Football League back in 1983, ’84,’85.
Mark: Lasted just a couple of years.
Andy: Yeah. I came out and played in Jacksonville, and the league folded, and I went down to the Miami Dolphins. Played with them for a couple of years. I was released and went to Buffalo. I’m from Rochester, New York, and my wife’s from Buffalo. And I was kinda like a self-made man. People see me now, but I used to weigh like 230, 235, and, you know, you just have to eat… It’s almost like what these guys do (Spencer). You can only do it for so many years and do all your heavy lifting and all that stuff. And I just got so tired of it.
Mark: Takes its toll.
Andy: Yeah, it takes its toll.
Mark: Take a toll on your body and your mind, I’m sure.
Andy: I mean, I’m playing next to a guy that’s 6′ 4″, 245 and doesn’t have to lift a weight. They’re just big people, you know, good genetics.
And from there, so we were in Buffalo and I called it quits. We were in Rochester and Spencer was born in Buffalo, and then his sister Andee, she was born in Rochester and we were up there and I started coaching college football. We were at a Division 3 school for 5 years. And then I coached another 5 years down at Western Kentucky University. I was with a well-known coach named Jack Harbaugh, which is the father of Jim and John Harbaugh, and I can understand why they’re such good coaches, ’cause their dad was…
Mark: Good man.
Andy: A great time in his life. He loved coaching coaches, not just coaching players, coaching coaches. I learned more from him… not just Xs and Os, but how to deal with people and how to treat other people.
Mark: He was a mentor for you.
Andy: Yeah. He was an awesome, awesome guy. And then from there I got greedy. I went for a job at University of Cincinnati, and it fell apart on us, and took another job. We were getting a carousel of going to different jobs. I put the kids in 3 different schools in 2 years. So we said, “Well, we can’t do this.” So we settled down in Charlotte, North Carolina. Been there since 2001. Coached at a high school for 5 years, then I started our Crossfit gym, Crossfit Charlotte in 2006. So I was 45 years old when I first started Crossfit. So it was interesting.
And so we’ve been in Charlotte ever since. You know, the kids graduated from high school there, graduated from the University of Appalachian State. Spencer moved on to Boston. That’s a story in itself.
My daughter she was up there too. But now she live in Viet Nam. She works for Adidas. She runs a production line for the sneaker.
Crossfit’s always been my background since 2006. They didn’t have Masters back then. They didn’t have any. And then when they started having Masters that’s when my body started falling apart. (laughing) So I’ve had 2 total knee replacements, I’ve had my back fused, plated, screwed from stress fractures from football.
Mark: Good Lord.
Andy: And shoulder injuries, and things like that.
Mark: But it all came back together this year.
Andy: Yeah, it all came back. Plus I turned 55 so all the weights go a lot lighter. (laughing)
Mark: (laughing) This is your year.
Spencer: Get into it this year, or it wasn’t happening.
Mark: Not happening.
Mark: That’s awesome. So, you’re full-time with your Crossfit gym? No more coaching high school, or do you still…?
Andy: Right, yeah. I stopped coaching football back in 2006 and actually college football was 2001. You miss it. You miss the… I was a defensive coordinator most of my career, and being able to put a defense together week in and week out, kinda miss that. But Crossfit’s taken over, and it’s not quite as intense as being a football coach. It’s a little bit more relaxed. I don’t get rich off of Crossfit, but it gives me a lifestyle where I can spend a lot of time with the kids and travel and see them…
Mark: What’s your favorite thing about competing?
Andy: It’s always a challenge. I think we talked about it when I came out here at Kokoro 36 and you always say: “What’s your why? Andy, why are you out here?” And for me it’s always the mental… I mean the physical aspect is always there, I mean, that’s what we are, we’re all physical people. But to be able to tie that in mentally, and be challenged, and to fail, and to come back and succeed is very fulfilling for me.
Mark: Yup. I get that. Spencer what’s the most challenging aspect of Crossfit for you? Where do you find your… where do you meet yourself?
Spencer: My size. My personal size. You know, being 6′ 2″, 215.
Mark: Yeah, you’re on the big side.
Spencer: According to crossfit.com, I am the biggest athlete, like tallest as well as the heaviest athlete.
Mark: Is that right? Interesting.
Spencer: So… and in gymnastics, the body weight…
Mark: So that means you have to… I mean, just to break this down for the listeners. That means you have to move the bar and the kettle bell, all the loads you have to move farther than…
Spencer: Yeah. I think the average height if 5′ 9″, 5′ 10″.
Mark: I wonder if anyone’s been able to calculate how much more energy output it takes you to do the same workout?
Spencer: You could. You could, yeah.
Andy: Crossfit itself is based on force*distance over time, so all I need is… for our workouts… and same as… It’s no different than what you do in SEALfit. I mean, when he was just talking about how many workouts in a day–I mean, I think your OPWODs are exactly what Crossfit competitors do. I mean, think about your OPWOD, what you do with it. Some workouts for time, some are not for time, then you’re coming back from the mission. So I think the OPWODs are so similar to how competitors should train. And… where we were we going with that?
Mark: (laughing) Well we were talking about the different challenges of having to move… you know, this goes back to the legitimate critique of “The Fittest Man in the World.” I mean, it’s not really… you’re not really comparing apples to apples.
Andy: No, cause in Crossfit we’re going to measure your power up, your intensity. All I need… I need a scale, I need a tape measure for distance and I need a stopwatch for time. So I mean, when you’re picking up a load that’s 95 pound bar like for a Fran workout, well it’s 95 plus his own body weight too.
Mark: Plus, the distance he’s going to travel.
Andy: That’s why Dave takes… these guys do 15 workouts over a weekend.
Mark: He tries to balance it out.
Andy: Right. He tries to balance it all out. And sometimes you think, well, it doesn’t always balance out that way, but for him, gymnastics, it’s the cycle time, so when you get real long-limbed, and long armed and stuff like that, it’s the cycle time. But when he’s pulling stuff… one time I watched him up in the regionals this year, and it was the last workout of the regionals. It’s kind of like Fran with rope climbs. And it’s the first time that Spencer looked at it, not Fraser, and, “you know, Matt, no matter how good you are in this, you’re never going to beat me in this rope climb.” ‘Cause he could pull up a rope in three pulls, and Fraser eight pulls. You know what I mean? So welcome to Spencer’s world. No matter how hard you try, you still can’t beat this guy. Not in this workout. And unfortunately, he sees a lot of workouts where…
Mark: Yeah, it’s geared toward the cycle time.
Spencer: But it’s fun. It’s a challenge. I meet it head on and it’s a good opportunity for me to show people that I can do things that they don’t think I can do.
Spencer: And kind of prove people wrong.
Mark: How are you on the strength category, like, do you have a lot of raw strength?
Spencer: I do. Growing up, you know, with his background he taught me how to lift.
Andy: Made him squat when he was fifteen.
Spencer: I never bench-pressed. Bench was always weak, but damn I could squat.
Mark: Squattings probably the most important skill for Crossfit.
Spencer: The more I get to use my legs for Crossfit games, you know, I welcome it with open arms.
Mark: And what do you do to prepare mentally? Like do you have a ritual, let’s say for your training days… Does it differ for the games itself?
Spencer: Mentally, I think, honestly music really helps a lot. I like to throw my headphones on, I like to go into my own personal zone.
Mark: And what kind of music? What type of songs?
Spencer: I really enjoy hip-hop. I like rock. I like classic rock. I’m pretty much all over the place. But when I work out I like a beat. Something to move to. Doesn’t necessarily have to have lyrics or anything like that, just some kind of upbeat track. Right now I’m kinda really into hip-hop and things like that.
Mark: And when you compete and you can’t have music, do you have a mantra, or do you have music playing in your head?
Spencer: Usually, just try to stick to positivity, in my head. Just try to keep telling myself positive things.
Mark: So for instance, right in the clutch of a workout, what are you saying to yourself internally?
Spencer: You know, last year at the paddle board swim workout at the pier. And paddle board was paddle a mile one way, paddle a mile back. I was saying to myself, “Just don’t stop. Just keep going, just keep going. You can do this. You’ve trained, you’ve put in the hard work. You know what to do. Just go out there and do it.”
And keep staying positive, and if you start to turn negative, and you start to look at yourself in a negative way, it can really effect your performance, and you can really start to tumble downwards, in a downward spiral. And once you get that far, your weekend’s kinda over. So you can have a bad workout. That’s fine. But you can’t have a second bad workout. You gotta come back…
Andy: I had a coach when I was playing football in Miami. This coach came up, “Andy, you can have a bad play. But you can’t have a bad game.”
Mark: That makes sense.
Andy: You can have a bad workout, but don’t have a bad week.
Mark: What about you? What’s your internal dialogue like, Andy? Do you have a mantra, or what do you do to stay focused?
Andy: You know, for me I like to breath. Some of the breathing techniques that you taught us here at Kokoro. And, like to bring in air through the nose as quick as I can to relax. I think preparation is the key. I think, like… The past 3 days I’ve done every workout that I’m gonna do next week.
Mark: So you have a mental image of what they’re going to be like.
Andy: I know exactly how they’re going to play out. I know I can do them.
Mark: Do they do that just for the Masters? I mean you (Spencer) have no idea what’s coming?
Spencer: I have no idea.
Andy: I could go either way. Sometimes I’d rather not see the workout, then you don’t have anxiety over it, so you don’t have to worry about it. But now that I have seen the workouts, they set up for me very well. Something that’s very doable.
Mark: So it’s given you some confidence.
Andy: Yeah, but I think it’s good that you do it, so at least you know where the hard part is. Like, me today I did a workout that was 8 thrusters at 115, 4 bar muscle ups, and then 2 D-ball shoulderings right to the chest. So I think that’s going to be my hardest workout, to get it under the time cap. And I really failed on the bar muscle ups at first, but I just kinda relaxed. “I’ve done this. I know I can do it.” So for me the confidence comes in repetition. That’s what Crossfit is. I mean, that’s what SEALfit is. I mean, everything we do here is to expand the margins of your experience, and do the things that you can’t do. Because you can.
Mark: Because you can. (laughing) Exactly. The point is to prove to yourself that you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t, but if you think you can, you can. Let’s talk about nutrition. Sounds like you really, really need to dial it in. So what does your nutrition look like?
Spencer: I stayed pretty true to the Crossfit hundred words of fitness. Eat meats, vegetables, nuts, some fruit, a little starch and no sugar. It’s not exactly Paleo, it’s not exactly Zone. I have done Paleo. I have done Zone. But you know I’ve kinda figured out trial by error on myself, that…
Mark: So what’s different from Paleo in the way you eat?
Spencer: I eat a lot more starches than probably what most Paleo dieters would do. A lot more sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, quinoa, things like that. Oatmeal. Just with the amount of volume that you’re doing, you need those carbohydrates. You need it. And you know if you’re just doing traditional paleo or zone you’re probably not getting the amount of fuel that you need.
Mark: How much fat do you get in your diet?
Spencer: A lot. A lot of fat.
Mark: Percentage wise?
Spencer: I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head.
Mark: Do you ever track whether you go Ketogenic in your diet?
Spencer: I don’t.
Mark: That’d be interesting.
Andy: Not everybody can exercise on that. I mean, this wouldn’t be the time to experiment with that.
Spencer: Definitely not.
Mark: (laughing) I get that.
Andy: It was so interesting. Crossfits been putting out some articles the past couple of weeks, but I keep telling him… like ketones and retarding the cancer cells and things like that…
Mark: Yeah, because ketones have been shown to up your VO2 max by 15% so who knows?
Andy: Yeah, there’s some people who can really do it. You think about it, traditionally, you get into Crossfit workout, that’s a pure sugar burn.
Andy: Pure sugar. So like I say, now’s not the time to experiment with it. Something for the off-season, ’cause you kind of have to… you go through a really hard period when you try to go through ketosis and try to limit the carbohydrate intake and increase the fat intake.
Mark: It’s definitely the kind of training you want to do for Kokoro or major endurance events. Ketogenics helps for that. But for quick burn stuff…
Andy: I couldn’t tell you that. It’d be an interesting thing. Some people get like performance… but me I’m kinda like Spencer. I’m more of a zone person. You just can’t get enough carbohydrates with just vegetables and fruits. I have some starches and the next day I had a lot more endurance. My starch of choice is more sweet potatoes, and any kind of potato. I don’t really care. I mean, regular potatoes get a bad rap, but they’re just… I’m not a big rice eater stuff like that, so…
Spencer: Plantains. I love plantains.
Andy: They just take so damn long to ripen.
Spencer: They do. They take a long time.
Mark: Plantain is kind of like a potato, isn’t it?
Andy: Yeah, it’s just a starch. Looks like a banana. But when you get them though… Nobody sells them ripe. So you can’t buy them ripe. You buy them green and it takes like 3 weeks to get ripe. ‘Cause you don’t want to really eat them ’til they’re black.
Spencer: Gotta leave them out in the sun.
Mark: Oh, is that right?
Andy: Yeah, it’s the only way to ripen it. And then the outer covering turns black, basically. And you’re ready to go.
Mark: Huh. Yeah, if that was a banana you’d be throwing it out.
Andy: Yeah. Just the opposite.
Sleep and the “off season”[29:23]
Mark: And sleep. What about sleep? 7 and a half, 8 hours a night?
Spencer: At least. I mean I’m probably going to bed around 9:30, 10. If I don’t have to open, probably wake up at 7, 6:30. So that’s 8 a half to 9 hours of sleep. I open, same thing, probably go to bed at 9:30 or 10, and then I get up at 5, so that’s 7 hours of sleep. So, try to get in as much as I can. on the days that I open, sometimes I need like a midday nap, so I hit the couch for an hour or so. And then if I have to get another session in, then go in after and get it in.
Mark: Right. When you are leading up to the games do you change your routine at all, or do you just keep it pretty much the same? Obviously, decrease the volume.
Spencer: Yeah, definitely decrease the volume.
Mark: But for food and recovery, keep it all the same?
Spencer: Keep it all the same. Don’t change a thing.
Andy: I remember the days where, even with football, you used to go to football camp to get into shape. You know what I mean? And you really can’t afford to do that. These athletes that stay ready for competition. Just around that fitness level.
Mark: Year round? Is this a year round thing?
Andy: Yeah. And I think, especially these guys, things are different. As a Masters you can compete all year in different Masters events. I don’t know. But I think the athletes that stay in pretty darn good shape throughout the year, ready to really lock in on it, you do much better. I mean the old days of getting fat during the off season…
Mark: Yeah. Doesn’t happen.
Andy: There is no off season.
Mark: Are you gonna take any down-time at all, Spencer?
Spencer: Last year, I can remember after the games I had my wedding. August 15th and then I had a honeymoon October. We were gone for like 12 weeks. Or sorry, not 12 weeks, 12 days.
Mark: I was gonna say… wow.
Spencer: 12 days. And from the end of the games ’til like October, whenever we got back from our honeymoon, I was anything in sight, drinking anything in sight. Alcohol wasn’t off the list, you know. I was still working out, but it was fun. I was having fun with it. Not really caring what the time on the clock was. Not really caring how many rounds you got. Just…
Mark: Just having fun with it.
Spencer: Living the dream. One day at a time. And then I probably really didn’t start getting back into it until Novemberish. That’s when I really started to slowly start to pick it up. Around January, you have a big competition called WODapalooza in Miami, so I did that. And then, at the end of January they did east coast championships in Boston. And then, shortly after that, the Open begins, so, it’s all… the season just keeps going.
Mark: And I know we’re just going into this year’s games but are you clear on next year? Is it just something you’re going to continue?
Spencer: I’ve given a lot of thought to doing a team next year with my buddy Austin Malleolo out there in Boston, and we both, I think, would really like to make like a “super-team” and try to give Rich a run for his money.
Mark: Nice. Okay, that sounds good. How about you Andy?
Andy: It’s always really interesting… you know what’s real interesting about this year is that this is just the beginning for me. I think I can do better next couple years. ‘Cause my body’s just… these two knee replacements are probably kicking in. I think when we met it was just before I had a knee replacement.
Mark: Yeah, I remember that. You were limping around…
Andy: I did Kokoro 36, six months after the surgery. So the body parts are healing up, almost like…
Mark: Didn’t you do a 3 day academy here?
Andy: I did. That was before the knee surgery.
Mark: Right. You could do a ten inch squat, something like that. You were in pain.
Andy: Hurt so bad. So to me I think there’s still a lot more I can do.
Mark: So you’re ready to take it.
Andy: I mean, watching this kid, what he does, he gives me a lot of inspiration. To me it’s like experimenting with my body, you know. I think I can…
Mark: Well it is kinda neat to see, you know, what a 55 year old body can do. We didn’t have the games…
Andy: Anybody tells me they’ve got artificial knees or something like that, it’s like, :”So what?” To me the more work I can do with the artificial knees the longer they’ll last. And for me I just can’t… on a day-to-day thing I just need a physical challenge. So, you know, doing half the weight, or… I do what I can do, you know, and then a little bit more. And that works out well for me.
Mark: Nice. What’s the most valuable thing that you’ve learned from Crossfit? From your training and your involvement in Crossfit, Spencer?
Spencer: I think one of the most valuable things that I’ve learned from Crossfit is the community itself and being able to kinda give back what Crossfit has given to me. You know, having opened my gym in Boston, and being able to give all of my members, all of my athletes… give back to them. And being able to see smiles on their face and the look of accomplishment on their face. Like I’ve been there, and then I wanna see that in them. And then when I see them get their first pullup or their first rope climb or their first double under, their first anything, you name it. And you see that vision of joy, and that smile on their face and the look of like I’ve just accomplished something that I’ve been working towards for… an eternity is what it feels like, is unlike anything that I’ve ever experienced. And I think that’s what helps keep me going, and keep me loving what I do.
Mark: Nice. I love that.
Andy: Just listening to Spencer, and for me I bring a lot into Crossfit, because before Crossfit I was a coach. And once a coach, always a coach. I’m inspired to serve and help people. And I did it with football, and teaching kids and young adults. And now that part of me is carried over to Crossfit. It’s very different, and it’s different because now I’m working with adults, I’m not working with the best athletes in the world at what they do in football. The day-to-day people that have goals and you’re helping them achieve them. It’s actually made me a better person. I don’t know how could go through the rest of my life not serving and helping people. I couldn’t just sit down at a desk and do a task for somebody else. You know what I mean? It’s just not what I do. It’s not me. And you know, every time I do something, I try to learn. When I came out here to Kokoro, when I came out here to the Academy, when I came out here to intern. It’s for a purpose, and I might not know what it is, but over a week… when I’m here for a weekend and interning? I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen, but something’s going to happen and I’m gonna learn from it. And be ready for it, that’s my motto. I have an open mind to what we do out here, and to be able to take that back. Kokoro made me a better person, made me a better coach, it helped me understand people a little bit better, and just in general, it made my life better. and then I can take that and I can share that with my wife, and I can share that with my kids, and I can share that with my community.
Mark: Right. Spencer is Kokoro in your future? Do you have any interest in that?
Spencer: (laughing) He’s definitely tried to talk me into it. After the Crossfit games would be the perfect time. So definitely giving it some thought.
Mark: Kay, well we’ll hold a spot open for you.
Spencer: Please do.
Andy: If there’s a person that could do it, this guy could do it.
Mark: Oh, no question about that.
Andy: You know how you kinda split the people up a little bit. You got a little bit more advanced, you gotta challenge them a little bit more. Then you got people like me, kinda…
Mark: If Spencer came through, would you wanna be on the staff?
Spencer: It’s not like he hasn’t yelled at me before.
Mark: (laughing) Exactly.
Andy: You know, I think it’s important… I wouldn’t want to be there. It’s important for him to have his own space and be with those people. He doesn’t need… You know what, he would do it though. And half the time he wouldn’t even know I was there. He’d be thinking about the people he’s with. Just like you do. That guy, he’s not going in the water because his dad’s up there in the sand. That’s not even going to…
Mark: Right. Okay, we’re going to wrap this up pretty soon. One more question though, for you, Spencer. A lot of folks out there, a lot of young guys who aspire to compete at some level. Any advice for them? To motivate them, or…
Spencer: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. And you have to work hard obviously, for something that you want. If it’s something that you truly want and something you truly believe in, you have to work hard to do it. Nothing good comes easy.
And just keep your eye on the prize and keep striving for it.
Mark: Right. Hooyah.
Say the same thing to those old farts who are sitting around. Get off your duff and start training.
Andy: I had another guy in my gym, and he’s sixty plus.
Mark: No kidding.
Andy: So 60+ and then 50-59. But we have an older crowd. A forty plus group, and I like to go out there and advertise, “Hey, this is your hormone therapy, right here.” I’m just so dead against these guys, you know, they have this hormone therapy, and it’s like, “Dude, all you need to do is eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little starch, no sugar and workout once a day.”
Mark: (laughing) That’s it.
Andy: That’s a much better way of doing it.
Mark: Awesome. Well thanks for your time guys. We’ll be rooting for you. Good luck at the games, both of you, and kick some ass. Hooyah.
Spencer: Appreciate it.
Mark: All right, thanks very much everyone. So check out Andy and Spencer in the Crossfit games, Reebok Crossfit games next week. You can find it on ESPN. Totally amazing thing to watch. Very inspiring, and we wish them both luck.
Stay focused, train hard and eat well and have fun.
Coach Divine out.