It’s obvious that Nicole Holcomb would love to see the sport of CrossFit explode in growth.
The reality of that growth, however, is that she will have a harder time becoming one of the sport’s elite athletes.
On June 7 to 9 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio, Holcomb placed sixth at the Central East CrossFit Regionals, three spots away from qualifying for the sport’s premier event, the CrossFit Games, which is conducted July 26 to 28 in Carson, Calif.
Her finish in the fitness competition jumped from 12th a year ago.
However, she knows that it won’t be easy to continue climbing in the standings.
Her husband, Craig, noted that attendance at the Central East regional doubled from a year ago. That expanding interest attracts more competitors, who ultimately will be bigger and stronger.
Holcomb, 26, doesn’t mind working to keep up.
The 2005 Columbus North graduate said she had about a seven-year span from her sophomore year in high school until after graduation when she didn’t do much fitness related.
“I gained weight, and then I went the opposite way and got way too thin,” she said.
Eventually, she started back at “a regular gym” at 23, making an effort to lead a healthy lifestyle.
She liked working out so much she became a personal trainer, and eventually found CrossFit while on a vacation to Hawaii.
“They were flipping tires and doing weightlifting skills that were much different than the mainstream,” she said.
“I loved the high intensity of the workouts. They always were different and never routine. They incorporated so many elements of fitness. There were new skills to master and work toward.”
Holcomb, a 5-foot-7, 150-pounder, believed in the sport so much that she convinced her husband to partner with her and open a gym. Their 812 CrossFit is now open for its second year of business.
Meanwhile, Holcomb has a home base to work toward her goal of becoming one of the new sport’s top athletes.
“Most of what we do is free weights,” Holcomb said. “Dumbbells and barbells. The official description is ‘constantly-varied, high-intensity, functional movement.”
One example of an exercise would be a “Jackie,” which is made up of 1,000-meter row, 50 thrusters (a squat with a barbell on the shoulders, and then a thrust of that bar skyward when a person stands upright) and 30 pull-ups.
That’s just one of many routines that makes up a competition that tests an athlete over three days. Competitors could be asked to do things like handstands or push-ups. They could be asked to jump rope.
If an athlete gets to the CrossFit Games, he or she will be asked to do some sort of “odd object lifting” and perhaps forced to show skills at sometime like the softball toss.
“If you get to the CrossFit Games, all bets are off,” Holcomb said in terms of standard exercises. “They can throw anything at you.”
CrossFit as a training method was created in 2000 and the CrossFit Games came into existence in 2007. The growth is best illustrated in the first-place prize presented to the overall male and female winners of the games. In 2007, the monetary prize for winning was $500. Now it is $250,000.
“Up until now, I’ve coached myself,” Holcomb said. “But now I am thinking about getting a coach. That’s probably the next step.”
Columbus North swim coach Jim Sheridan, who has taken CrossFit classes, said he expects Holcomb to continue her climb in the CrossFit rankings.
“Oh my gosh, she is one of the most focused young athletes I’ve ever seen,” Sheridan said. “She almost is a throwback to the ‘60s when everyone trained hard and worked hard. She has a desire to be the best in the country.
“One of my favorite things is that she will be doing some demonstration, and do 20 of something in a row, then will look at us and say, ‘Now I want you to do it just like that.’ Oh my Lord.”
Holcomb said she suffered from back spasms at the regional games and that took her somewhat out of her comfort zone. She will continue training with the hope of placing higher next year.
“I train as much as an Olympian athlete,” she said. “Multiple sessions a day. There is a lot to be done. You have mobility and flexibility work, you have speed work and strength work.”
Craig Holcomb expects his wife to eventually land at the CrossFit Games.
“I know what she is capable of doing,” he said. “I have faith in her.”
So does Craig try to keep up with his wife when it comes to workouts?
“Heavens no,” he said. “She is much more dedicated than I ever could be. She has made it her thing. It’s her passion.”