Let’s backtrack to August this year, the CrossFit Games which took place in Madison, Wisconsin. As a girl obsessed with the ultimate sport of fitness, I had my eyes on every aspect of the competition. I was rooting for my girl Sara to make a strong contention for the podium, inspired by Sam ‘the engine’ Briggs showing the world once again, why she’s one of the most loved and consistent athletes.
I also had my eyes on teams because I was curious to see whether Rich Froning would produce the same type of dominance that he did as an individual athlete with CrossFit Mayhem. In the end it was the Wasatch Brutes led by CrossFit Games veterans, Adrian Conway, Mandi Janowitz and Brennan Fjord who by turning in consistent performances, secured their third title as the affiliate champions of the 2017 Games season, who can remember #stoptheMayhem?
Fast forward to a couple of months later, I’m scrolling through my instagram feed and land on Adrian Conway’s page. What you’ll see is an athlete and business owner whose work ethic and personal integrity to him and to others is visible in what he chooses to share on his page. CrossFit is a sport where the community aspect of it has been one of the biggest drawing cards to people joining the ‘cult’ and by making use of this cult, I reached out to Adrian and asked him a few questions that he was so gracious to answer.
Here’s a little bit of background info on Adrian Conway. He is part of the Brute strength training team, as well as teaching L1 as part of CrossFit HQ seminar staff. Adrian recently became a gym owner ‘Live in Victory CrossFit’ , is an owner in the FNXfit supplement line which boasts athletes such as Games favourites such as Neal Maddox, Margaux Alvarez and 2017 Fittest teen on Earth, Dallin Pepper. In addition to all of this, Adrian still helps run and coach at Wasatch CrossFit.
The common thread in all of Adrian’s answers was this: hard work does pay off but the way to have longevity is found in being consistent and being a person of integrity not just to others but to you. Work hard, stay humble and be consistent. Everything else falls into place when you apply these principles.
Adrian, before CrossFit, you played football and basketball, what was it, or what is it about CrossFit that stuck?
CrossFit stuck because I could do well based on my own hard work. I was immediately drawn to this. Just like everyone else some folks kicked my butt at certain things, but then I’d practice, I’d put in the work on my own, show back up and beat them. I was obsessed with the fact that no one else could hold me back, no missed blocks or missed tackles could affect me. I controlled my own success.
In regards to being a professional athlete/CrossFitter, there is more often than not, this notion that goes around (especially with aspiring athletes that in order to make it, whatever they’ve applied as their definition of ‘making it’,) your relationships have to take a backseat. Would you say that you have to be, or you’ve had to be somewhat selfish in terms of pursuing CrossFit as a competitive athlete?
I think the compromise is a real one that everyone must consider. Just like being the best in the world at anything, it takes very big sacrifice. If you don’t get paid from sponsors and can’t set aside time to train and plan on actually winning money so you can work less, then yes your life will suffer a ton.
You will be hard pressed to work full time and still train as much as most people will need to in order to be great. And that is also something I share with people. Working hard is not going to get you to the Games, and even if you make it, you may not win money, so be sure the sacrifice is always worth it. To be great at this sport you need the right body, mind, you need to stay healthy, you need to have a great team of support around you, and you have to be willing to put a career or money on the back burner for at least a particular amount of time so you can handle the business of being physically capable of dominating other humans.
I’m fortunate to have great sponsors, great support and great jobs that cater to the demands of a training athlete. My wife and family know how I have to be and know which times of year I have to be the guy to skip the cookout or the party or the vacation in order to train the way I need to.
But I’m simple minded, when I’m training for something I want, nothing I do is a sacrifice, it is just a part of my life now that I’m choosing to pursue. I don’t miss out on anything I have to say “no” to, because ultimately it’s what I want to do.
For the aspiring athletes, it can be daunting making that shift from doing CrossFit to stay fit, i.e. for the six pack or (in the age of social media,) for the ‘gram, to doing it because you enjoy the competitive aspect and you want to win. If you had to reflect on who you were at the start of your career, how did you get past those internal hurdles of doubt, fear and/or feeling inadequate that can exist in the athlete’s mind?
I never really worked out for looks. I understood that from a young age that if you train like an athlete and eat well then you look like an athlete. I never did it for the “gram” just for the results. I started training as a young boy to run faster and jump higher and run over my peers. I was always drawn to literally being superior by ability not looks. So for me, it was no change. For others I say simply, forget about the mirror, it lies. If we meet face to face in battle and you have better abs than me….it won’t matter, I’ll still dominate you….so don’t be mislead by the appearance of muscle. Be impressed by one’s ability not their appearance. If you chase performance the results just HAPPEN!
You’ve very successfully made the transition from competing individually at the CrossFit Games, to being part of a three time winning team, how organically did this process occur?
This was easy for me. I love team sports. I played football and basketball growing up. It was natural for me to thrive in the team atmosphere. It makes the grind of preparation much more enjoyable.
This is the question a lot of people wonder about, especially if you’ve ever felt nervous working out with the fittest guy/girl in your box, during partner wods. Is there more pressure competing individually or in a team, and is there one that you prefer more than the other?
There is a lifetime achievement for me in making it to the Games as an individual. It is a great test I proposed to myself to pursue from the start of my CrossFit journey. It is much more enjoyable to do it on a team. I’m speaking from a biased perspective because all 3 years I chose to go team we won the affiliate cup. But, even if we had not, I would say it was more enjoyable due to the making of memories with my team. When you go individual, you can have training partners but the journey is a lonely one. When you go team, those memories last forever, simply because you are building them together! I love going team for that reason.
In closing, Adrian. What is the legacy that you want to leave behind?
I want to be known as a man who loved God, and lived to the best of his ability to love others and lead others to him while I was here. I hope I can continue to find ways to use my talents and the abilities God has given me in order to that. And that I can lead a life so that my family and those others who know me closest would admire those qualities the most.