May 19, 2014 11:37:54 PM
Justin Wofford is an example of how channel surfing can promote a healthy lifestyle.
The trick is you just have to stumble across the right channel.
Wofford admits he didn't know anything about the CrossFit Games, which are billed as "the world's premier test to find the Fittest on Earth," according to a press release on the CrossFit web site, when his channel surfing slalomed to a repeat of athletes engaged in events that involved a broad range of functional movements.
"I said, 'I can do that,' " Wofford said. "Being a former athlete, I just saw it and they were all regular guys. It was guys who just worked hard."
With his curiosity sufficiently piqued, Wofford watched the athletes use the functional movements to move large loads, long distances, quickly. He didn't think he was watching people work out, but he soon realized those same movements could be part of a training program that could help him improve his fitness level.
The more Wofford researched about CrossFit and talked to people about it, the more he knew he wanted it to be a bigger part of his life.
Later this week, Wofford will take that next step when he competes in the CrossFit regional competition in San Antonio, Texas.
"I am happy. It is a big accomplishment," Wofford said. "I have worked two years for this, so I am happy to get there."
Wofford earned an invitation to compete in the regionals on Friday through Sunday after finishing as one of the top 48 in the Open, a worldwide, inclusive, five-week competition that started earlier this year.
The top three athletes from each of the three-day regionals will advance to the Reebok CrossFit Games, which will be July 25-27 in Carson, California.
"I was never good at one thing," Wofford said. "I could never throw 95 mph. I could never run a 4.0-flat in the 40(-yard dash), but I was above average in everything, just not great. That is what CrossFit is about. You have to be able to do everything, and through hard work you can get there. That fit my background. I said with enough hard work I could get there."
Wofford, 27, graduated from West Point High School in 2005. He played baseball at Itawamba Community College in Fulton before moving on to the Mississippi University for Women, where he recently graduated from nursing school.
Wofford owns a percentage of Forged, the only CrossFit affiliate in Columbus, which is located on Highway 45 North, and works there as head trainer. Forged opened Sept. 14, 2013.
Wofford said he quit his job at the Wellness Center in West Point to work at Forged so he could help others develop a healthier lifestyle.
According to Forbes, the CrossFit Games have become "one of the fastest growing sports in America. The exercise programs are designed to test, not train fitness and have helped Wofford push himself to levels he wasn't sure he was capable of reaching after a history of playing football, soccer, and baseball.
Wofford said he "wasn't very strong" in high school. He said it wasn't until he became active in CrossFit and he learned about technique, nutrition, and consistency that he saw "huge" gains and realized strength he didn't realize he could have and work capacity he never imagined.
In his third year in the Open, Wofford hopes to continue to improve so one day he advances to the CrossFit Games. Even though he has made significant progress in a short amount of time in the sport, he still has a ways to go to be able to compete with the elite in the sport. He said trained four to five times a day to prepare for the Open so he could earn a chance to advance to the regionals after missing out at the end in 2013.
"Open athletes are like high school athletes," Wofford said. "Regional athletes are like college athletes. Going to the Games, you are a pro is how I would break it down to make sense of it."
Wofford agrees four to five workouts a day can sound hardcore, but he said each training session is meant to specialize in a specific discipline for a short amount of time. He said it has taken a lot of planning and organization to hit all of the points and to keep his body healthy to get to this point.
As a trainer, Wofford has an ideal setting to push himself every day.
He also has an opportunity to expose athletes to different ways to increase their work capacity and to push them to reach higher levels of fitness. While he is proud of his progress, he gets even more pleasure from helping athletes who work out at Forged from reaching new goals.
"The biggest thing about CrossFit regardless of whether you are competing in the Games or if you are someone who comes in to work out is the community," Wofford said. "We work out in a group. We do the same workout. Nobody has head phones in. We are all talking. We are all encouraging each other. The support is a big thing."
Wofford hopes that "community" can continue to drive him to reach his ultimate goal: to get to the CrossFit Games. With only the top 40 or so athletes from more than 100,000 making the final cut, Wofford knows the process is similar to becoming an Olympic athlete. He said he doesn't care if it takes him until he is 40 years old until he makes it.
"I just enjoy doing it," Wofford said. "I couldn't work out any other way. I couldn't just do running or do yoga. Nothing against that stuff. It is better to do something than nothing. This is my niche. This is what I love to do. This is my heart. I couldn't do anything different."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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