Everyday Firebreathers: the Intermediate

In Day 2’s first team event, Intermediate teams prove you don’t have to be “elite” to be among the world’s fittest.

Wodapalooza Bayfront Park

By: Brittney Saline

Heavy Grace. Handstand push-ups. Axle bar snatches and synchronized bar muscle-ups.

Sounds like a formula to test the elite. But the gap between the seemingly super human and the people you work out with every day is growing smaller by the rep, and the athletes taking on the morning’s mashup of heavy weight and high-level gymnastics were just that: the teams of the Intermediate division.

“(Wodapalooza is) cool because it’s inclusive,” said Ben Bisesi from the stands as he cheered for team Size Doesn’t Matter. “And like Guido (Trinidad, Wodapalooza co-founder) was saying, this is a good picture of who’s in a (typical) gym and not just the elite people. The fact that there’s like 30 divisions is rad.”

Don’t be fooled, however; inclusive doesn’t mean watered down. As teams hit the floor—rain-slicked from a quick morning shower—few, if any, struggled with the 185-lb. (men) and 135-lb. (women) barbells, most taking their share of the 60 clean and jerks of WOD 4 in single power jerks while a few strung multiple reps together.

Sixty seconds after WOD 4 finished, teams advanced to WOD 5, a chipper of 54 handstand push-ups, a 45-calorie synchronized row, 36 axle bar hang snatches, 27 synchronized bar-facing burpees, 18 overheat squats and nine synchronized bar muscle-ups.

The only element of the six-course fitness breakfast that team Diversity Pamphlet of CrossFit RVA in Richmond, Virginia struggled with was the row, unaccustomed to matching pull paces on the erg.

“The row was a little bit strange,” said team member Jake Connor. “We didn’t really practice it so we got no-repped on the first rep. But we work out together every day; we know each other and how each other moves so we were able to lock it in pretty quick.”

The chance to compete on a big stage with his training partners, Connor said, is an opportunity the team doesn’t take for granted. And when they’re not on the floor, they’re learning from the elite and Rx divisions above them.

“It’s a fun competition for us because we’re not out here getting smacked, but we get to compete with guys on our level,” he said. “It shows us what we need to do to get to the next level when we can see these guys; working out alongside them, we can see how they move and it makes us better in the end. We hope to, one day, get to that same level.”

Allison Freeman, of team Who Dat from CrossFit Westchase in Tampa, Florida, agreed.

“I think it gives you an opportunity to compete on a big stage like this but at the level that you’re at,” she said.

Last year, Freeman attended Wodapalooza as a spector. At that point, she could not perform handstand push-ups or bar muscle-ups. Today, she did both—repeatedly, and in front of a crowd of hundreds in the stands and online.

“I wanted to be able to do them this year, (so) I worked to be able to try to make this division,” she said. “You get to work on your weaknesses.”

Freeman’s teammate Dana Mies had another reason to appreciate the division.

“I’m over 45 (years old); technically that’s considered intermediate, right?” she said. “There’s not a lot of masters (team) competitions, so I like from that perspective that I get to do more competitions on this kind of a stage.”

The worldwide nature of Wodapalooza, third teammate Tammy Young added, adds an additional refining layer to the level of competition.

“What’s great about Wodapalooza is it draws athletes from all over,” she said. “If you did an intermediate division in a local competition, it would be nothing like this. It draws so many people that this is almost the level of competition you would get at a local Rx division.”