"The nervousness and stress are just your mind and body preparing to do its best so embrace it"
I’ve have the pleasure of interviewing Alex Taray of IST Crossfit. Alex can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up on a farm in Meadowlands, MN and now I live in Duluth, MN with my fiancé, Sheenagh, and my little dog, Leo. I completed my master’s degree at The College of St. Scholastica in 2015. I work my dream job as a strength coach at IST CrossFit, Impact Sports Training. I’ve been with IST for 6 years now and enjoy working with our CrossFit athletes as well as our middle school, high school, collegiate and professional athletes.
I started lifting weights when I was 14. My dad taught me the basic barbell moves like the back squat, bench press and deadlift. I played football at Concordia St. Paul and when my football career ended I went into powerlifting. I competed in powerlifting for a year and then made the switch to CrossFit. My first competition was GameDay Spirit Lake and I was hooked! I’ve been competing in CrossFit for 3 years now and I really enjoy it.
What made you start competing in this sport?
After my football career I was looking to put my focus elsewhere. I am very goal oriented and enjoy working hard to accomplish my goals. I initially went into powerlifting (squat, bench, deadlift) and I excelled at it, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. At the time I was working out at IST CrossFit and was surrounded by other IST CrossFit athletes like Brendan Willis and Austin Gotchnik. The workouts always looked so fun and challenging. I found it much more enjoyable to join the IST crew and do a wide variety of really hard workouts than to stay in my corner working on the big three lifts. The combination of endurance, gymnastics, weightlifting, strongman, and any other move you can think of has made CrossFit extremely fun and motivating for me. There is always something that you can work on and become better at.
What do you enjoy most about competition day?
Team competitions are my favorite! Working with my teammates and being in a competitive atmosphere pushes me to a spot I can rarely get to on my own. Each workout is much more intense and I really enjoy the feeling of pushing to the absolute max. I treat myself to plenty of burgers and pizza regularly, but the post-competition pizza/burger meal has to be one of the best.
What’s your favorite all time workout or movement?
Currently, I think I enjoy most movements and workouts. It is hard to select my favorite. Last year at The Granite Games, our team (FittIST – Austin Gotchnik, Tanner Lee, myself) took first place in the sandbag squat/carry event. The workout definitely wasn’t my favorite but that moment was great.
"Working with my teammates and being in a competitive atmosphere pushes me to a spot I can rarely get to on my own"
Do you have any advice for first time competitors or people thinking about trying a competition?
I think competing is a great way to stay motivated and engaged in your sport but you must be ready for competition for it to be safe and enjoyable. I find that training for competition is just as fun as competing so there is no rush to dive in early. I would recommend finding a great gym/coach and spending a solid year training and learning. If the goal is to compete, I would recommend paying very close attention to movement standards. Use this year to ask your coach questions and learn from other competitors.
For those ready to compete, I have some additional advice. You will be nervous/stressed. The nervousness/stress is just your mind/body preparing to do its best so embrace it.
Have a plan. You should have an idea of when you will need to drink your coffee, start your warm up, use the bathroom, what will you do to cool down, what/when you should eat/drink, what equipment you need, etc. Planning these things out is important for the first few competitions. After that, it comes a bit easier. If you are lucky enough to have a coach help you along the way, you can spend more of your focus on the events and they might focus more on the small things.
Train hard and have fun!
Feel free to reach out to Alex on Instagram @alextaray