Brendan Kearney // The Post and Courier
More than 200 CrossFit enthusiasts competed in tests of strength and endurance at Integrity's Revenge, the Charleston-area leg of the Garage Games Series, Saturday at the Maritime Center (above) and on the USS Yorktown. The exertion and camaraderie continues Sunday.
Even among CrossFit disciples, who are some of the most conditioned and dedicated athletes around, Travis Mayer is exceptional.
Several spoke Saturday with evangelical zeal about how the exercise regimen has changed their lives, but for Mayer, it is his life. The 20-year-old Woodstock, Ga., native doesn't go to school or have a job. Instead, with his parents' full support, he has trained daily for the past 10 months, aiming simply to become "the fittest."
Having won the past three CrossFit Garage Games Series events, the inaugural Integrity's Revenge, which kicked off Saturday in Charleston, is just another step toward his ultimate goal: qualifying for next year's CrossFit Games and continuing his run of success at that highest level of the sport.
"My goal is I want to be the youngest guy to win the Games," he said.
Mayer is among more than 200 CrossFit practitioners who traveled from near and far this weekend to compete in the tests of strength and endurance at the Maritime Center and USS Yorktown. They range in age, sporting background and profession, but all are united by their passion for strenuous exercise and the culture of CrossFit.
"It's the community," explained Bill Holbrook, a 2001 Citadel graduate and now an Army major stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. "People come together to work out and improve their lives."
Holbrook, who traveled to Charleston with at least a dozen members of his gym, acknowledged the cultish nature of the hottest new thing in fitness but said, "you're addicted to something healthy. It's a good drug."
Mishelle Holladay, a 29-year-old restaurant owner from Charlotte, seemed to be feeling the high after completing the "Fort Sumter" WOD, or Workout of the Day, with teammate Kristy Shalbert, 39.
The women, wearing matching tank tops, spandex shorts and ponytails, took 6:03 to finish their circuit of 65-pound barbell lifts and hands-release push-ups.
"It's CrossFit. It's intensity. It's amazing," she said.
The weekend kicked off under overcast skies but it didn't seem to bother the chiseled competitors who lifted kettlebells, yanked on rowing machines and cheered each other on.
"It doesn't make a difference," said Erich Roberts, an army captain in Holbrook's clique. "Everyone has the same handicap."
A further illustration of the toughness of this crowd: a week ago on the Maritime Center lawn, Charlestonians dined on ribs and drank beer. Yesterday, the menu was fruit and energy drinks.
Saturday afternoon, they raced on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, and in the evening, they exerted themselves under the lights on the Yorktown. The Revenge will conclude with one final WOD this morning back at the Maritime Center.
Brian Kost, the West Ashley gym owner who manned the megaphone Saturday, said putting the event together "was a challenge but a fun one."
"And this is just the beginning," Kost said. "We hope to have a bigger and better crowd next year."