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  • FITNESS

    Pumped up

    Locals win state fitness challenge, and they're not done yet
  • Two Rogue Valley athletes moved closer to their dream of claiming the title of “World's Fittest Man” when they recently won an Oregon Summer Games fitness competition at the Oregon CrossFit gym in Bend.
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  • Two Rogue Valley athletes moved closer to their dream of claiming the title of “World's Fittest Man” when they recently won an Oregon Summer Games fitness competition at the Oregon CrossFit gym in Bend.
    Austin Stack, 28, and Shane Sevcik, 35, won the team division, competing as “T.Rex and Man Bear” during the Aug. 24-25 competition.
    “Austin is this strong guy with short arms, so it's a joke we call him T.Rex, and I'm just this big guy, so I'm called The Bear,” says Sevcik, a Medford financial advisor.
    The competition combined a wide variety of strength, speed and endurance exercises. It attracted more than 400 athletes, making it one of the largest competitions of its kind anywhere, Sevcik says.
    Sevcik and Stack arrived at the competition not knowing which workouts they'd be asked to do.
    A key element of such events “is preparing for the unknown and the unknowable,” says Sevcik, “so we have no clue what the events are until they're about to take place. So there's no specific training you can do in advance to better prepare yourself for one of these competitions. You literally just have to prepare for everything.”
    The first of the five competition routines was an intensive cardiovascular workout.
    “Fifteen burpees, jumping over your partner on every burpee, followed by 30 double-unders with a jump rope, followed by a 200-meter sprint,” says Sevcik. “You had to cycle through them in eight minutes as many times as you could possibly get through it.”
    Subsequent workouts included squats, Olympic-style snatch and overhead jerk weight lifting, pullups and running around a football field carrying a 45-pound weight. Those strength exercises played to the forte of 235-pound Sevcik and 230-pound Stack.
    No matter how you look at it, says Stack, being prepared simultaneously for any exercise requiring
    strength, speed or stamina is tough.
    “Everything is hard, from the physical struggle that you're pushing yourself to get the work done as quickly as you can, maintaining the range of motion standards and keeping good form and technique while you move as fast as you can, and also the mental aspect,” says the owner of the Medford CrossFit gym, The Den. “But with that intensity comes great results.”
    Stack is no stranger to these types of competitions. The former Southern Oregon University football player placed fifth earlier this year in the Northwest Regional CrossFit competition and was third in 2012. His podium placement last year qualified Stack for the World Competition, where he placed 34th.
    His road to CrossFit contained an element of chance.
    “I kind of found it in 2009 on a Google search. I was on the internet looking for ideas for my training program. I did the workout that was posted that day on crossfit.com,” says Stack. “It was a humbling experience. I had a background in college football, I thought I was in pretty good shape and my fitness was where it needed to be. I was definitely crushed by my first CrossFit workout. I guess you could say I've been hooked ever since.”
    At the time, Stack was a personal trainer at OZ Fitness. He decided to quit that job and start his own CrossFit gym because “the results I was starting to see had a really fast return, and it was fun.”
    For Sevcik, health was the driving force behind his conversion to CrossFit.
    “About 41⁄2 years ago I had two ruptured discs in my back from a college injury,” he says. “The prognosis was they wanted to fuse the vertebrae in my back.”
    At the time, Sevick weighed 308 pounds — more than 70 pounds over his current weight. A friend and trainer introduced him to CrossFit as a way to lose weight, strengthen his core and get in shape.
    “It was the hardest stuff I ever did in my life,” says Sevcik. “Over time the weight just started flying off me. It was fun. It's this competitive atmosphere, camaraderie, you're doing all this different stuff every single day, you just never know what you're going to do until you show up at the gym. It got me hooked on it. I haven't taken a pain pill in two years.”
    Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Email him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org
    This story has been edited to reflect that CrossFit Inc. did not license its trademark to the competition.
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