Lodi Athlete Chris Podesto Will Take on the World at Reebok CrossFit Games
There are times when Chris Podesto doesn’t know how to quit.
The 50-year-old spends his lunch hour doing cardio work at In Shape City, then does intense workouts for another hour and a half after work at Lodi CrossFit Gym six days a week.
“I’m supposed to take one day off. Sometimes I go for a 10-mile run on that day. I’m not supposed to,” Podesto said. “I struggle with that. It’s not recommended for the sport. The body needs recovery. There are active recoveries — I swim and I jog slow.”
That relentless training has its rewards. Podesto is one of 20 men worldwide who have qualified for the Reebok CrossFit Games in the 50-54 division. The competition takes place from July 21 to 26 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and Podesto is ranked 16th out of those 20.
Last August, Podesto made a conscious decision to shoot for the CrossFit Games, and began increasing the intensity of his workouts. He had a setback in December when he separated his right biceps training in the event he considers his nemesis — the ring muscle-ups, where an athlete jumps and grabs the rings, then swings the body up using the arms.
It’s the only major injury he’s had during CrossFit.
“Here’s the tradeoff: I’m 50 years old, and I can do things I couldn’t do at 25,” he said. “Can you get hurt? Yeah, that possibility exists. You can get hurt walking across the street. But the benefits, it’s amazing.”
Podesto hasn’t always been this focused on fitness. He was a fullback for Tokay High, graduating in 1983, then went on to play fullback for the University of Pacific’s football team. His football career led to three knee repair surgeries.
After his playing career, he stayed more or less in shape.
“I had some chubby phases. I was bored at the gym,” he said. “I heard about CrossFit five years ago and I started doing it, and wasn’t really willing to refine my skills to get to the games. Athletically, I was always there but never got over the hurdle.
“I’m really excited. I never thought it was a big deal, but it’s gotten to be a big deal.”
Podesto works with a trainer from Canada, Mike Fitzgerald, who runs a gym and helps Podesto build his training program.
“He builds programs around people’s weaknesses,” Podesto said. “I wouldn’t have made it here without him, because I was always trying to freelance and do it on my own, but I realized that the guys at the top have specific training regimens with people that know more about the physiology of the body than I do.”
Podesto’s workout on Tuesday involved power cleans, front squats, ring muscle-ups, 10 rope climbs, wall walks, squat cleans, wall balls and box jumps.
Because the CrossFit Games entail a much more strenuous aerobic program than the regionals, Fitzgerald has Podesto losing a little weight to better approach the competition. He’s hovering around 200 pounds at the moment, about seven pounds lighter than usual.
Podesto said his career as an executive marketing director for Food4Less gives him the opportunity to maintain his eating habits.
“I’m eating much healthier than I ever have,” he said. “Mostly paleo — meat and produce, then I have oatmeal and rice with the meat and vegetable, limited fruit. It’s really changed.”
The CrossFit Games Masters event (ages 40 and older) includes competition in eight events, starting with four on July 22: the deadlift ladder, the max distance handstand, the sled sprint and the run rope, which involves a 400-meter run and two rope climbs.
Competition on July 23 starts with the 2007, which includes a 1,000-meter row, then five rounds of 20 pull-ups and seven push jerks. The day concludes with the medball burpee, which includes medicine-ball cleans over the shoulder and burpees.
The final day starts with the Down and Back Chipper, which combines seven activities into one event. The competition concludes with the Masters Final consisting of a 100-meter run, four muscle-ups and five snatches of 125 pounds.
The overall competition is scored based on how athletes place in each event.