A couple weeks ago, we had the chance to sit down and interview Brent Fikowski at a Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Launch event. In our conversation, we talked bigger CrossFit related topics, along with a few lighthearted things, like what athletes Fikowski would love to switch bodies and places with.
Since his first year as a Reebok CrossFit Games athlete, Fikowski has consistently improved his placing at the Games, and this year he took home second behind Mat Fraser. Outside of his insane physical abilities, what may be most impressive about Fikowski is how he still manages to work a full-time office job, while maintaining his elite level of fitness; read on for more on that below.
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BarBend: What do you think the landscape of CrossFit will look like in the next five years? Do you think it will continue to grow at the rate is has between 2017-2022?
Fikowski: I remember people talking about how much the sport has grown when I was in Australia in 2012. At that time, people were like, ‘Wow, here we are, we’ve made it,’ that sort of talk, and now we’re having that talk again. I would love to see it continue to grow and for me to [let’s say] retire from the sport in 5-10 years, then see it grow even bigger in 20 years. I’d love it to get bigger and I think it has the potential to. There’s a lot of things CrossFit has going for it, but I honestly don’t know.
BarBend: Leading off of that, you discuss doing this for another X amount of years, and since CrossFit is a relatively newer sport, we don’t have a good barometer for an athlete’s longevity. How long do you think you can compete at the level you’re at?
Fikowski: I don’t know, I think once a male hits their mid-thirties, or that 32 range, then you’ll probably see some drop off. At that point in life, it’s a lot harder to get faster and more powerful, granted, you can still get stronger and more aerobic, plus your skills will be there if your body is still healthy. Women may be a little older, take Sam Briggs, she’s still killing it in her late thirties.
I think it’s really going to depend on where you’re at mentally, physically, and the toll it’s taken on your body. It’s kind of your training age, so you see someone like Sara Signmundsdottir who didn’t play sports growing up [she was active] but didn’t play sports, and she’s been doing CrossFit for a couple years and has become one of the best in the world. She can most likely hold that for a lot longer, whereas you have someone like Ben Smith who’s been competing in CrossFit for over 10 years, and was a competitive athlete growing up is in his late 20’s.
Is he going to compete at the highest level when he’s 33? Probably not, but could Sara, maybe. I think there’s a lot of variables, but I still think the mean age of most Games athletes will be around the late twenties. Power and speed you can train at a young age, but strength takes time, so that’s why you don’t see a ton of 21 year olds that can play with the boys…the men (laughs).
BarBend: What’s the toughest part of your recovery on an in-season basis?
Fikowski: The biggest for me is properly periodizing the season as a whole. When I first made the Games, and the Games ended, there was a much greater need for some off time, as opposed to Regionals. Leading up to Regionals there’s a month or two of solid prep, then the weekend itself is tiring, but it’s manageable [you can take a week or two off, then you’re good to go].
If you make the Games from Regionals, then you take maybe a week off [some people don’t at all] and you have about two and half months of the craziest training you can manage. Flirting on the edge of injury just so you’re prepared for this test, and you’re going into the competition really well conditioned, but you’re also a little beat up.
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There’s a balance, then you go to the Games and they crush you in every way, mentally, physically, spiritually (laughs)…literally everything. Then you finish, and I think some people fall into the trap of trying to maintain that peak level of fitness. You’re so conditioned that it feels good to know you could literally take on anything someone threw at you. People try to hold onto that feeling, and it’s a learning curve of acceptance on the fact that you have to let go of it.
It’s okay to realize that at the beginning of August you’re capable of doing so much stuff, and in mid-September acknowledging that you can’t, that’s okay. You have to go a little lower and calm down a little bit in order to bring yourself back up to that level again. So by the next year’s Open you’re fitter, then Regionals and the Games you’re better than you were last year.
That for me, is the biggest mental check. Being okay with the fact that I couldn’t beat August Brent in a Games weekend, I have to remember that’s not the goal right now. The goal is to prepare for the next August Games, so hopefully next time around I’ll be better than I was in 2017.
BarBend: Let’s get a little weird, if you could do a full body swap with another athlete, who would it be?
Fikowski: Hmm…a high level basketball or beach volleyball player…maybe Lebron James, or an elite volleyball player, so I could travel the world playing in warm climates.
BarBend: What’s the worst part of being one of the fittest athletes in the world?
Fikowski: Sometimes some of the training days can get pretty long and pretty hard. The realization of the never ending amount of hard training. Sometimes there are more voices telling you take a rest day, but it’s listening to that one that tells you to keep going.
BarBend: If you had to design a final event workout at the Games that would settle a six way tie, what’s the one workout you know you’d be the best at?
Fikowski: It would definitely involve swimming, and a couple movements I’m good at like wall balls, overhead walking lunges, and rope climbs.
Feature image from @fikowski and @reebokcanada on Instagram.