Nick Bloch Challenges Critics to a Head to Head “Grace”

A few weeks ago, Nick Bloch put the fitness community in a buzz when he completed the CrossFit workout Grace in under one minute. As far as we know, that’s a world record, which is all the more impressive given that Bloch had shoulder surgery in January. But as expected, performances like this cause the armchair coaches to come out in droves. For every person who is floored by Bloch’s performance, there’s another who claims it “doesn’t count” because it’s full of “bro reps.”

We got exhausted just reading the back and forth on social media and were curious to know Nick’s feelings on the subject. So, we called him up and asked him about the whole thing, and we also learned a little bit more about the 30 year old athlete, gym owner, and father.

Nick Bloch training during the 2015 NPGL season.
Nick Bloch training during the 2015 NPGL season.

What happened with your shoulder?

I was snatching heavy in November, I think I was going for 305. I caught it and as I stood it up I heard a loud pop in my right shoulder. I knew it was bad, so I took a break and did some of my own rehab. About a month and a half went, by and I still couldn’t overhead squat a PVC pipe or do a pull up because it hurt too bad. I finally went in and got it scoped in January. I’d completely torn my bicep tendon and my labrum.

What was your mentality going into the Open season given your injury?

My goal was to complete every workout, and when I saw that first workout, I planned on scaling it and just doing jumping pull-ups. But then I tried it, and it felt good. As weeks three and four came around, it was clear that making Regionals became more realistic.

How did you train while you were injured?

After the surgery, I could basically do anything except snatching and overhead squatting. I could clean and jerk, clean and jerk heavy, it was just wide overhead grip things that was pretty painful. Other than that, I was able to do everything normally.

Nick Bloch training
Nick Bloch training

What is your fitness like this year relative to last year?

I think my strength numbers are about the same. I’ve focused on my gymnastics and engine, especially in those 20-25 minute workouts. The long workout from last year’s regionals Regionals, with the GHD situps and overhead squats…that one crushed me. I’ve worked on increasing my overall capacity this year. I’ve re-tested workouts from the past and done better, so I’m feeling positive about that.

Did your CrossFit goals change after competing in GRID last year?

My focus definitely changed, and my training changed, just because the speed of things and the transition is so different. I think it’s made me better at CrossFit because [during GRID] sometimes you only have 30 seconds on the floor and you have to just go. Just having that mindset helped me mentally. Also, being around so many great athletes on the team pushed me. Overall, GRID made me way better.

Wes Kitts, Frederik Aegidius, and Nick Bloch of the New York Rhinos
Wes Kitts, Frederik Aegidius, and Nick Bloch of the New York Rhinos. Photo: Siem Photography

Is there a rivalry between CrossFit athletes and GRID athletes?

I’d love to see more of a cohesion between CrossFit and GRID. There are definitely athletes that cross over and do both, but I get the feeling that there’s a little bit of bad blood if an elite CrossFit athlete maybe does well at Regionals but doesn’t get signed to a team. But then we see in GRID that the stronger athletes really flourish. At the end of the day I think it’s jealousy on both parts. Think about being a Games athlete and feeling you’re not good enough to do GRID, but then a GRID athlete feels like they’re not good enough for CrossFit. If everyone could do a little bit of a better job of lifting each other up it would be better for both sports.

How did the “Grace” situation come about?

Whatever day it was, I had already worked out for two hours that morning. My coach wanted to see if I could do in under a minute, because I he knew I’d done it in 1:03 before. I just said, ‘shit, let’s go for it!’ So we set up my camera, and I just went extremely fast while trying to keep the technique there. It were a competition setting with judges, it may have been a little different since everything would have to be clean and perfect.

How do you react to the people who criticize your standards after you’ve done something extraordinary?

I try not to let that stuff bother me. I maybe read three or four comments, but if you’re going to put yourself out there on social media, you have to be prepared for people to say these things.

But, if anyone out there wants to come and go head to head with me, we’ll get two judges and see what happens!

Nick Bloch’s mom completing 16.1
Nick Bloch’s mom completing 16.1

What would you like to see change in the functional fitness community?

In 2016, pretty much everyone between the ages of 18 and 35 has heard about CrossFit, but what I’ve found in the town in I live in is that there’s still a stigma that it’s bad for you and that it’s unhealthy and that you’re going to get hurt if you do it. There’s tons of studies and journals that show the benefits of it, and I’ve seen the benefits of it. I own a gym and I see the benefits firsthand, even in my family…my mom has lost over 100 lbs through CrossFit.  To continue to hear negative comments even within the community is tough. At the end of the day I’ll do whatever I can to help somebody. All of the good things that happen just kind of get swept under the rug. Just keep it positive. That’s what it should be about.