CrossFit competitors are real people like you and me. They sweat, they feel the pain during a grueling workout, they occasionally like a slice of pizza. They are human, particularly two-time Games athlete Scott Panchik. “My favorite treat is pepperoni pizza. Hands down my favorite pizza place in the world is Valentino’s, this little hole in the wall in Cleveland [Ohio],” Panchik says. Panchik may be human—but there is something about the 25-year-old that is superhuman.
In fact, he looks to his favorite superhero, the highly underrated Wolverine, for inspiration.
“Wolverine is invincible. No one can touch him. He instantly heals anytime he gets hurt, and nothing gets him down. It’s like in a tough WOD, he would just fight through it, untouched,” Panchik says.
Panchik has been doing just that ever since his first appearance at the 2012 CrossFit Games last summer—fighting through tough workouts and grueling training sessions in order to, at the end of the day, be the “untouchable athlete.”
“I came in 4th place last year—one spot away from the podium. This year, I held that title. But I am hungry still. I want to be standing on the podium. And not only standing on the podium, but winning the Games is my goal. No one goes into the Games not wanting to win,” Panchik says.
Panchik says his biggest weakness from last year that has, now one year later become a strength, is his experience. He is confident that his experience will only continue to grow.
“Simply put, just having more experience with training and competing helped me feel more confident this year and hold my 4th place title at the Games. Last year, Regionals and the Games were my first-ever CrossFit competitions, and I had only been training at a CrossFit affiliate and working with a coach for a few months. This year, I have spent most all my time, when I am not working, eating, breathing and sleeping CrossFit,” Panchik says.
While Panchik did not earn a podium-spot this year at the Games like he hoped, he was not disappointed with his performance.
“I laid it all out there. I don’t think I could have done anything differently. I thought the competition this year, in general, was a lot more grueling than last year. The hardest workout for me I think was the Burden Run with the Pig and Log—it was just different from anything I’d ever done. I also tweaked my shoulder a little bit on the last set of Naughty Nancy, so that was a little tough. My favorite workout was the Shuttle Run WOD. All in all though, all of the events are so exciting. The fans keep me going,” Panchik says.
Panchik’s hard work has indeed gained attention within the CrossFit community, and his athleticism did not go unnoticed. At last year’s Regional, the rookie was snatching 245-pounds, this year he can throw up 285-pounds. Last year, he came in 4th place at Regionals—barely making the cut in the Central East; this year, he placed 2nd, right beside Froning. Panchik attributes his gains to keeping focused.
“Everything has improved across the board. My focus more than anything has been on doing what I can do. I try not to think about or worry about what others are doing to improve. I work very closely with my coaches Travis and Regina Page (owners of CrossFit Distinction). They individualize my program, and know to when push me, and also when to tell me to back off. I can have a tendency to overdo things otherwise,” Panchik says.
Panchik prefers to split his daily training into two sessions. There is no “typical training day”, Panchik says. This is CrossFit after all—it’s constantly varied.
“Prior to the Games this year, I really stepped up my volume. I would go up to CrossFit Distinction in the morning, or I may go out to the lake and do intervals of thrusters and swimming, then later in the day, do another session at home, and/or go run bleachers for some more cardio work,” Panchik says.
In between “hitting it hard”, Panchik eats and sleeps. He believes quality nutrition, rest and recovery are vital to his performance and recovery. He does tons of mobility work, and even had his own personal chiropractor travel with him to the Games this year in order to keep him performing at his peak. Panchik does not stick to a specific diet or nutrition plan though. He says he eats what “feels good”—particularly on his higher volume training days, which occur about five days per week.
Lots of salmon, chicken, steak, green veggies, potatoes, rice, and occasionally pasta, fill his plate. And who could forget the competitive CrossFitter’s fuel of choice: Milk and peanut butter. “I go through three gallons of milk per week,” Panchik says.
Following the Games, Panchik took some quality time off from training. “I will get back to it when my body feels good. I really try to listen to my body,” Panchik says.
Looking to the next full year of training, Panchik says he plans to keep doing what he’s been doing, “CrossFit. To get better at CrossFit, just do CrossFit. It’s pretty simple. I don’t think too much will change, if anything, with my training.”
During his downtime, when he is not training or eating, Panchik is busy working on his own CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit Mentality opening this October. A few months ago, after careful thought and debate, Panchik turned in his resignation as a school teacher at Mentor High School to pursue his newfound dream—a career in CrossFit.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be a school teacher, and I’ve loved the opportunity to work with kids, and hopefully make an impact—both as their teacher and a coach. Now my dream has evolved even more so. I want to teach people how to live healthier lives through CrossFit,” Panchik says.
Panchik is not alone. His family of six (mom, dad, three younger brothers and one younger sister) is joining him in his new adventure.
“My family is so supportive. They just moved from Pittsburgh to Mentor after the Games to help start it up! My dad just retired from teaching as well and he is going to help me run the business. My 17-year-old twin brothers have also really gotten into CrossFit and, one day, may take it over so I could open up another place down South. My other brother and sister who are in college right now, want to help out whenever they come to town,” Panchik says.
There is no doubt that CrossFit changes lives—and it most certainly has changed the Panchiks’ lives.
Panchik says if there is one thing that he has learned from his family that he practices in most every grueling WOD he faces, it is advice from his grandmother, “She always taught me, ‘If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it.’ I keep that in my head any time things get hard, and it makes me want to show them just how big my heart is.”
A Day in the Life of Scott Panchik
8:30am: Wake up
9am: Breakfast: 4 eggs, cup of milk, ¾cup granola “Healthy Grains” cereal, 2 scoops of peanut butter, and juice (cucumber, 2 carrots, 1 apple) to drink on the way to the gym
10am: Training Session 1 @CrossFit Distinction.
Mobility: Anything from Kelly Starrett’s book
Strength WOD: 2 reps EMOM X 10 min and front squats
WOD: 30 squat cleans and thrusters @165lbs, for time
Skill: 6 Rounds- 6 ring HSPU + 60 double-unders
1pm: Post WOD meal: Banana & Progenex shake
1:30pm: Lunch: Grilled chicken, white rice and avocado
2-2:30pm: Nap time
3pm: Training Session 2:
5 rounds for time
7 deadlifts @315lbs
Football field sandbag run: 100m sprints x 10 rounds (Run 50m with sandbag, drop sandbag and sprint last 50m; 50m recovery walk back to sandbag; repeat)
6pm: Dinner: 5 oz. steak, sweet potato, zucchini
7pm: Wind down, watch TV, in bed by 11pm!
Check out this great video about Scott and his coaches by Geoff Yaw.