From CrossFit Athlete to Physique Competitor – My Fitness Journey

CrossFit Athletes to Physique Competitors: My Fitness Journey

By Gervase Peterson

I am not sure if I want to go into too much detail here because it’s going to get long and boring, but I will try my best. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section or email me at [email protected] . Thanks!

My name is Gervase Peterson and I am a professional athlete who has competed in several sports including track & field, wrestling, football and boxing. I was introduced to CrossFit when one of my friends started training with Greg Glassman (the founder of CrossFit) while she worked out at the gym where he trained. Since then I’ve been doing some form of CrossFit every day since 2011.

When I first started training with Greg, I wasn’t exactly sure what all the hype was about. After reading up on it though, I knew that it sounded like something that would fit my personality. So after just a few weeks of training, I decided to give it a shot myself. It didn’t take me very long before I realized how beneficial it could be for me. Over time, my conditioning improved dramatically and so did my strength and power levels.

In 2012, I decided to get more serious with CrossFit and I wanted to start competing in the Open. I had a lot of success with it that year finishing in the top 10 overall for both the open and the online qualifiers. My goal was to become a sponsored athlete and make a career out of it, but I soon started to realize how much work and dedication it really takes to become a professional CrossFitter.

As time went on, I ended up backing off of competing in the Opens because I just didn’t have the time or energy to put into training like I should have. I would still train as often as I could but it was never consistent. This worked for me though since I was also still playing collegiate football at the time along with having a social life and school work.

This began my on and off again relationship with CrossFit, as I am sure many of you can relate to. It’s always seemed to be feast or famine when it comes to training. Last year was one of the times when I ended up taking a break from it all and putting most of my focus into school and football. It was actually one of the best decisions I made since I had been starting to get burned out from all the competitions and training. I ended up finishing up my degree in Kinesiology with a minor in biology and I graduated with honors.

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Once I had finished up school last May, I decided that it was finally time to pursue my dream of becoming a professional athlete. I had been doing CrossFit for 3 years by then and I didn’t really see any reason to stop since I was still having fun with it and it was definitely helping me stay in shape.

So I set my sights on the 2016 Open, which was and still is the main goal for the year. The past 3 years of irregular training had definitely taken it’s toll on me physically and mentally though so I knew that I needed to change things up if I wanted to achieve my goal.

This is about the time that I met you guys and your functional training center. After seeing the improvements that Tommy had made to his own fitness, as well as helping others reach their goals; I knew I had to join you guys. I have been enjoying it ever since and I definitely feel more prepared now than ever before.

So while my current plans for after this year’s open are still uncertain, I feel more ready than ever to tackle whatever may come.”

You finish up your story and take a drink of your water before continuing.

“Well that’s the long and short of it. So now I guess I’m wondering if any of you have any goals you’d like to accomplish or anything you would like to achieve in the near future.”

Marco thinks for a moment and then starts telling his story.

“Well I guess since we’re all sharing our stories, I’ll go next. Umm, well my story isn’t really all that interesting and it’s not like I have some big secret or regret that haunts me or anything like that.

I mean yeah I guess I could say my dad was an alcoholic and that’s how I got my muscular frame, but that’s just genetics right?


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You and Olivia both listen as Marco begins to tell his story.

Chapter Two

You continue to sit and listen to your two new friends share their stories with you. It’s interesting to see that even though you’re all in the same boat, each person’s experience can be vastly different from anothers. Both of your stories tug at your heartstrings a bit and you find yourself gaining a new level of respect for both of them.

As they both finish telling their stories, you realize that you haven’t eaten anything since this morning and you’re a little hungry. You also didn’t have time to go food shopping this week so your cupboards are pretty much empty at this point.

You think for a moment and remember that there is a pizza place that delivers in the same strip mall that you bank at. It’s a bit of a walk, but not too bad. If you ordered a large with half pepperoni and half sausage, that should be enough to feed you all for a few days if you get two larges.

You look over at your two friends and realize that this is the first time in quite a while that you’ve spent any amount of time with other people your age. You take another moment to reflect on how good these past few days have been since you woke up and realize that it would be a shame to not continue this a little longer.

Hey, why don’t we order a pizza?

My treat since you guys just shared your stories with me.” You say to them.

“Oh yeah! I could go for some pizza.” Marco says as he jumps up from the table.

“That’s okay. You two have been out here long enough taking care of me, the least I can do is buy you all a meal.” You protest.

“Nonsense, you’re quite well off compared to the both of us if what you say is true. It’s the least we can do to help thank you for your hospitality.” Olivia says with a smile.

“Well if you insist then, let’s get that large pepperoni and sausage pizza!”

The three of you head over to the mall and go into the pizza place there. You’ve never been in here before, but it’s definitely better than the one you usually go to which is a little closer. The person behind the counter seems to recognize you and gives you a big smile as you walk up to the register.

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The usual?”

The man asks.

“Umm, I haven’t ever ordered here before so I don’t think I have a usual.” You say, a little confused.

“He likes the special.” Marco interjects.

“Oh! Good memory, thanks Marco. I guess that is my usual then.” You say, confirming Marco’s statement.

The man grabs a large pan that has a bunch of different kinds of pizza on it and places in on the scale. You watch as he adjusts the scale until it reads exactly twenty eight dollars, which is probably exactly how much the pizza weighs. He then places the pan into a large bag and slides it down the counter to you.

“Thanks.” You say, a little disappointed that you just paid almost thirty dollars for pizza.

You, Olivia and Marco head back to your house where you immediately start eating. You don’t normally eat such expensive food so you load up on as much pizza as you can fit in your mouth. You eat more in five minutes than you think you have in the last three days combined.

“Man this is good!” You say with your mouth full.

Olivia looks a little uncomfortable watching you eat so much, but Marco is enjoying the show.

“That’s gross. Don’t eat so much; you can’t waste it all.” He says.

“I’m not wasting, I’m savoring.” You retort through another mouthful of food.

“I can honestly say I’ve never seen anyone eat like you do.” Olivia says.

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“Well you two are lucky, because at home I have to eat all my food VERY slowly or mom throws a fit. I can’t believe how much she complains about food when she’s the one that has to cook it.”

You continue eating and soon you’ve finished off the first large pizza. You look over at Marco who is staring directly at your empty plate expectantly. You reach into the bag and pull out the second large pan which you immediately start shoveling into your mouth.

“Mom is making her’s vegetarian, but I guess since we got the combo pizza I can just grab some of this off your plate.” Marco says as he stands up to get a slice.

Marco, have you ever heard of people actually using bowls to eat out of?”

Olivia asks.

What’s the point of that when we have perfectly good plates?”

Marco replies as he comes back with a piece of pizza.

You continue eating your second large pan and the three of you watch TV until your stomach begins to hurt. After a while even Marco realizes that you’re a danger to yourself and makes you stop. You lay down on the floor and fall asleep, unable to move for fear of waking up in pain tomorrow.

You wake up feeling pretty normal, but when you stand up you find that your stomach has swollen to about five times its size. You waddle over to the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror. You look nearly exactly like you did the day you caught gastritis…well except for the fact that you’re extremely pale now.

“Marco! Come look at this!” You say as you prepare to remove your shirt. “I’m gross and fat.”


! No you’re not!” Marco says as he comes in.

“Yes I am, I’m massive.” You whine as you begin to unbutton your shirt.

You pull off your shirt and turn to show Marco, but he isn’t paying attention to you. He’s staring over your shoulder at something else. You turn around to see Olivia standing in the doorway.

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“Hey, I was looking for you guys.

Why is your belly swollen like that?”

She asks.

You look down and sure enough although your stomach is still puffy, it isn’t nearly as big as it was earlier.

“I don’t know.” You say and quickly put your shirt back on.

“You don’t look very good, you guys should go see a doctor or something. Maybe you have a disease or something, I saw a show about it once.”

“I’ll be fine.” You say as you walk past her towards the stairs.

“Well if you think something is wrong, maybe you should go see someone today. You don’t want it to get worse and not be able to get help in time.”

“I doubt if I have some rare disease that’s going to kill me overnight.” You reply.

“You should still go see someone, just to be safe.”

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“Fine, I will…” You say and begin walking down the stairs.

“Thanks for caring guys.

Did you want something for dinner tonight, or do you just want something quick?”


“Great, I’ll call it in when we get to the store.”

You walk down the stairs and out into the parking lot, you don’t feel that bad other than a mild headache, but your stomach is still noticeably swelled. After unlocking the truck you get in the passenger seat and fasten your seat belt.

You want to drive?”

You ask Marco.

“Nah, I’m good thanks. I’d rather finish this game.” He says not even looking away from his screen.

You turn on the radio and find a pop station and turn it up. You bop your head to the music for a few minutes and then nod off.

“Hey, wake up, we’re here.” Marco says shaking you.


I didn’t even fall asleep.” You say and blink your eyes a few times.

“We’re at the grocery store, wake up! You need to go inside and get the stuff for dinner.”

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“Oh. Yeah, sure I’ll do that.” You say yawning and opening the door.

You walk into the store and grab a cart. You begin to push it around the store getting the various ingredients for dinner, as well as several candy bars you see that you like the look of.

“Hey! Watch it!” A woman yells at you as you accidentally run into her when turning around.

“Oh, I’m sorry about that.” You say. It takes you a few seconds of staring at her before you realize who it is. “

Amber? What are you doing here?”

Shopping, what does it look like?”

She replies with more than a little attitude in her voice.

“I…uh…thought you were at college.

I mean I thought you lived with your parents.”

I’m home for the holidays, what’s it to you?”

“Nothing, nothing. Sorry I bumped into you.” You say and quickly push the cart away.

“Well watch it next time! Idiot!” You hear her mutter as you walk away.

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You throw in a couple extra things when you start putting the groceries onto the belt. You figure Olivia might like some of them. After paying for everything you head back to the truck and drive back to the house.

You notice that there are a few cars parked in the driveway this time, and the garage door is open. As you get closer you see that there are several people moving large objects into the garage.

Sources & references used in this article:

CrossFit: Fitness cult or reinventive institution? by MC Dawson – International review for the sociology of sport, 2017 –

‘We’re In This Together:’neoliberalism and the disruption of the coach/athlete hierarchy in CrossFit by L Heywood – Sports Coaching Review, 2016 – Taylor & Francis

An Exploration of Crossfit Athletes Physiological Self-Regulation and Competition Performance by TMC Wildgoose – 2019 –

The culture of CrossFit: a lifestyle prescription for optimal health and fitness by S Kuhn – 2013 –

Benefits of structural integration for crossfit athletes competing in the “Sport of Fitness” by KJ Kula – Yearbook of Strutural Integration, 2013 –

7 CrossFit by K Ryan