CrossFit Games veteran Jon Pera isn’t just looking for a return trip to compete at the largest CrossFit event in the world. He’s looking to compete at his best for what will be his final individual competition at this level.
This native Californian sat down and shared some of his personal experiences with me as the CrossFit Open drew to a close for 2015. For those of us who maybe aren’t seeing the results we want from our CrossFit workouts, it’s time to take notes. This guy knows firsthand what it takes.
Sacrifice and Priorities
Father of three and married eleven years to his wife, Ami, Jon does not cut corners when it comes to his CrossFit training, despite the fact he works full-time swing shift. Yes, you heard me right. Jon isn’t an only athlete – he’s a working, busy dad and husband. I could even hear the squealing of his three-year-old, Jace, in the background as we spoke.
Jon heads to the gym every morning and sometimes returns there after work for additional conditioning. The sacrifices he and his family have made of his time will wane after this season, but his success comes from nothing other than a whole lot of downright hard work. That, and a sweetheart of a wife who supports and cheers him on.
“Father of three and married eleven years to his wife, Ami, Jon does not cut corners when it comes to his CrossFit training, despite the fact he works full-time swing shift.”
“You’ll always wish you were better at something,” he admitted. “But the more consistent you are, the more you’ll see the results you want. Most people want to see quick results but it’s not like that. It’s consistency you need.”
PRO TIP: It’s not only consistency you need, but also the willingness to sacrifice your time and dedicate yourself to reaching the goals you’ve set.
Back before 2009, Jon didn’t know what CrossFit was. He stayed in shape at his local gym and participated in sports as a youth, but nothing like what the variety and challenge CrossFit has given him. He remembered back to his first CrossFit experience:
A guy from my work introduced me to it. It was 21-15-9 wall balls, sumo deadlift high pull, burpees. I didn’t even know what burpees were. And in about two minutes I wanted to throw up.
So, Jon’s first CrossFit workout was the same as what many of us have gone through. And, like many of us, he fell in love with what CrossFit did for him. Jon continued to use his work gym for workouts, following the CrossFit main site for six more months, until he found a gym to attend. His home gym is now CrossFit Foothill, near where he currently lives in Fontana, California.
PRO TIP: For anyone uncertain if they should try CrossFit, know the first workout may be extra uncomfortable. Many of the workouts you complete as you go along will still be uncomfortable, but your strength will improve and you will begin to feel better.
While some competitors choose to follow specific programming, Jon and his fellow competitors at CrossFit Foothill all participate in the gym’s group classes no matter what other programming they may be following as competitors. For specialized extra programming, Jon follows the plans presented online by Doug Chapman of Hyperfit USA.
Because many Games athletes do more than one workout per day and are constantly working on building both skill and strength, Jon feels the additional programming from Hyperfit fills in the extra training components he needs. Jon spends three or more hours per day training and varies his workouts significantly. He’s one fit fella.
“He worked himself into 41st place at the CrossFit 2011 Games, and 23rd in the 2012 Games. In 2014, his team finished tenth at Regionals.”
Jon and his fellow competitors also sometimes program separate team-style workouts at his home gym, but in those workouts they keep the seriousness of what they are doing in perspective. “We always have a good time. That’s also important,” he stressed.
Jon doesn’t currently coach classes, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to offer his fellow gym-mates. “I don’t coach formally, but I help people out as much as I can,” he said. “I’ll always take the time to help them.”
As a well-conditioned athlete of the sport of CrossFit, Jon said he knows what it’s like to get stuck in your own mind. His words of advice ring true: “I think the main thing is don’t compare yourself to others. There’s going to be days you struggle, no matter what.”
PRO TIP: Don’t compare yourself to others. allow yourself to have good and bad days at the gym.
Jon’s motivation for this CrossFit Games season is that it will be his last one as a competitive individual. He said that even though his family time is sacrificed at times, it’s made up for by the fact his kids are well accustomed to hanging out with him at the gym and he greatly enjoys sharing his lifestyle with them. Jon’s kids are firsthand observers of their dad’s hard work and in turn are one of his greatest motivators.
Hard work sometimes is the result of putting something on the line, Jon said. He used the example of his co-workers doing periodic weight-loss challenges. He has seen so many of the challenges they have done improve the habits and overall health of his colleagues. The trick? He says it’s that they put something on the line. In their case, it’s money.
When those guys throw $100 in the pot, they take it serious. If there’s ten of them, whoever wins gets $1,000. That’s a lot of money and good motivation. And, whoever wins gets bragging rights, that’s the best part.
He added that the community support during these challenges is very important to each person’s success.
PRO TIP: Put something on the line and gather support. Even if it’s not money, find something else that motivates you and ask others to hold you accountable.
Make an Investment
Jon Pera is a true representation of the hard work and determination needed to pursue a career in competitive CrossFit. For those of you who aren’t sure how to reach your personal fitness goals, take a hint from this guy. He worked himself into 41st place at the CrossFit 2011 Games, and 23rd in the 2012 Games. In 2014, his team finished tenth at Regionals.
All this achievement while he worked full-time and took care of his young family – he made no excuses. Want to succeed on the level of Jon Pera? Then invest the time, invest the work, and invest your heart. And, most importantly, have fun.
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Photos courtesy of Richard Hernandez.