Since June, CrossFit South Bay has been taken over by professional football players Chris Long (St. Louis Rams), Kyle Long (Chicago Bears), James Anderson (free agent), Brian Banks (free agent), and prospective first-round draft pick out of UCLA, Anthony Barr. “Definitely having the NFL players made me push harder,” Van Dyke said. “Having athletes that are the highest level there is only going to make you better and push you to your limits.” It all started 10 months ago when off season trainer Gabe Rangel partnered with CrossFit South Bay to provide a competitive place to train for the professional athletes who live in the South Bay of Los Angeles, Calif. Mixing CrossFit workouts with traditional football strength training, the NFL players didn’t get a sense of competitive CrossFit until the 2014 Open. As they watched Van Dyke throw down, their interest was piqued. “They definitely respected what I was doing and were curious on how well the Open was going and if I was going to make it to the next level,” Van Dyke said. Soon, some of the players joined Van Dyke.
In the third week of the Open, Anderson and trainer Trippe Hale faced eight minutes of deadlifts and box jumps with Van Dyke. Van Dyke finished his 16th deadlift at 315 lb. at the time cap (146 reps), Anderson coaxed his 50-lb. heavier frame up the 24-inch box for another good rep after the set of 25 275-lb. deadliest. Anderson had already spent hours on standard football strength training before he did 14.3, and only joined after some prodding. “C’mon are you scared? Let’s go,” Van Dyke had called out. Although totally spent after the Open workout, Anderson and his trainer thought the match up paid off for both athletes. “We got better from it,” Hale said. “(Van Dyke) got better from it because (he) went after us. We were trying to compete. ” I have to constantly be training with people who are a little bit better than me and who are pushing me,” Van Dyke echoed. Training alongside professional athletes, and beating them in Open workouts, was surreal for Van Dyke. “As a kid, you look up to NFL athletes and NBA athletes. Right now, I’m kind of competing with them and training with them,” Van Dyke said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Of course, the NFL players haven’t let Van Dyke go home with the win each day. When they programmed suicide-style prowler pushes at max weights, they got Van Dyke to join them. “They crushed me pretty good with that,” Van Dyke admitted. “That was probably one of the hardest things I have done for conditioning.”By the end of the prowler work, there were several large men laid flat on their backs, gasping for air.Although the two kinds of athletes excel at different workouts, both share a common respect for intensity and mental toughness.“One thing I can take away from the (CrossFit athletes) is the mental fortitude it takes to push past that physical limit, which we do a lot in football,” Chris Long said.
Heading into the 2014 SoCal Regional on May 23-25, Van Dyke said he knows he has the support of his new training partners.“They’re all awesome guys and respect me as much as I respect them,” he said, “so they all wish me the best in the competitions to come.”