Playing the Mental Game

Nick Urankar, a South Bend, Indiana native, has competed in several CrossFit Games and is the owner of two gyms in his home town.

Athletes train to get better at their respective sport, be it baseball or football, hockey or tennis. But what if your respective sport is training?

For CrossFit athletes, this is the case. According to the official CrossFit website, CrossFit is a fitness regimen developed by Greg Glassman over several decades. CrossFit is increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains, mixed with a program specifically designed to improve fitness and health.

CrossFit has turned working out into a sport. With CrossFit gyms, competitions and leagues popping up all around the world, it has certainly become one of the biggest workout crazes.

CrossFitters often get a bad reputation because they enjoy working out to the point of complete exhaustion, but they have proven themselves as some of the fittest athletes in the world. So what does a typical CrossFit athlete’s life look like?

Indiana-based athlete Nick Urankar is a three-time CrossFit Games competitor.

The CrossFit Games is an athletic competition sponsored by CrossFit Inc., and has been held every summer since 2007.

Urankar, 34-years-old and the U.S.’s 9th ranked competitor overall, is the owner of two gyms in South Bend, Indiana, CrossFit 061 (named after Urankar’s number in his first CrossFit Games appearance) and CrossFit 574 (named after South Bend’s area code). Urankar has been a CrossFit athlete since 2011 and a gym owner since 2012.

Growing up, Urankar was an athletic kid, playing soccer, track and football throughout high school. Despite playing college football for Indiana State University, Urankar calls himself an athlete in- stead of a football player.

“I never wanted one sport to define me. I am an athlete who played football, but I am not a football player,” Urankar said.

Urankar’s most dominant performance in the 2018 CrossFit Games came in the Clean and Jerk Speed Ladder workout, an event in the Games, in which he placed first. Urankar also placed third in the 2018 CrossFit Central East Regional competition, and second in the 2016 CrossFit Lift Off.

“Going to the games is a crazy experience. You are there with the fittest men and women in the world. It is a great time,” Urankar said.

Following his recent success in the Games, Urankar became sponsored by big time CrossFit companies 2POOD and Bear Complex. Urankar also created a fitness program called the Zeus Method, which is designed to enhance pure strength as well as muscle endurance.

Though he has found success in several events, when I asked Urankar his weakest event, he knew right away.

“Legless rope climbs. My grip has always been one of my weaker skills, but I am working to improve that,” Urankar said.

Urankar spends his off seasons in South Bend training for the Games.

“I spend about seven hours in the gym each day training. I will take breaks in between to coach and hang out. Every day is different,” he said.

Urankar also enjoys posting his favorite workouts on Instagram (@nickurankar) for his followers to try.

“I am not sure why I am not verified on Instagram yet, maybe after next year’s games,” Urankar said jokingly.

When I walked into Urankar’s gym for the first time as a 12-year old, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. At first I thought it was just another gym with another trainer to get my scrawny, sixth grade self in shape.

However, not only am I stronger and faster, but I have also learned mental tough- ness and stamina from Urankar. Although I have found one or two things I can beat him in, Nick Urankar will always be a role model athlete and a great friend.

As Urankar would say, “Stay humble, hustle hard.”

Contact Jack Breitowich at jbreitowich@colgate.edu.

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