DENVER — Every year, hundreds of thousands of athletes from around the world embark on a journey to find the fittest man, woman and team on Earth.
The finale to that quest is called the CrossFit Games, and a group from Denver is staking their claim to the title.
Dan Bullock, MaryKay "MK" Dreisilker, Cooper Wise, and Elisa Schauer make up Team Omnia, representing Omnia Fitness Collective.
On June 6, they won the Granite Games, a North American qualifier for the CrossFit Games.
“It was kind of surreal,” says Dreisilker, a 30-year-old former gymnast-turned-personal-trainer who grew up near Chicago. “On the way back to the hotel, we’d be like, 'Did that just happen? What is going on?’”
Last year, Dreisilker earned an individual spot in the CrossFit Games. However, due to the pandemic, her spot was taken away.
“I would have trained for the Games, but I wouldn’t have moved here,” Dreisilker says. “I love (Schauer, Wise, and Bullock) and I know they’re good people. Now, to see that result after the Granite Games, it’s like OK, yeah, this is good.”
The men and women of Team Omnia come from different backgrounds.
Wise played college football at Wyoming and is now an ICU nurse, spending his nights saving lives and his days in the gym.
“The fear of failure drives me a lot, and then the fear of letting someone else down,” says Wise, who is now 26 years old. “We’ve been training together for months now. We work really hard together, and I know what they put into this sport. I don’t want to be the reason why we don’t win a workout or the reason why we don’t move onto the next stage.”
Like most professional athletes, sacrifice is central to success.
“Almost every decision we make in our life effects this, so we have to make those decisions carefully,” Wise says.
“Imagine your regular workout. But then it’s like, OK, now we have to do that again,” Dreisilker says.
“Everyone’s super nervous (before competing),” says Schauer, a 30-year-old Colorado native and eight-year CrossFit veteran. “You’re thinking about the heat and all this other stuff. As soon as it’s 3, 2, 1, go, it’s like, OK, we practiced for this. It’s not quite a blackout, but you don’t really think of much else.”
For Schauer, a competition-a-holic, this trip to the Games represents her life’s dedication rewarded.
“It’s something that I’ve dreamt of for so long,” Schauer says. “It’s really cool to accomplish that."
When asked what keeps her motivated, she wasted no time identifying her teammates as the primary culprits.
“I’m going to have an off workout and I’m not going to want to come into the gym, and I can text them and they’ll be like, ‘This is the goal, remember this,’” Schauer says. “It’s super motivating to come in (to Omnia) and people just cheer you on during a normal workout. It’s definitely the community that keeps me going.”
At the heart of CrossFit is community.
“You just feel so loved and you realize how many people are watching from afar and being supportive,” Dreisilker says.
But Team Omnia isn’t simply happy to be here. They’re training to win the whole dang thing.
“Sure,” says Wise, confidently. “We can definitely win the CrossFit Games.”
The Games begin on July 27 in Madison, Wisconsin.