Competitor’s Profile – Badger CrossFit Owner, Regional Games Competitor Tyler Sullivan Talks Training, Competing and Staying On Top Of Things

Interview by Ryan Atkins

January 2013

ScreenHunter_12 Jan. 29 21.00 (2)Hey Tyler! First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I’m fairly certain readers will appreciate a behind the scenes view on one of Wisconsin’s top competitors. Outside of being a Regional Games Competitor for the past few years and the owner of Badger CrossFit, how else have you been involved in sports in fitness?

Thank your Ryan for the opportunity to chat with you. I’m honored.

My whole life, I’ve been very active and competitive in many sports — water skiing  basketball, football, baseball, rock climbing and of course the sport of CrossFit. I had a natural gift with basketball that I pursued more over others, and it gave me many opportunities to coach, but also be competitive. Before CrossFit, it was the thing that kept me going — a drive to constantly improve my sport.

At what point did you find out about CrossFit, what intrigued you about it and where did you start your training?

I came across CrossFit.com back in 2005 when I was living in Ohio because I was looking for that extra something I wasn’t getting in my regular routine of weightlifting, sprint work, and bodyweight work. I was bored with the current routine because I’ve always had a drive and purpose when I worked out — mostly for my sport, basketball, which I no longer played competitively. CrossFit.com came up when I searched for extreme workouts. I did not understand the concept of being “crossfit” at the time because I thought being in shape was to continue doing sprints and other bodyweight things like burpees or squats.

ScreenHunter_09 Jan. 29 20.59 (2)I did a few of the workouts they posted on their website because I was curious to see how hard they would be. But after about a week, I stopped because the workouts were easy to me. I look back on it now and two things happened: 1) I wasn’t doing them properly and 2) The WODs I chose were almost all bodyweight. It was a streak of bad timing that prevented me from really pursuing it, until I decided to get back on it again 2008.

When did you first do CrossFit style competitions? How did they go?

Back in 2010 I went to the CrossFit Games Sectional held at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH. It was my first time seeing people do CrossFit the sport for competition. After that, I told myself that I need to do this. So I set out to train for it. In 2010-11, I trained with the intention of competing in the Games but didn’t know how to do it properly. I placed 33rd. Then in 2011-12, I really had no intention of competing again as I had a growing family and business with Badger CrossFit that I really wanted to make flourish. Also, I got sidelined for about 5-6 months with a nagging back injury that really prevented me from being my best. I placed last in the Regionals this past year. Of course, this lit a fire under my butt and I’m back in it this year, knowing how and why I am competing. In August, I won the CrossFit Farmland Fittest Farmhand Competition Rx division. Then in October, I was in 2nd place going into the last workout with some major players from the Regionals only to biff it, placing 4th overall. And just recently, placed 2nd in the Madtown Challenge III at CrossFit Madtown. Still, very happy with my progress this year as an athlete, and of course, a coach of amazing athletes at Badger CrossFit who want to compete as well.

ScreenHunter_10 Jan. 29 20.59 (2)Since your very first competition to the present day, have you changed how you approach your training for the Games every year? Do you periodize your training at all or emphasize certain characteristics? If so, how?

I’ve always had a decent engine and was great at met-cons, but strength was never my strong suit. I could lift decent, but nothing competitive. I now dedicate a lot of my time and energy with Olympic Weighting and Powerlifting techniques. I work in 8-12 week cycles using a limited conjugate style of lifting. Lots of Olympic lifting with my own flavor mixed in with metcons.

As a competitor what do you feel are some of your greatest assets that you bring to game? What about weaknesses? What are you focusing on improving for the coming year?

Like I mentioned before, I have a pretty good engine. I can move large loads, long distances, quickly. I’m good at bodyweight WODs, and I have got real strong in the past 6 months. Things are looking up, but I still need to get stronger. As for my weaknesses, I’m still needing to focus on that strength base. I have made progress here, but it’s always been something I needed to work on. Who doesn’t need to get stronger?

ScreenHunter_11 Jan. 29 20.59 (2)Do you follow a particular nutritional prescription? If so, do you tweak it all? Does this differ at all from the general prescription you do for your client population? What’s your take on supplements?

I eat clean, whole foods. 1 ingredient stuff. If it has a label, I try not to eat it (unless it’s one ingredient). I don’t tweak my nutrition at all before, during or after competition or for living life. I just eat real food, often. I tell my client’s to do what works for them as well, laying out a proper foundation of do’s and don’ts, and give them guidelines with the basics such as limited grains, no sugar, etc. Of course, I talk about Paleo but rarely do I ‘prescribe’ it unless I know it would be a huge benefit.

I don’t like supplements like some do. I only like vitamin supplements, creatine, protein, and minerals. Fish oil is mandatory. And so is coffee.

Do you have a favorite benchmark? Least favorite?

Favorite benchmark is “DT” or “Helen.” My least is “Annie.”

Congratulations on becoming a father for the second time! As your family grows, how do you manage the challenges involved in raising a family, running a business and training for competition? I sometimes joke with my clients that for every child they have, they will lose 10% off of their top level performance? In your case, do you think this is an accurate statement? Why or why not?

This has been the most challenging part of being a competitive athlete. There are tons of guys and girls out there who have no wife and kids, a standard 9-5 job, and time to work a LOT more than I can. People think that since I own a gym, I must WOD and lift all the time. Hilarious. I don’t have a regular schedule — it could be 18+ hour days some days. And then I have to spend quality time nurturing my wife and kid’s relationships. Then I have my business to run. Then I have to make time for myself as a last resort. I think your statement is true. When I had my kids, I knew the time commitment going in and it’s taken a ton of new creative power to figure out how to manage my schedule and my wife/kid’s. Over time, we’ve adjusted and I make time to train at certain times now.

What were some of the motivations behind you becoming a coach and eventual affiliate owner?

I’m a people person and people are my business. I wanted to be in a job and career that involved that, and my natural ability to coach basketball led over to CrossFit because it’s really about making people better each day they come in to the gym. I was good at this. Knowing people, being a people person, and knowing how to move and combining it makes me highly effective at being a coach. I wanted to bring my God-given abilities to others so they could be better than yesterday. I also am an entrepreneur and I always wanted to run my own business but I never really found a way to combine both until I found CrossFit. CrossFit led me to this path.

Name three things that you take the most pride in as the owner of Badger CrossFit.

Helping people do things they never dreamed of doing, bringing a community of Badger CrossFit athletes together who now have formed amazing connections and friendships outside of this place, and seeing people from all walks of life come in and give me the opportunity to ‘fix’ them up and make then new. The compliments I receive are astounding and I’m so privileged and honored to help each and every person who comes in my door. To me, I’m lucky to be their coach.

As a coach, what do you feel is the most common ‘fix’ that clients require when walking through the door of your affiliate? How do you go about accomplishing this first goal?

Most clients want a good looking body, to tone, strengthen, train for Tough Mudder, etc. This goal is good, but I always have to break it down for them and explain to them those are results of having total fitness. If you can run, squat, jump, push, pull, drag and move in full ROM in any position while eating right and recovering right, you will look good, ‘tone’, strengthen, and accomplish any physical task you need to. CrossFit is perfect for this. I have to convince people weekly that it’s the best way to this goal.

Is there anything else you want to share with us (maybe reveal your spirit animal)?

I opened my own CrossFit affiliate in 2011 while being employed full time. I ran the biz for 7 months doing two full time jobs and quit my job in Feb 2012 to manage the business full time here at Badger CrossFit. I am certified in USAW L1, CF Coaches Prep, Endurance and Powerlifting. I also have years of youth basketball coaching. In addition to to the gym, I’m a huge boater, water skier  used-to-be-rock climber, bird hunter, family man, Christian, vacation lover, book fanatic, and professional relaxer…

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