Learning To Suffer

This is something I believe in 100%.

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“This is the best advice I can give you: learn to suffer. The suffering is the magic ingredient in the success, it’s not your new pair of lifter or the new food supplements that you take because an article you read somewhere assure you, it is indispensable.”

“Suffering is not only during a WOD, it is to do what you need to do, no matter whether it’s boring or not super ‘instagramable’. it’s giving up his ego and devoting time. The painful stuff again and again, instead of going to max 12 times a week.”

“I admit, no one really wants to suffer (myself included) but I’ve accepted that it is a necessity, day after day. Suffer because you decided it’s what you want, it’s not fun either, and it’s not easy. But every time someone asks me how to participate in the Regionals or Games, or any other purpose besides, here’s my answer: learn to suffer.”

-Khan Porter

I learnt to suffer in the Army, we were made to suffer on purpose because it builds you. Once you are pushed so far out of a necessity to survive, then you realise what you are capable of and all other things in life become easier.

The other thing about suffering is that once you know how to suffer, you start to push the boundaries of suffering, and you keep pushing them further and further.

Too many times during training people DO NOT PUSH HARD ENOUGH, and they wonder why they aren’t getting better. Watch someone at the top level train, they will push themselves HARD, and like Khan said, that suffering is the key to making it to the highest level.

There is no magic pill, you need to do the work, and you need to be responsible for your suffering. Being good at CrossFit involves a multitude of things to line up and being able to suffer is one of them.

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You will see a common trend across successful athletes, and if you aren’t mimicking what they do then you are not learning the valuable lessons to become your own champion.

When it comes to CrossFit is about the ability to hold onto the bar down for the extra reps, the ability to pick up the weight before anyone else does no matter how much you hurt, the ability to grind out heavy reps no matter how scared you are of being crushed under the load, it is the relentless pursuit of faster WOD times,  the burning in the chest and lungs, the burning in the muscles, you have to go deep into the pain cave and learn to stay there.

“Become comfortable being uncomfortable”

– Pat Barber

Taking Ownership Of Your Progress

Train smarter, not harder…

When it comes to training, quiet often we think training harder, longer hours in the gym, less rest and shortcuts are going to get us there. The body can only handle so much stress, physically, emotionally and spiritually before it begins to break down.

After a while, small niggles in your body will develop, adrenal fatigue will be on the cards and you will be on the verge of over training. You suddenly realise that training smarter, resting harder and being able to balance your life are the keys to success. You also have to develop discipline in all areas of your life if you want to reach your goals.

I started crossfit (again) in December 2015 after having 2 years off. Straight away my fitness improved, there was a significant improvement to my muscle density and my strength went up, I was hooked again! I signed up to the Open 2016 and after finishing in 550th (a huge jump from 3,000 in previous years) I thought I would approach JT from UndergroundRX and introduce some structure to my training.

Seven months on, four competitions down including Torian Pro one of Australia’s biggest individual competitions, I find myself coming to terms with the minimum standards of a great CrossFitter and a clearer understanding that so much time and consistency must go into everyday choices and training. For me, it all comes down to smart training.

Under the guidance of JT on the Athlete Program I have jumped from Level 3 training (Regionals level) to Level 1. I focus more on quality workouts rather than the quantity or volume of my training, I have scheduled rest days on Thursday and Sunday and no longer feel guilty for taking time off when needed. I have started to change my approach to my training, when it comes to things like Handstand push ups, I no longer use an ab mat, wall balls I always go to the males target or use a 9kg ball. I don’t try and increase the amount of exercise, I just approach my workouts with a more appropriate and challenging method.

The program I follow is amazing, but I don’t just follow it and ‘hope’ that I get better. I must still take responsibility for me growth and development. Nobody can do the work for me, JT can’t be there to tell me to move faster or tweak my movement or make me do one extra rep. That is up to me, just like it is up to you. I remember hearing someone say, “don’t do harder workouts, work harder in the workouts you do”. It’s true, and it is up to you and I to work smarter and harder than the people around us.

I take ownership for my progress. I ask questions when I’m unsure,  I watch youtube videos to help me get better, I do one extra rep before I put the bar down, I UPSCALE OR DOWNSCALE MOVEMENTS EACH DAY TO GET A BETTER QUALITY WORKOUT FOR MY SPECIFIC NEEDS, I make smart choices, and at the end of the day, I will get the rewards that I have worked hard for.

What do I think leads to success? Training smarter and challenge yourself by up scaling movements that normally feel easy. Listen to your body and learn that patience and consistency is better than shortcuts and short term results. And last but not least – how you re-hydrate, re-fuel and rest will determine how you train tomorrow.

One of my favourite quotes…

“Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

Now go after your dreams!!

Shellz xxx

Neutral Spine Accessory Work

Hey team,

One of the most recent things that I have been learning about is how significant thoracic mobility is when it comes to functional movements. Thoracic tightness causes a chain reaction of things to occur that can hugely compromise your performance.

Without going into detail, there are two main things that will tend to happen.

1) Increased load on the lower back due to excessive lumbar extension to make up for lack of thoracic extension in a Front Rack or Overhead position.

2) Increased load on the knees during squatting due to the hips needing to sit further forward to maintain balance.

Once correct mechanics are lost, one thing leads to another and you can find yourself with all sorts of niggles showing face.

Injuries aside, the other thing is that you will literally lack the range to hit the right positions and your true strength won’t be able to show itself. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you aren’t strong, you are, you’re just in a bad position. So instead of lifting heavier expecting to get better, take 10 minutes a day to work on your position and THEN your strength will show itself!

Below is a small video with some of the stuff I personally do to increase my thoracic mobility and stability!

Enjoy!
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The Bank Account Of Life

Hey team,

I thought I would put together a little analogy to help people understand why staying balanced is the foundation to success within the Sport Of Fitness.

There are multiple facets of being a successful CrossFit athlete but ultimately, if you can have more high quality training sessions then the other athletes then you will develop quicker. To have those high quality training sessions you need energy, and I don’t just mean kilajoules, I mean mental clarity, emotional lightness and undoubted focus.

If you enter the gym, well fed, well rested, focused with no emotional baggage, you know you are going to have a killer session. If you can back that up everyday, your training year is going to be magical.

But life doesn’t work like that does it? We all have baggage, we all have jobs and stress to manage, sometimes eating perfectly isn’t convenient… We’re all human… Well, most of us.

So like anything, it’s about doing the best we can, changing things that aren’t in line with what we are trying to achieve, finding the balance in a torrent of shit. This post is about some things you can do to make sure you have the most ‘energy’ possible to put into achieving your goals.

Think of your ‘energy’ reserves like a bank account, and money as the ‘energy’ itself. You can put money in, you can take money out, the more money you have saved means you get interest on your savings, the more you go into debt the more interest you pay the bank.

Our goal is to balance the money out with the money in, having a bank account full of money is no good to anyone if they don’t spend it, and being in debt means they can’t spend it. Sometimes it is good to save a little if you see something expensive ahead you want to buy, most of the time balance is the key, and very rarely is it good to go into debt, although there is smart debt at times.

Things that fill your bank account include eating well, sleeping well, resting, recovering and generally being stress free. Things that take away from your bank account are hard training, lack of sleep and recovery, life stresses and emotional crap. Baring in mind that a lot of this is your perception, to some people their work gives them ‘energy’, to others it is a stress and takes away their ‘energy’.

It becomes your job to do two things in the quest for a better balance of money in and money out…

The first thing you need to do learn to manage stress, don’t let it get to you, don’t let small things bother you. To do this you need to give ZERO FUCKS. Seriously, stop caring so much, just let things be and enjoy the present moment. Stop thinking and overthinking. Shut off your brain and just be a chilled out hippie for a while.

The second thing you need to do is start changing the things that are giving you the most stress. If the same things keep bringing stress into your life then you need to remove them. There is only so much meditating you can do before you want to punch someone in the face. If you hate your job then work on finding a new one, if your friends aren’t conducive to your success then find new ones, if the environment you live in hinders your happiness and progress then change it.

“Work with what you’ve got while you work on what you want”

You are not in control of somethings, but you are in control of these things 100%. And these things will put money into your bank account. From there you can spend that money on important things like TRAINING!!!! If you keep spending your money on life drama and other things that don’t help you move towards your goal then you are can not expect to do as well as someone that spends all their money on training.

If you go too far into debt then you will dig yourself a big hole. And with people in real financial debt they only see how deep they are once they take a step back and look up. ‘Energy’ debt will kill you if you don’e try and recuperate it. It might take a few years but eventually it will catch up on you and a few things will happen including a drop in your performance. Too many people just smash themselves with hard training digging into debt, then all of a sudden they break, or they are just so tired they lose quality of their training. Then they turn to coffee and keep digging.

Don’t get me wrong, at times you need to borrow some money to push through, have some coffee to grind out a hard training cycle and get some gains, but it must be balanced with recovery and money savings.  You can get to Regionals in debt, and honestly most people do, but that is not how I recommend to get there because then what, you crash and burn. If you are in a rush to get better then you will need to go into debt. If you balance your account it will take longer, but the journey will be more enjoyable and sustainable.

When I first started Underground RX and coaching people I was still an athlete, it wasn’t until I committed to being a coach that the results started to come. I was spending my money on too many different things, not focusing on one investment. That is the same for you, you need to focus on what you want, and if that is to make Regionals or the Games then you better either be the Guru of Zen (giving zero fucks in a nice way) or have a life fully devoted to it’s success, or both.

A Sports Scientists View On Programming For Crossfit

Today is a scheduled rest/recovery day! Go for a walk, play some sport, do something different!!

Two weeks ago I interviewed Aaron Davis from Train Adapt Evolve (www.trainadaptevolve.com) via Skype and recorded the audio. Aaron is a sports scientist from Dallas, Texas, U.S.A, and is very involved in the world of CrossFit.

Back in 2013/14 Aaron used to coach me and he has taught me a lot and continues to be my mentor in a lot of ways. I wanted to talk to him for 20 minutes about potential contradictions in training but our topic soon went pretty deep into what he is currently doing with his athletes.

The video below is just the audio file uploaded onto our youtube channel. In the future we are looking into getting our own podcast hosting. If you have a spare 40 minutes then take a listen and learn something new!!

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The Future Of Mindset Training

Hi there everyone,

Tony and I have been friends for a number of years and his work is cutting edge when it comes to freeing the mind of self doubt enabling you to access the ‘zone’.

I’m sure you have all heard of the ‘zone’, a place where human performance is at its peak, a place that all the best athletes find themselves in, and a place that I aim to teach my athletes to find.

Earlier this week I interviewed Tony on the work he does as well as all the details surrounding the ‘zone’ and how to access it. The interview is an hour long but full with interesting information.

Enjoy!

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How To Follow The Athlete Program

Hi there team,

Over the last week we have had a number of people join the program and I wanted to write a quick piece on some of the more detailed aspects of the program including; how to select your Bias Training, how to taper for a competition, how to break up the days training, what level to choose, how to integrate HRV and a few other things.

The first thing I want to say is that there is no need to stress over training. Stress will make you go backwards. The people that succeed the best on this program are the ones that follow the guidelines and the program accurately.

The second thing I want to say is that if you struggle to achieve intensity when you train then you need to re-think your training. Having a training partner is a great way to add intensity so that would be my first suggestion. Secondly if you still don’t get intensity then it is more than likely down to the fact that you are doing to much volume. Quality over quantity ALWAYS!! This is where HRV can DEFINITELY help!

WHAT LEVEL SHOULD I CHOOSE?

The Athlete Program is built for a fit Regional level athlete that is training almost full time. Full time meaning they are sleeping well, eating well, recovering well, have spare time AND the main goal of their life is training for the Open and Regionals/Games. If that is you then I would expect you to be able to handle Level 3 training everyday.

Level 2 training is for the next tier down. People that want to compete at a high level and are focused on training as a daily priority. This level should be the home to most people. It is also suitable for Masters and Teen athletes. When it comes to choosing which Part to do (Level 2 you get an option most days) then pick the one you know will serve you best. If you are unsure then ask in the URX Club private FB page.

Level 1 is for a couple of people. It is for people that would normally follow Level 2 but are showing AMBER on their HRV so they drop down a level. It is also for people that might be nursing a niggle or an injury, and it also serves people when they are de-loading for a competition (more on this soon).

Doing the highest level will NOT make you a better athlete. Listening to these guidelines and doing the correct level will make you a better athlete. Accumulative fatigue will bring you down over time, play the long game and build up slowly. The last thing I will say is that if you are ever feeling like shit, regardless of HRV then don’t be scared to drop a level.

You will thank me the next day when you feel amazing and smash training rather than ‘try’ and train one day, then feel like crap again the next day.

The other thing I will add here i that I recommend breaking training up into an AM and a PM session depending on your personal schedule. The more you can recover between the training parts the more intensity you will be able to hit it with. It is by no means crucial but it is probably optimal.

WHAT BIAS TRAINING SHOULD I CHOOSE?

This is where you need to use your intuition. Bias training is not necessarily structured or periodised. On any given day you are allowed to do a piece from here and a piece from there. This is where you begin moulding yourself into a balance athlete. The normal program (Level 3, 2 and 1) is balanced. If YOU are not balanced then bias training is where you start to work on your weakest part/s.

DON’T BE SCARED TO MIX AND MATCH FROM DIFFERENT AREAS.

The strength bias stuff is relatively structured and periodised but ultimately it is just additional strength work to supplement the normal program. If you want to get strong and better at open chain movements (moving weight) the this is the spot for you. Strongman, Oly Lifting, Power Lifting…

Gymnastics bias is based around skill development and muscle endurance with closed chain movements (your body is the weight). It is not periodised at all. It is literally extra work to supplement the normal program.

Cardio bias is straight cardio. Heart, lungs and oxygen transportation. With that said, rowing and running are two totally different aerobic activities. One is open chain (rowing) and one is closed chain (running). It is not periodised, it is different volumes and intensities on different days but it is still a balance of intervals and long slow efforts so that we are working the heart volume and heart muscle power (and hypertrophy).

With the bias training you are encouraged to slot it into the normal training where it would best fit. Potentially strength and skill stuff early on in the day. You choose what works best for you. I just don’t want you thinking you have to do it in order or after the normal training. Put the day together in a way that best fits you.

If you have any doubt on what you should be doing then ask in the URX Club!

IS HRV THAT IMPORTANT?

Yes… I mean no…. It depends….

Some people listen to their intuition very well and can tell when they need to ease up and when they need to push hard. On the other hand some (most) people can’t. I highly recommend HRV because it doesn’t matter if you do or don’t listen to your intuition, HRV will always guide you and keep you safe!! Staying fresh and injury free is by far the absolute most important part of going far in CF!

If you register RED then you should definitely take a rest day, no questions asked. If you are green on the scheduled rest day then you are welcome to catch up on the training you missed BUT bare in mind it might fuck you for the following day. So… what I would recommend is to see how you are on the scheduled rest day and then carefully select the most important parts of the training the day that you missed (because you were RED). That way you are getting the important stuff done and staying relatively fresh for the following day.

I know it can be expensive for some people to buy an HRV monitor but the guidelines are there on the program and you are missing out on some really crucial guidance by ignoring or not having the capacity to follow the guidelines. Also do not opt for a cheap HRV unit, I have seen a few apps in action and honestly they can not be trusted!! Bioforce HRV is the only one I know to be accurate so if you want quality then please go with that brand.

Here is a link to the monitor I recommend: HRV Monitor

TAPERING FOR A COMPETITION

Now this topic is a pretty important one because I know a lot of people compete year round so here it goes…

If you have a competition coming up and you want to perform well you need to be fresh. I’m going to assume that it is a weekend comp, Saturday and Sunday (if it’s not you will still get the gist). The week leading up to the comp you will need to deload from the high volumes of training you have been doing.

If you normally follow Level 3 then drop down to Level 2 or even Level 1. If you follow Level 2 then drop down to Level 1. If you follow Level 1 then you probably shouldn’t be competing OR you might be a super new beginner and I would suggest you just take it easy for that week.

Just dropping down a level will let your body begin to recover which is the most important part. If you then want to practice and workouts then substitute them for parts of the program that look the most similar. If you want to practice skill work (synchro HSPU for pairs or HS walking etc) then practice that as much as you want or even on Tuesday and Friday when ‘extra skill work’ is programmed usually as ‘Part E’.

Now on the Friday before the event I would recommend you only do one part of the program, preferably the most aerobic part. Aerobic system is the least invasive on the body and also the fastest to be lost. You want your cardio primed for battle over the weekend of competing.

Again, if you have any questions just ask in the URX Club forum!!!

LAST BITS

If you are taking parts from this program and parts from another program or really not following it with full hart then that’s completely your call. As long as you are happy and you keep paying for the information then I’m okay with it too.

What I will say though is that I take no responsibility for you as an athlete. You are either in or your out, sitting on the fence to me is the same as being out. Don’t get me wrong, if the program is helping you in some way, shape or form then IT IS A GOOD THING!! Just don’t expect the full support that the 100% in athletes receive.

And by the way, if you need help then please ask, you are part of the family! The URX Club is our home!!

Stop Training Like You’re On Steroids

The more people I talk to the more it becomes clear that people do not have a clue… I’m going to break it all down so that you can now know what is REAL, what is super human, and where you fit in!

Do people take steroids? Yep. Do some CrossFit athletes take steroids? Yep.

Read the article below written by John Romano who is a well known ‘steroid expert’ that openly admits he has helped CrossFit Games level athletes run steroid cycles and pass the CrossFit drug screening tests. It’s happening!!

John Romano Article

In the article it talks about the predominant way that steroids help in CrossFit is recovery. You recover quicker within workouts, between workouts and between training days so ultimately you can do more training and get better faster. All makes sense right?

WHERE I GET PISSED OFF

Time and time again I see athletes burn out, get injured, suffer from chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue. If they are lucky and it doesn’t get that far then the other thing I see is mild fatigue, the onset of overtraining and a lack of passion, purpose and intensity when they enter the gym and begin training.

Firstly, injury, chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue are the fastest ways to go backwards in training. Once it hits it can take years to get your health and you fitness back. I personally coach a girl that came to me after hitting adrenal fatigue, six months later we are only now getting her baseline health back, her hormones have begun to settle but she is still lifting sub maximally. It will be a year all up to get back to where she was. Technically that puts her two years behind!!

Secondly, the only way to improve is through passion and intensity. If you are mildly overtrained I promise you will not be able to maintain the high enough intensity to develop quickly.

More is NOT better!!! How many fucking times does it need to be said!!

SMOKE AND MIRRORS

Now, here is where everyone gets misled… Have you ever watched ‘Road to the Games’ or any other documentary outlining what some ‘superhuman’ athlete does in a days training? If you have watched one you will understand, if not then let me sum it up for you… They train a shit ton!! Multiple sessions a day, six or more days a week and most of the time at the high intensity required to make progress.

Then every wannabe athlete decides that they need to do the same if they want to make it to Regionals or the Games. They go hard, training like a boss, then all of a sudden run head first into a concrete wall because for some reason they can’t handle the same levels of training… Hmmmmm…

If you want to recover faster, without taking drugs then here are a few tips. Sleep more. I’m talking 10+ hours a day. Eight at night and then a nap during the day between training sessions. Eat more food. Nutrition is absolutely crucial when it comes to recovery. Eating for performance isn’t the same as eating for health, you need more fuel than what would be considered healthy. Those are the two main things and already 90% of the people reading this do not live a lifestyle that allows for it. On top of that you need nil extra stress (life/work etc) and potentially the addition of some good quality legal supplements.

Matt Fraser trained full time last season. If he wasn’t training he would have been eating, sleeping and relaxing. THAT IS WHAT IS REQUIRED IF YOU WANT TO TRAIN AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL. Sure we don’t all go out to win the CrossFit Games but you can see where the trend is heading and how far away you are from being able to handle the volume that ‘they’ train at.

SO HOW MUCH SHOULD I TRAIN?

Everyone is different, and it depends on many variables. Genetics is the big one, then age, work, training age, ability to cope with mental stress, nutrition, sleep, etc… You need to pay attention to your body and the signs it gives out so you know how much YOU can handle.

Signs of overtraining:
– Niggling injuries/tendonitis
– Lethargy
– Lack of passion and motivation
– Sub par performances

I truly believe competitive CrossFitters (Games and potentially Regional level) have a competing life cycle of two to four years depending on their genetics and life variables etc… We see people come into the sport, do well in year one nice and fresh, then slowly over time they start to get worn out before they overtrain, something breaks or they just lose their drive. Either that or they juice up and consistently kick ass which gives the natural people little chance of keeping up year after year.

Nobody can just ‘keep going’ year after year at huge volume or intensity, it IS NOT POSSIBLE without assistance.

Same with competitions, if you try and do more than a handful of competitions each year it will add to the burnout. Competitions require 110% intensity and as we know if the recovery doesn’t keep up then we blowout. So with massive intensity we need massive recovery, and what is the point of competing followed by spending a week or two recovering when that whole time we could have been working on our weaknesses or adding another few kg’s to our squat.

HOW THE NATURAL ATHLETES DO IT

A perfect example of a Games level athlete is Kevin Manuel, a man I know would NEVER touch a banned substance. Hell, I’m pretty sure he would read the ingredients label on a chocolate milk and check the CrossFit banned substance list before drinking it.

Kevin works full time on a farm, has a wife and two kids and the morals of a saint. He is also very smart and intuitive with his training. He trains once a day for maybe an hour or two depending on how he’s feeling and rests multiple times a week (depending on how he’s feeling).

Usually Kevin places quite far down in the Open, which is SMART (not peaking too soon). At Regionals he is consistently top 6 which is something very few people could dream of, and when he got to the Games in 2015 he finished in 17th which is very respectable.

Now here is a guy that takes things slow, plays the game smart and STILL ENDED UP WITH ADRENAL FATIGUE!!! In my opinion, the only thing Kevin could have done to stop that happening other that train less is to work less, sleep more and eat more which is not really possible with his current lifestyle (family etc…).

I point out Kevin because I want to point out that you do not need to be training hard everyday at huge volumes to make the Games, you need to do just enough of what is required. You also need to be aware that if you stay natural you only have that small window of two to four years to represent yourself ‘at the top level’ unless you can fully live the life of recovery.

SUMMARY

You know I always harp on about monitoring HRV so that you can see the early signs of overtraining and cut them off in advance… I won’t harp on anymore but feel free to have a look at this information if you’re interested.

About HRV

It is all about balancing your training load with your recovery. If you really want to get to Regionals or the Games then you need to train quite a lot and to balance it out you need to make your lifestyle conducive. Sleep more, work less and eat better. If you lose that positive balance then you will not last long.

Make sure the program you follow is right for you. Volume is not better. Better is better. This is why the Underground RX Athlete Program has three levels of training so that our athletes can stay fresh and get better faster.

To get better you need to train harder, to train harder you need a lifestyle that is conducive of it. Stop trying to be superman and start running your own race!

JT

Breathing, Posture and Performance

As some of you may or may not know, I have horrific overhead position. Part of my decision to stop competing was due to the fact that I struggle BIG TIME overhead. To get more range overhead I would arch my lower back and let my knees uncontrollably come forward when I squatted.

I had a chronic injury every single day of my competitive CrossFit time, and after four years of being in pain and doing rehab I decided that the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. Spending six months a year doing purely rehab, and then training for six months before the Open, three hours a day when two hours involved rehab, I just didn’t enjoy it.

I never had a coach or anyone to help me until right at the end of my competitive CrossFit time. But one day I found an amazing coach from Texas, USA, Aaron Davis. Many years ago he told me that it was my breathing that was a major player in my lack of OH range. I believed him but I couldn’t understand it, and today, after practicing it I understand it.

This article may be interesting for some of you, it is quite in depth and long though so just a warning. I just wanted to post it here because it is a subject that has shaped my attitude.

http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2014/05/01/the-scapula-and-thoracic-spine-a-classic-love-story-to-improve-your-overhead-position/

Enjoy the read if you read it, if not then I will see you on the whiteboard tomorrow!

Underground RX Teen Scholarship Winners!

Hi there Team,

Over the last two weeks we have been on the lookout for some of the Worlds most dedicated CrossFit teens to earn themselves a 12 month Underground RX Scholarship!

The entries blew my expectations out of the water! There is so much serious talent out there which made choosing the winners to be a daunting but exciting process! After staying up late last night and narrowing the huge field down to two incredible athletes I would like to announce the winners of this years scholarship.

Congratulations to Abel Lucas from Washington, USA who won the males scholarship!

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Instagram: @abeljlucas

 

Congratulations to Lucy Manion from Queensland, Australia who won the female scholarship!

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Instagram: @lucy_7406

 

These two superstars are now part of our team and are ready to take things to the next level!!