By Dr. Cameron Nichol

Cam is a medical doctor, two-time world silver medalist and former Olympic rower who founded RowingWOD, a company dedicated to inspiring and empowering athletes to master rowing. 

Join his crew and learn to 'Master the Machine' at



Greg Glassman famously said 'to find the fittest on earth, the net must be cast far and wide.' 

Almost 30,000 athletes in Europe recently endured the five-week battle to take the next step towards CrossFit glory: Regionals. Fusing Europe with Africa and the Middle-East, the Meridian region is the largest and arguably toughest in which to finish in the top 40 and progress to the next stage. 

Put simply, it's unlike any other.

The competitors of this region soon unite in what promises to be an epic showdown in Madrid, Spain. The precious places for this three-day competition have already been allocated to those who topped the CrossFit Open leaderboard, but the work has only just begun.

You see, Regionals is a different kind of test.

It's a tougher test. It's  a test where your opponent is no longer a name or number on a leaderboard. They're a living, breathing athlete that suffers for every rep, wants it just as much as you and gives everything to win. 

This Darwinian environment ensures only the strong survive. And to prepare, the strong must get stronger.



I've been privileged to work with two special groups of athletes in their regional preparations. 

The first was at the iconic InnerFight gym in Dubai where the slogan 'Show No Weakness' is branded on every wall, garment and machine; a phrase Phil Hesketh, Mia Akerlund and Carmen Bosmans live by.

Joined by experienced and exciting athletes Sam Briggs, Steven Fawcett, Jak Cornthwaite and Nicole Holcomb, these athletes threw down and trained hard. 

From weightlifting to gymnastics; and strongman to rowing, no stone was left unturned.



The pace of the camp was relentless and I was blown away by their performances, particularly on the rowing machine. A major component to CrossFit success is dealing with the unpredictable and unknowable. And so amongst the brutality of training and to help them prepare for the gladiatorial battle ensuing in a few weeks, I challenged them to perform. 

"Row 500m for time."

Anyone that's tried this workout knows the gauntlet it poses. A great score demands you go out hard. But venture too far into the 'red zone' and you're quickly punished.

Joined by Team CrossFit Yas, which included recent CrossFit Open winner Jamie Greene, I led the athletes through the sprint session. We talked starts, pacing, strategy and mindset. And when the dust had settled and the wheels stopped turning, the results were staggering. Two world records, three national records and 17 of the 18 athletes with new personal bests. 

I was even more impressed by what followed. After refuel and rest, the final session was underway. I joined in for the spicy thruster/rope climb couplet to finish off the days training.

The ability to endure this capacity of training is what unites the elite of the sport. And every experience I've had in CrossFit confirms this. 

I've recently returned from a different camp, working with Jami Tikkanen and 'The Training Plan' athletes at CrossFit Reykjavik in Iceland. Annie Thorisdottir, Frederik Ægidius and Bjorgvin Karl Gudmonsson are names you'll associate with training that'll forge champions. But seeing Hinrik Oskarsson, Pröstur Ólason and all the Danish, Icelandic and other European athletes endure the same workload was awesome to see.

They smashed the 500m row and several more personal bests were harvested. But just like the InnerFight camp, they hopped straight from the rower into another workout without dropping a beat. 

An extra layer to these athletes is their ability to learn. Coaching CrossFitters is so rewarding because they pick up new movement so well. Teaching them the foundations of solid rowing biomechanics was a pleasure not only because of the speed at which they learn, but at the level they were learning at. Some athletes want to know the 'what' and the 'how', but understanding the 'why' is what really unlocks true virtuosity of the movement. Get this right and the 'what' and 'how' naturally follow. 

Whether lifting a barbell, carrying a yoke or rowing on the machine, the athletes at InnerFight and Reykjavik understood why they were doing things. Pair that mindset with a phenomenal work capacity and a will to win, and you have the ingredients of future champions and the ambassadors of any sport.

My time with the Great Britain Olympic rowing team taught me many things. The metaphors that parallel sport and life are numerous, which Lord Seb Coe captured best in his opening speech at the London Olympics:

"In sport there is all that matters in life. Humans stretched to the limit of their abilities, inspired by what they can achieve, driven by their talent to work harder than they can believe possible, living for the moment but making an indelible mark upon history."

Whether in a basement in Iceland, a warehouse in Dubai or on a lake up a mountain, the daily grind continues. The chaos of competition is fast approaching where the 40 will be whittled down to five


The final athlete lineup for the 2016 CrossFit Games are inked into the history books on May 29th. 

But they're decided long before "3, 2, 1, GO."

"The fight is won and lost far away from witnesses."
- Mohammed Ali


By Dr. Cameron Nichol

Cam is a medical doctor, two-time world silver medalist and former Olympic rower who founded RowingWOD, a company dedicated to inspiring and empowering athletes to master rowing. 

Join his crew and learn to 'Master the Machine' at

May 11, 2016 — KITBOX [ ]

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