Scott Panchik: ‘Retired,’ but still in the hunt for CrossFit games

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Ten months ago, nine-time CrossFit Games athlete Scott Panchik publicly announced his retirement, saying it was time to spend more time with his family and less time on his fitness.

At the time, he had no intention of competing this season and hadn’t even planned to make the Open or the quarter-finals, calling it a “slippery slope” as he might accidentally qualify for the semi-finals and meet back then. trying to get out.

Fast forward to January, and all of a sudden there was Panchik on Wodapalooza’s roster, leaving the community wondering just how committed he really was to his so-called retirement.

But Panchik was adamant it didn’t mean he was back. Wodapalooza was simply a chance to bond with his brothers, Saxon and Spencer, he told us in Miami, Florida. Wodapalooza was simply “an opportunity to play a play-off”.

“Pro athletes, if they could go and play in a game or two games and not feel like they had to beat their bodies all season, I think they would,” Panchik explained of how he approached Wodapalooza.

Three months later, however, we can arguably call his bluff, as Panchik is on the semifinals roster and set to throw his name in the hat at this weekend’s Syndicate Crown in Knoxville, TN. .

Panchik explains ‘retirement’

Much of what led Panchik to where the CrossFit Games are back on the table today is down to the experience he had last summer.

“At the CrossFit Games (2021), I said this would be my last race. And when I made that decision, I had a knee injury and I knew I was about to buckle up. and going into a very tough weekend,” he began.

“And what was very surprising throughout that weekend was the joy that I found in competing, and just being in the moment and taking it event by event. There was something special about this topic. It released something inside me, where I was having more fun than ever before,” he continued.

“Something special happened over the weekend that brought me back to why I got into the sport in the first place… I was more present in the moments knowing this was potentially my last time at the Games. Or that it would be my last participation in the Games.

“At the CrossFit Games (2021), I said this would be my last race. And when I made that decision, I had a knee injury and I knew I was about to buckle up. and to enter a very difficult weekend.

Yet after this experience, Panchik bowed out in his competitive career and returned home to undergo knee surgery on his meniscus.

But soon he found himself looking for something to work towards to motivate himself to come back from his injury.

“When I’ve had surgery, it’s very easy to lay on the couch and not work out and your routine starts to change a bit,” he said.

Soon he was feeling complacent about nutrition, sleep, and training.

“But when you have something to (work on), you start prioritizing things a bit more,” he said.

So Panchik, who had three reconstructive knee surgeries in the past as a college football player, started training a little harder again and was feeling pretty good.

Enter Wodapalooza: Just a week before the meet in Miami, Panchik contacted organizers to see if he still had a spot, mostly because he wanted to “make memories with my brothers,” he said. “It was probably the first competition where I was maybe not in top form.”

But that didn’t matter, because once again he was enjoying himself more than ever.

“It was really, really fun. I really enjoyed the times I was on the pitch, and at this point in my life, I don’t take any competition or any time like that for granted, because it could very well be my last,” he said.

A turning point for the Panchik brothers

Panchik is the first to admit the rivalry and competitiveness between him and his twin brothers, who are nine years younger than him. As a result, when Panchik started CrossFit, his brothers were just kids.

Until they are no longer.

“There was a lot of that dynamic when they transitioned from boys to men. I still remember when Saxon first beat me in practice and I was like, ‘There’s no way you’ve done all your reps.’ I think I just had a hard time accepting that he crashed the workout. And he was like, ‘I beat you,’” Panchik said with a laugh.

He added: “At some point it can get a bit unhealthy to have three elite men who can throw with each other and are constantly trying to outdo each other. So we did steps at a time, where they went to open their gym and life got busy on both sides.

Wodapalooza in January, however, brought the brothers together, not only physically but emotionally.

“It kind of brought back all those good feelings and memories of when they were little,” Panchik said.

“It was exciting and fun, but we didn’t feel like we were competing. It felt like we were having more fun, and no one was trying to prove alpha status over the other, but rather, ‘Hey, how can we just get better at the gym?’

The decision to compete at the Open

When the 2022 Open took place, Panchik found himself in a strange place, where he told all his clients all the reasons why they should attend the Open, but he had no intention of do it himself.

“I was like, ‘I still feel pretty good. And I feel healthy, and I feel like I have a good relationship with the amount of fitness I’m doing, so let’s see how the quarters go. of final.

Three weeks later, Panchik found himself 50th overall in the world, and a few weeks later he finished fifth in North America in the quarter-finals, with his brothers Saxon and Spencer just behind sixth and 11th overall respectively.

“I was very surprised to still be around a lot of (top) athletes,” he said of the Open. “I was like, ‘I still feel pretty good. And I feel healthy, and I feel like I have a good relationship with the amount of fitness I do, so let’s see how the quarterfinals go.

So here he is today, just days away from jumping into the Syndicate Crown semi-finals with a legitimate chance to qualify for the Games for the 10th time.

A day in the life of Panchik in 2022

Unlike in the past when Panchik would wake up and hit the gym, this year mornings were spent having breakfast with his family – usually three and a half egg whites with spinach, oatmeal, fruit and salt water with lemon — then working on his business, both his CrossFit Mentality affiliate in Mentor, OH, and a new gym management app he developed.

Then he heads to the gym and takes two scoops of UCAN Energy Powder in a shake – a low-sugar carb powder that provides energy without raising blood sugar levels – before training. for two, three hours maximum. “I will be using UCAN for the rest of my life – it’s a game-changer for me. It’s something every athlete should know,” Panchik said.

Halfway through his workout, he takes UCAN Energy Gel, which he says gets him through high-intensity, high-volume sessions. “It’s my time for me. It helps me decompress and also gives me energy to coach classes and lead my affiliate,” Panchik shared on how he approached training this year.

“That’s how I manage this energy in a ball. Sometimes I feel like a dog that needs to go out for that walk. And this walk is something that makes me breathe heavily and makes me feel uncomfortable. And it allows me to have peace of mind and to be more productive and it gives me energy to coach and eat healthy.

After training, Panchik takes UCAN’s Energy + Protein in a shake and then heads home for lunch, which is usually rice or potatoes with greens and a protein source like beef or chicken. Afterwards, he returns to the gymnasium to conduct his evening classes and take care of all other gym property duties.

After practice, Panchik goes home for the evening, usually has red meat or fish with a starch and a salad for dinner (except once a week when he eats pizza), and relaxes for the evening. with her family, often ending up with a bowl of oatmeal with almond butter, honey, and fruit for a bedtime snack.

Freedom to let go

After a decade in the sport, Panchik must be considered one of the best candidates to qualify for the Games this summer, but he insists it’s “honestly not even on my mind”.

And the fact that he’s not determined to compete in the CrossFit Games, he said, is why he’s still competing this season, because it’s given him freedom and peace.

Prior to this year, Panchik always fell into a “need to be better, need to be better” mindset, and “it was exhausting,” he said. “And I don’t even think if I had won the game it wouldn’t have been enough. I was trying to achieve something that I think wouldn’t happen even if I won the Games.

“And every year I would come home from the CrossFit Games, I was like, ‘Okay, what should I do for the CrossFit Games next year?’ I immediately thought of the Games.

Letting go of that mindset over the past few months made him realize that it was never really about the CrossFit Games.

“The journey itself is what I’ve always been in love with, not so much the outcome. I really enjoy the journey. Understanding it. All the moments and little things that happen along the way are very special to me “, he said. “And when I look back and tell the stories that I tell the most, it’s not necessarily the ones of me on the competition field doing something cool.

He added: “And it’s been refreshing that it’s not my concern (number one). It’s really much lower on the list of things I have in my life. It’s still on the list. It’s just a lot lower than in the past and it’s liberating. It’s taken a lot of the stress out of my life and given me a lot of peace.

That being said, if history predicts the future, there’s a good chance we’ll see Panchik on the floor this summer in Madison.

Regardless of what happens this weekend, however, Scott Panchik isn’t going anywhere.

“I like competition. I want to be able to compete. I’ll keep doing this, and you might have to take it from me. I will continue. I may not be able to do as much as before, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do anything.

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