Lebanon Resident Gets Fit for Regional Competition

Anthony Vorachak, personal trainer at River Valley Club in Lebanon, N.H., watches Will Laycock, 12, of Hanover, do an arm and core strengthening exercise during the Cross Fit class for teens at River Valley Club  on May 27, 2014. 
(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Anthony Vorachak, personal trainer at River Valley Club in Lebanon, N.H., watches Will Laycock, 12, of Hanover, do an arm and core strengthening exercise during the Cross Fit class for teens at River Valley Club on May 27, 2014. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

Lebanon — As a former heptathlon athlete at the University of New Hampshire, Anthony Vorachak is accustomed competing in multiple disciplines. Over the last couple years, he’s been crossing into even more expansive realms of fitness.

Vorachak, of Lebanon, is departing today for the Reebok World Headquarters in Canton, Mass., where he’ll participate in the Northeast Regional Cross Fit Championships. Vorachak is one of 48 invited competitors after placing 13th of more than 20,000 regional participants in sport’s “World Wide Open.”

Cross Fit, a California-based competitive fitness company, had more than 200,000 registered participants in 17 regions around the globe this season. Vorachak is ranked 129th globally.

Cross Fit workouts feature a series of exercises centered on every conceivable aspect of fitness — cardiovascular, agility, power and more — that are video-recorded by competitors and scored based on speed (“time priority”) or number of repetitions in an allotted time frame (“task priority”).

Typical workouts might include combinations of running, pull-ups, weight lifting and aerobics. Vorachak, a trainer at River Valley Club in Lebanon, performed the workouts over five weeks with a group of 20 in and around River Valley’s main gym.

After placing 123rd in the Northeast during his first Cross Fit season last year, the former Lebanon High track and field standout was thrilled to move up so many spots during his sophomore campaign on the program.

“I first found out about Cross Fit when I saw the Cross Fit Games (national championships) on ESPN a couple years ago. I thought, ‘I can do this,’ ” Vorachak said this week before instructing a Cross Fit class for student athletes at River Valley Club. “I’ve always been more of a jumper and stronger in my legs, so I had to work on my upper body strength a little bit.

“I had to do some shorter, quicker efforts for power and do some longer workouts to get in shape for it. My only goal this spring was to break the top 48 and make regionals, so to get as high as 13th is pretty awesome.”

Vorachak said the diversity of the workouts and mental aspects of Cross Fit are the most challenging. Participants might have to perform three timed increments of 4,000 meters, 21 kettlebell swings and 12 push-ups. Or they might be called on for five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats to be performed on the minute, every minute for 30 minutes. Their number of reps for each are recorded for their score.

“A lot of people don’t really work out like that, so a big key is being willing to do something you’re probably going to be uncomfortable doing at first,” Vorachak said. “You have to make yourself comfortable with things you weren’t previously comfortable with.”

Cross Fit involves plenty of strategy, particularly when it comes to pacing oneself in a group setting. “You’re competing against the other people in the group, which is actually a great community aspect because you’re all pushing each other and cheering for people who haven’t finished,” he said. “But it’s not always the best idea to push yourself as hard as you can, because you’ll wear yourself out. It’s almost like someone who begins running for the first time. You don’t always just want to go as hard as you can. You have to find your pace.”

Vorachak teaches a Cross Fit class for students in grades 6-12 four days per week at River Valley Club. Tuesday’s after-school class drew five junior high students from Hanover, Norwich and Strafford who performed kettlebell squats, burpees, sit-ups and other drills with Vorachak.

“There are usually more here when there aren’t high school sports going on. A lot of kids use it to stay in shape in the offseason,” Vorachak said. “A lot of them have a practice or a game going on right now.”

Charlie Lang, a Richmond Middle School seventh-grader, plays junior high lacrosse, but had an off-day Tuesday. He’s a three-sport athlete — competing in soccer in the fall and alpine skiing in the winter — and enjoys the opportunities to improve within the Cross Fit structure.

“There’s always a way you can push yourself further,” Charlie said.

Martin Paulsen, an eighth-grader from Hanover, plays football and basketball and has been taking Cross Fit exercises for the last three years.

“It’s probably the best workouts I’ve ever done in the offseason,” he said.

As for Vorachak, he’ll have to place in the top three overall in Canton this weekend to make the national Cross Fit Games, to be held July 25 in Carson, Calif. He’s keeping his goals modest, though he understands he has the opportunity to solidify himself as one of Cross Fit’s top regional athletes.

“I don’t think (making nationals) is impossible,” he said. “It’s just going to be a matter of who shows up and performs. I would love to make top three, but realistically, I would be very happy with top 10.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.