Feats of Strength

Feats of strength on display at Crossfit Gym in Reston

Former strongman creates local showcase to expose people to sport

by Reed S. Albers
View the full article and video here.

Although it might have been amateur hour at CrossFit Gym in Reston this past Saturday, those who showed up to compete nevertheless put on an impressive show.

Modeled after “The World’s Strongest Man” competition, which has been broadcast on ESPN throughout the years, the Capital Classic Strongman Challenge gave the more than 40 competitors a taste of the Herculean efforts needed to lift anything from stones to logs to cars.

The brainchild of Barry Perkins, 44, former strongman and founder of the Edge 2.0 training group, the Capital Classic was the first competition of its kind in Fairfax County.

And the events are daunting.

Madison Fox, 24, of Annandale stared at the Chevy Aveo sitting on a dead lifting apparatus in front of her. Moments later she would drive her heels into the ground and hoist the four-door compact car into the air — trying to repeat the feat a total of 10 times in 75 seconds.

Madison Fox, 24, of Annandale flips a tractor tire as part of the Capital Classic Strongman Challenge hosted by the Edge 2.0 training group on Saturday at CrossFit Gym in Reston.

The Capital Classic Strongman Challenge concept began in Perkins’ Reston backyard. He and his strongman buddies would get together to lift atlas balls and large tires to train for upcoming events.

Naturally, this didn’t sit well with his suburban Reston neighbors.

“The neighbors did not like it at all,” he said. “We needed a place to train and someone mentioned CrossFit in Reston. We sent them an email, showed them videos of what we do and they gave us some space.”

Crossfit allowed Perkins to keep his equipment at their gym and occasionally some CrossFit clients find themselves drifting toward the strongman section to give lifting the atlas balls a go.

“We use strongman equipment for skills and other workouts,” Maggie Dabe, owner of Reston CrossFit said. “We get a few clients from Barry, but that’s pretty much it. We’re a bit different. Most of the people that want to do strongman just do that.”

With his equipment in a place where lifting heavy objects wasn’t frowned upon, Perkins began to see a community emerge — people wanted to try out the circus-like weirdness of strongman lifting.

“Ever since then it has grown because people have found out there’s a strongman training facility here,” he said. “People come in and will train with me once or twice a week to supplement their workouts.”

The interest in the training led Perkins, who has competed in more than 40 strongman events, to set up the Capital Classic. But instead of marketing it toward those who regularly compete in strongmen events, he decided to make the event more “newbie friendly.”

Perkins said there have been strongman competitions in Maryland, but he wanted to bring the event closer to home. He also said he hopes to repeat the event annually.

“Word got out and we’ve got a lot of local people doing it,” he said. “This has brought those people together. We wanted to do something for beginners or people who wanted to try it.”

Grouped by various skill levels, both male and female competitors took on the mainstays of a strongman competition: the car dead lift, the atlas balls, the Conan’s wheel, the tire flip and the log lift.

Fairfax resident Ben Pollack lifts a series of Atlas Stones.

More than trophies were on the line for the competitors — for many, participating was more a goal or chance to prove something to themselves.

“My boyfriend trains in strongman, so I’m around the sport,” Fox said. “So I figured, why not give it a try? I’m near all the equipment — why not do this competition?”

The competition also brought out a few veterans of the sport. Mike Jenkins, 28, of Vienna said the Capital Classic was his second attempt at competing in a strongman event.

“My first show was in January at Myrtle Beach,” he said. “I came down to CrossFit one day and tried the sport and really enjoyed it. It’s something that a fat kid can be good at. It’s a great sport to be a part of.

“This is people lifting objects and weights that normal people can’t perceive anyone doing,” Jenkins said. “This is stones, cars, logs, it’s everything people can’t imagine doing.”

Sean Berglifts, a Fairfax resident and Herndon firefighter, dead lifts a Mini Cooper during the Capital Classic Strongman Challenge hosted by the Edge 2.0 training group on Saturday at CrossFit Gym in Reston.

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