If you’ve ever watched the CrossFit Games, you know who Scott Panchik is.
The four-times Games competitor is currently sitting fourth in his region, tied with Rich Froning after 16.1. He finished fourth place in the Games in 2012 and 2013, followed by a fifth place finish in 2014. He managed to wrangle sixth place in 2015 despite a painful injury in the first event.
The ex-collegiate athlete owns CrossFit Mentality in Ohio with his father, where he’s currently fighting his way through the Open with his sights set on Carson once again this July.
The Fittest Man on Earth isn’t the only title Panchik is hoping to pick up this fall. He and his fiance have set a wedding for after the Games in September.
FHQ: How long have you been doing CrossFit? Tell me a little about your back ground prior to CrossFit — where are you from, where’d you go to school, are you married, do you have kids, etc.
Scott Panchik: I started CrossFit back in 2009. My dad introduced me to CrossFit and it was something that everyone in my family really got into.
When we first started our journey into it, we would pile into my dad’s truck and drive down to CrossFit Pittsburgh. It was a fun way of training for football and having fun with my family I was rehabbing from a knee surgery and my brother had as severe concussion from a bad accident they were in, so it was something my family did together that was a form of rehab physically and emotionally as well and it brought us a lot closer together.
I continued to play at Mount Union and I ended up blowing out my knee again my senior year and my football career got cut a little short. I graduated and became a school teacher in Ohio — I taught health and physical education and coached football and wrestling for three years (before opening CrossFit Mentality)
My brothers work out and my fiancé works here too. My brothers are two of my head coaches and my dad owns the gym with me. They really give me a lot of time to train and take care of my body and help me a lot with everything that needs to be done. It’s nice having that family atmosphere where we can talk through things and come to solutions right away.
FHQ: You’ve had several very close misses with the Podium. Do you think you’re going to make it up there this year? What are you doing differently this year to make that happen?
Scott Panchik: Absolutely, every year I say to myself, “This is the year to get on the podium.”
I don’t want to just be standing on the podium — I want to be on the top of the podium. We have a goal board in (my box) and that’s been written on it since we’ve opened the gym. It’s come down to staying healthy and staying focused on what I need to do and not what everyone else is doing.
It’s a long year and the field of athletes is just getting better. All the athletes who go to the Games are elite in their own special way and sometimes it comes down to who’s healthy at the time and what workouts come out. It’s a great test of fitness and always grueling and beating on the body.
I actually ruptured my plantar fascia last year – I went in with planters fasciitis and I fell coming out of the water in the ocean into the sand dune (in Event 1). I think there are a lot of athletes who are banged up at times whether it’s going into the Open, the Regionals or the Games. With me especially, with some of the injuries I’ve had throughout the course of my career, I need to focus on staying healthy.
FHQ: I know you were a collegiate athlete before becoming an avid CrossFitter. Do you still follow college football? In what ways did football prepare you for CrossFit? In what ways was it useless?
Scott Panchik: Football was really important in terms of building conditioning.
If there’s one sport that crosses over into CrossFit, it’s wrestling because it’s one-on-one it’s between the ears — it’s mental and you’ve got to learn to deal with adversity. You may have three or four matches in one day similar to the CrossFit Games and they don’t always go the way you want to them.
In terms of long days I’ve gone through days of football camp and your body is beat up, you’re sore and you’re taking ice baths. As a running back, you’re taking a beating during games. There’s days like that when you’re competing and you’re just drained and beat up but having those experiences made me tough and taught me to fight and I think that’s one thing that separates me from other people. I have that ability to handle adversity, that mental toughness and that willingness to suffer and fight.
I think one thing that really helped me with CrossFit was that my parents got me exposed to sports at a very young age I played every sport imaginable — I did tumbling classes, swimming lessons, soccer, basketball, wrestling, hockey — just about every sport imaginable I played and I’ve had the opportunity to learn and develop skills in those specific areas.
My brother taught me about weightlifting. I have four brothers and a sister and they are all athletes and we were always trying to outdo one another. Now what you’re starting to see is this next generation of CrossFitters who have been doing it since they were 11 and 12 years old like my younger brothers. Now they’re things at 19 things I was doing at 23.
FHQ: So last year, we got to see you go head to head with Josh Bridges last year during the open. What workout are you hoping to see this year during the Open?
Scott Panchik: There’s nothing really in particular – the Open has been very similar to previous years, they always throw something new in. It’s always a great test of fitness. For me especially, I feel like I just need to get a little better at everything. I’m pretty well rounded — there’s nothing I’m really looking forward to seeing and there’s nothing that I’m like, “Oh no!” I feel prepared.
FHQ: What was the highlight of the 2015 Games for you?
Scott Panchik: The Zig-zag sprint! Prior to going out there, I texted my fiancé and told her I think I’ve got to be done because I was struggling so much with my foot. I struggled to even walk into the venue. I almost withdrew at that point and it was a crucial turning point for me where I had to decide if I wanted to fight or call it quits and looking back at it now I’m so glad I had the support system I did with my family and my friends and my fiancé –they encouraged me not to quit.
My body definitely wanted to call it quits, but it’s crazy what your mind and your body can withstand and what adrenaline can do for you. Once I got through that event – I kept thinking people would kill for this opportunity. I thought about my brothers and every person who fights through Regionals or the Open who would love the opportunity to compete in just one event at the Games. Those are moments in your life that you can’t get back and that you have to cherish.
Regardless of what the situation, I decided I was going to have to get dragged off that floor before I quit. This past year if anything made me tougher. I appreciate being sore and tired and not in pain. There’s a big difference between being sore and tired and actually being hurt and struggling to move and walk around. I appreciate my health and the support system I had going out there. I couldn’t of done it without them
FHQ: What does your typical workout/fitness routine look like?
Scott Panchik: Right now, I’m preparing for the Open, so a lot of Open-style workouts – a lot of moevemts that you’ve seen in the past. I continue working on my cardio and my endurance and all of those specific movements with the high intensity and the high skills gymnastics couplets with weight lifting — it’s really just CrossFit. I always tell people there’s not a big secret. If I had to give the secret away it’s if you do CrossFit, it will make you better.
I train in the middle of the day. I do a little session and eat lunch and then do another session and coach classes in the evening. I’m not doing really long drawn out days — I’m trying to work smarter, not harder and when I get closer to regionals that’s when I usually increase my volume. Right now I’m just preparing for the Open and the grueling workouts and going to the dark place. I take it one step at a time. Every year, the field of competition is getting better and athletes are becoming more and more impressive.
FHQ: What is your favorite type of physical activity outside of CrossFit?
Scott Panchik: I really like just playing any type of sports. We’ve been playing some football and soccer at the local high school fields and getting outside of the gym. You’re not necessarily suffering, which is always nice and exciting especially with your friends
FHQ: What is your least favorite CrossFit movement and why? What’s your least favorite?
Scott Panchik: My favorite CrossFit move would probably be a hang clean, because with my football background we did those a lot and I’m very comfortable with it.
My least favorite movement would probably be running. I’m trying to turn it into a strength and that’s actually how I hurt my foot last year. Listening to my body has become something I’m more in tune with every year and have a better understanding of what I’m doing and what volume is right for me.
FHQ: What kind of music do you listen to when you workout?
Scott Panchik: Honestly I’m in the gym all day so I listen to everything country rap pop hip-hop it’s just all day. When I’m lifting heavy I like some hard rock. Constantly varied — like my workouts.
FHQ: What does your typical nutrition look like? What is your favorite cheat meal?
Scott Panchik: My nutrition is a lot of rice and potatoes, lean meats – steak chicken fish and eggs in the morning. I eat pretty clean but I also enjoy cheat meal every three days or so, so I’ll get pizza. I like Chipotle.
FHQ: Do you have any gear that you can’t live without?
Scott Panchik: I’m really big at using my Marc Pro – that’s been a really great recovery tool for me and that’s something I use almost daily
FHQ: Are you taking any supplements regularly? What products would you recommend to other athletes?
Scott Panchik: I use PurePharma’s products — I use their organic rice protein, their vitamin D3, and then they have a mineral zinc magnesium and then I use their fish oil as well.
FHQ: What’s one item on your bucket list that isn’t CrossFit related?
Scott Panchik: I always wanted to go to Australia – so I guess travel to some different places in the world.
FHQ: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Scott Panchik: I’m not good, but I always thought it would be really cool if I could pick one other career to have it’d be a country singer it’d be really cool
FHQ: What PR are you most proud of and why?
Scott Panchik: I think a couple of things that I’m most proud of is coming back from injuries. I had shoulder surgery two years ago and I just had foot surgery. Those are really difficult times when you’re coming back from an injury — it can be really frustrating.
I tell people if you’re hurt, let’s work around it, don’t just stop coming in – and I did that with my foot and my shoulder. I took what I could do and stayed away from the things I couldn’t do and that’s something that I’m proud of. It’s easy to get up and call it quits when you’re hurt.
Something else that I’m really proud of is my younger brothers. I coach them everyday. They’re 19 they’re up and coming. One made it to Regionals and the other one was very close this past year and I’m really proud of all they’ve accomplished in the past two years. They’re excellent coaches. I’m most proud of them and the coaches and young men they’ve become and all they’ve accomplished in CrossFit. They’ll be taking over for me here soon I can only fight them off for so long.
FHQ: Anything else that you want people to know about you?
Scott Panchik: I really want to be known not just as a CrossFitter I’ve been working with a lot of different athletes form all over the world as a coach and as a programmer. I’ve been programming for different events and competitions around the world — I just finished one in Mexico.
I’ve ran a couple of different competitions and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some big name athletes. It’s been cool to create experiences for them outside of CrossFit. It leaves athletes with a great experience with whatever program they’re in. I want to be known as a coach as well. I have an online program – RX Mentality – It’s a competitor and affiliate programming that athletes from all over the world follow and you can become a powered by RX Mentality gym which just tells people that Scott Panchik is programming for our gym. I take a lot of pride in challenging your best athletes and bringing in new clients and talking with affiliate owners about a lot of the things we do here with out members.