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Dennis Cole: An Interview with a Five-Time CrossFit Games Athlete

Dennis Cole, 57, of Las Vegas, Nevada is a man who wears many hats. Father, husband, gym owner (Gym Dad), coach, friend, and 5 time CrossFit Games Athlete. Dennis owns CrossFit Raw Appeal with his wife, Lisa. They opened their doors in 2014. Dennis participated in the Masters Division at the CrossFit Games in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and will next week, in the 2018 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin. As CrossFit deems Games Athletes as the ‘Fittest on Earth’ -Dennis currently sits as the 9th fittest man in the world in his age division after completing the CrossFit Open 2018 and the Online Qualifiers. Keep reading to learn a little bit more about why Dennis trains so hard, what he hopes for all of his members, his favorite cheat meal and more.

The Beginning

What made you get into CrossFit? 10 1/2 years ago, my daughter challenged me to do a half-marathon. I didn’t want to be a skinny runner, so I started training in my garage and someone told me to look at the workouts on crossfit.com.

What was the first CrossFit workout you did? Elizabeth – in my garage. I think I quit before I got all the way through.  I started with squat cleans, switched to power cleans at 100 pounds and quit before I completed the workout. Even though I was so tired,  I was hooked. (‘Elizabeth’ as prescribed by crossfit.com is 21-15-9 Cleans (135#) and Ring Dips.)

When did you want to make CrossFit your day job? When my son, Chad, talked me into opening a CF gym. The economy was going down and I sold my welding business – I needed to do something. 

Many would say you’re really humble about your fitness level, what keeps you so humble? I never want to be somebody that tells people I’m a Games Athlete. I want them to see how hard I work for it.

The Why

What motivates you to keep doing really HARD workouts? That’s all I know. I love hard workouts. I have no desire to do easy WODs (workout of the day). I love the feeling of giving everything I can and feeling wasted at the end.

What inspires you to be at the top of your sport each year? Competing and working out with the members at our gym. It still bothers me to lose.

What’s your favorite part about being a ‘Games Athlete’? Going to the Games, getting free gear, and being treated kinda special. My first few years I was so grateful for the things they gave us. The last few years I’ve thought to myself, ‘I earned this’.

Do you still get nervous? I’m nervous right now. It’s really starting to get to me.

What workout do you NOT want to see at the CrossFit Games this year? A handstand walk workout. I have a lingering wrist injury that hurts pretty bad during handstand walks.

What do you think about at the Games whey they say “3-2-1, GO!”? It depends on the workout, but I think about what I have to do. I try to stay calm. And I don’t let someone next to me push me to where I don’t want to be.

What goes through your mind while you’re competing? Don’t take many long breaks. You’re gonna rest, make them short breaks.

What has been your high and low point training for the Games? The high has been getting compliments and people witnessing me work so hard. The low happen a lot more often. Realizing I’m not as strong as I was last year and feeling like I’m not ready have been low points. But, on the the other hand, I feel confident that my cardio is there and no matter what happens, I’ll be fine.

When will the reality set in that this is your FIFTH trip to the Games? It usually sets in when I show up at the games and start talking to the other athletes. I meet a lot of rookies and with my experience I have the opportunity to help them calm their nerves.

What Next?

You’ve said it before….is this REALLY your last year? It is at this age. If I feel competitive enough at 60, I’ll do it again.

Where do you see yourself in the CrossFit world after the games? More involved in CFRA. A better gym owner.

How does CrossFit impact other areas of your life? It’s my whole life. It’s my passion. It’s my job. If I’m not at the gym for two days in a row, I feel lost. Someday it won’t be all of these things and I won’t know what to do.

What’s so great about CrossFit?

Why would you encourage others to do CF? To always keep a spark in their life. To keep striving for something. Even if it’s just day-to-day being at the gym, that’s something.

What would you tell someone starting CF? If you allow this to be part of your life, I guarantee you’re going to have a lot more joy in your life. You’re going to meet great people.

What book would you recommend to people? Lone Survivor. The hero WOD, “Murph”, is special to me. I was training in my garage, doing this WOD, not knowing who Murph was. I read Lone Survivor and learned who Murph was. The book gets to you. After reading Lone Survivor,  I then understood the meaning of hero WODs. I have Murph tattooed on my forearm.

The Bonus

What is something about you we may not know? …I am really pretty open. If you know me well enough and will ask I will tell you anything. So some people know me more than others…. There are a lot of times in my life that I wish I could have handled things differently but my machismo got in the way.

What’s your favorite cheat meal? A lot of beers and donuts :-).

What makes you feel most alive? My wife, Lisa. We have so much fun together. She is funny, sarcastic and real.  She’s the nicest person I know.

What advice would you give to everyone? You’re gonna be old. You’re gonna be funny lookin’.  Be glad you’re both.

 

What do you hope each member of CFRA experiences? That if they ever move away – I hope they’ll never forget RA. I think we’re kinda special.

Watch Dennis Compete at the 2018 CrossFit Games

Dennis will compete in the Masters 55-60 Age Division In Madison, Wisconsin from Wednesday, Aug. 1 – Sunday, Aug. 5.

Watch/Stream the CrossFit Games: The CrossFit Games will be available to stream on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports app, for key connect TV devices including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku, and the CBS Sports mobile app for iOS and Android. It will also be streamed via Facebook Watch and games.crossfit.com.

A Message to Dennis from his RA Family

Dennis – Go get ’em!!! We are so proud of you, always. Thank you for showing us what it means to work hard and earn it. We are so inspired by you. We’ll be cheering you on from CFRA & we promise to take care of the gym while you’re away. You’re our favorite bada**! We love you!!! -Your CFRA Family.

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