Ten years ago, the mother of Justin Medeiros turned him on to CrossFit, the all-around workout regimen that incorporates strength, agility and stamina — "every domain of fitness mushed together."
He was a middle school wrestler and football player at the time.
"She kept trying to get me to go," he said. "I didn't understand it. She'd go for these 10-minute workouts. I said, 'There's no way you can do a workout in 10 minutes!'
"But, I loved it. CrossFit helped me train for wrestling."
A decade later, and only three years into competing at the highest level, Medeiros sits atop the CrossFit Games world, having just won his second consecutive NoBull CrossFit Games men's championship in Madison, Wisconsin. He has lived in Vancouver, Washington, and trained at CrossFit Fort Vancouver for half of 2021 and '22 leading up to the CrossFit games, preparing under the guidance of affiliate owner and coach Adam Neiffer.
CrossFit Fort Vancouver draws people from around the Portland area and the country, the vast majority of them looking to just get some good workouts in. There alongside them has been Medeiros, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound workout machine who humbly says, "it's a functional workout program. What's awesome about workouts, no matter what it is, I could join a class at the gym and get as good of a workout as my mom (she's 52) and a little kid, except my weights might be heavier and I might go a little quicker than them. But, at the end, we're both tired and satisfied and it builds a community."
From Lodi, California, and a Boise State University graduate in kinesiology, Medeiros, 23, repeated as CrossFit Games champion by simply being good at everything. In the 14 scored events, he recorded top-5 finishes in 10 of them — but not first in any. Medeiros did win an event last year, and vows to keep working until he wins more individual events.
Over the years, ESPN has shown CrossFit Games. This year, the games aired live on CBS with additional support on CBS Sports Network and Pluto TV. All the events are currently available on YouTube. But, for the uninitiated, it's a combination of weightlifting, gymnastics and cardiovascular challenges.
Medeiros placed second in Up and Over in 13 minutes, 9 seconds. The challenge: three rounds for time of 12 muscle-ups, 25 jump-overs and 30 Glute-Ham Developer sit-ups, and then an 84-foot front rack lunge to finish. The jump-overs include a log, a 42-inch box and a rectangular box; the rack lunge involves carrying an enormous amount of weight 84 feet.
His most memorable event was the Back Nine, finished in 1 minute, 32.8 seconds to give him breathing room on his way to the championship. It entailed: 54-foot yoke carry (665 pounds), two front squats at 315 pounds, three deadlifts at 475 pounds, then back into two front squats and another 54-foot yoke carry. A yoke is two pillars on each side of the competitor, connected by a bar put on their back and loaded with weights at the bottom — like a mobile squat rack.
The names of the other events were Bike to Work, Skill Speed Medley, Elizabeth Elevated, Shuttle To Overhead (A and B), The Capitol, Echo Press, Rinse 'N' Repeat, Hat Trick, Sandbag Ladder, The Alpaca and Jackie Pro.
They are all basically workouts competitors try to finish fast and/or better than everybody else.
Medeiros said the workouts can include obstacle courses, one mile of swimming, a marathon row, max weightlifting for clean and jerk, heavy sandbag lifting, kayaking, paddle boarding, gymnastics pull-ups and peg boards and muscle-ups.
"It sounds, like, lame, but we're really trying to be really, really average at everything," he said, of the CrossFit Games events. "You want to be able to go into an 'American Ninja Warrior' gym and hang with them, or be at a weightlifting or powerlifting meet, or run a triathlon and bike and swim. It's everything put together. We really try to do a little bit of everything, and the goal is to test aspects of fitness with about 15 events."
Said Medeiros: "I didn't win any events; obviously, I can get better."
His 2021 event win included: 600-meter row on a rowing machine, 75 cheek-to-bar pull-ups and 120 feet of lunging with a 185-pound barbell (first 40 on back, next 40 on front of shoulders, last 40 overhead).
Oh, and the CrossFit Games, which started in 2007, are not some minor-league thing. Medeiros pocketed $310,000 as the men's winner. The purse was $3 million.
"It's honestly really crazy," said Medeiros, who has sponsor backing as well. "I was a fan of the sport growing up; I volunteered for the CrossFit Games at 15 years old, and I always had the dream of making it.
"To get third in my rookie year and then win back-to-back is a dream come true. There are only two other people to win multiple championships in a row — Rich Froning Jr. (four in a row) and Matt Fraser (five in a row). I'm young and hopefully I got a lot more time in me."
Medeiros has been known for something else in the CrossFit Games world, other than being the best.
He's rockin' an awesome mullet.
"It's for sure coming back" as a trend, he said. "It did it as a joke a long time ago, and I liked it, and others did, too. It's cool going to CrossFit Games and seeing kids with mullets."