OPEX remote coaching client, Joey Ray, is among the many athletes who are excited for the new CrossFit Games division for Master’s athletes from 35-39. An athlete most of his life, Ray started CrossFit to tap into the competitive energy he missed from playing sports, and CrossFit did the trick. But in 2012 with several years of the sport under his belt, he hit a wall with his training and began to look for ways he could progress without hitting a plateau.

On the suggestion of a friend, Ray contacted OPEX and was paired with Remote Coach, Mike Lee. The two are currently focused on technique and building Ray’s aerobic base to secure the highest possible finish for The Granite Games qualifier – with Wodapalooza also in his immediate sights…

Why did you initially start looking into OPEX?

“I kind of hit a wall with my own training and a friend of mine was training under James (Fitzgerald) and he talked to me about it. I contacted Meghan (Sweet) at OPEX and I went from there.”

What are your current training goals?

“I just moved into the Master’s Division for 35-39 this past year and I want to make the top 200 for the [CrossFit] Master’s Division next year; that’s our goal. I also want to qualify for some of the major competitions this season like Granite Games and Wodapalooza.”

What has been the most impactful thing from your training with OPEX?

“Just working with Mike. He’s not just a coach to me; He’s a friend. We don’t just talk about life inside the gym, we talk about life outside the gym to. That’s probably the most impactful thing I’ve experienced.”

What area have you seen the most improvement in your training?

“The most improvement has been in overall performance. My lifts are all 40-50 lbs. heavier, and my ‘motor’ has developed a lot too. I used to have no ability to go for long durations during workouts. Though, I’m still not the best at it, I’ve seen a lot of improvement there. I can also tell I’m much better in my ability to breathe, and I can go in and do what I need to do for training.”

Something your coach tells you consistently that you find helps you during training and perhaps in life too?

“Outside the gym he tells me ‘sometimes you have to be selfish to get the things you want in life.’ That’s one of the things we’ve really worked on in the last year. Thinking about things I want out of my life not just what I can do for everybody else.

Inside the gym he says ‘You have to want to win more than you want to breathe.’”

How do you keep yourself focused and motivated to train?

“I guess I stay motivated by knowing what my end goal is and knowing I have to put in the time to get what I want out of it. Also, just knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

What are your thoughts about individual design now that you have been with Mike and OPEX for four years?

It was the best decision I ever made. Mike doesn’t let me hide from anything I don’t want to do or anything I’m not good at. He challenges me to be better. Sometimes he throws workouts at me and I’m like ‘there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this’ and then I do it – I think Mike knows me better than I know myself as an athlete. I tell people that you have a coach who wants to push you to get you to the point where you want to be; it’s a joint effort. You have someone who cares and is checking on you and holding you accountable. I would not have progressed like I have if I was doing this by myself.”

Besides your CrossFit goals, are there any other reasons you have stuck with OPEX for as long as you have?

Common health. My dad was very sick and died at a young age from congestive heart failure. My dad was my best friend and was one of my biggest supporters with everything I did in life. This helps me stay focused to not just achieve my own fitness goals (CrossFit Regionals) but for health and to be the best person I can be. I don’t want to be one of those parents who can’t do anything with their kids.”