How Mat Fraser & Tia-Clair Toomey Work Out In Lockdown (And What They Watch On Netflix)

The Sport of Fitness is back on. Sort of. After moving the CrossFit Games from the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin US to the private Californian ranch of Games Director Dave Castro in response to the ongoing pandemic, further details have now been released. The team and age group competitions will not take place. And only the top 20 men and women from the Open online qualification stage and the winners of the ten Sactional events that took place before global quarantines will be invited take part.

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A number of high profile athletes are no longer going to be in attendance. Two who most definitely will be, are five-time consecutive and reigning champion Mat Fraser, and the four-time consecutive and reigning champion Tia-Clair Toomey.

Men’s Health spoke to the training partners, friends and quarantine cohabiters about how they are working out, recovering and relaxing in lockdown.

Men’s Health: All around the world, people are training at home without access to much kit. What would you do if you only had your bodyweight and a dumbbell or kettlebell.

Tia-Clair Toomey: We actually try to use minimal equipment quite often, as you can benefit so much by doing more bodyweight movements. We bring that variety in all the time; doing our burpees, doing our push-ups, doing air squats and trying to change it up to keep it interesting.

Mat Fraser: I know for me, whenever I do training like that, I always try to set it up as an EMOM [every minute on the minute]. For me, those longer workouts are more of a mental barrier than a physical one. I know I’m physically capable of it, but it’s whether it can keep my attention for long enough to get a good workout in. With an EMOM, the light at the end of the tunnel is only 40 seconds away before you can have a sip of water.

MH: Both of you finished second twice at the CrossFit Games before going on your dominant championship runs. What changed?

MF: For me it was half mental and half lifestyle. The first year I came second at the games I had no idea what I was doing. I was brand new to CrossFit and showing up to the gym when I could. During the Open [the online stage of qualification] I would do the workout on a Friday and the next time I made it to the gym was the following Friday.

The second year was when all my lifestyle stuff became very prevalent. I had a terrible diet and a terrible sleep schedule. On top of that, I had a terrible attitude in competition, so if something didn’t go well I would just throttle back.

After that I took some steps. I stopped eating fast food or off food trucks, started a good sleep schedule, began doing some recovery work, warmups. Basically everything I was supposed to be doing, I actually started doing.

TCT: For me, when I first went to the CrossFit games in 2015, I was just amazed I made it and just so happy to be there. In 2016, my mind was on the Olympics more than anything, when I look back on it. Going to the Olympics was a goal since I was a little girl.

The big difference in 2017 was that I built a lot more confidence and had more focus when I went into the Games.

MH: Now that you’ve both won multiple times you seem like you exude confidence when you compete. Do you ever still get nervous before events?

TCT: Personally, I love nerves. It’s what gives me that adrenalin feel. If I wasn’t nervous I’d be questioning whether I cared about what I was doing. I thrive of nerves and I love it.

MF: I’m the same. I hate the way it feels; the immediate effect. Before most events I dry heave or throw up because I’m so nervous. So it’s not a comfortable situation. It’s not enjoyable. But at the same time I know that I care and that I still have that excitement. Back stage, people will see me dry heaving and they look at my manager and say ‘God, is Mat OK?’. And he’s like ‘Yeah. Oh yeah, he’s good. This is good!’

MH: Is there anything you’ve watched on Netflix that you’d recommend?

TCT: Have you heard of this thing called The Fittest? That’s a great watch. Also The Last Dance. We were hanging on the next episode every week.

MF: Early on in the quarantine I was treating it like a vacation, so I watched all of the trashy TV. And then I realised I had the most unproductive week ever. I’m conscious of just plopping down in front of the TV and watching nine episodes of something. Everyone says they wish they had time to stay at home and catch up on their books and now I’m about 100 pages into The Tipping Point [by Malcom Gladwell]. It’s a phenomenally well-researched book. You should read it.

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