Indoor Training for Outdoor Adventures: Preparing for Your Sport to Prevent Injury and Go Farther

by Alix Whitener

Author Alix Whitener on a race day.

While attending Western Washington University as an undergraduate student, I was a coxswain and lightweight rower on Western’s NCAA Division II Women’s rowing team. I was fortunate to walk on to a team with a history of success. With four national titles and counting, our on-land training program was well proven and constantly changing and adapting to prepare us to compete at our highest capabilities on the water. My Sophomore year, we started adding CrossFit WODs (workouts of the day) to our terrestrial training, which already included running and Olympic lifting. Adding CrossFit WODs was both fun and challenging, with something different each day – and the movements involved in CrossFit are excellent cross training for many sports including rowing. 

When I returned to Wenatchee for my graduate school research, I was looking for a gym to cross train for trail running and skiing, and to get back in shape after the first two years of my graduate studies, a time I prioritized academics over physical fitness. Fortunately, I found Inner Circle and Cathy Covey – a gym to call my new home where I was welcomed by an encouraging, kind, and empowering coach. Inner Circle had circuit training programming very similar to CrossFit, and the community Cathy Covey and Adam Vognild created brought physical fitness and mental wellness together in the best way. 

After the devastating loss of Cathy to brain cancer in 2019, our gym community struggled. Without our biggest cheerleader and the person who brought us all together, coupled with the challenges 2020 brought to community-based fitness, well, many of this readership understands the obstacles to training for our sports in the adversity COVID brought to our community.  During this time of uncertainty, CrossFit Covey was born a CrossFit gym and cooperative nonprofit founded by Cathy’s friends who are passionate about bringing community and fitness together and run by a board of directors determined to carry on Cathy’s legacy.  

A few years later and infinitely wiser, our gym community at CrossFit Covey has grown! With 135 member-owners, our co-op continues to uphold Cathy’s values and constantly adapt to the fitness goals of our community. Many Covey members use CrossFit to train for the outdoor recreational sports that make living in the Wenatchee Valley and the greater Wenatchee area the best – skiing and snowboarding, trail running, cycling, mountain biking, rowing, paddling, rucking, backpacking, rock climbing, paragliding, wakeboarding, waterskiing just to name a few – you name it, we probably do it here in central Washington. 

Cross-training reduces the chances of injury, improves our performance whether we’re competitive in our sport or enjoying it purely for pleasure, and helps us reap the benefits of the human experience in outdoor recreation. There are many ways to cross-train for recreational activities – Olympic lifting, cardio training, and of course simply doing our sport at various levels of intensity – all contribute to improvement and maintenance of fitness. Here, I‘ll describe how two of our members employ fitness programming at CrossFit Covey to aid in their preferred sports. Like mine, their stories of how they got into CrossFit and why, and how they benefit from the community at CrossFit Covey are relatable to many of us who also enjoy outdoor recreation resources here in our beautiful Valley. 

Joel Rhyner, co-founder of RunWenatchee and a Cardiology PA, joined CrossFit Covey in Spring of 2022 at the encouragement of Sarah Barkley, a CrossFit Covey founding board member and coach. Rosemary Swigart joined CrossFit Covey around the same time as Joel, when CrossFit 791 in Cashmere closed and many members and coaches joined CrossFit Covey. I hope our stories encourage you to check out CrossFit Covey for yourself and see how CrossFit training can be an enriching part of your Wenatchee Outdoors lifestyle.

Alix – How long have you been doing CrossFit or CrossFit-like workouts? How did you join CrossFit Covey?

Rosemary – About 3 years off and on (off time due to COVID, pregnancy followed by postpartum, a shoulder injury).  I joined Covey because I was a member of CrossFit 791.  The location is super convenient, and I love that so many members and coaches from 791 switched over.

Joel – I have been doing CrossFit training for almost a year, but have been training with functional training programs for the last 5 years. I joined CrossFit Covey because I was looking to jump into CrossFit training and methodology and Sarah Barkley, one of the coaches and founding board members, encouraged me to check it out and I was hooked. 

Alix – What outdoor activities do you do? How long have you been doing them, and if you had to choose, which is your favorite?

Rosemary Swigart.

Rosemary – My primary activities include snowboarding for about 9 years, and I’m now learning to ski, skate skiing which I’ve been doing for about 5 years, mountain biking – 10 years, white water kayaking – 8 years and hiking – 12 years.  I also trail run occasionally, surf when I have the opportunity, have done some split boarding and backpacking.  I also love multi-day white water rafting!

Joel – I currently backcountry backpack and hike, gravel- and mountain bike, and ruck (which is hiking with a weighted pack). I stand-up paddle-board in the summer.  I have signed up for my first gravel biking event this summer, which will be 47 miles with 5500ft+ of climbing.  Rucking and gravel riding are my favorite, moving fast and light in the mountains is also a favorite of mine. 

Rosemary – Favorite is hard, I would say either kayaking or biking!

Alix – Was there something or is there someone who influenced your enjoyment of any particular outdoor activity? 

Joel – I have always been an outdoor athlete and two of my closest friends, Bob Knowles and Chris Schmitt, constantly push me to get out and push my limits in the outdoors. 

Rosemary – My husband has been a huge influence as well as moving to the PNW. We love to kayak and mountain bike together when we can. We enjoyed some big adventures doing both sports before starting our family.  

Alix – How has CrossFit and our Covey community influenced your performance in your favorite outdoor activities? Your enjoyment? If it’s a competitive sport, have you noticed physiological changes or competitive differences?

Joel Rhyner.

Joel – CrossFit Covey’s programming has improved my strength and endurance for all my outdoor pursuits. The strength, endurance and multi-planar movements of CrossFit allow me to cross over into my various pursuits, minimizing concern for injury or drop-off in performance. 

Rosemary – CrossFit makes any outdoor activity easier and more enjoyable.  I’ve found that the strength I’ve gained, paired with overall conditioning, help me more easily dip in and out of all of my outdoor sports.  While raising small kids, I’m more of a weekend warrior so it’s nice to feel strong and fast whenever I get the opportunity to play outside.

Alix – As a parent myself, I relate to that! I must be much more efficient with my time than in the past, and if I can maximize each opportunity with cross-training-related preparation, I get more mileage for my time outdoors.

With our programming, we take time for a functional warm-up that relates to the movements we’re focusing on for the day, then we have a strength training component with one or two lifts or lift complexes, then our WOD with some kind of circuit. Are there certain exercises or movements we do at CrossFit Covey that clearly parallel your sport? Maybe some that aren’t so clearly linked but definitely help?  

Rosemary – Lunges and steps ups definitely help feel strong when hiking uphill!  Core exercises also transfer really well to kayaking.  All the squats we do definitely help to feel good on the snow when skiing/snowboarding. And the bike erg/echo bike definitely helps me feel more conditioned when riding my bike.

Joel – The Echo bike and C2 bike help with my cardio specifically as it relates to cycling. The strength portion helps with overall upper and lower body strength. Our WODs are a mix of strength and endurance that can be scaled (modified) for any fitness level or if you are tired from training or just having an “off day”. The programming is designed in training blocks and has a certain focus on certain days, so it is constantly varied, which is great. 

Alix – I love the variability, too – we’re doing something different all the time. When I was early in my postpartum journey, the modifications and scaling options were key to me being able to do the workout alongside everyone else. 

Is there a seasonal pattern to CrossFit and your sport? How do you manage your time in the gym vs. outside? 

Rosemary Swigart.

Rosemary – I would say I’m in the gym more in the fall and winter.  Spring and summer I do spend more time outside so less time doing CrossFit.  Weekdays can be hard for getting out though so I’d say I mostly go outside on weekends and am in the gym on weekdays.  Sometimes I’ll squeeze a morning class in and then can still paddle or bike in the evening if my schedule allows.

Joel – My goal is 3 days per week in the gym and the rest is either outside or sport specific training for whatever “season” I am getting ready for. For cycling for example, I will cycle 3 days per week and CrossFit 3 days as well. I usually have one complete rest day, and also have been focusing on prioritizing sleep to aid in recovery, which is critical for success. As a member of CrossFit Covey, we have access to body weight workouts in our programming so if I can’t make it to the gym, I can do something wherever I am and in 20-30 minutes I have a full body workout. 

Alix – I travel a lot for my job and sometimes there isn’t a CrossFit box to do a drop-in at or the hotel has minimal gym equipment – those bodyweight workouts are helpful.

Do you have some favorite places in the Wenatchee area to recreate? Favorite experiences you’ve had?

Joel – My favorite places in the Wenatchee area are No. 2 Canyon, the trails of Sage Hills into Horse Lake, and Squilchuck State Park for trail running, hiking and rucking, and mountain biking. Rucking up Mission Ridge in the summer is a great workout, too, and stand-up paddle-boarding at Lincoln Rock or Lake Chelan is another favorite. 

Rosemary – The Wenatchee River from Dryden to Cashmere is my favorite for paddling.  There are a lot of standing waves at high flows that I like to surf on in my freestyle kayak. And the river from Cashmere to Wenatchee is great for taking the family out in the raft. I love skiing at Mission Ridge! And mountain biking from Mission Ridge, down Tronson Ridge to Devil’s Gulch is a favorite and super fun downhill section of trail.  I also love spring hikes up Horse Lake when all the Balsamroot and Lupine are blooming!

Alix – Do you have any advice for people looking to cross-train for their outdoor rec activity?

Rosemary – I thru hiked the enchantments before kids, when I just did my outdoor activities and ran (no CrossFit), and I was so tired at the end and sore for days after.  I hiked it again this year, 6 years older and after having two kids; I was barely sore afterwards and felt so much stronger and had better energy for the 14 hour day then when I hiked it before. Try to work cross training in! It’s worth taking the time away from your sport.  It’ll make you better at it and less likely to hurt yourself. Thank you CrossFit Covey for keeping me fit for the outdoors!

Joel – Absolutely you need to [work it in]. For my outdoor rec activities, if I am not in the best shape possible, bad things can happen. Pick a program that you are going to follow, stay consistent, and most importantly surround yourself with a community that builds you up. Crossift Covey is that for me. Always be ready. Stay Hungry.

Alix – Thank you for sharing your perspectives, it’s fun to learn about how people get into their favorite activities and what they do to stay on top of their game. There are many ways to be prepared for recreating outdoors, and I consider cross training to be safety related. The community we’ve built at CrossFit Covey has so much to offer – I hope your stories and experiences will encourage the readership of Wenatchee Outdoors and others in the Greater Wenatchee Area to come check out our gym and consider cross training for their sport with CrossFit or a similar program.

If you’re interested in dropping in to CrossFit Covey to test out a class, check out our website HERE and get in touch. We are always happy to welcome new members and member-owners and help you with your fitness goals. CrossFit Covey members and owners are from Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Cashmere, Leavenworth and beyond – we all have our favorite sports, indoors and out, and would love to share the community we’ve built with you. 

Alix Whitener is an entomologist, skier, and trail runner raised and currently living in the Wenatchee Valley with her husband Cy, son Wyatt, and dog Scarpa. She is a member-owner of CrossFit Covey and serves on the board of directors of both CrossFit Covey and Wenatchee Valley TREAD.

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