CrossFit Games Champ Robbie Davis is the Picture of Health, Heart, and Humility
It’s no wonder Robbie Davis holds the CrossFit title “Fittest on Earth” two-times running. Growing up in Northern California, his family was super active; team sports, the outdoors, and adventure were all catalysts for a love of fitness in his younger years. Robbie’s father had a large influence, as did his older brother, three years his senior.
“He and his buddies always beat up on me,” Robbie laughs. “They would get me to do things first, and then try it themselves.”
As a man in his prime now, Robbie exudes the inner confidence and rigor those experiences instilled in him, but none of the bravado one might expect.
“I grew up in Redwood City,” he says, “halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. My dad worked in the record business. We were always around a lot of artists and creative people. You could say it was a more hippie-ish upbringing.”
Which, in the long run, has made for quite a humble, easygoing athlete.
Parked behind Crystal River Spas in Carbondale is a very flattering, larger-than-life black and white billboard photo of Robbie working out. Men give blood, sweat, and tears to look like he does, to achieve such a state of sheer physical capacity and masculinity. And this billboard happens to be in the same vicinity as his wife Joanne’s Jobody Pilates studio. It’s kinda hard to miss. When asked about it, Robbie chuckles dismissively, pointing to the community spirit among businesses versus any personal recognition. Although recognition and winning do feel good, he admits with a smile in his voice.
Robbie’s voice alone speaks volumes about who he is: warm, soft spoken, and quick to laugh. The humility he feels around his CrossFit accomplishments is appealing. It’s almost as though he himself can’t believe it, despite the intensity of years of training.
“Winning the titles was an accumulation of a ton of work. When you get ‘invited’ to the game? Usually you qualify, but to be invited? They weed out the best in the world. And you’re going to compete with the best in the world,” he says. “Even just going is a big honor; it proves all the work you’ve been doing. And to follow up with a repeat was pretty awesome.”
To date: Robbie secured third place Masters in his age division, 45-49, in 2016. In 2017, he flat out won it. And did so again in 2018.
Currently, he enjoys the thought of taking a year or two off to focus on enjoying life, hanging out, and enjoying the fulfillment he derives from owning and running CrossFit Bonedale, the box he and Joanne opened together in 2009. CrossFitters refer to their gym as the “box,” an often bare-bones, utilitarian space dedicated to extreme workouts with a specific set of equipment.
In the land of endless mountains and about 300 days of sunshine a year, many Colorado athletes scoff at working out within four walls—a box.
“Everyone has their own way to find their empowerment. For me, owning a box, I always say first and foremost, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, as long as you get out and move. Secondly, for me to watch when people start moving barbells, getting the technique, moving a bit of weight around, you can see their whole demeanor change. It’s incredible, really,” Robbie says with quiet awe. “They’re more confident, sure of themselves, even in their daily life. It’s just a weird thing. I see it all the time, even more so with women than men.”
And this makes Robbie happy.
Twenty years ago, he fell in love with Joanne through their shared love of fitness. She has a ballet and gymnastics background, which demands the self-discipline, training, and goal-setting inherent to an active life. In fact, it was she who was doing CrossFit when Robbie first tried it out. He loved the faster pace and the ever-changing nature of the workouts, all with benchmarks. CrossFit has what are called Rx workouts, with prescribed weight, repetitions, or times to achieve, which are very effective training metrics.
And that’s what draws Robbie to CrossFit: irrefutable training techniques with proven outcomes.
Last year, training alongside her husband, Joanne placed 15th in the CrossFit qualifiers. Now, as Robbie gives his own body a rest, he looks forward to supporting Joanne’s training and her bid for a 2020 CrossFit title. As a coach, Robbie says he thrives on watching people “grow and push the boundaries of what they think they’re capable of…to break down the walls of what they think, or what someone else thinks is possible for them to accomplish. That’s the thing about CrossFit. It’s a mental game.”
Robbie views the box as community, a CrossFit family. Everyone cheers everyone on. When the last few people are gasping and grunting through the work out, or someone is straining for a personal best, the entire box circles up, shouting and cheering them on. Even at the CrossFit Games where Robbie and Joanne compete, between events the competitors are all in the same family; it’s hugs all around. That culture of inclusivity is paramount to Robbie.
“We’ve got a really eclectic group of people at CrossFit Bonedale,” he says. “It’s what makes us different from most boxes in the valley. When you come to class, it’s a snapshot. There are no real cliques. Everyone is welcome.”