DICKSON CITY — The road leading to CrossFit Vertex has holes, ruts and bumps.
Perhaps that’s fitting because there’s no easy way to what Paige Semenza wants to accomplish.
The 24-year-old Pittston native spends the week at the facility tucked off a busy Main Avenue. Her goal — to finish among the top five in the CrossFit Atlantic Regional in Atlanta from May 20-22 to qualify for the CrossFit Games in July in Carson, California.
“It’s the intensity,” Semenza said. “Every workout is different. There’s always ways of finding new challenges through it. Having to push yourself but not so much competing against other people. I like that aspect. But I also like the community aspect of it. Being here, everybody here knows each other.
“Anybody who walks in is welcomed. It’s just a great environment to be in.”
CrossFit Vertex isn’t like one of those chain fitness centers. There aren’t many frills. It’s there for high intensity workouts that combine weightlifting, gymnastics and running. Semenza works out twice a day for five days. Another day is spent doing what she calls “active recovery” which can consist of light jogging or rowing. One day is set aside for rest.
“To prepare for CrossFit, you have to fine tune your skills,” Semenza said. “It involves a lot of accessory work, the boring stuff. Also lifting. My training session will go two hours both times at the least. And to add in recovery and runs and things like that, I don’t mind spending the whole day here.”
Semenza realized that training for regionals would be difficult while holding a job. So she left her position at Mohegan Sun Casino to dedicate herself to CrossFit.
“I really enjoyed working there,” Semenza said, “but I had to make a commitment somewhere, so I stopped working about two months ago.”
Semenza had always been an outstanding athlete. After attending Pittston Area, she spent her final three years of high school at the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vermont. She earned an ice hockey scholarship to Ohio State where she tied for the team lead in goals as a senior.
Once Semenza’s Ohio State hockey career ended, she had another semester remaining and was introduced to powerlifting by her friend, John Downing, who coaches the Powerlifting Club at the university. After returning to the area in January 2016, she became a volunteer ice hockey coach at Wyoming Seminary where another friend got her into CrossFit.
“From there, I started and I never stopped,” said Semenza, who has added 15-20 pounds to her 5-foot-3 frame and weighs in at 145 pounds.
The first step to the regional was the CrossFit Open. The Open started in February and went on for five weeks. Every Thursday, a workout is announced, and athletes have until Monday to do the workout and submit it online. The athletes are then ranked among competitors worldwide. Semenza finished ranked 462 in a field of over 130,000 female entrants.
Crossfit then breaks down the athletes into regions, with the top 20 women and top 20 men being invited to regional competitions. Semenza finished 29th in the Atlantic Region, but when 10 women elected to participate in the team competition she moved into the top 20.
Semenza will participate in seven events in Atlanta that test strength and endurance to different degrees within a specific time limit. There will be two the first day, three the second and two more the final day.
The first day will consist of the Snatch Ladder and Regional Nate.
The Snatch Ladder requires a series of squat snatches, where the competitor lifts a barbell from the floor and in one motion presses it overhead. The female segments are: 10 repetitions at 135 pounds; eight reps at 145; six reps at 155; four reps at 165; and two reps at 175. There is a two-minute time limit for each of the first four segments and a three-minute window to accomplish the fifth.
The Regional Nate has three contrasting strength exercises. The first is the strict muscle-ups, where competitors grasp gymnastic rings and lift themselves high enough to where their hands are level with their hips. Strict handstand push-ups follow where the body must remain vertical. Then comes 12 kettlebell snatches with a 53-pound weight. There are 10 rounds in the Regional Nate and all must be done within 20 minutes.
“The events are meant to be challenging,” Semenza said. “They’re meant to find the best of the best. I’m going to go in there confident and as prepared as I can. My coach, Kaleena (Marcavage), she’s going to get me ready.”