CORONA: Resident competes at CrossFit fitness


CORONA: Resident competes at CrossFit fitness

Wayne Willette and his wife, Brianne, work out on rowing machines at Willette’s CrossFit CrownTown fitness facility in Corona. Wayne Willette will take part in a CrossFit competition next month in Orange County.
Published: 10 January 2012 05:31 PM

CrossFit athletes such as Corona resident Wayne Willette are the general practitioners of the exercise boom. They train their bodies to be ready for any exercise that they might face in competition. They never know what they will be asked to do until just before the start of the event.
“You want to be good at everything but not great at anything,” said Willette, 32. “I train in every aspect of fitness.”
At one competition last year, he ran 1,000 meters, did 30 handstand pushups and rowed a rowing machine for the equivalent of 1,000 meters. His combined time for the three disciplines was nine minutes 20 seconds.
Willette, once a bodybuilder, started competing in CrossFit in 2010. He was 18th out of 1,200 at the regionals last year. He will compete in a regional event in Orange County on Saturday and Sunday. The goal is to qualify for the Reebok CrossFit Games, to be held at the Home Depot Center in Carson on July 13 and 14, to determine the fittest athlete in the world.
Willette is the owner of the CrossFit CrownTown gym on Compton Avenue in Corona. The gym has 70 members including his wife, Brianne, 29.
“We’re bettering ourselves right now and long term,” said Brianne.
Corona firefighter Brett Panceroff helps Wayne coach at his gym.
“Wayne likes to bring passion to the community that works out here,” Panceroff said. “Wayne’s strong points are his knowledge of the movements, his ability to guide individuals and teach them the movements. If Wayne has a weakness as a coach, he’s very meticulous. He demands perfection out of everybody. Sometimes, it takes an individual longer to reach that point.
Corona resident Nadine Pizzo, 41, said Willette cares for his clients. “If I don’t show up, he calls me,” said Pizzo. “He totally motivates you.”
Willette’s incentive was as an outfielder on the Elsinore High School baseball team.
“I had potential but I was distracted by weightlifting and fitness,” Willette said.
After graduation from Elsinore in 1998, He went to Mt. San Jacinto College in Menifee to prepare for a career in fitness.
“At that point I was burned out on baseball,” he said. “I started playing baseball when I was 9 years old.”
He concentrated on Olympic lifts such as the clean and jerk (his best was 280 pounds) and snatch (210 pounds).
“I’ve always been naturally gifted to pick up highly skilled technical movements such as Olympic weightlifting faster than the normal person,” Willette said.
He took up CrossFit three years ago. His workouts include 75 double-under jump-ropes, a skill that requires him to spin a jump-rope twice under his feet while he’s off the ground once, 50 leaps onto a 24-inch high box, a leap from the ground onto the box 50 times and lifting 105 pounds from the shoulders to a locked-arms position over the head 25 times.
Willette and his clients work out with boxes, barbells, dumbbells, jump ropes, pull-up bars, gymnastics rings, rowing machines and medicine balls.
Diet is important. He said he had a caveman’s (paleolithic) dinner of meat and vegetables with no carbohydrates at a party of 40 for a New Year’s dinner at a South Corona restaurant.
“The paleo(lithic) diet is all about minimizing the amount of insulin your body releases, which means the less fat our body will store,” Willette said.
Willette met his future business partner, Jason MerNick, who was introduced to CrossFit by a Los Angeles police SWAT team member.
“I had trained with other coaches and was hooked on Wayne’s coaching style literally from the first second,” said MerNick. “It was a unique combination of being a very strong serious CrossFit competitor with being able to relate to very average people in terms of fitness like me and help me improve. … By just looking at the guy, I expected him to be able to relate to people at his level of fitness but maybe not me, your very average 45-year-old guy.”
MerNick decided to become Willette’s business partner when he saw his work ethic, kind, calming nature and interpersonal skills.
“My 5-year-old son looks at Wayne like a superhero of some sort,” MerNick said.
CrossFit’s equivalent of the 10 Commandments is strength, power, speed, stamina, endurance, agility, balance, flexibility, accuracy and coordination.
“In CrossFit you build your body from the core to the extremities,” said Willette. “In bodybuilding you focus on the extremities.”
He said he has lost 25 pounds since his bodybuilding days.
Wayne Willette
Residence: Corona
Occupation: CrossFit coach and athlete
Age: 32

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