Athlete Spotlight: Cliff Kohut and Sarah Whitmore

Mar 25, 2015 Jamie Tebaldi
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In this week's SAGL Athlete Spotlight, we caught up with Cliff Kohut of the returning Carolina Thunder, and Sarah Whitmore of the Maryland Knights.
What's your day job?
KOHUT: I own and operate 12th State CrossFit in Raleigh, North Carolina. We opened our doors in September, and that has been my full-time gig since then.
WHITMORE: I am a CrossFit coach at Rocktown CrossFit, the very best CrossFit gym in the area :), a part-time photographer and stay-at-home mom!
How did you hear about grid and what interested you most about it?
KOHUT: I found out about grid before the inaugural season (last year) and attended the combine in Atlanta last year. I am very interested in the team aspect. I have been an individual competitor my entire life, being a gymnast and a diver at the collegiate level. Even though you are on a team, it is very much an individual sport in my opinion. Grid offers athletes a chance to push themselves to better the team, and I think that brings a different level of motivation as a competitor. I am also excited to see a co-ed professional sport; in my opinion, that is the coolest thing about grid!
WHITMORE: I first came across grid through media and Facebook, but learned more about it from one of my best friends, Corinna Benz. She pushed me and encouraged me to go to a combine with her, and the rest is history! I totally fell in love with it! I love how everyone has a specific skill they bring to the team but yet we work together as a team to achieve match wins! It's so much fun!
What's your training schedule like?
KOHUT: I train one and a half to two hours daily. That is about it. I believe in quality not quantity, as it relates to the macro view of programming. So in order to achieve maximum results, I believe you have to keep training sessions short and intense. I find if I do multiple sessions or long sessions, I am too drained to give 100%.
WHITMORE: I train from an hour and a half to two hours a day. Sometimes more, some days less. I spend an hour of that lifting, and always end with conditioning. I can't thank the owner at my gym enough for supporting my dreams and helping me to achieve my goals!
Have you changed your training style at all to be more grid-specific?
KOHUT: Since starting grid, the meat and potatoes of my training have stayed the same. No change in the macro view of programming. I have added a few more max effort sessions for the gymnastics movements and a few more sessions for barbell cycling.
WHITMORE: I have definitely made tweaks to my programming. My job on my team is to cycle a heavy barbell as fast as possible, so I try to spend a decent amount of time lifting higher reps (10-20) as heavy as possible.
What is your past experience with sports?
KOHUT: I was a Division I gymnast and diver at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and East Carolina University.
WHITMORE: I played basketball in middle school and high school (but not very well haha!). Apart from that, it's been almost exclusively functional fitness style training.
Who is your favorite athlete and/or inspiration?
KOHUT: My favorite athlete would have to be Russell Wilson - Class act and amazing work ethic.
WHITMORE: Corinna Benz, Becca Day, Lindsey V, Alicia McKenzie . . . Honestly there are so many, and for various reasons! I'm inspired by the elite for sure, but I am also inspired by some of my own athletes who push themselves even harder than I do!
Favorite fitness brand?
KOHUT: Redline Gear!
WHITMORE: 2Pood, Virus, Adidas, Flex! But honestly I'm a little bit of a fitness fashion diva (I love all the clothes).
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
KOHUT: I am very much an introvert, so I like to keep to myself. I like to visualize me successfully completing the event right before I go out on the competition floor.
WHITMORE: C4, prayer, pep talks with my grid mates and all the loud music! I dance my nerves out!
What's one of your non-athletic hobbies?
KOHUT: I enjoy woodwork and carpentry. I am not the handiest guy, but it is a hobby that my dad introduced me to, and it is something I can do without having to worry about the normal daily stressors.
WHITMORE: Spending time with my toddler! I also love to spend time singing, writing music and doing photography.
Any advice for people who are new to grid?
KOHUT: Come with an open mind; it is unlike anything else you have ever seen. If you love working out and fitness, you will enjoy watching the men and women of grid push their bodies to do some pretty amazing things!
WHITMORE: Find some athletes who are in it and introduce yourself! The grid community is full of people who are friendly, are passionate about the sport, and want to see it grow. We are here to help! I would be totally lost without my coaches Garrett Smith and Eric Kolarik; they have been an incredible support system, and I am lucky to have them as coaches!
How can people follow you?
KOHUT: You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @cliffkohut, and on Facebook at Cliff Kohut. Also, check out my athlete page: (15% off with "Cliffk15" code)
WHITMORE: You can follow me on Instagram @ssswhittt and I have Facebook. Most of my athletic endeavors and daily training journey (aka: grind, haha) are on Instagram.