Athlete Spotlight: Mackenzie Long and Ryan Webber

Mar 12, 2015 Jamie Tebaldi
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In this week's SAGL Athlete Spotlight, we caught up with Mackenzie Long of the Capital City Silverbacks and Ryan Webber of Bluffton Bruisers.
What's your day job?
LONG: High School Art Teacher.
WEBBER: I own CrossFit Eternal in Charlotte, NC. I am also the North Carolina Territory manager for PurePharma. I stay busy.
How did you hear about grid and what interested you most about it?
LONG: I heard about grid from Paul Beckwith. Paul is always on the cutting edge of fitness (he opened the first CrossFit gym in South Carolina), so I didn't need much convincing to jump on board.
WEBBER: Being 6'3 and 240 lbs, I have never excelled at CrossFit in the open setting. I follow all of the big strong guys on social media and saw they were all trying out for grid teams. With the short, maximal effort sprints that are associated with grid races, I figured it would be something that I may be decent at.
What's your training schedule like?
LONG: I train at Lake Murray CrossFit under some amazing coaches 4-5 days a week. When I am not there, I am on my dirt road flipping tires and pulling fire hose.
WEBBER: I'm terrible at following a program. Recently I have been really trying to follow something more structured, but I usually stray away from the program at least once or twice a week. Usually in the morning I will do a few EMOMs and move a barbell. In the afternoon I will jump in with one of my classes and do the WOD I programmed for the gym. My motto is to lift something heavy and get out of breath a few times every day.
Have you changed your training style at all to be more grid-specific?
LONG: No response
WEBBER: I have gone away from only working up to a heavy single everyday on the barbell. Now I work on cycle time and lifting a heavy weight multiple times as quickly as possible. I have begun to incorporate a lot more gymnastics into my training as well. For my size, I am good at a few gymnastic movements, so I work on max effort sets to see how many I can do in a row. I still don't do any recovery or mobility. I am the worst at stretching before or after. One of these days I will learn that increasing my mobility will increase the weight on the bar, but until then: keep lifting heavy.
What is your past experience with sports?
LONG: I played basketball all through high school and some college.
WEBBER: I was an All-American tight end at Wingate University. I was more of a big wide receiver that just outran linebackers. After I graduated, I attended a few Pro Days, but was told I was too small for the NFL.
Who is your favorite athlete and/or inspiration?
LONG: I do not really have a favorite athlete. . . My kids inspire me. It is such a huge responsibility to know that those little eyes are watching my every move, and that I am laying the groundwork for the adults they will one day be. I strive every day to be the kind of person that those little eyes need to see.
WEBBER: In the fitness world, I love watching big guys that can move. Steve Pinkerton is one of my good friends and finished 4th at the mid atlantic regionals in 2013. The man is 6'5 and 245 lbs. It give me hope that one day I might possibly be able to breathe through a workout longer than 5 minutes.
Favorite fitness brand?
LONG: My favorite fitness brand is anything that fits!! I do have a lot of Reebok gear, and I am a sucker for a cute sports bra.
WEBBER: Lululemon hands down. By far the most comfortable clothes that actually fit someone that squats.
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
LONG: I try to stay relaxed and smile a lot before any match or competition. But if you see me 30 seconds before the clock starts, you might think I am about to throw up or rip someone's head off. . . I am as far from relaxed as it gets.
WEBBER: No, I'm the worst at being serious. I have a great time and joke around with everyone. Everyone is always so serious in the warm-up area and I try to lighten the mood. The only ritual I have is complaining about how hard the workout is going to be.
What's one of your non-athletic hobbies?
LONG: Reading or playing chess. And anything Star Wars related.
WEBBER: This drives my wife crazy, but I love looking at houses. If we go out on the weekend, I will usually pull off on some road that we have never been on and just look at the houses. She hates it. I always say one day I am going to make my way onto HGTV and decorate houses for people.
Any advice for people who are new to grid?
LONG: Give it a try!! I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I tried it, and fell in love!
WEBBER: Work on your weaknesses, but make your strengths stronger than anyone else. The grid is about specializing. If there is just one thing that you can do faster than anybody else, there is a place for you. This is a game that comes down to seconds, and tenths of seconds.
How can people follow you?
LONG: Facebook: Mackenzie Long. . . Instagram: @mackenzielong
WEBBER: I am currently on the journey to be an Instagram sensation. @rwebb44. I post videos of stupid human tricks that I shouldn't be able to do that usually start with, "Hey guys do you think this is possible?" or just lifting heavy weights. Follow me, I love suggestions and challenges for things to do.