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Payne among the ‘fittest’ as she competes in the national CrossFit Games

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

By day, Sidney Payne is a pre-school teacher. By night, she might be a real-life Wonder Woman.
Payne has evolved from a standout soccer player at St. Joseph High School to college player at Morehead State and then Shawnee State to her current obsession of CrossFit.
CrossFit is a fitness regimen that promotes both physical exercise philosophy and a competitive fitness sport that involved high-intensity training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises.
Payne can thank her boyfriend Zach Miller for introducing her to CrossFit and they have found a home for their workouts at Tri-State Rehab in Ironton.
Not only did Miller get Payne involved, they both qualified for the national quarterfinals that begin on Wednesday and run through Sunday.
“We’ve been doing it together for the last four years at Ironton Cross,” said Payne. “He really pushed me and opened my eyes to this other competitive thing I can do besides sports. It’s been great.”
When Payne played soccer at Shawnee State, she made the Dean’s List but she learned how to juggle her schedule due to soccer workouts that had her getting up at 5 a.m. for conditioning.
She said there are a lot of similarities between training for an athletic team or sport and Cross Fit.
“Absolutely. It’s about pushing yourself every day to be the best that you can. I feel like our box at our gym are a really great group of people who do that and just want to see everyone succeed, so it’s about the competition, of course, but really more about the community and the people I’m surrounded by like Zach who is awesome and programs for me, and Dave Coburn (who works as a physical thereapist at Tri-State Rehab) who is supportive and all our coaches at that gym who really make me want to be there.”
Among the 108,646 people who participate in CrossFit world-wide, Payne and Miller are both ranked in the top 10 percent.
Ironton graduate Michael Lawless is a physical therapist in Columbus and is also among the top CrossFit participants.
“Mike and I have competed together before. He’s up in Columbus and I don’t see him much anymore, but he’s a phenomenal CrossFit athlete as well,” said Payne.
The CrossFit Open is usually five weeks long but was shortened to three weeks this year. Everyone who does Cross Fit from ages 10 to 70 participates in a single workout that is announced each Thursday and each person has until Monday morning to submit the score of their workout.
Each participant is judged by people in the gym — Payne and Miller are judges at the gym — and each person puts their score and video tape of the workout into a website and then they are judged by their performance.
If a person did well in the Open, then they can qualify for the quarterfinals which takes the top 10 percent of men and women. Participants who qualify in the quarterfinals then advance to the semifinals which is also an online judgement process.
“It’s a dream (to make the semifinals), but it’ll probably be years before I get there. It’s a lot, I mean a lot, of hard work,” said Payne.
Although competing at a high level of CrossFit has been great for Payne, she is more concerned with other people getting involved and learning about the community of work and support everyone gets from each other.
“There are a lot of great people. Zach is one of the best. He’s one of the coaches at the gym and he’s one of the best. He’s going to start training high school kids in the summer,” said Payne. “I think is people realize he’s one of the top 10 percent. We’re both level one trainers.”
Payne encourages people to get involved in CrossFit regardless of their individual status.
“I have people say I can’t do CrossFit. I’m too old or I have to be in shape. Well, it’s nothing like that. It’s the complete opposite. Cross Fit is a program that will get people in shape no matter what their current fitness level. We’re there for each other and we want to see each other get better,” said Payne.
“The great thing about CrossFit is it’s constantly changing. You have to be ready for anything thrown at you. I never know until the day it’s announced. You just have to jump in and trust yourself.”
And who wouldn’t trust themselves to Wonder Woman.