Rusty Malinoski and Kyle Rattray have been staple names in the world of wakeboarding for more than a decade. With riders ten years their younger always pushing them and trying to take top spot, both Malinoski and Rattray have managed to not only keep their careers in good shape but excel. One reason for their success can definitely be attributed the level of fitness they have both maintained, allowing them to ride more than the average pro and also avoid injury at the same time. Recently, they opened their own Crossfit gym in their hometown of Clermont, FL. While this new venture has monopolized much of this last year, it has also reaped hugged benefits in their careers and their personal wellness.
Both of you have been in good shape for a while and have worked out but Crossfit is relatively new for both of you. Why Crossfit?
Rusty: I’d been working out for years and years at a regular gym and spending a lot of money on personal trainers during the off season trying to stay in shape. I definitely saw benefits to my riding and personal health while I was working out. Kyle introduced my to Crossfit; we were both working our everyday but he was driving 40 minutes each way to a Crossfit gym. I thought he was pretty crazy to drive that far but he was really pumped on it. I tried a few Crossfit-style work outs with Kyle and he really sold me on it. And the rest they say is history.
Kyle: I always tried my best during the off-season to stay in shape rather than to just hang out and be in worse shape by time the competitive season rolled around. It seemed like I was trying something different each year because I never found anything I really liked. I went to the gym by myself, but I didn’t really like that. I had personal trainers, that was better but I still didn’t really like working out by myself. One night, I was watching TV with my wife Katie and we saw the 2011 Crossfit Games. See how in shape everyone was, the workouts and how much fun they were having looked like a lot of fun to me. I looked into see if there was a local Crossfit gym and the closest one was in Winter Park. As soon as I tried it I was hooked: it was the community aspect, the environment of not being in a typical gym and either outside or in a warehouse and as corny as it sounds the fact you could sweat, spit, or swear if you’re doing something really intense and no one really cares. I like that the trainers knew a lot and were able to coach me on how to proper move. With Crossfit, there really is no ceiling, you can never be the “best” at Crossfit, there’s always something you can do better, faster, or heavier.
How is Crossfit different than a going to the gym and working out?
Kyle: I touched on this earlier, but on of the biggest things is the community aspect of it. Anyone who goes to the gym somewhat regularly knows it hard to motivate yourself to go even if you’re really committed to it. And to the uninitiated going to the gym, you’re not really sure what you’re supposed to do, what the workouts should look like or even if you’re doing them correctly. With Crossfit, there’s always trainers at every class that walk you through the workouts to make sure you lifting the right amount and doing the workouts properly and safely; all you have do to is show up. With 10-15 other people in the class with you, it kind of becomes the social hour of your day. Well tell people sometimes that it’s almost like you’re getting tricked into working out because it’s just fun to be there your friends and get to hang out and be social, but at the same time you’re going through the workout. The social aspect definitely makes you push yourself harder, spend less time in between workout or do those 5 extra reps you wouldn’t do if you were working out by yourself.
Rusty: Kyle and I were just talking about the workout we did this morning and we both admitted that it was horrible. If he hasn’t of been there with me, I either would have quit half way through or not tried nowhere near I hard as I tried with him there. It comes down to being accountable in a weird way. People who come regularly look forward to seeing their friends and the people they’ve met. It’s like a friendly competition, but you’re not really competing against each other. You end up being really excited if someone is losing weight or doing really well in their workout and it ends up being a personal motivator. You can go through a work out and yell and think you look like an idiot, but then 2 seconds later the guy beside you has spit flying out of his mouth and he’s yelling too. With Crossfit, you really get to give 100%; if you were at Gold’s Gym they would probably ask you to leave if you were acting like that. When the clock starts on a workout I’m not thinking, “Ok, I’ve got to beat Kyle”, but I definitely don’t want him to get ahead of me. If I’m tired on my 15th rep, but I look over and see him still going then I’m not going to stop. It’s also kind of like wakeboarding; you’re never the best. You’re never so good at wakeboarding you say to “dude, I’m there. I don’t need to learn any new tricks because I’m the best.”
Are there any common misconceptions about Crossfit?
Kyle: I think one thing that’s important to realize is that Crossfit is not about coming in and seeing how hard the trainers can destroy you then high-five afterwards because everyone just got their ass kicked. Every movement, every workout is about functional movement and it’s all transferable strength. The strength and the fitness you gain transfers to daily life. Everything we do is also 100% scalable; I can put Rusty, myself, and my grandma all beside each other and do the same work out. All workouts are scaled accordingly to where your current fitness level is. By training functional movements and training under high intensity with supervision means it’s safe, but also people see insane gains in strength building and weight loss. We have this one guy when he first started working out 3 months he couldn’t do one back squat with just the barbell and no weight and today he repped out 6 pull-ups for the first time ever. For some to see gains and improvements like that is also a huge motivator.
Talking about functional movements and transferable strength, how has Crossfit affected your wakeboarding careers?
Rusty: I was still working out at my old, “regular” gym in March 2013 so it hasn’t even been a full year since I’ve been doing Crossfit; 1 year ago I weighed 220 lbs but strong and in shape. Today I weigh 190 lbs, but I’m stronger, faster and more flexible. So in terms of transferring that to wakeboarding, think about riding with a 30 pound weight strapped to your body and still being able to land all of my trick, but now that extra weight is gone. It’s actually kind of insane. It’s actually made wakeboarding easier for me and I feel more durable when I ride. It’s not an uncommon day for myself and Kyle to wakeboard 3 times a day, have a full hour cardio workout and a full hour of weight training. For most people that would be a total over load to even do that twice and week, but I can do that almost everyday and still feel great.
Kyle: I can honestly say that Crossfit will make you better at anything whether it is wakeboarding, mountain biking, playing hockey, or whatever you’re in to. Crossfit will get you ready to do anything; there’s not one specific movement or workout we do that is just for wakeboarding: you can’t do one workout over and over in hopes that it will make your wake jumps better. Every movement we teach in the gym focuses on good body position to make sure you’re moving properly, safely with a full range of motion. Personally for me, in learning how to squat properly and gaining mobility in my hips, back, and legs it’s made landing on my board a lot easier. Before if I overshoot the wake and went too deep into the flats, I would bottom out, hit hard and fall. Now I know how to land properly so my knees are in a good position and I can take that hit and ride away.
What was the decision to open your own Crossfit gym in Clermont?
Kyle: I was driving a long way to the other Crossfit gym and I was kind of getting over it. There wasn’t really anything the same close to me and I had done some Cross-fit style workouts with Rusty at his gym so he was starting to get interested as well. I started to look into what it took to open a Crossfit gym. Since the Crossfit way to usually operate out of a warehouse with not very much equipment, I thought there couldn’t be a huge overhead to get into it. I talked to Rusty about it and we both wanted to open so we decided to open it and see what happened. The worst-case scenario was that we had an awesome gym for the both of us the use and maybe we get 6 friends to help cover the cost. Even if it didn’t work out it wasn’t going to strap us too much financially if it didn’t work out.
Rusty: For those that know me, they know that once I’m into something I go all in. I’d been working out for years at other gyms and, if I was home for long periods of time, I was working out 6 days and week and could be spending $500-700 a month on gym memberships and personal trainers. Since I was already spending that much a month the risk factor was so low I thought “Why not?” It’s not like one day I was going to decide to stop working out and the risk was so small compared to how it rewarded my career, it was really a no brainer
Rusty, do you feel that Crossfit was a direct influence on you having such a good competitive season and winning the World Championships?
Rusty: You give anyone a platform and say yeah, this is what works, but at the end of the day you still have to be the one in there putting in the hours and working that hard. The motivation I get from my family, Kyle, and me wanting to be at the top of our sport definitely pushed me to work harder than I every have before. Basically all of those wins last year were made when nobody was really looking. Looking back at how hectic and how much work we put into everything last year, it all comes back full circle to me being committed in the gym doing Crossfit. Opening the Crossfit gym with Kyle and being committed and working out didn’t save my wakeboarding career but it rejuvenated me and gave me this new found motivation as a 30-year professional wakeboarder still at the top of his game.
Kyle: One of the things that’s really cool in my mind is that Rusty has almost set a standard and shown what is possible. Wakeboarding is a really young sport and previously when someone turned 30 their career was thought to be over. There’s been a bunch of riders who have turned 30 and just rode out their career. Rusty showed everyone that your career doesn’t have to be over when you turn 30. Outside of wakeboarding, some of the most fit people I know are well over 30. Rusty is the best he’s every been when it comes to wakeboarding and really all he changed was his lifestyle a little bit and how dedicated he was in the gym and it made a huge difference.