The DC Brawlers aim to rule the new National Pro Grid League


CrossFit Old Town owner Jerry Hill, center, can’t believe that he’s becoming a pro athlete at 47. He’s the second-oldest player in the new grid league. (DC Brawlers)

Everyone faces challenges at work. But only a few folks have a job description like this: “You stand on your left leg, squat all the way down, then come out explosively and jump over a 20-inch hurdle and land with control.”

That’s Christy Adkins, a 29-year-old nurse and CrossFit coach, describing an exercise she’d just encountered. And it’s one she’d better master soon — along with the heavy lifts, rope climbs, handstand pushups and other masochistic moves that make up “grid,” a new sport.

Adkins is on the DC Brawlers, one of eight teams kicking off the National Pro Grid League’s inaugural season. The Brawlers boast a perfect record, having won their Saturday debut against the Phoenix Rise. They’ll try to keep the streak alive tonight at the Patriot Center, when they face off against the Philadelphia Founders in their first home game.

Just like in a grid match, everything has been happening quickly. The team was announced in April. The teammates met for the first time earlier this month in Las Vegas, where they held a 10-day training camp. And there are just two home games before quarterfinals start in late September, which doesn’t give potential spectators much time to figure out what’s going on.

Here’s the gist: A match is 11 races on a four-quadrant grid. Who plays is dictated by the various exercises that make up each race — “there truly isn’t one person who is going to be the best at everything,” Adkins says. Of the starting lineup of five men and five women, one of each gender must be 40 or older.

“It’s a fun opportunity to play with the young bucks,” says Jerry Hill, owner of CrossFit Old Town, who explains that “I’m not just 40 plus. I’m 40 plus 7.” He’s also modest — he won the 2014 CrossFit Games in the men 45-49 category.

Adkins and Hill are the only locals on the Brawlers’ roster, since athletes were recruited from around the world for the league. But they’re expecting Washingtonians to rally behind the Brawlers, both because of D.C.’s thriving CrossFit community and its devoted sports fans.

“Not everyone who goes to a baseball stadium is a baseball player,” Hill says. And not everyone can do that single-leg squat thing either.


“I thrive on competition,” says Christy Adkins, one of two locals on the DC Brawlers’ team roster. (DC Brawlers)

Ready for the grid?

DC Brawlers coach Justin Cotler shares three of the team’s workouts.

Conditioning. Four rounds for time: 1 shuttle run (20 feet out and back, 40 feet out and back, 60 feet out and back, 80 feet out and back), then 10 burpee over box jumps (24-inch box for women/30-inch box for men).

Strength. Three rounds: Max reps, hang power snatch (115 pounds for women/175 pounds for men), with 1 minute rest between rounds.

Gymnastics. As many reps as possible: 1 minute of handstand pushups, then rest 1 minute; 2 minutes of handstand pushups at a 5-inch deficit, then rest 2 minutes; 3 minutes of handstand pushups at a 10-inch deficit.

 

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Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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