Ignite Fitness gym owner Shane Rodriguez participated in the National Pro Grid League this past season.
The National Pro Grid League competitions include two co-ed teams racing through weightlifting and body-weight elements in a two-hour match. Two 14-person teams face off in 11 races during the match.
Rodriguez has always loved athletics and played several sports as a child, but only recently got involved in the Grid.
“I knew somebody from another gym that got involved in it, and when I started watching it, it really intrigued me,” he said.
Rodriguez specializes in body weight competitions, including handstand push-ups, pull-ups and muscle-ups. Teams will draft based on what an athlete is best at. Earlier this year, he was drafted to the Phoenix Rise team and at 44 years old competed side-by-side athletes more than 20 years his junior.
“It’s just really humbling to be around such good athletes who are in their 20s and actually the best in the world at what they do,” Rodriguez said. “Lots of them have been in the top 10 of the CrossFit games, and just to be on that team with those guys is really special.”
Even at 44, Rodriguez said he is in the best shape of his life. He started doing CrossFit five years ago and said he continues to improve each year. He said the work he did with the National Pro Grid League gave him lessons he can bring back to his gym in Hoover.
“I think it just gives me a little bit more experience to coach because not only am I around the best athletes in the world, but I get to see them train and perform and I’m being coached by some of the best coaches in the league,” he said.
Phoenix Rise bested the San Francisco fire team during the National Pro Grid League semi-finals and went on to face the D.C. Brawlers in the National Championship. They lost by one point in the finals, which Rodriguez said was a difficult defeat.
“It was very heartbreaking and upsetting that we did our best and came close to beating them,” Rodriguez said. “If they would have missed one lift, we would have won it.”
Rodriguez said he hopes to be drafted by Phoenix Rise again next year and help the team win it all.
“It was such a privilege to be a part of the team and to find ways to contribute to their success,” Rodriguez said. “It was such an unforgettable experience that I hope to be drafted again next season.”
The National Championship will air on NBC Sports on Oct. 6 at 10 p.m.
Ignite Fitness is located at 2801 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 157.