AP NEWS

Panchik brothers expand family’s profile with new CrossFit Cliffside: Stretching Out

November 28, 2018

Panchik brothers expand family’s profile with new CrossFit Cliffside: Stretching Out

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The Cleveland-area CrossFit scene is larger than ever today, thanks to the Panchik twins.

With their new gym, CrossFit Cliffside, Saxon and Spencer Panchik have given the existing CrossFit community here a run for its money, offering near-East Side athletes an easier means of training firsthand with two rising stars in the sport.

I’m committed to CrossFit Distinction in Beachwood, but I’ll admit it; the temptation to move into the Panchiks’ shadow is strong, especially after visiting the place, using their large stock of new equipment and going through one (actually two) of their workouts.

First, a little background.

Saxon and Spencer Panchik are the younger brothers of Scott Panchik, a veteran of the CrossFit Games and owner of CrossFit Mentality in Mentor. They’ve been coaches there for years but recently chose to branch out after discovering that helping others succeed is every bit as fulfilling as succeeding themselves.

WHAT NEXT?  Have a suggestion for an activity you think I should try? Send me an e-mail. Previously: Amateur CrossFit athletes eye podium at 2018 Rogue Winter Classic

At first, Saxon Panchik told me, “All we wanted to do was compete. We wanted to make it to the [Reebok CrossFit] Games. Then we realized we were actually changing people’s lives, and people were knocking goals off their lists, and that was just as rewarding.”

The gym’s name also begs for context. “Cliffside” might seem out of place in flat Northeast Ohio. But the word is a reference to a hiking accident that nearly ended the brothers’ lives at age 12 but that ultimately, through their father, a former gym owner himself, resulted in their discovery of CrossFit.

“It could have been the worst thing, but it also led us down the path to where we are today,” Spencer Panchik said.

As for the exercise and coaching, well, this CrossFitter couldn’t have asked for (or, in truth, handled) more. On my visit to Cliffside, Saxon Panchik led a class containing not one but two workouts and did so with uncommon patience, care and interest in each athlete’s well-being and performance.

Class began with a thorough warm-up including general exercises and light-weight refreshers of the barbell deadlifts and thrusters (front squats to overhead presses) we’d be performing later. Saxon Panchik also modeled several easier variations on the other movements in the mix that day.

Workout one was a twist on “Fran,” a famous routine consisting of 21, 15 and nine repetitions each of thrusters and pull-ups. Instead of pull-ups, we were to perform toes-to-bar (exactly what it sounds like).

Then, after we caught our breath, we jumped straight into a second workout requiring us to perform as many rounds of seven medium-weight deadlifts, 14 push-ups and seven pull-ups as possible in seven minutes. This time, though, we were instructed not to rush, and to execute each movement with care and precision.

I was happy to oblige. By the end of that second workout, I was dragging, barely able to complete a decent pull-up. Thankfully, with the pressure off, I was able to catch my breath and keep moving to the end – and to a soothing cool-down on one of Cliffside’s two Concept2 bike ergometers.

Speaking of the end, the Panchiks are nowhere near theirs. They may now be business owners, but they’re both still eyeing berths at the 2019 CrossFit Games.

What’s more, they’re not done expanding. Their grand plan is to open several additional gyms, all named Cliffside, in other Ohio markets including Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

They might even look at Southeast Ohio, where cliffs are part of the landscape. “We want to bring fitness to as many people as we can,” Saxon Panchik said. “We want to change as many lives as possible.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly