CrossFit athlete and personal trainer Daniel de Sanctis shares about what it takes to go from regular gym junkie to an elite-level competitor.
Behind Daniel de Sanctis’ passion and dedication in helping his clients get in shape, is his desire to be as strong and fit as he can possibly be. From early aspirations of becoming a professional ice hockey player, to competing at a national level in CrossFit, the TripleFit trainer shares how he achieved his super fit body.
When you think of Sweden, you may think of IKEA, H&M, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But it’s not just affordable furniture (and meatballs), cheap clothes, and cocky footballers that represent the Scandinavian nation. Centuries ago, there were the fearsome Vikings of lore – tall, strong, and bearded. And although Daniel de Sanctis may be missing the facial hair, he certainly fits the bill when it comes to being tall and strong.
No one will blame you if you feel a little intimidated by Daniel when you first see him. Standing at 1.90m tall and weighing around 95kg, the Swedish-born trainer from TripleFit is every bit as powerful as he looks, yet as patient and nurturing as you can expect as a trainer. Just don’t expect any easy workouts.
But the 38-year-old wasn’t always at the peak of physical fitness. In his teenage years, Daniel harboured ambitions of going pro in another sport altogether. “I wanted to be a professional ice hockey player, so I took it seriously between the age of 15 and 16.”
PATH TO ELITE FITNESS
As many regular guys would attest to, teenage dreams don’t always work out, and the idea of ice hockey came and went. It wasn’t until after Daniel completed military training when he was 21 that he started to get more serious about getting in shape, and 2011 was the turning point in Daniel’s fitness journey. “A colleague of mine had recently started CrossFit and got strong really fast so I thought I’d give it a try. The first time I did it, I totally got my a** kicked. Apparently I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!” Daniel admits.
CrossFit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai, and since then, it has exploded in popularity all over the world. Famous for its harsh and punishing workouts of the day (WODs), the sport incorporates moves from various exercise disciplines such as Olympic weightlifting, calisthenics, and high-intensity interval training.
As tough as the training was, Daniel didn’t let that discourage him. Once he got serious, it didn’t take him long to start competing in major CrossFit events like Torso Twisted in Sweden and the Asia Championships after four to five years of training.
“Torso Twisted is considered to be one of the toughest and heaviest competitions in Sweden with nine events in three days,” Daniel recalls. “To be able to handle that gave me a big boost that I was doing the right thing in my training!” The Asia Championships was also his first international competition, and it gave him a taste of the level of competition the region had to offer.
“I learned that the quality of athletes here in Asia is very good as well. I finished in 2nd
place at the Sectionals (semifinals) and was happy with it,” Daniel says. “It also reminded me that I needed to work more on my endurance!” Competing in such intense competitions means that Daniel has to train right and eat right to be able to perform at his best. It may surprise some that the personal trainer doesn’t exactly watch what he eats.
“I’ve never counted macros in my life,” Daniel remarks. “One of the good things about doing high level CrossFit is that you can almost eat what you want.”
“Leading up to a competition I try to eat a lot but also choose food with high quality. It all comes down to fuelling your workouts with good nutrients,” he adds.
Due to the gruelling nature of CrossFit workouts. Daniel also takes a few different supplements to help with recovery. His picks are vitamin D to help with bone density and his immune system, omega-3 fatty acids for his joints, and magnesium for muscle recovery.
GOING TO THE NEXT LEVEL
So, how does one get from CrossFit novice to going headto-head with some of the fittest guys around?
“There’s a big difference from an average gym-goer to how a CrossFit athlete trains,” the Swede explains. “As a CrossFit athlete, your training volume is really big and with a purpose. You work mostly by following a program from a coach that has periodization and cycles with a specific goal in mind. “At the same time you are constantly working on the holes in your game! In broad strokes it’s a lot of strength, endurance and gymnastic work,” he adds.
Everyone needs to start somewhere, and to Daniel, getting the right start in CrossFit is as simple as training at the right place with the right people. “My main advice to someone who wants to start with CrossFit is to join a CrossFit gym. It’s really important to be taught by people who can show you the right way to do the different movements,” he emphasises.
Even though Daniel will be hitting 40 in the near future, he has no plans to stop competing.
“I’m planning to wait until I’m 40 in order to be in the 40 to 44 age bracket. But until then, I wouldn’t mind doing team competitions!”
“I TRY TO EAT A LOT BUT ALSO CHOOSE FOOD WITH HIGH QUALITY. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO FUELLING YOUR WORKOUTS WITH GOOD NUTRIENTS.”
DANIEL AT AGE 18, 75KG.