If you step into Mako Athletics in Pensacola, Florida, you'll probably find Shannon Aiken doing all kinds of unconventional exercises, our affiliate WEAR reports. He might be tossing tires, working rings like a gymnast or skipping rope in double time.
All of this effort because a longtime friend made the Reebok CrossFit World Games a half a decade ago.
Aiken laughed, "We were highly competitive when I was in my 30s, so if he could do it, I could do it." That's how Aiken's CrossFit quest began. "I thought I was going to make the Games the first year," he said.
Hundreds of thousands of athletes compete each year for a shot at making it to the CrossFit championship.
Aiken explained the process, "There are three different cuts, the Open, the Master Qualifier and then the actual CrossFit Games."
Twenty athletes from each age group get to the televised competition.
"It took me till the fourth year to actually make it," he smiled.
Aiken was finally eligible to compete in the Master's Group, ages 55 to 59.
He detailed his regimen in the months leading up to the big event, "I was doing double workouts. Swimming and running in the morning, and then two to three hours of CrossFit training in the afternoon."
After four years of grinding just to get there, Aiken won his first time at the Games. That victory earned him a special title.
"Shannon is proven to be the 'World's Fittest Man, from 55-59,'" said his longtime coach, Brandon Massie.
When asked how he accomplished his feat, Aiken shrugged and said in his soft-spoken manner, "I don't know. It's just mindset and putting the time in."
Massie said he knows exactly why Aiken won on his first attempt.
"I really learned what a champion acts like. He was poised under pressure," Massie said.
Massie elaborated by saying that Aiken was relaxed because he was ready physically, and he stayed strong mentally throughout the four days of grueling contests. Massie is three decades younger than Aiken, but the coach is very experienced. He's a former Games competitor and knew just how to prep his student. Aiken credits Massie for his victory. The team has a new plan.
"My next goal is to repeat this next year," Aiken grinned.
Aiken and Massie are already training for the open competitions which begins in late February.
Our affiliate WEAR contributed to this report.