Athlete Spotlight: David Yannelli Toca
David Yannelli Toca, a 27-year-old athlete, has always been active. Growing up in Mexico City, he experimented with a wide range of sports, everything from badminton to swimming, and dabbled a bit in bodybuilding. He enjoyed athletics mostly as a hobby and as a way to stay fit — that is until he discovered CrossFit several years ago, a sport he’s so passionate about he’s decided to build a career around it.
CrossFit has so transformed his life, in fact, he remembers the exact date he discovered the sport. “It was February 13, 2015,” he said. “I found CrossFit after being bored with my regular gym.”
For someone interested in a variety of sports, David enjoyed that CrossFit seemed to combine so many of them into one — including running, gymnastics, weightlifting and more. And for a natural athlete, he found something in CrossFit that he’d long been lacking: a challenge. “Since day one the challenge was real,” he said. And WODs (“Workout of the Day”) that incorporate high-intensity, he added, were “even more real.”
Despite the difficulty, David quickly showed an aptitude for the sport. Given his background in weightlifting, he excelled at some of the notoriously complicated and explosive olympic weightlifting movements like the “clean and jerk” and the “snatch.” But even exercises he’d never attempted before came quickly to him. “I had my first bar muscle up a couple of months into CrossFit, and my first ring muscle up 7 months in,” he said referring to an advanced gymnastic move consisting of a radial pull and and a dip.
It didn’t take long for coaches at his home gym in Mexico City, Reebok Plaza CrossFit Condesa and CrossFit Atomic, to notice his talents and progress, and encourage him to join their competitive team. During local competitions in Mexico City — which included La Loma Challenge and Fit Studio Crossfit Challenge — he regularly placed in the top ten, including one first place finish.
As time went on, David became increasingly comfortable in his CrossFit abilities, and began to casually stay after class at times to help some of his fellow athletes master some of the more difficult movements. Not only did he enjoy informally coaching when he was able to — he was good at it, too. So after only a year of training and competing in the sport, the owners of his gym encouraged him to join their coaching staff.
He completed the certification course required to become a CrossFit coach in April 2018. It was around this time that David also started to become more serious about competitions as well. “I decided it was time to take the next step in my CrossFit career,” he explained. “I realized I wanted to coach and compete — make CrossFit a full time thing.”
For the last year and a half, that’s exactly what he’s done — coach fellow athletes, refine his own abilities, and continue in his competitive CrossFit career. Today, he’s training at CrossFit NYC, one of the oldest CrossFit gyms in the world, in Manhattan’s Flat Iron neighborhood, where he’s continued competing in local competitions, again with impressive results, particularly for someone so new to CrossFit. Within the last year, he’s competed in four international competitions — including Battle of the BAEs, and Flex on the Mall — all with top five finishes.