CrossFit Games

Programming Power Move: Asia Goes HAM

January 2, 2019 by
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Shortly before Christmas, the Asia CrossFit Championships announced on Instagram that they would enlist the help of veteran athletes and coaches Spencer Hendel, James Hobart and Austin Malleolo, also known as the HAM Plan, to program for the event.

“Team @hamplan (@spencer_hendel @jameshobart & myself) finished it all up!” Malleolo wrote on Instagram. “The @asiacrossfitchampionship is shaping up to be an amazing competition! With our combined 3 decades of @crossfitgames experience our goal is to NOT reinvent the wheel – but keep the wheel moving in that same direction that has been a proven model to get the fittest individuals and teams to the Games!”

Hendel, Hobart and Malleolo have traveled the globe teaching others the fundamentals of CrossFit on the Level 1 Seminar Staff, and have multiple Individual and Team appearances as athletes at the CrossFit Games. Hobart is a three-time individual games qualifier and the only athlete to win multiple Affiliate Cup titles on different teams as a former member of both CrossFit New England, and Rich Froning’s championship Mayhem squad. Malleolo is a five-time individual games qualifier and Hendel is a six-time individual qualifier and both are two-time team athletes.

The Asia CrossFit Championship is set to kick off with an online qualifier with the finals at the end of April in Shanghai, but little else is known at this point. The event is a lesser-known competition in a still-developing region of the “CrossFit world” competitively speaking. As of 2018, China was home to around 150 affiliates, 12th worldwide for locations. However, China has never qualified an individual athlete or team to the CrossFit Games.

This is not the first time elite-level coaches have been tapped to design events for competitions.

In two weeks, Wodpalooza will feature workouts designed by the WZA Programming Collective, a group of seven top tier coaches like Ben Bergeron, Brute Strength, and MisFit Athletics. The Collective was designed to bring together the best minds in competitive CrossFit to give athletes a unique experience unlike any other.

With the new season format there’s tremendous pressure on the newly sanctioned competitions to establish legitimacy in the eyes of the community in various ways including prize money or star-studded rosters. One way to lure top athletes, and participation in the event, through presumed qualifiers, is quality programming that athletes and fans alike can rely on to be an adequate test worthy of the CrossFit sanctioned status. For the Asia CrossFit Championships, that’s where the HAM Plan steps in.

Austin Malleolo and James Hobart of the HAM plan triumvirate took time to answer some of our questions and share what they plan on bringing to the table at the 2019 Asia CrossFit Championships.

Q: How did the relationship with the Asia CrossFit Championships come to fruition?

Austin: I met Max (the man who is running the event) at a Level 2 years ago and we kept in contact after that. I was in China for a level 1 and he flew from Shanghai to Shenzhen to get a workout in with me before the gig, which was pretty amazing! Then from there he followed our programing “The HAM Plan” and from there we have worked together on his gyms and then when he started the China Invitational, we programmed for the last 2 years and now that has turned into the Asia CrossFit Championship.

Q: As athletes and coaches, how do you feel about the opportunity to now program for an event that will send athletes to the CrossFit Games?

James: We all feel excited to program for a sanctioned qualifying event. At some level throughout your competitive career most athletes, or at least we all, became preoccupied with how to program a meaningful test. I don’t think you can avoid thinking about what you would want to program, especially if you come from a coaching background. I also feel protective. In my opinion the past tests, the Open, Regionals, and Games Finals were great tests. And between the three of us we have spent nearly a decade each devoting our time to competing and representing the CrossFit community as competitors. What Dave and the Games team created is incredible. So I feel it’s like someone giving you a famous painting and now you have to add to it. You don’t want to deface it with something stupid. I think all three of us want to add to it in a meaningful way. So we take it seriously to say the least.

Q: What from your own experiences as athletes and seminar staff will you draw on to create an effective test?

James: Throughout this process I tried hard to avoid my preferences. For example, if you have competed for a while you can think of a few moments when you were out there in the middle of a competition and had the thought, “this isn’t the best workout, test…I think it should have been like this.” Instead I’ve tried to think about what tests really challenged me and all the elements that challenged me. And I thought about what events were easy to follow from the perspective of a coach, an announcer, and a fan.

Q: What would you say some of your overall guiding principles and goals are with the programming at the 2019 Asia CrossFit Championships?

James: I really want to make sure we create something that fans can identify with and say to each-other, “Hey, I have done something like that, but not quite like that. Wow that is impressive.” At the same time we looked at where athletes are right now and how we can take them just beyond where they are willing to go. I remember Dave once said that he never sets out to make athletes fail. Instead he wanted to “help,” them realize what they were capable of

Austin: Our goal with this years sanctioned event is simple, not to reinvent the wheel and do not make the event about us, it is about the athletes. The programming will be true classic CrossFit and reminiscent of previous regionals. Spencer, James and myself have competed in some way the last 10 years and we understand the elegant simplicity that Dave and team were able to express in years past. If people want to prepare the best they can follow and our Programing The HAM Plan and that will be the best bet to be as ready as you can. As Dave has always said, know your history, know your CrossFit staples and you better be fit!

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