Mat Fraser On New CrossFit Ownership: “I don’t think it could have landed in much better hands”
Four-time reigning Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser joined the Talking Elite Fitness podcast this week to talk about a variety of topics in one of his first public forum discussions in the past few months.
Many in the community have been looking towards the champ to share some of his thoughts in detail on some of the pressing issues the sport has faced, and below are some of the big takeaways.
One big thing: Fraser holds his cards close to his chest but opened up in this interview about the changes taking place in CrossFit, his feelings on the CrossFit Games season and his training and his plans for the future, once he retires from the sport.
The Changes in CrossFit
Fraser’s optimistic about the future: After being asked about the directions of the sport and CrossFit following the acquisition of the company by new owner Eric Roza, Fraser revealed that through his conversations with Roza, his outlook on the potential future for the sport and larger CrossFit community was bright.
- Fraser: “I don’t think it could have landed in much better hands, so I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go.”
- “He’s been involved in the sport for a very long time….he’s been an affiliate owner for a very long time, so he’s seen it from both sides of running the business and having the business run and seeing what he gets from CrossFit, from using the CrossFit name, in the first conversation I had with him he’s pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of it, and already has ideas of how to make it better, how to give value to the affiliates.
- “Greg (Glassman) looked at it as the Games being a deterrent for CrossFit, he thought people would see the games on TV and not want to walk into a CrossFit gym, and Eric is the polar opposite, he’s like “no what you guys do is inspirational, I think it can be great to raise awareness of the sport and get people into the gym.””
CrossFit’s owner holding the belief of a mutually beneficial relationship between the sport and the broader community is certainly a welcomed change by athletes, Fraser concluded.
The CrossFit Season and His Training
Regionals versus Sanctionals: Fraser shared his positives from both the old and new systems of the sport, such as the excitement that the standardized programming of Regionals provided, or the flexibility of the Sanctionals season for athletes, but he had some interesting insight about the growth potential the Sanctionals provided.
- Fraser: “I really like the idea of Sanctionals, I think it’s a great way for there to be growth in the sport. You see different competitions and how they’re going about it and the business they’re bringing in with sponsors that aren’t involved in the space but they just see what’s going on and they want to be a part of it.”
- “Wodapalooza is a perfect example, you’re there and Dodge Ram is there, Chipotle is there, and they’re not CrossFit companies but they’re companies in a growing space and they want to be involved and it’s phenomenal.”
When choosing his ideal season however, Fraser replied simply “my ideal season is just make a season, let’s pick one and stick to it for a little while.”
He finds motivation everywhere: It should come as no surprise that the man who hasn’t lost an in-person competition in five years has a multitude of ways of finding motivation to train and put his best effort in. One of the interesting methods that Fraser detailed during the podcast was that on top of using music and other common sources, he once used a stack of $10,000 cash placed on his rower to fire him up during a workout.
Another one of the unique elements of Fraser’s training over the past couple season has been his relationship with his training partner, three-time reigning Fittest Woman on Earth Tia Toomey, and Fraser didn’t shy away from the tremendous benefit of having his counterpart on the women’s competition to train with.
- “In terms of training partners I’m spoiled, having someone as like minded as me, that’s just an absolute fierce competitor is just full throttle, all the time,” Fraser revealed when discussing the training environment “so no matter what we’re doing, I’m getting pushed….it’s a healthy push every single day, and it’s just great company, we have a lot of fun in training, so for me going from training by myself all the time, to just having company in the gym is a huge, huge plus, so to have company in the gym that’s also the fittest that’s ever done it, is also nice.”
Not a ton has been known about Fraser’s plans once he steps away from the individual competition, but one of the cool things that Fraser touched on during the interview was some of the philanthropic endeavors and things he hopes to pursue once his career is done.
- On top of revealing that he recently impulse bought a new home in Vermont that could serve as a place to settle down, he detailed one of the ways he wants to give back to the next generation is by opening a gym for youth to come train for free, and how that stemmed from his experience as a young athlete in the sport of weightlifting.
- Fraser: “My olympic weightlifting coach from when I was 12 years old to 18 years old….was Chris Polakowski, and he was a middle school, elementary school P.E. teacher and he had a fully outfitted gym. He bought personally all the bars, bumper plates, and platforms. He volunteered his time 6 days a week, every day after school, he would travel to competition on his own dime, for the passion of it. He saw what it could do for the kids, and literally never took a dime, would not accept anything.”
Last but certainly not least, there was a subtle revelation that one of the iconic moments from the CrossFit Games was born out of circumstances that were anything but. Fraser’s deficiencies in the sprint events from 2015 left him humbled and eventually led him to a middle school track practice to learn how to sprint, and where he managed one of the great turnarounds in the sport to deliver an epic finish in the sprint event in 2016. Imagine being 13 years old and having Mat Fraser line up next to you for 200 meter repeats….