CrossFit Games

Why I’m Retiring

February 2, 2021 by
Enjoying Morning Chalk Up? Access additional exclusive interviews, analyses, and stories with an Rx membership.

Today, a little more than eight years after the start of my career in competitive CrossFit, I’m announcing my retirement.

In 2012, the owner of Champlain Valley CrossFit signed me up for the in-house Winter Throwdown competition. I couldn’t afford the entry fee for the event, and he offered to pay my way but told me if I won, I had to buy a pair of CrossFit shoes. I was training in Nike Air Max 90s at the time. 

I didn’t understand the hype around CrossFit. 

I’d come from the Olympic Training Center, where I lived and breathed Olympic lifting. My goal was to compete at the Olympics, where every snatch and clean and jerk was a serious, silent event. But at Champlain Valley, it was a class full of people running from movement to movement and dramatically falling onto the ground at the sound of the clock. 

At the Throwdown, I finished with a first place win and $500 in my pocket. 

The hard work paid off. But now, I’m ready to make decisions based on how they affect my family, friends, health, and happiness, not only my performance.

Mathew Fraser

As a broke college kid, I thought I’d struck gold and immediately wanted to find more opportunities to earn extra pocket money. I’d search this website where all the local events posted their competition dates and prize purse. 

I started traveling throughout New England competing for $1,000 here and $5,000 there. It wasn’t a bad gig for a full time student, but I didn’t start CrossFit with the intention of making it my career.

Almost a decade later, I crossed the finish line at The Ranch holding the hand of the training partner who has become more like a sister. Together, we each broke the record for the most CrossFit championships in history. She had taken her fourth, and against every prediction, I had taken my fifth. 

In my first Open ever, I could barely do a dozen burpees in a row. At my last Games, I won by the largest margin of victory in the sport’s history.

Photo courtesy of CrossFit LLC.

So on one hand, this is a difficult decision. 

CrossFit is how I’ve met my best friends, business partners, and even my wife. CrossFit is how I found the artist who tattooed my chest, how I was able to travel across the world, and how I bought the home we’ll soon move into in Vermont. 

Ever since the end of the 2015 season, when I decided to stop fucking around and commit myself fully this sport, CrossFit has been my world. 

And for that same reason, this is also an easy decision. Except for a few weeks in August, when I allow myself a break, my focus has been relentless. 

I’ve passed up vacations, bachelor parties, and more dates with Sammy than I can count, all so I wouldn’t miss a single training session or a full night of sleep. 

For eight years, every day has been roughly the same: wake up earlier than I’d like, sell my soul to the Assault Bike and the swimming intervals and the 40-minute AMRAPs, eat, sleep, repeat.

No decision was unintentional. 

In the weeks right before the Games, I’d stop doing obviously risky things, like riding my motorcycle to the gym, and even small things that could make all the difference, like not using a steak knife. It wasn’t worth the .01% chance I’d cut myself and ruin my week of training or compromise my performance during competition. I was obsessed with finding improvements anywhere possible and always terrified that one had slipped through the cracks. 

For eight years, every day has been roughly the same: wake up earlier than I’d like, sell my soul to the Assault Bike and the swimming intervals and the 40-minute AMRAPs, eat, sleep, repeat. No decision was unintentional. 

Mathew Fraser

I trained scared. 

The hard work paid off. But now, I’m ready to make decisions based on how they affect my family, friends, health, and happiness, not only my performance. 

The good news is that you’ll see more of me after retirement than you ever have before. 

I never wanted to give up the smallest advantage, so I didn’t post my workouts, release my programming, or even hint at my weaknesses. Instead, I trained them, relentlessly, and in the process I earned a reputation for being stoic, maybe even arrogant depending on who you talked to. 

The only time I’m in the public eye is when I’m showing up to work. I’m laser focused on my goal. I’m there to achieve the one thing I’ve spent hundreds, even thousands, of hours pursuing. That never bothered me — it was a small price to pay for being the greatest — but I’m excited to show you the Mat that everyone close to me has always seen. 

I’m still figuring out exactly how I’ll be a part of this community. I don’t plan on opening my own affiliate, but I’m about to start construction on a home gym, which you’ll see plenty of on the YouTube channel Sammy and I are launching soon. Other than that, I look forward to experiencing the season as a fan, just like the rest of you. 

So thank you for allowing me this opportunity, and a special thanks to everyone who’s helped me as a sponsor, training partner, coach, or friend. I’ll always be involved in CrossFit. I just won’t be doing it from the competition floor any longer.

Photo courtesy of Mathew Fraser.

Get the Newsletter

For a daily digest of all things CrossFit. Community, Competitions, Athletes, Tips, Recipes, Deals and more.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.