TYR’s Push Into CrossFit Continues With Successful Wodapalooza Title Sponsorship
Corey Berger is no stranger to Wodapalooza; he actually competed on an elite team at the annual fitness festival back in 2016, noting that “the goal was originally to make the career as an athlete, and when that didn’t work…this actually turns out to be much better, less on the joints.”
Come 2023, he’s attending the beach spectacle in a much different role, Director of Functional Fitness for TYR Sport since fall of 2021. We caught up with him live on the Podcast Stage at WZA to learn more about the brand’s bold entrance into the CrossFit world.
The brand most notably known for swimming gear, founded in 1985, made a noticeable entrance into the functional fitness world in 2021, by sponsoring big-name athletes and making a prominent appearance at competitions.
“COVID shut down a lot of the pools where our swimmers were training and a lot of them started using functional fitness and CrossFit-style training as a supplement to their swimming when they weren’t able to access the pool. So initially the brand wanted to be able to support our existing athletes in all phases of their training, and that sort of grew into the avenue of CrossFit,” Berger explained.
“We found the community to be similarly supportive, similarly inclusive, and the training styles are relatively similar — there’s a lot of synergy between the two. So it was kind of a natural next step for us once we found this community having been a part of it. But as a brand, once we found this community and started to move into this direction, the reception that we got was so positive and so strong that it just leads you to want to do more and provide more special opportunities for all these great people to be able to enjoy and take part in.”
And, when it was announced the sporting goods brand would be the title sponsor of Wodapalooza this year, fans of the sport took note, knowing that’s surely no simple or inexpensive commitment.
“I mean, for us, it’s really four main things: it’s community, it’s product, it’s feedback, and it’s innovation. And Wodapalooza is one of those special places where you have the opportunity to sort of hone in on all of that. As far as competitions go, this is in my opinion, the most special from a community perspective, because of all of the different divisions; the athletes all the way from the elite down to the everyday athlete, having the opportunity to kind of be side by side, support each other,” Berger said.
“At the end of the day, we want people to look good and feel good while they’re performing at their very best. So this is really unlike any other place to be able to do that.”
In a cool demonstration of world’s colliding, just before this interview, a couple of TYR athletes led a swim clinic for spectators at Bayside Stage in Miami: CrossFit Games competitor Noah Ohlsen and Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Andrew. Similarly, the day prior, Dr. Aaron Horschig, TYR ambassador and founder of Squat University (who also helped design the TYR Lifter) led a squat clinic for fans alongside Team USA weightlifter Hampton Morris and Strong Man Martins Licis.
TYR currently offers three different shoe styles for CrossFitters (running, weightlifting and training footwear) alongside glasses, goggles, apparel and other various accessories. Product innovation is on the forefront of their minds, with “the goal of helping every athlete in the sport, from the first timer to the elite of the elite, to be able to perform at their best,” Berger said.
“We spend a lot of time on research and development, really looking at what the community is looking for from a shoe with a sport that has so many different modalities. And really, it’s a challenge because we have so many different things that you have to be able to do in these shoes. So we took our time, we were patient with the development, and we created prototype after prototype, put them on our athletes to test. Travis (Mayer), actually, last year here at Wodapalooza, had one of our original prototypes testing out. So to see it go from what it was last year to what it is now,” he said.
“There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, (and) we keep that focus on the functionality, on the technical aspect of what we create, because this is a sport that demands that. And the same goes for the apparel, too. In this sport, we put our gear through a lot, we beat ourselves up, we beat our gear up. So you need stuff that’s going to be able to help you perform at your best at the end of the day and look good while doing it.”
Fans were welcomed by fresh new designs at the TYR booth at Bayfront Park; shirts sporting unique intergalactic and aeronautic-heavy graphics — a long-time idea from CEO Matt DiLorenzo brought to life, embodying the lights, lasers and cosmic-energy feel present in the vibrant beach-front city.
As for what’s next? Berger notes that “If there’s an opportunity for us to support the community, we’re going to look at that and try and be involved and see ways that we can continue to evolve…we’re always looking for ways to be involved and be present, and it gives us more opportunity to get feedback, to engage and to learn and develop, and that’s how we get better. So nothing specific as of yet, but between the work that we do with the affiliates we’ll be at a ton of local competitions, we’ll be at a ton of in-house competitions. And then as they come up, we’ll continue to work and explore those opportunities and we’ll be around.”
For more on Corey’s background as a CrossFit athlete and what products TYR is working on next, check out the full interview here. This sit-down is a part of our Coffee Break Conversations series, a weekly installment with an industry expert exclusive to our RX subscribers. Not RX? Join here for just $1 to listen to this interview and many more.