MLB Umpire Challenges Himself to Visit 100 CrossFit Gyms by End of Season
In January of 2024, Shane Livensparger will turn 40 years old.
This milestone is one dreaded by some; looked to with anticipation, anxiousness and misgivings. But Livensparger is choosing not to buy into this societal, negative preoccupation with the limits of middle age.
Yes, he will soon be 40, but the best parts of his life have just begun. With his dream job locked up as a full-time umpire for Major League Baseball, married with one toddler and another baby on the way, the 39-year-old has decided to celebrate this last year in his 30s in a big way.
The big picture: Over the course of the 2023 MLB baseball season, Livensparger is planning to drop in to 100 CrossFit gyms throughout North America. His deadline is October and while he’s well on his way, he has quite a road ahead of him.
Some background: Before embarking on this challenge, Livensparger was chatting with and teasing his colleagues during the 2023 MLB Spring Training in Tampa, Florida. As a masters athlete, he is one of the older members of his crew, and while they were slinging jabs with the Spring Training athletes, back and forth about his age, this goal came to his mind, of attempting a major, long-term physical challenge on the eve of this new phase of his life.
- “I didn’t want to dwell on anything negative about turning 40, I set a lofty goal for myself to attend 100 gyms by the end of the baseball season. I travel every three to four days for work and I saw that this could afford me the opportunity to accomplish this goal,” said Livensparger.
How it began: On March 30, Livensparger set out on his quest in Washington D.C., completing his first workout at CrossFit Invictus, just hours before stepping onto the field with his crew, for his first ever MLB Opening Day.
From CrossFit Union Square in Manhattan to CrossFit 720 in Denver, Livensparger has already built up a long list of gyms visited. During the All Star Break, midway through the season, he’s especially looking forward to visiting CrossFit Angola in Angola, Indiana and CrossFit Timoro in Hillsdale, Michigan.
When asked what highlights he has experienced throughout the last several months, he emphasizes the warmth of the communities and coaches.
- “Obviously the community, that always is the best part of it all. And everyone is always so welcoming. There are young professionals, alongside people established in their cities and towns, that are always so happy to have me and tell me about their towns, good restaurants, landmarks. The community at each gym is amazing.”
- “One of the major benefits for me has been different coaching. It’s been so helpful to work with different people, and receive different feedback, see different structures of gyms and classes. It has really helped me improve.”
- “(Back home), the community is always what has drawn me back. After doing CrossFit off and on for 10 years, I always come back because of the community. The combination of the competition, the attention I get with coaching. I wish more people were open to it and would experience it to realize it’s not so intimidating and overwhelming,” said Livensparger.
As a husband and father, this challenge is a large undertaking, and while it can tax his family at times, he has their full support. And as an umpire for the MLB, his wife, Haley, and children are no strangers to difficult schedules, as his baseball season is very demanding. However, it’s a position that he worked diligently to obtain.
As the MLB only employs 76 full-time umpires, Livensparger cherishes his career and acknowledges the hard work and years it took for him to be where he is today.
Besides his work as an umpire, Livensparger is a small business owner and entrepreneur with his wife. They created the RomRod, which is a portable, collapsible mobility rod. Through his travels, he has enjoyed sharing his unique product with coaches and gym owners.
Livensparger looks ahead to his 100th gym, which he hopes to reach in October. The final stop will be back at his home box, CrossFit Total Control, in Jacksonville, Florida, hopefully in early October, to align with the end of the MLB season.
Why it all matters: When asked what inspires him to continue his challenge, Livensparger says he wants to be an inspiration for his son. He wants his son to grow up, knowing that his parents prioritize health and fitness. Age is not a limiting factor, and healthy living is life-long.
- Livensparger: “I hope I’m an inspiration for my son, an image of good health, taking care of my body and my mind.”
“He sees mom and dad working out in the garage gym, and he’s growing up seeing this as a normal thing. I really want him to grow up with that and keep inspiring him.”