“Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”- Nido Qubein, President of High Point University
200+ Around Globe Found CrossFit on YouTube During Pandemic Thanks to L3 Coach Chris Stephen
When COVID-19 first hit and gyms closed in the spring of 2020, CrossFit Level 3 Trainer Chris Stephen quickly hopped on the Zoom train and started offering live group classes to a small group of family and friends training from home.
More than a year-and-a-half later, the group has turned into an official YouTube Channel—BearMuscle Fitness—with 200-plus devoted members from all around the world, including women in their 70s, teenagers and a handful of adaptive athletes, most of whom are doing CrossFit for the first time in their lives.
Stephen’s, who also speaks fluent Portuguese, as well as some Spanish and French, was surprised how fast word of mouth alone attracted new people to his program. Before he knew it, he was servicing clients in every single continent through his three-times-a-day live online classes.
And when gyms opened back up, the demand didn’t stop as he thought it would. Though he had limited time, as he had returned to coaching in-person and programming for two affiliates in Florida—CrossFit VICE and CrossFit Riptide—he didn’t want to abandon his newly-formed online community.
“What do we do with this community?” he asked himself.
He decided to record his Zoom classes for his members to follow on their own, and what happened next surprised him. His community had become accustomed to training together, so groups started to “pop up on their own,” turning themselves into morning groups and evening groups, who continued to train together using his pre-recorded videos.
“The group is now organized into multiple classes per day, six days a week with friends logging in all over the world training (together),” said Stephen, who now also releases entire episodes that include a 36-day programming cycle.
One big thing: Since the beginning, Stephen has been committed to offering his group classes free of charge, as it was simply a way to help people he cared about.
Today, his Monday, Wednesday, Friday workouts continue to be free for anyone interested in trying CrossFit from home, and he offers a more premium paid service with additional programming for those who want it. Further, two dozen or so people who started in the Zoom classes now also pay for one-on-one coaching with Stephen.
Not about the money: The most rewarding part of the last 18 months, Stephen said, is the generosity he has witnessed, and the many people whose lives have benefited from this generosity.
Today, BearMuscle Fitness has a group of 50 volunteers who help with various community-building tasks, from hosting group workouts to editing videos and episodes.
“It has warmed my heart,” he said. “I’m just so impressed by everyone pitching in because they feel like this is such an important mission, an important movement that’s helping so many people.”
“There have been families who have been saved by it because they have started to do the exercises together, and some of them have had chronic conditions…And others who have been battling with mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, and are like, ‘This is the most important thing to keep me sane,” Stephen said.
And then there’s the woman in her 70s who has increased her strength and bone density and can now lift 50 pounds over her head, and the woman who has had multiple surgeries in recent months, whose doctors say her recovery is so much faster than it used to be. Or the member who started the Zoom classes from her hospital bed.
“She has taught the most about how to make this program adaptable to everyone,” Stephen said, adding that she has lost “so much weight,” he said.
“I could go on all day… It’s just amazing to see how many lives have been changed, or saved because of this,” he added.
The Big Picture
Since Day 1, Stephen’s goal has simply been to show as many people as he can what CrossFit can do for them. Whether this means they remain in his program doing CrossFit from home for the long-term, or they move on to train at an affiliate one day, as some people already have, doesn’t matter to him.
“I want to just raise awareness of what CrossFit can do (for) you…It’s not like I’m saying remote is better, or in-person is better,” he said.
That being said, he is hoping to continue to grow BearMuscle Fitness even in the post-pandemic world, as it has been a great way to onboard new people into CrossFit who were otherwise too scared to try, he explained.
“Yeah I want to see it grow to 300, 400…thousands…I do want it to grow, because the more people who participate in this (means) the more people who are making positive changes in their lives and understand that, yes CrossFit can do that for you,” he said.
What's Rich Wearing?
Mayhem dominated again this year. But as much as wanting to know “What’s Rich doing?” There was a new question on everyone’s lips.
“What’s the red thing in Rich’s mouth?”
Since being introduced to AIRWAAV, Rich Froning doesn’t compete without it. By shifting your lower jaw and tongue into an optimal position, the AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece is clinically proven to:
Increase your endurance by 20% by reducing respiratory rate.
Reduce cortisol build-up to improve recovery by 50%.
Widen your airway by an average of 9% allowing you to get in more oxygen.
WOD #1: In 8 minutes complete 4 rounds of: 8 Burpee Box Jump Overs (24”/20”) 8 Hang Power Snatches (115/80 pounds) 8 Thrusters
If all work is completed beneath the 8 minute cap, rest the remainder and wait until the 8 minute mark, right into:
In 7 minutes complete 4 rounds of: 8 Burpee Box Jump Overs (24”/20”) 8 Hang Power Snatches (115/80 pounds) 8 Thrusters
Continue this way, reducing the time cap by 1 minute each round while reps remain the same until five minutes. That will be the final round.
WOD #2 7 minutes to complete for cumulative load of: 5 Clean and Jerks *Between every successful lift, complete 50 foot HS Walk (25ft down, 25ft back) – 200ft total
In other related news, Wodapalooza will now be sponsored by NOBULL.
Michelle Letendre adds another athlete to her stable, bringing Freya Moosbrugger under her wing. Moosbrugger finished 54th in the world in the Open and 12th at the Atlas Games semifinal.
The Rogue Invitational will be livestreamed for free on YouTube.
The Rise of the New Athletepreneur: How Athletes are Building Portfolios to Plan for the Future
As Jeff Foxworthy said in 1995, “you’ve got to diversify with your money.” CrossFit athletes are taking this advice to heart by investing in a variety of businesses. However, they just aren’t burying cash in a mayonnaise jar or betting on races at the dog track. They are actively pursuing business opportunities far beyond their gym or online programming.
One big thing: For years, many athletes used to plan for their post-CrossFit Games future by selling their programming or opening an affiliate in their hometown. This is no longer the trend as more and more athletes are focusing on ways to build their portfolios in a variety of ways, some not even directly related to fitness.
Mrgaux Alvarez was one of the first to start a company entirely outside of fitness, launching a winery — The Vine Yard — while still competing at the Games, a business she still runs.
Mat Fraser has found multiple ways to keep himself busy after winning five straight titles. He created a popular YouTube channel that showcases his post-Games life and he partnered with Hybrid Performance to exclusively distribute his programming. Oh, and he started a popular supplement company with the Buttery Bros that just inked a major nationwide distribution deal with health supplement giant GNC.
Annie Thorisdottir probably has the most active portfolio of current Games athletes. She’s an active investor in Yerbae and board member, launched sports-focused headphones with Katrin Davidsdottir, with rumblings of more in the works.
Kara Saunders took a similar route with fitness accessories. She co-founded Activ Eyewear, which launched in 2020.
While Sara Sigmundsdottir doesn’t own a piece of WIT as far as we know, he name is on the clothing label. In all likelihood, she’s receiving a royalty for each article of clothing purchased.
Five-time CrossFit Games competitor Jacob Heppner, though now retired, launched two separate start-ups during the pandemic, one of which he just sold to the gym software giant PushPress for an undisclosed sum. Additionally, Heppner owns Functional Eating and GRIT Performance.
Recently retired Scott Panchik created Stream Fitnessalongside Heppner. Stream Fitness is an online platform that provides at-home fitness classes to people around the world while simultaneously providing a place for coaches tosell their programming. Panchik also launched a new programming iOS app called Unlocked.
Grow with the times: While many athletes are moving forward with business investments, two OGs actually began by founding their respective athletes before expanding in a major way. Jason Khalipa founded CrossFit Santa Clara one month after winning the CrossFit Games, but he opened an additional 20 locations. Khalipa now runs NCFIT, a massive affiliate program that has helped over 1,000 gyms.
Rich Froning founded CrossFit Mayhem, which has become hallowed ground in functional fitness. However, Froning’s pursuits are far more in-depth. The champ now has Froning Farms, the Buffalo Brew Coffee House, Mayhem Athlete online programming, and — most importantly — Mayhem Mission.
The bottom line: The CrossFit athletes continue to get stronger and faster with each passing year, but they also are becoming more business-savvy. Numerous big names are focusing on other ways to build up their portfolios and invest in their respective futures instead of simply starting affiliates. This trend should only increase in the coming years, setting the stage for a fascinating future.
Burpee Box Jump-Overs
Success in CrossFit comes down to one thing. Are you willing to keep doing things you don't want to do to get better at them? And if there's an exercise that we don't want to do...burpee box jump-overs are right up there. So check out this masterclass to get better and faster at them.
However hard you work, some muscles just seem determined to stay the same size. If only there were a way (with no expensive equipment) to instantly evaluate your muscle's potential to grow. Check out this method from Stanford Professor, Andrew Huberman, to find out your muscle potential.
Start tracking your body's performance with a free WHOOP Strap 4.0 and first months membership. WHOOP measures your body's data over 100 times a second to provide personalized feedback on your recovery, strain, and sleep. Giving you the data you need for your top performance.
One in three Americans have prediabetes, and 84% don’t even know it. Watch as family physician Tom McCoy, DO, joins Julie Foucher, MD, to discuss the mechanism behind insulin resistance, how to investigate whether you have it, and steps to take to reverse it.
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