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Athena Perez’s “Hiller Challenge,” Part 2

Morning Chalk Up

February 7   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Check out part two of Athena Perez’s year-long journal, “My Hiller Challenge,” and learn about her mindset shifts in the early days
  • Get to know Belgium’s young CrossFit star, Jelle Hoste
  • Book Club: The Heart Is the Strongest Muscle, by Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr
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“Seeing people develop an interest in CrossFit and realizing that I bring people together by pursuing my dream is genuinely amazing.” - 2023 CrossFit Games Rookie, Belgian Jelle Hoste

  “My Hiller Challenge”: Part 2, Doing Hard Things  

“My Hiller Challenge”: Part 2, Doing Hard Things

My year-long “Hiller Challenge” started on January 8, 2024.

During that very first week, I found myself immersed in deep reflection. I felt a horrible pang of hypocrisy.

I had always motivated my team and those I coached to tackle challenging tasks, to “do hard things,” and to embrace the discomfort that comes with bravery. Yet, I wasn’t living up to my own advice, and I certainly wasn’t walking the talk.

I was constantly hiding, seldom attending events, and meticulously curating the images that graced my social media. I suspect this behavior was born out of embarrassment and shame, as I had not yet achieved the progress I consistently assured everyone was attainable.

I knew it was time to step up and become the example I had failed to be.

I had never bared myself like this before. I sobbed for 30 minutes before making that post.

I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather avoid, but astonishingly, the moment I hit send and knew the post was live for all to see, it brought an immediate sense of peace. I realized I had been my own roadblock.

That was all on me.

I was also wrestling with feelings of hypocrisy when it came to Andrew Hiller.

I had previously decided that I didn’t like him, perhaps due to the seemingly overly (at least to me) aggressive demeanor that came across in those videos. Yet, I always urged others not to judge anyone until they actually spent time with that person.

Our Working with Larger Bodies seminar talks extensively about the pitfalls of making assumptions about people. It felt like I was facing the same assignment I had tasked my class with.

Truth be told, I was reluctant to move forward. However, I made the conscious decision to revisit a few more of those Hiller videos I strongly disliked.

After rewatching at least three of them, I found myself at a loss to pinpoint exactly what had bothered me so profoundly. Why had these videos unsettled me so much the first time around?

There were moments when I even found myself chuckling. I realized that I had overlooked the broader message during my initial viewing.

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Healthy Aging 50+: The Science of Healthy Living Conference: On February 8, the Stanford Center on Longevity at Stanford University will host the Healthy Aging 50+ conference. The conference brings world-class experts together to discuss the latest research in the fields of nutrition, fitness, and mental health, focused on the 50+ age group.

  • Among the featured guests are Kelly and Juliet Starrett from The Ready State.

Teen CrossFit Games: The Teen CrossFit Games officially have a date, or rather a set of them: August 29-September 1, 2024 at the Pit Fitness Ranch in Three Rivers, MI.

WHOOP Origins: Ever wondered where the name WHOOP came from? Check out this post from the fitness wearable leader to learn more.

🤯 🤯 “You’re Gonna Wanna Sit Down For This”: A new study was recently published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine that found that wall sits and other simple isometric holds can reduce blood pressure even more effectively than other forms of exercise.

  • Of course, the devil is always in the details. One of the study’s authors clarified that they were not saying that other forms of exercise should be replaced with isometric holds, but rather that isometric holds can be added easily to the programming of someone already exercising.
  • From the article: “‘Our main message is that actually engaging in exercise is fantastic and any exercise might reduce your blood pressure,’ said Jamie O’Driscoll, the senior author of the study. ‘But if you’re an individual who is currently exercising to the guidelines and you’re still having a bit of difficulty reducing that blood pressure and you want to avoid going on medication, perhaps isometrics is an additional mode to complement the exercise you’re already doing.'”

🎙️ 🎙️ Good Listen: Last week, legendary coach Ben Bergeron and long-time affiliate owner of CrossFit New England joined host Greg Williams on the Rox Lyfe Podcast, the biggest podcast in the sport of HYROX. In the interview, Ben talks about mindset, sporting experiences, and HYROX.

👟👟 TYR x Dani Speegle: On Friday, TYR, the title sponsor of Wodapalooza, announced its first signature shoe with Dani Speegle. The DELLE edition is available now.

Working with Larger Bodies Seminar and PRVN Fitness: Athena Perez and Scaled Nation will be joining PRVN Fitness at their new headquarters in Nashville, TN to present the “Working with Larger Bodies” seminar. The event will take place on April 21, 2024, beginning at 9 AM. Register now!

ICYMI: Matt Torres relocates to Jacksonville, re-brands Brute, and gets his crew ready for 2024

  From IT to the CrossFit Games: Getting to Know Europe’s Up-and-Coming Star, Jelle Hoste  


From IT to the CrossFit Games: Getting to Know Europe’s Up-and-Coming Star, Jelle Hoste

Last year, an unknown six-foot-two-inch tall athlete out of Belgium caught everyone’s attention at the 2023 European Semifinal when he won an incredible three events and finished fourth overall in his first-ever Semifinal.

That man was Jelle Hoste.

From there he went on to have a phenomenal rookie year at the CrossFit Games where he finished 10th overall and had five top-10 event finishes, including an event win.

Hoste had the best performance of any rookie last year but surprisingly was not awarded the Rookie of the Year title, which went to 17-year-old Olivia Kerstetter instead.

Heading into the 2024 season we caught up with Jelle to ask him a bit about last year, get some of his insights surrounding the sport, as well as hear his thoughts on the upcoming year.

Let’s dive in.

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  Book Club: Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr’s The Heart Is the Strongest Muscle  

Book Club: Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr’s The Heart Is the Strongest Muscle

“This book is for anyone who really wants to change their life. It is NOT for someone who is looking for excuses or unwilling to go full tilt in unleashing their potential. I am going to be straight with you throughout these pages, because the advice is that simple and that black and white. There is no gray area when it comes to winning.” 

– Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, The Heart Is the Strongest Muscle

Those of us who have been a part of the CrossFit world for at least a handful of years have come to know Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr as the greatest CrossFitter to ever compete.

The six-time Games champion has set a record that is yet to be broken and continues to inspire hundreds of thousands of athletes and competitors each year with the feats that she’s able to accomplish.

For those of us who were avid fans of the sport and watched the 2015 and 2016 Games, we saw a very different Tia-Clair than the one we know today, finishing in second place in both years. The woman who went on to win six consecutive times, beginning in 2017, is one built with courage, determination, and strength of will.

In The Heart Is the Strongest Muscle, Toomey-Orr shares insight into her transformation into the Fittest Woman on Earth, giving advice along the way on overcoming setbacks, training, eating, recovering, and building a champion’s mind.

“Hard Yakka”: Toomey-Orr reflects on her childhood, growing up on the Sunshine Coast, outside of Brisbane, Australia. From a very young age, she learned the value of hard work, or “hard yakka,” as her father spent 12-hour days working on their sugar cane farm. This instilled in her the value of “sticktoitiveness” and grit. She credits her success to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. She had the internal drive to pursue athletics and compete, but she was surrounded by a family that pushed her and supported her endeavors.

As a young woman, she met her husband, Shane Orr, and the two set off to make their lives together, although not in the world of fitness, but in mining. Missing the fire of competition from her younger years, Toomey-Orr was convinced to join a CrossFit gym, where she found her stride immediately. She excelled quickly, and it was only two years after her first CrossFit Open that she made it to the Games, taking second to Katrín Davíðsdóttir in 2015.

  • “I grew up learning that responsibility for yourself is key, and you can’t just sit back and wait for things to happen. There’s a phrase we’d say all the time back home – ‘all yak and no yakka’ – to describe someone who’s all talk and no action.”

Perfection is Unattainable: The book continues as Toomey-Orr takes us on her life’s journey past winning the CrossFit Games for the first time, then the second time, and shares that while she has set records in the sport, absolute perfection is unattainable and comparing oneself to others can be toxic. While this is inevitable, we must focus on “competing, not comparing,” as the two are vastly different. She speaks to vulnerability and the specific challenges faced by women in the sport of fitness in the areas of body image, social media, and sexual discrimination.

  • “There’s a fine line between striving to be unstoppable and striving to be perfect. If you try to be perfect, you will constantly disappoint yourself because perfection is unattainable.”
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Three Things to Remember...

Here is a mini-lesson for all those CrossFit newbies, on three things to remember, particularly when training gets tough.




Your Training Habits for the Open

As you gear up for the Open, remember, muscle gains aren't just about workouts; they're about what fuels them. LMNT is packed with the right blend of sodium, potassium, and magnesium to ensure your electrolytes are balanced for optimal muscle function. Don’t let electrolyte imbalance slow you down.



Dill Pickle Dip

Try this recipe from Feel Good Foodie, for the perfect Superbowl snack. Indulgent yes, but also a crowd-pleaser and it will keep your guests full and happy.



Spend $50, Get $10

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Stay Committed to Your Goals Past January

Check out this article, written by Morning Chalk Up alum Kelly Sekulovski, on how to stay committed to your goals past January. We still have a long year ahead of us. If you've fallen off track, there's plenty of time to jump back on.


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip.

  • 🎂Happy birthday to Danielle Brandon and Streat Hoerner.
  • Happy second birthday this week to LSKD.
  • Congratulations to West Point Academy for winning the first-ever Collegiate National Function Fitness Championship.
  • 💪Congratulations to Kā’eo Subiono, for competing in the RX Men’s Division at the Fittest Experience.
  • Great work to semifinals athlete Hannah Black on her muscle-up progress.
2/10: St. Sebastian Smackdown (Southern Pines, NC)
2/10: Pancakes for Roger Dragon Slaying Competition KC (Kansas City, Missouri)
2/10 - 2/11: LOVEFEST PH (Muntinlupa City, Philippines)
2/17: Cupid’s Throwdown (Las Vegas, Nevada)
2/17 - 2/18: Busto Throwdown (Busto Arsizio, Italy)
3/2: The LKW Games (Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina)
3/9: The Valkyrie Fitness Competition (Tampa, FL)
3/16: Upper Hunter Strongest Novice (Muswellbrook, Australia)
3/16: Oceanside CrossFit 1st Annual Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/16: Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/23: CFL Teen Take Over (Lorton, VA)
3/23 - 3/24: Beach Brawl (Spring) (Pensacola Beach, FL)
3/23: Masters Distinguished Games (Fort Wright, KY)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Minnesota (Austin, Minnesota)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Kentucky (Richmond, Kentucky)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Ohio (Lancaster, Ohio)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, Alabama)
4/6: Best Babes 608 (Janesville, Wisconsin)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beufort, South Carolina)
4/6: Best Babes Houston (Houston, Texas)
4/6: Best Babes Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
4/6: Best Babes Wyoming (Cheyene, Wyoming)
4/6: War Off I-4 (Deland, FL)
4/6 - 4/7: No Pain No Game (Legnano, Italy)
4/6 - 4/7: Shack Team Edition (Rome, Italy)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beaufort, SC)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, AL)
4/6 - 4/7: Landifornian Battle (Seignosse, France)
4/6: Two Peas in a Pod: Mixed Gender Partner Comp (Burlington, MA)

See all upcoming events

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