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Barbells for Boobs Abruptly Shuts As Questions Linger

Morning Chalk Up

January 25   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Barbells for Boobs closes doors after 13 years as questions remain from community
  • 23 questions with Dallin Pepper
  • Couple launch dual CrossFit and martial arts gym as they marry their two loves
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“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” - Jimmy Dean

  Barbells for Boobs Abruptly Dissolves After 13 Years as Transparency Issues Remain  

Barbells for Boobs Abruptly Dissolves After 13 Years as Transparency Issues Remain

On Sunday, Barbells for Boobs hosted a virtual Town Hall meeting to announce they are dissolving the charity that has supported CrossFit women affected by breast cancer for the last 13 years.

Two days later, the charity’s founder Zionna Hanson followed up with an email statement that said: “This was, of course, an incredibly difficult decision. The past few years have been challenging for everyone, and like many nonprofits, we found ourselves challenged repeatedly.”

Remind me: Hanson founded Barbells for Boobs in 2009. In the last 13 years, the CrossFit community has raised more than $20 million for the non-profit, mostly through hosting competition fundraisers that often include the classic CrossFit workout Grace — 30 clean and jerks for time.

  • Their charity’s mission was to support women in various stages of their breast cancer journey by providing them education, resources and support, which they did through their Resources After Diagnosis (RAD) program. Most importantly, though, they helped women use fitness, and specifically CrossFit, to improve their lives after a breast cancer diagnosis.

The details: Barbells for Boobs did not not provide any more details in terms of the specific “challenges” the organization has been facing, only that their Board of Directors will be leading the dissolution alongside their Executive Director “to ensure that the legacy of Barbells for Boobs will live on through contributions to like-minded organizations.”

  • In her statement, Hanson also went on to thank all those who contributed to Barbells for Boobs over the years: her staff, the RAD athletes, their partners, all those who gave a donation, as well as more than 4,000 CrossFit affiliates who hosted fundraising events through the years.

What the RAD athletes are saying: Prior to the announcement on Sunday, things had been “weird” in their community for a couple weeks, explained RAD athlete Erin Michael.

  • For example, video streams that would normally be available to the athletes weren’t made public, and Barbells for Boobs employees, including their most beloved coach, had been removed from the Barbells for Boobs website.
  • Michael, and other RAD athletes, reached out for answers as they were “looking for transparency,” Michael explained, but they never received it.

And while Michael grew more and more suspicious that something was up at Barbells for Boobs, the news of the dissolution on Sunday still came as a “shock,” to Michael, as well as other RAD athletes like Colleen Grote and Wendy Nielson, all of whom were left devastated.

  • “In about 10 minutes, they took away everything that all of us have relied on…We lost our community…with no answers and no plan for moving forward. Just, ‘We’re done,’” Michael said.
  • “We have women literally fighting for their lives in various stages of treatment, and so much is uncertain during treatment and after treatment, and now this is just another thing added to that list of, ‘Ok, go figure it out on your own,’” Grote added.

Though still in shock and deep in the grieving process, Michael, Grote and Nielson know that just because the organization has been dissolved doesn’t mean their community is dead. And while they’re not sure what the future looks like, the friendships and support network they built and nurtured through Barbells for Boobs is still very much alive.

  • “We’re all still just very much in the shock and grief phase…but I think, I know, the most prominent thing in our group is we have each other. BFB brought us together, and for that we will forever be thankful…But we (still) have one another. We will have one another forever, and we have a lot of ambitious women in this group, so I anticipate that something is coming,” Michael said.
  • Nielsen added: “We’re not just a breast cancer group. We’re a breast cancer group of active women who want to maintain their strength or get stronger…and that made it so much more powerful than just a breast cancer group. That connection is just the thing that really glued all of us together for so long. And it will continue.”

The big picture: Barbells for Boobs shocking news has led to more questions than answers from the RAD athletes, and from all those who have raised money for the organization through the years. The overarching one being: After nearly a decade-and-a-half, what really happened to cause Barbells for Boobs to suddenly, without warning, shut their doors forever?

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2023 Edition: CrossFit Open Guide

2023 Edition: CrossFit Open Guide

Another year, another Open!

The 🏋️‍♀️ 2023 Open Guide 🏋️‍♀️ is packed full of to-dos and checklists for planning and preparing for your event.

Learn how to engage your community, attract new members, utilize your coaches, promote accountability–and more!

Ready to bring your community together and pump up your athletes?

Download your 2023 Open guide.

Happy planning!


Open Announcement: The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games season will kick off Feb. 16 in Madrid, Spain featuring Hungary’s Laura Horvath, Poland’s Gabriela Migala, Serbia’s Lazar Djukic and Iceland’s Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson.

Competition updateStrength in Depth Origins team competition takes place this weekend (Jan. 28-29) in Bath, UK.

International love: Great video piece in Germany’s DW about Mexico’s Mariana Meza and how she found the sport she loves.

Gut check: A new study has linked “midriff bulge” to physical decline later in life.

  23 Questions with Dallin Pepper: Five Guys, James Sprague, Cavapoos and Elon Musk  


23 Questions with Dallin Pepper: Five Guys, James Sprague, Cavapoos and Elon Musk

Fresh off an impressive 7th place finish at the 2023 TYR Wodapalooza, Florida resident and CrossFit Naples athlete Dallin Pepper looks ready to take his CrossFit game to the next level. The 21-year-old, newly married, three-time “Fittest Teen on Earth” is also looking to build on his 10th place finish in last year’s Open and 19th at the CrossFit Games.

But who is the man behind this newcomer who has officially arrived on the scene? We caught up with Pepper for the first edition of our 23 questions (in honor of the year) to see just who is the guy behind that steely look and smile.

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  Gis and Grip Tape: Couple Launches Dual CrossFit and Martial Arts Gym  

Gis and Grip Tape: Couple Launches Dual CrossFit and Martial Arts Gym

When Paul Slebioda met Ellen Hoepfinger in 2017, little did either of them know the love they shared for fitness would bring them to where they are today. The couple recently relocated to Jonesborough, TN to open a gym named BarkEater Athletics that brings both their passions together—CrossFit and martial arts.

While Slebioda and Hoepfinger are new to Tennessee, they began their gym back in 2019 in the Adirondack region of northern New York, where the couple taught group classes as well as Judo & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In June of 2020 they affiliated with CrossFit and became BarkEater CrossFit.

Hoepfinger not only is a crossfitter, she also holds a black belt in Judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Slebioda is a CF-L2 CrossFit now, but was first drawn to the sport after watching CrossFit on YouTube and couldn’t do an overhead squat with a PVC pipe “to save my life.”

The two hit it off after Hoepfinger was Slebioda’s Uber driver in 2017. After some time as a long distance couple Slebioda moved to Saranac Lake, New York where Hoepfinger was located and the couple opened their first gym together.

  • “I followed her up there and took a short term rental and ended up in Saranac Lake and we fell in love, we were already in love,” said Slebioda.
  • “We felt like they really compliment CrossFit in that the methodology is similar. Technique first and maximum efficiency with minimum effort is really the mantra of Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So we thought they would complement each other perfectly and we kind of run our program that way,” he added.

Hoepfinger says Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are the most widely used self defense and police training military programs. They both derive from grappling art, which is a broad term sometimes used for various types of martial arts.

She further explains that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu comes from Judo’s groundwork and Judo focuses on the stand up piece.

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  Move Over Keto Diet, Meet Ketone-IQ  

Move Over Keto Diet, Meet Ketone-IQ

Fitness and health enthusiasts are constantly trying to find ways to improve their lives, feel their best, and achieve longevity in life. Many have turned to the keto diet, which turns fat into ketones and uses them for fuel instead of carbohydrates. This lifestyle is perfect for some but unrealistic for others. HVMN (Health Via Modern Nutrition Inc) aims to fill the gap with Ketone-IQ™️.

One big thing: There are two types of ketones – endogenous and exogenous. The endogenous ketones are produced inside the body. Exogenous ketones are introduced to the body via supplements. Prominent examples are ketone esters and ketone salts.

  • There can be multiple benefits for those who choose to take exogenous ketones. For example, many have used them to help control their hunger while practicing intermittent fasting or working out in a fasted state.
  • One of the biggest, which could attract those that use CrossFit for training, is the effect on overall performance. According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, ketones are 28% more effective as fuel than glucose. Additionally, there are no issues with sugar crashes or insulin spikes since there is no caffeine or sugar on the ingredients list.
  • Finally, exogenous ketones stack with carbohydrates while delivering performance benefits. An analogy used by HVMN is that they are running on parallel highways in the body while working together to support mental clarity and provide clean energy.
Continue Reading...


Using the Stretch Reflex in a Squat

Ready to take your squats to the next level? Learn how to use the stretch reflex to your advantage and put up some big numbers in 2023.




Brooke Wells Recovery Secret: the MOVE+

Brooke Wells, a fan favorite Games athlete, is a force to be reckoned with. From a fifth place finish at the Games to a fourth place Wodapalooza finish with her team, Brooke is at the top of her game. So what's her secret to recovering and avoiding injury? She uses the MOVE+ for light therapy, and you can too!



Athleticism Does Not End When Motherhood Begins

When we think of an athlete, we don’t often think of a postpartum new mom who is getting back into the gym. And why the hell not?



Turmeric Based PRE Workout

ATH’s PRE is a turmeric-based pre-workout that uses natural caffeine, added adaptogens, and long-lasting carbohydrates to improve performance. But why turmeric? To reduce inflammation and protect joints during strenuous training.



This One Simple Move

Work the lower back and shoulders while building scapular endurance with this one simple, yet often overlooked movement.


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

  • 🎂 Happy birthday, Mat Fraser and Logan Aldridge.
  • Congratulations Cody Warren from The Training Method in Longview, TX on the 265 pound/120.2kg clean PR.
  • Congratulations Desmond Lee from Invictus Fitness Seattle in Seattle, WA on the 395 pound/179kg front squat PR.
  • 🙌 Niki Brazier gives a peek into the last 18 months of broadcast mom life.
  • Karen and Denisse from CrossFit 201 are in their 13th year of membership at the Oakland, NJ affiliate after joining in 2010 when it first opened.
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