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CrossFit CEO Don Faul Talks Challenges, Wins In First Year

Morning Chalk Up

August 16   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Part two of our exclusive interview with CrossFit CEO Don Faul, reflecting on his first year in the role
  • 2023 Games athlete comparison: Laura Horvath and Gabriela Migala
  • Top Individual payouts for the 2023 CrossFit Games season
  • Our August Affiliate of the Month, FitHAUS, partnered with the Phoenix, founded as more than “just a place to workout”

We want to feature your gym for affiliate of the month. Send us a note and be sure to include a note about why we should feature it.

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“It is not enough to be busy...The question is: what are we busy about?” - Henry David Thoreau

  One Year In: Don Faul Talks Challenges, Wins, Big Picture Plan as CrossFit CEO  

One Year In: Don Faul Talks Challenges, Wins, Big Picture Plan as CrossFit CEO

A little over a year ago, on the eve of the CrossFit Games, CrossFit LLC announced they had a new CEO: US Marine veteran Don Faul.

Remind me: Faul, a combat veteran and former platoon commander who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, also held key roles at a number of technology companies, including Pinterest, Meta and Google, before coming to CrossFit.

In an exclusive interview with the Morning Chalk Up at the end of July, Faul said his first year as the CEO CrossFit was met with a number of wins, but also unexpected challenges.

The biggest challenge: One of the first things Faul said he learned when taking the CEO role was that one of his team’s greatest strengths was also their greatest weakness.

  • CrossFit LLC’s team is made up of people who are so passionate about CrossFit “in a way that is incredibly rare in the world,” he said. And while that’s “amazing,” it also makes it difficult to make changes.
  • “Change at CrossFit is hard… Change in this community is really really hard,” he said of his realization.

At the same time, Faul recognized that change was needed in order for CrossFit to achieve their ultimate goal: “to reach more people.”

  • “We have to be willing to change,” Faul said.

So his plan to get everyone on board with change was to “be crisp around what can’t change, and then let’s have the courage and have the willingness to make some changes (to impact) more people and be better.”

The changes required: In a nutshell, some of the biggest changes, and areas of growth, Faul identified at CrossFit—changes that are required for CrossFit to reach their goal of impacting the next “10, 20, 30 million people,”—are fourfold:

  1. Branding: Faul has invested (and continues to invest) in reshaping CrossFit’s overall brand to entice more people to begin training at affiliates.
  1. Education: Right now, the Level 1 certificate course is the start and end of the education process for many coaches, Faul said. Thus, he wants more coaches to pursue the Level 2 and other continued education, so they can “level up their overall education” and have a greater impact on clients and their affiliates, creating a “virtuous cycle.”
  • In order to do this, Faul has committed to making the Level 2 more accessible and easier for coaches to achieve to “empower them to be world class in their profession,” he said.
  1. Affiliate Success: While many affiliates are doing “exceptionally well,” when you “zoom out and look at the overall state of our community,” there are “too many gyms who…could be doing a lot better financially,” Faul said.
  • In light of this, CrossFit has been investing heavily in rolling out new resources for gym owners to help them as business owners, including a Starter Kit and a mentorship program for new gym owners that is already available.
  • Go deeper: Read more about Faul’s plans to help gym owners financially in our recent article.
  1. Sport: Finally, Faul and his team are committed to continue to grow the sport side of CrossFit in a way that it helps drive growth and support the overall community.
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💪 🏋️‍♀️ 💪 Train with Dallin Pepper! Join the 2023 Fifth Fittest Man on Earth and Brute Strength head coach, Matt Torres for a two-day training experience at NEBO CrossFit in Salem, UT. Learn more.

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ICYMI: Time and experience move the needle for Most Improved Games Athlete, Alex Gazan.

  Laura Horvath and Gabriela Migala: 2023 CrossFit Games Athlete Case Studies  


Laura Horvath and Gabriela Migala: 2023 CrossFit Games Athlete Case Studies

For the next part in this series of athlete case studies we will be highlighting best friends and training partners Laura Horvath and Gabi Migala to chart their improvement year-over-year and compare their 2023 Games performances against each other.

If you haven’t checked out the first part in this series–our comparison of Jeffrey Adler and Patrick Vellner), take a look now.

Let’s begin with this year’s champ.

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  Top 10 Individual Athlete Payouts for the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Season  

Top 10 Individual Athlete Payouts for the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Season

The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games season offered $431,000 at Semifinals and $2.945 million at the Games in total payouts for athletes across all divisions. With the Games behind us we’re taking a look at the top 10 individual athlete payouts of the season and some interesting stats now that the dust has settled.

Remind me: Last year, the total individual prize purse from the Games season was $2,518,132.

We’ve compiled a complete list based on the information available and include payouts from the 2023 Open, Semifinals, Games, and event win bonuses.

By the numbers: We’ve broken down some of the figures and found some interesting points worth noting.

  • Emma Cary took 8th place at the Games, but her top scores in Open Workout 23.1 and the North America East Semifinal made her the 6th top paid athlete (in competition winnings) this season. Cary accumulated more cash earnings than Alexis Raptis, Katrin Davidsdottir, and Chandler Smith, who each placed 7th or above in Madison.
  • Jeffrey Adler’s wins in the overall Open made him the top paid athlete this season with $350,000 in competition winnings alone.
  • Laura Horvath earned the top Games bonus of all individual athletes with $17,000 added to her $315,000 first place check, thanks to five test wins and one second place finish.
  • After Horvath and Adler, Jonne Koski earned the third highest bonus of all Games athletes with $8,000 added to his check for one test win, two second place finishes, and one third place finish.
  • Emma Lawson took home the third highest winnings this season thanks to her third place finish in the Open, 4th place finish at North American East Semifinals, second place finish at the Games, and two test wins.
  • The top 10 paid individuals took home a cumulative $1,420,523— 54.4% of the total Individual prize purse (including the Games, Semifinals, and the Open) in 2023.
  • Only two of the men and three of the women (five athletes on the Top 10 list) pocketed any earnings from the 2023 CrossFit Open.
  • Every single top 10 earner took 4th or better at their respective Semifinal event.
  • Despite electing not to compete in her Semifinal event, HWPO standout athlete Mallory O’Brien earned $17,023 from her performances in the 2023 CrossFit Open.
  • The Top 10 paid athletes earned 45.1% of the total test bonus money available. ($65,000 of the $144,000 available). Together, they had 14 test wins, 7 second place finishes, and 9 third place finishes.

Here is the list of the top ten athletes with the most payout this Games season: 


  1. Laura Horvath – $339,000
  2. Emma Lawson – $142,500
  3. Arielle Loewen – $96,000
  4. Gabriela Migala – $70,000
  5. Alex Gazan – $60,000
  6. Emma Cary – $44,023
  7. Alexis Raptis – $43,000
  8. Katrin Davidsdottir – $42,000
  9. Paige Powers – $38,000
  10. Danielle Brandon – $36,000


  1. Jeffrey Adler – $350,000
  2. Patrick Vellner $140,000
  3. Roman Khrennikov – $98,023
  4. Brent Fikowski – $72,000
  5. Dallin Pepper – $53,000
  6. Jonne Koski – $51,000
  7. Lazar Dukic – $42,000
  8. Jay Crouch – $38,000
  9. Chandler Smith – $37,000
  10. Jelle Hoste – $34,000
  Affiliate of the Month: FitHAUS; “More than a Place to Workout”  

Affiliate of the Month: FitHAUS; “More than a Place to Workout”

When Katie and Matt Stahl took over ownership of FitHAUS in Long Lake, MN in 2017 they decided they wanted to be more than a place to workout.

They wanted to be a community that steps up and helps those in need, a community that raises money for causes they believe in, a community that ultimately gives back to people in their local community to improve lives beyond physical fitness.

Creating a community like this meant they couldn’t do it alone. So in 2019, Katie and Matt brought on their friends—Nicole and Stiles Anderson—as co-owners to help them run the gym.

  • “We found (our values) were very aligned across the board, and I think that just translates into business, as well,” Matt said about why the two couples decided to team up as business owners four years ago.

What they have achieved together: On top of being busy gym owners, the two couples are raising seven kids between them, yet they still find the energy to make sure their team is always the first to step up to start a meal train or raise money for a member going through some kind of adversity.

  • Further, each November, their community donates to a local food shelter, and even more impressive, they have raised $135,000 for different veteran’s organizations by hosting Murph for their local CrossFit community on Memorial Day the last four years.
  • Finally, FitHAUS has also become a second home for the local chapter of the Phoenix—a non-profit that provides fitness opportunities to those in recovery from substance use disorder. For the last three years, the local Phoenix community has been training together three days a week at FitHAUS.
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Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise. Send us a tip.

  • 🏆Congratulations to CrossFit Games veteran, Ricky Gerard on the 2nd place finish at the Hyrox Australia in Sydney, Australia.
  • Congratulations to to Davin and Amari of Core City CrossFit in Detroit, MI for mastering crossovers and double unders.
  • 🤸‍♀️Andrea McDonald-Hendricks from CrossFit Lacey Training Day, in Lacey, WA, inspires with some med ball calisthenics.
  • Congratulations to Michele Ann from CrossFit Union Square in New York, NY for getting her first bar muscle up. 
  • 💪Congratulations to all the Legends of CrossFit Rotherham in Rotherham, UK, for rocking it in the gym everyday.

On Saturday, September 2nd, Slingin’ Iron CrossFit in Walker, LA is hosting the second annual UPLIFT Suicide Awareness Fundraiser WOD presented by Mark Moss in partnership with the EMOM Company. Originally created in honor of Moss’ late grandfather. To learn more, check out our feature on the Moss family and UPLIFT WOD from last year’s inaugural event.

  • Shirts can be purchased here. Proceeds will go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
  • CrossFit Affiliates are invited and welcome to participate in the September 2nd WOD and shirt sales.
  • Questions can be sent to Mark directly on his Instagram page.
10/6 - 10/8: Marbella Championship (Marbella, Spain)
10/7: Battle of Branded One at Redstone CrossFit (Littleton, CO)
10/13 - 10/15: Midwest Championship (Rochester, MN)
10/13 - 10/15: Midwest Championship (Rochester, MN)
10/14 - 10/15: 059 Classic (Modena, Italy)
10/14: Strength and Speed (Feasterville, PA)
10/14 - 10/15: The Vanguard (Lakeland, FL)
10/20 - 10/21: AAYMCA CrossFit Throwdown (Anderson, SC)
10/20 - 10/21: AAYMCA CrossFit Throwdown (Anderson, SC)
10/21: Festivus Games – Pairs (Savannah, GA)
10/27 - 10/29: Oslo Throwdown (Oslo, Norway)
10/29 - 11/19: CHLKDUP BOX LEAGUE – NASH (Nashville, TN)
10/29 - 11/19: CHLKDUP BOX LEAGUE – BHAM (Birmingham, AL)
11/4 - 11/5: Costa Barcelona Fitness Challenge (Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona, Spain)
11/4 - 11/5: Hold Fast Competition Individual (Gerenzano, Italy)
11/11: War of the Masters (Elkton, MD)

See all upcoming events

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