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CrossFit Creates a Safe Space for Men’s Mental Health

Morning Chalk Up

December 15   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • A Knoxville gym creates a safe space for men to discuss mental health.
  • 🥶 Tips for coaching CrossFit through the winter.
  • Here’s what you need to know about the Dubai CrossFit Championship.
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“Greatness only comes before hustle in the dictionary.” - Ross Simmonds

  Knoxville Gym Starts Man’s Club to Get Men Talking about Mental Health  

Knoxville Gym Starts Man’s Club to Get Men Talking about Mental Health

On Wednesday nights between 7 and 9:30 p.m., a group of men gathers at CrossFit Bearden in Knoxville, TN, not to work out, but to talk. They are a part of the Knoxville Man’s Club, a safe space created by owner Joseph Townsend for men to talk about mental health.

The big picture: According to the National Institute of Health, the prevalence of mental illness is lower in men than women. However, the organization also reports that men are less likely to receive treatment for any mental health issues and are more likely to die by suicide. This raises the question: Are men actually experiencing lower rates of mental health issues, or are they simply not reporting them?

  • “I have been working with a therapist for over two years and struggled with my mental health for five-six years prior,” Townsend said. “Once I began talking about [my mental health] I realized that it wasn’t something that men do often or do very well.”
  • I wanted to start our men’s club to give men an opportunity to talk and listen. To see that we generally have the same thoughts and feelings and that no problems are too big or too small to work through,” he continued.

The club: The Knoxville Man’s Club started in early 2021, just with members of CrossFit Bearden. In September, they opened meetings up to the community.

The meetings, which have about five to six men who attend regularly, begin casually. Conversation starts naturally before being steered in the direction of set questions like, “How was your week, name two good things that occurred, what’s one thing you’re struggling with, and what [are you] doing about that one thing you’re struggling with,” said Chris Schmitz, a coach at CrossFit Bearden who is currently leading the club.

  • “The tone of each meeting is different. Sometimes we share more openly, and other times it may not come as easily. But over time, I do think we have come to share more and more,” Schmitz continued.
  • I think when one person opens up it subconsciously gives permission for others to open up or relate to the issue at hand. We made it very clear that it is a safe space… but it still takes a while for people (especially men) to open up and talk about things going on in their lives,” Townsend said.

Currently, all men in the club take CrossFit classes at CrossFit Bearden. The two, both Townsend and Schmitz feel, are a natural pair.

  • “Within CrossFit, we spend so much time training the body, but I believe that we also must train the mind. The surrender needed to participate in a discipline like CrossFit also relates to the surrender we must give to our thoughts and feelings. The two cannot act in isolation,” Townsend said.
  • Ego prevents us from improving physical health. Doing too much can lead to us getting hurt or overtraining.”
  • “The same can be said for mental health and fitness. The ego doesn’t allow us to dive deep… and so we can fail to make progress and deal with the things in our lives that we need to,” he continued.

Schmitz added: “CrossFitters tend to stick with their gyms for a long time and you get to know each other at a surface level, and sometimes a little deeper, in the classes. And this has been a great way to build on those relationships and get to know each other better.”

The bottom line: “Men communicate very well, but generally about surface things… diving deeper helps us reveal more about us and shows us we are all very similar,” Townsend said.

  • He continued: “The response we got [to the club] from our community, including partners, children, and friends is great, with many feeling such groups should be a necessity. If we can help someone through a rough time, or even help someone improve their day-to-day life, then the group is a success.”
Enter The FITAID Christmas Cooler Giveaway

Enter The FITAID Christmas Cooler Giveaway

Is there anyone more popular than the person who pulls out the cooler after a hot WOD?

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To be entered:

  1. Follow FITAID on Instagram.
  2. Tag 5 friends in their post.
  3. Start dreaming of pulling out an ice-cold FITAID from the cooler.



1 day until the Dubai CrossFit Championship…

Dubai Workout 5:

  • 2-4-6-8-10
    Ring Muscle-ups
    Thrusters (60kg/40kg)
    Time Cap: 10 Mins

Team USA results and lifting schedule at the IWF World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan:

  • USA Medal Totals: 2🥇, 4🥈, 0🥉



  • Ian Wilson (109kg A) Tomorrow at 6:00 AM ET
  • Laura Alexander (87kg A) Tomorrow at 9:00 AM ET
  • Juliana Riotto (87kg A) Tomorrow at 9:00 AM ET
  • Keiser Witte (+109kg B) Friday at 12:00 AM ET
  • Sarah Robles (+87kg A) Friday at 3:00 AM ET

DISCUSSION POINT: Why did CrossFit Jääkarhu decide to re-affiliate? On the Best Hour of Their Day Podcast, co-owner Michael Winchester discusses the reasons why they disaffiliated in the first place and what brought them back:

  • “Everything I’ve seen from Home Office since all that went down has been nothing short of amazing, nothing short of awesome.”
  • “Eric Roza steps in, I like the way that he speaks…I like the way he interacts with affiliates and that’s really the key for us.”
  Safety and Mindset: The Key Points of Emphasis for Coaching CrossFit During the Winter  


Safety and Mindset: The Key Points of Emphasis for Coaching CrossFit During the Winter

The calendar has turned to December, and hundreds of affiliates in the northern hemisphere are dealing with the onset of winter weather. Snow, sleet, darkness, and other factors create potentially unsafe conditions and force coaches and affiliate owners to make significant adjustments to keep their athletes safe and motivated. It can also be a very, very good excuse to hit that snooze button and go back to dreamland rather than face a frozen barbell.

For a big bulk of our year we really don’t get to have running programmed in our workouts.
– Keila Huelle, owner of CrossFit Anchorage

One big thing: The arrival of winter weather in the northern parts of the globe results in coaches making two significant adjustments. Many remove running from the WODs, especially in areas of Alaska or Canada where there are concerns about wind chill and bare skin. They also increase the length of warmups to ensure that the internal body temperature is up to an acceptable level.

  • “It’s probably more encountered with the early morning classes because they’re rolling out of bed and it’s generally much colder at 6 a.m. than it is by the time the sun comes out in the afternoon,” said Taryn Dubreuil, owner of CrossFit Function in Yorkton, Canada. “The warm-ups will be a little bit longer and they’ll be more basic just to get that blood going.”
  • “We’ll do some kind of general warm-up and then specific work for the WOD that day,” explained Ryan Avery, owner/coach at Hybrid Farm in St. Cloud, MN. “And I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s longer, but we may spend more time on the general warm-up, to get that core temperature up to get them moving and feeling good. You know, so we might shift some of that time towards the general warm-up more.”
  • “My warm ups are gonna be a little bit longer,” added Taylor Peterson, a coach at Detour Athletics in Rochester, MN. “They’re going to be a little more in-depth, they’re going to target muscle groups that we really need to hone in on because it does take an extra five to 10 minutes for those athletes to come from their desk and drive in the cold and get into the gym and get warmed up and then get going.”
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  The Dubai CrossFit Championship Returns With International Roster of CrossFit Stars  

The Dubai CrossFit Championship Returns With International Roster of CrossFit Stars

The second major off-season CrossFit competition kicks off this weekend, as the Dubai CrossFit Championship makes its return after a year hiatus. The elite individual competition will take place December 16-18 with over $250,000 worth of prize money on the line.

What’s on the line: The top five overall finishers will be paid out with additional money to be earned for top-3 finishes in events. Event payouts include $3,000 for wins, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third place finishes.

Overall Finish Payouts

  1. $50,000
  2. $30,000
  3. $20,000
  4. $10,000
  5. $5,000

Don’t be surprised if the stakes are raised in one or more of the events as the Dubai CrossFit Championship organizers have been known to sweeten the pot for the sake of competition. In 2018, the organizers upped the ante to $30,000 for the final event winner.

Who to watch: The DCC has long been the proving grounds for athletes outside of North America. The organizers have taken pride in identifying and inviting athletes specifically from Europe to compete and prove themselves against the best CrossFit athletes in the world. This year’s roster is no exception as the organizers have assembled a 40-person athlete roster with 21 different countries represented.

Continue Reading...


Your Butterfly Pull-Ups

Fly through the air like a beautiful butterfly. Well, that's the goal. Occasionally though, it looks more like a beached whale attempting to shuffle back to the ocean. Get those long beautiful butterfly pull-ups with this quick and easy fix.




Beam's Dream Powder

Beam’s new White Chocolate Peppermint Dream Powder is packed with zzz-promoting ingredients, like nano CBD, reishi, magnesium, l-theanine, and melatonin. Swirls of peppermint mix with creamy white chocolate for the guilt-free hot cocoa of your dreams. It has only 15 calories and no added sugar. Get ready to sleep like a champ.



These Three Drills to Improve Bar Muscle Ups

We saw bar muscle-ups in the Open in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021...any takers on whether it will pop up again? Always a huge separator on the leaderboard, start improving your technique now and be ready to crush them in 2022.



A Free WHOOP Strap 4.0 And First Month's Membership

Stay on top of your training this holiday season by tracking your body's performance with a free WHOOP Strap 4.0 and first month's membership. WHOOP measures your body's data over 100 times a second to provide personalized feedback on your recovery, strain, and sleep.



Five Winter Meal Prep Ideas

When it's cold and dark outside, you need a warming meal to see you through the day, right? Well here's five macro-friendly recipes for you to dig into. They're ideal for making up in a batch so that you're sorted the whole week through.


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

  • 🎂 Happy 10 year anniversary to Koda CrossFit in Lafayette, CO.
  • Congratulations Teddy Williams of Blues City Athletics in St. Louis, MO on the 260 pounds/118kg clean PR.
  • Congratulations to Kandace Stepchinski from CrossFit Kemah in Dickinson, TX on getting her first ring muscle-up.
  • Congratulations Sigburt Guy from CrossFit Glendale in Queens, NY on the 400 pound/181kg squat clean PR.
  • Jorge Fernandez of CrossFit Invictus in San Diego, CA put up a 290 pound/132kg snatch PR.
  • 🤯 14-year-old Brynn Cupp hit a 150 pound/68kg clean and jerk PR at 150% of her bodyweight.

Barbell Voodoo released a special edition Rise & Rebuild tee for preorder that will give 100% of profits to Red Eagle CrossFit, which was destroyed in a tornado that ripped through Mayfield, KY.

6/1: Iowa Fitness League (Grimes, IA)
6/3: Summer Sizzle IV (Georgetown, TX)
6/3: Fittin’ in the Mitten (Hudsonville, MI)
6/3: Do It For the Donuts – Part 2 (Lancaster, PA)
6/3: Thieves & Beggars (Verona, NJ)
6/4: Plates & Cakes for Carly (Nevada, IA)
6/9 - 6/11: Atlantic Coast Classic (Daytona Beach, FL)
6/10: Northern Nevada Masters 2023 (Carson City, NV)
6/10: Best Babes Clearwater (Clearwater, FL)
6/10: Back Lot Bout 2023 (St. Charles, MO)
6/10: Battle Of The Roses V6 (Roseland, NJ)
6/10: Battle By the Bay Fitness Championship (Atlantic Highlands, NJ)
6/10: Midcoast Off the Rails (Old Saybrook, CT)
6/10: Girls Gone Rx Fayetteville (Spring Lake, NC)
6/10: Best Babes Albany (Glenmont, NY)
6/10: Best Babes Michigan (Brighton, MI)
6/10: Girls Gone Rx Canada: Quebec (Quebec, CA)
6/10: Summer Fling Beatdown 2023 (Pleasanton, CA)
6/10: TFX Throwdown (Downers Grove, IL)
6/10: Bucktown Battlegrounds (Chicago, IL)
6/10: Invictus Seattle Partner Palooza (Seattle, WA)
6/10: Girls Gone Rx NorCal (Petaluma, CA)
6/10: Best Babes South Dakota (Rapid City, SD)
6/10: Gilrs Gone Rx Chicago (Chicago, IL)
6/10 - 6/11: Battle By The Bay (Atlantic Highlands, NJ)
6/10: RIFL Summer Slam (Manteo, NC)
6/10: Girls Gone RX Nashville (Nashville, TN)
6/10 - 6/11: Fight Gone Alpha (Sala Bolognese, Italy)
6/10: Shorebreak Individual Challenge (Huntington Beach, CA)
6/16 - 6/17: ARX Summer Slam (Maumelle, AR)
6/17: The Heat (Lynchburg, VA)
6/17: Mayhem In Montana 2023 (Kalispell, MT)
6/17: Brooklyn Fit Fest 2023 (Brooklyn, NY)
6/17: 23′ North County Throwdown (Carlsbad, CA)
6/17: Mayhem & Massacre @ CrossFit Murrieta (Murrieta, CA)
6/24: The Phoenix Classic (Asbury Park, NJ)
6/24: Backyahd Games (Johnston, RI)
6/24: 4th Annual Wicked Summer Throwdown (Middleton, MA)
6/24: Heroes in the Heartland 2023 (Sedalia, MO)
6/25: Solent Series Masters Pairs (Southampton, United Kingdom)
7/7 - 7/9: Napolithrowdown (Napoli, Italy)
7/8 - 7/9: Andorra Fitness Challenge (Andorra la Vella, Andorra)
7/8: Summer Solstice (Tucson, AZ)
7/8 - 7/9: Ligurian Throwdown (Busalla, Italy)
7/15: Summer Sizzler (Limestone, TN)
7/15 - 7/16: Fresh Coast Games (Muskegon, MI)
7/15: Battle of the Beast (Hudson, NY)
7/15: Lumberjack Athletics “Battle of the Beast” (Hudson, NY)
7/15 - 7/16: 5Ton-5K Festival (Federalsburg, MD)
7/16: Warrior Affiliate League Summer Classic (Apple Valley, CA)
7/22: Barbells For Bullies New Jersey (Roxbury twp, NJ)

See all upcoming events

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