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CrossFit’s International Man of Mystery

Morning Chalk Up

July 13   |   POWERED BY


Happy Tuesday Morning Chalk Up readers! Scrolling through social media right now feels like a “mini-Games.” Athletes aren’t tapering just yet, so we get a front-row seat from behind our phones and tablets at their Games training. Enjoy it…next week will look a lot different.

Guessing Games is back! Enter your predictions for the top five men and women at the Games for a chance to win some epic prizes.

In today’s edition:

  • Comparing some big deadlifts, then and now.
  • Fitness financial struggles continue.
  • Facundo Etchecolatz legacy success.
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“Determination becomes an obsession and then it becomes all that matters.” - Jeremy Irvine

  New Survey Shows 80% of Gyms Still Face Financial Struggles 

New Survey Shows 80% of Gyms Still Face Financial Struggles

The numbers are in and they aren’t looking good. While gyms in the US are back open for business, a staggering 80% are still facing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the numbers: According to the Community Gyms Coalition (CGC), a group representing more than 15,000 community gyms nationwide, four in five locally-owned US gyms and fitness facilities are still struggling from the long-term financial impact caused by the pandemic.

  • 75% say revenue and membership have fallen since before the pandemic.
  • 64% say they’ve been forced to go into additional debt.
  • Average new debt: A staggering $75,000.

What they’re saying:

  • “This data proves that the financial damage is catastrophic and ongoing, and urgent help is still needed…Gyms are essential for public health, and we were closed by state governments to fulfill a public purpose. Now Congress must work swiftly to pass the GYMS Act and provide small gyms with meaningful relief to help us recover,” said Pam Brown of Align Brooklyn.

The big picture: For the past several months, the CGC has been calling on congressional leadership to provide financial relief to gyms in any upcoming economic recovery package — money that gyms and fitness centers so desperately need to help get the industry out of the woods.

  • The GYMS Act, which has nearly 150 co-sponsors in the House and Senate, would create a $30 billion rescue fund similar to the one created for restaurants and live entertainment venues.
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  • T-shirt time: 17-year-old Games Athlete, Emma Cary is selling t-shirts to help pay for her trip to the CrossFit Games. But hurry…you only have until tomorrow to purchase one. The shirts come in a variety of fits all with the saying, “I want this most” and a lion printed on them.
  • This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later: Last week, Games Athlete Mekenzie Riley left her baby boy Race for the first time to head to Madison for the CrossFit Games. He’s sure going to miss his momma, but we’re all excited to see her back on the competition floor.
  • Steph Chung is retiring…for now. We’re all glad that she elaborated a bit more about it on her Instagram account. For the next two years, she will be focusing on PA school and in order to do that, CrossFit will take a backseat. Chung hopes to return to competitive CrossFit once her education is complete.
  • This week on The Clydesdale, Fitness & Friends Podcast, the whole crew sat down with Nic Johnston, PRVN Coach for Brooke Wells. When Nic was asked what the changes to the 2021 season meant, he said it mostly impacted the team athletes, especially when it comes to income opportunities.
    • “The only way teams could make money was through the Sanctionals… the sport was finally getting on the team side where people cared… those individuals joining together on teams where people knew the names on the teams, even me, being in the sport for so long and being on the team side of things I only know the members of three teams in the field, and that is scary because the people at home, will not know anyone except Rich Froning.”
  Facundo Etchecolatz: CrossFit’s International Man of Mystery 


Facundo Etchecolatz: CrossFit’s International Man of Mystery

If there is anyone in the CrossFit space who is deserving of the title International Man of Mystery it is Facundo Etchecolatz.

The Argentinian native has resided in Europe for quite some time now, but he is a regular at the biggest CrossFit events over the past decade as much as anyone. If you’re lucky enough to know Facundo, you might know him from any number of jobs and roles he’s filled over the years.

Where he started

He got his start working for the CrossFit Media department (first as a volunteer) in 2013 and worked closely with Rory McKernan for years. He expanded from there and has become a critical part of the Power Monkey team with Dave Durante, and the Aerobic Capacity team with Chris Hinshaw. Through those endeavors, he was introduced to Rich Froning who eventually brought Facundo on to coach the Mayhem Freedom team. In the meantime he coaches dozens of athletes all over the world, and this year, three of the four athletes he had competing in Semifinals, qualified for the CrossFit Games.

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  Saving Seals From Skills Learned in CrossFit 

Saving Seals From Skills Learned in CrossFit

At the core of CrossFit, the sport teaches us how to be better prepared to handle situations in everyday life. And sometimes, those situations include helping others, where in this case, CrossFit is helping save seals in Africa.

Naude and Katja Dreyer, founders of Ocean Conservation Namibia, and organization team member Antoine Amory, spearheaded a seal rescue program back in May of 2020 called, “100 Seals For Time.” The rescue takes place from their local Cape Fur Seal colony on Pelican Point.

The big picture: Pelican Point is home to an active fishing industry which Katja said causes the majority of seal entanglements on the peninsula, along with plastic pollution and other ocean rubbish.

  • Naude and Katja started rescuing seals about 10 years ago when they cut their first seal free from a net.
  • The pair decided that the problem was “not going to go away on its own” and that the “world needed to know about the impact of plastic.” They established Ocean Conservation Namibia to bring the issue into a global light, and since the beginning of 2020, have been rescuing seals full-time.

How CrossFit prepares them for the rescues: Naude, Katja and Antoine are all active CrossFitters, and say their training is key to keeping them fit for their operations.

  • “You never know what’s coming,” said Katja. “It’s like you’re starting a workout, and you never know how long it is. You don’t know if it’s a short five-minute workout and you can go all in or if it’s an endurance workout and you should pace yourself… You really have to expect the unexpected.”
  • “What we do is dangerous. We do get injured, not too often, but we still have to keep going because we are fighting for something bigger than ourselves.” said Antoine.
  • “Last year, Naude got bitten on the forearm quite badly, and he didn’t let go of the animal. You can really relate to CrossFit: if anything is painful, you still have to go and push through the pain,” he adds.

By the numbers: After their first “100 Seals for Time” initiative in May 2020, the team saved an additional 100 seals in June. In total, the Ocean Conservation Namibia team rescued 2400 seals in 2020.

  Deadlifts in Perspective at the Last Chance Qualifier 

Deadlifts in Perspective at the Last Chance Qualifier

We know CrossFit works, but sometimes it’s fun to reiterate what we already know by comparing just how strong we are — both as individuals and as a community — to where we came from.

The 3-rep max deadlift event at the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) provided a perfect opportunity to recognize just how strong and deep the field at the Semifinal level is today compared to CrossFit Games deadlift performances of the past.

Remind me: The CrossFit Games featured a 1-rep max deadlift inside the CrossFit Total event both last summer during Stage 2 and in 2018. Meanwhile in 2016, a 1-rep max deadlift was tested during a ladder event.

Notable individual improvements: A handful of athletes who competed at the LCQ lifted more for three reps than they were able to hit for a single rep at the 2016 or 2018 Games.

  • Kristi Eramo O’Connell hit 356 pounds for her triple, besting her 350-pound lift from the 2018 Games, and crushing her 335-pound lift from the 2016 Games.
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Floor is Lava Mobility Challenge

The goal is simple, don't let the stick touch the floor, but the execution is anything but. Give this challenging movement drill that combines coordination, strength, and mobility a try.




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Four Back Exercises You're Not Doing

Strengthening your back is key to lifting more and moving better in almost all movements. But we so often get caught thinking pull-ups and deadlifts are the only way to do it. Give these four unconventional exercises a try and start developing your back even more.



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Chalk Up Highlights is our section dedicated to celebrating our community’s wins in the gym. Follow @ChalkUpHighlights and submit your highlights to [email protected] to be featured.

12/9 - 12/11: Fall Series Throwdown (Desio, Italy)
12/17: The Midwest Championship (Warrensburg, MO)
1/15 - 1/31: Athens Throwdown Qualifiers (Athens, Greece)
1/21 - 1/22: Modena Challenge: Beginner and Master (Modena, Italy)
2/4 - 2/5: Modena Challenge: Intermediate and Rx (Modena, Italy)

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