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Huge Change to 2020 CrossFit Games

Morning Chalk Up

August 8


Welcome to the weekend edition of the Morning Chalk Up. Big news from CrossFit HQ yesterday — the 2020 CrossFit Games will take place in two parts, an online component involving all 30 male and female qualifiers, and an in-person final with the top five in each division. Editor-in-Chief, Justin LoFranco breaks down the news below.

And, we are capping off our week of “Favorite Games Moments” with a double dose. Patrick Clark remembers the moment when Tia-Clair Toomey edged out Kara Saunders to begin her dominance of the women’s division in 2017, and Niki Brazier recounts the final chapter in Neal Maddox’s Games career and how a legend says goodbye.

By the way, for those keeping track (and we are) today marks five months since the end of the last pre-COVID Sanctional, it’s been 150 days and counting (we loved the Rogue invitational, but we can’t count it as a live, in-person, Sanctioned event).

Thank you for all the quote suggestions, story tips and PRs. Keep them rolling in at [email protected].

If you or your gym are getting back to holding local events, let us know.



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“You can’t test courage cautiously.” – Annie Dillard


The Games Go Online, Top 5 Fly to California “Weeks” Later for Finals

 The Games Go Online, Top 5 Fly to California “Weeks” Later for Finals 

Friday afternoon, CrossFit HQ revealed sweeping changes to the Games format, breaking it up into two parts: an online in-country competition involving all 30 male and female athletes and a second in-person competition with the top 5 men and women. 

Details so far:

  • The roster will consist of 30 men and women selected based upon their Open and Sanctionals performances. We don’t have an updated list from this, but it’s likely that all athletes will accept and compete at this point with no travel limitations. 
  • The first stage of the competition will take place online sometime in September. 
  • The top 5 men and women will be flown out to northern California to compete “roughly 4-5 weeks later.”
  • Prize money for athletes who finish sixth through 30th will be determined based on final placement in stage one. The CrossFit Games only pays out through 20th place, which earns $8,000, so 21st through 30th don’t make any money. 
  • A judge from “CrossFit’s Seminar Staff” will be assigned to each athlete. 
  • “All events will be filmed and streamed” but CrossFit did not designate whether that would include both stages of competition. 
  • Athletes do not have to compete at the same time like at the Rogue Invitational, according to several athletes briefed on a Friday call with CrossFit HQ. 

One very big question: Will there be drug tests for athletes who finish six through 30? 


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August 6th, 2017 — Toomey Redeems Herself, Begins Dynasty

 August 6th, 2017 -- Toomey Redeems Herself, Begins Dynasty 

My first CrossFit Games. Most people will say their first Games experience is one they wouldn’t forget. For me it definitely was that, just three months earlier I was selected to judge at the Central Regionals (my first taste of high-level CrossFit) and didn’t think there was a chance I would get picked for the Games. But with the move from Carson, CA to Madison, WI, a new host of volunteers was needed and I was honored to be chosen to judge the age group divisions at the 2017 Games. As those divisions wrapped up earlier in the day, a buddy of mine who had to leave for home gave me his seat in the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum where I hunkered down and was able to witness one of the most exciting, emotional and nerve-racking finishes in Games history.

Setting the Scene

Unlike the men’s finale that would occur later, the “Fittest Woman on Earth” title was far from decided heading into the 13th and final event. The current leader Tia-Clair Toomey held just a six point advantage over fellow Aussie Kara Saunders (then Webb). The belief in the moment was that whichever one of them won the final event, the “Fibonacci Final”, would be crowned champion.

The field was even through the first round as the star-studded final heat made short work of the five deficit handstand push-ups and five kettlebell deadlifts. Annie Thorisdottir started to pull away after the second set of handstand push-ups meaning that the title would have to be decided by Toomey either beating Saunders or staying close to her so no other athlete finished between them, assuring her the title.


August 5, 2018: The Legend of Neal Maddox

 August 5, 2018: The Legend of Neal Maddox 

Setting the scene:

I spent 3 years covering the age groups at the CrossFit Games, getting to know the teenagers, the masters, their friends and families. I heard their stories, celebrated their accomplishments, and witnessed their failures. The entire group feels like one big, extended family. The stands aren’t always filled to the brim…but the energy in the room is electric. Those folks are some of the BEST athletes in the game, relative to life. And they are incredibly humble and grateful for the opportunity to compete at the CrossFit Games.

What happened:

The Masters division saw a big boost in 2018 with several well-known individual athletes aging up and into what were already highly competitive divisions. Legends like Kyle Kasperbauer, Sam Briggs, and Anna Tobias were taking the floor for the first time as Masters athletes. But no competition was more highly anticipated than Neal Maddox vs. Shawn Ramirez in the men’s 40-44 age group.

To call Maddox a seasoned competitive CrossFitter is an understatement. He’s a six-time Games veteran, and after making his first appearance as a master one year prior in the 35-39 division (where he podiumed in 2nd place), Maddox was hungry for a victory when he aged up for 2018. But he was facing a veteran in his own right — Shawn Ramirez, who was defending 3 years of back-to-back wins and dominating performances in a division that he seemed to have claimed for himself year over year.



Gym Business Mentors: When it Comes to Analytics, There’s “a Big Black Hole in Our Fitness Ecosystem”

 Gym Business Mentors: When it Comes to Analytics, There’s “a Big Black Hole in Our Fitness Ecosystem" 

Gym owners aren’t paying close enough attention to important business metrics, and it’s hindering their success, say business mentors and experts with years of experience.

  • “Gym owners are obsessed with some numbers, like tracking their macros and how many kilograms they can put over their head, but they’re not obsessed with tracking business numbers that matter,” said Dan Uyemura, the founder of PushPress, a gym management software company.
  • “Most gym owners are good at training and getting clients to move well, but not at the business side of the equation. It’s a big black hole in our ecosystem, and one of my biggest challenges is to get them to pay attention to things like sales efficiency and churn,” he added.
  • “The biggest mistake I see coaches make is not tracking anything,” added Carl Hardwick, the CEO and a business instructor at OPEX Fitness.

Worth Noting


* – A new weekly update series on news items and other tidbits that might otherwise fall through the cracks, brought to you every Saturday at The Morning Chalk Up.

CrossFit HQ News

  • Eric Roza announced yesterday that he received the final government approval needed to move forward the agreement to purchase 100% of CrossFit Inc. from Greg Glassman. Roza will now take full possession of CrossFit, Inc. officially replacing Dave Castro as CEO of the company. 

Athlete News

  • Sara Sigmundsdottir joined Patrick Vellner, Hafthor Bjornsson and others as the newest brand ambassador for Champions + Legends, a sports supplements company producing hemp-derived CBD products for athletic preparation, performance and recovery.
  • Christmas Abbott, CrossFit Games athlete, affiliate owner, and social media/TV personality is a member of the Big Brother 22 cast on CBS, her second run on the show. The new season premiered this week.

Product News

Everything Else




Jacked without Leaving your House

Have you tried iso-pre-fatigue or Darden 30-10-30? What about intra-set holds? If not, give this article a read, especially if you are stuck at home and your local box is closed for the time being. These modifications can help you maximize your gains with bodyweight work so you can get stronger without needing extra equipment.

 Morning Chalk Up 



Become An Online Nutrition Coach

Remote side hustle anyone? If you want to make a difference in people’s lives through nutrition while being your own boss and working online, this could be your ticket. WAG’s Nutrition Coach Cert is self-paced, comes with a personal digital mentor (a real human), and a ton of practical application practice. If you’re ready to join the digital economy hop on the waitlist today.

 Morning Chalk Up 


Why a Professional Fitness Judges Organization is a Good Idea

The European Functional Judges Association is a big story and on this episode of The Bottom Line, Justin LoFranco joins Niki Brazier to discuss what it would mean to bring together competition judges for competitive fitness around the world.

 Morning Chalk Up 


Stringing Your Handstand Pushups Together

Struggling to link handstand pushups together? Try Brent Fikowski’s 30 minutes, 3 days a week, for 6-week program and you will be stringing together multiple handstand pushups.

 Morning Chalk Up 


Buffalo Zucchini Chicken Burgers

We are always looking for new ways to elevate our burger game. These juicy buffalo zucchini chicken burgers incorporate delicious spices, zucchini and buffalo sauce right into the patty. And, the low-fat burgers come together in under 30 minutes and stay together without any bread crumbs. Ground chicken burgers tend to dry out, but the zucchini here keeps them moist and juicy.



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