“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”- Jim Rohn
Australian Paralympian Ryley Batt: CrossFit Saved My Wheelchair Rugby Career
Australian Ryley Batt’s record speaks for itself. He’s a five-time Paralympian, two-time Paralympic gold medalist and arguably one of the greatest wheelchair rugby players in the history of the sport.
One month after bringing home gold at the Wheelchair Rugby World Championship, in October 2022, Batt made CrossFit history by competing alongside fellow adaptive CrossFit athletes in the first adaptive division showcase event to be held at the Down Under Championship, in Wollongong, Australia, in November 2022.
Batt was eager to be involved when he heard that the Down Under Championship was to include an adaptive division showcase event. “I loved being on that competition floor,” shares Batt. “They (The Down Under Championship organizers) took a bit of a risk to be honest, throwing us into the mix, and it paid off.”
Batt’s interest in the event was not for the glory or the accolades as he explains:
“If I can change just one life, some kid out there with a disability who thinks that their life might be over, and that they can’t do anything, and then they see me in a wheelchair or other people in the adaptive division doing stuff and overcome obstacles, having fun and getting people cheering them on while doing it, then mission accomplished.”
How does the greatest wheelchair rugby player of all time end up competing at the Down Under Championship? “I discovered CrossFit when Covid hit (in early 2020),” Batt explains. “We couldn’t train as an Australian wheelchair rugby team; we couldn’t travel around the world playing internationally; I was really missing that competitive edge.”
Initially, Batt started incorporating CrossFit-style programming into his strength training, and he was instantly hooked. CrossFit filled a void for Batt when his wheelchair rugby career was at a standstill due to Australia’s strict Covid lockdowns and travel bans. Batt loved the competitive nature of CrossFit workouts and the challenge of mastering new skills.
By the end of 2020, Batt had bought his own CrossFit affiliate North Brother CrossFit in Laurieton, Australia. Despite recently selling his affiliate, Batt’s passion and enthusiasm for CrossFit remains.
When CrossFit and Wheelchair Rugby Combine
CrossFit was more than simply a fun way to pass the time during the pandemic for Batt:
“I think CrossFit saved my career in wheelchair rugby. I was getting very bored with the (traditional strength and conditioning) training. It was becoming very stagnant doing the same exercises week on week. My body wasn’t getting the strength. I was injured a lot, I was just mentally bored, and when I discovered CrossFit…it gave me this whole new love of training, and (I enjoyed) pushing my body to the limit.”
CrossFit gave Batt the challenge of adapting his body in a way he hadn’t before, like mastering his first ring muscle-up, which is a major accomplishment for any CrossFitter, but even more so for Batt who is missing a couple of digits on each hand. “There’s no such thing as can’t for me,” shares Batt.
Batt was also seeing and feeling the positive effect of his CrossFit training on the court. His traditional wheelchair rugby strength training lacked the explosive pulling power that deadlifts, cleans and snatches, all commonly used CrossFit movements, provided.
“I was never doing deadlifts in my (wheelchair rugby) training, so my back was constantly sore in a high-pressure game,” said Batt, who went from struggling to lift a 110 lbs (50kg) deadlift to pulling a massive 440lbs (200kg) deadlift within a 2 year period. More importantly, Batt’s back pain has completely gone, even when playing an intense wheelchair rugby game. “I’ve noticed the biggest results in my life doing CrossFit with wheelchair rugby,” reflects Batt.
Batt’s Response to CrossFit’s Latest Changes to the Adaptive Divisions
As a 20-year Paralympic wheelchair rugby veteran, Batt has one of the most relevant perspectives on the updated eligibility standards that will be implemented for the 2023 CrossFit Games season.
“It’s a change that needed to be done,” Batt acknowledges:
“Every Paralympic sport has a classification because everyone is completely different…. At the end of the day, we want it to be fair. We don’t want someone with the most function in a wheelchair to be able to use their legs. They might not be as fit as someone in the same category, but because they have more function, they’re going to smash them. I think it’s very great and all, and it will show in the results.”
What’s Next for Batt?
“I’d love to make the (CrossFit) Games. Even if it’s just once, just to see that experience and take my family over there,” said Batt, in response to CrossFit’s invitation to all adaptive divisions to compete at the 2024 CrossFit Games.
“Anything’s possible,” reflects Batt, who lives by this motto.
As much as Batt has aspirations to make it to the CrossFit Games, Batt has another major goal that he’s working towards currently. “Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will definitely be my last,” said Batt. “The focus is (the) Paris 2024 Paralympic Games where we’re going to give it an absolutely red hot crack to get another gold medal.”
When asked about the 2023 CrossFit Games season, Batt’s response was, “I’ll still be doing the Open.”
“AIRWAAV helps me focus on my breathing and also provides some protection for the heavier lifts. Lately I have been working on my aerobic capacity on multiple machines and it only helps me get there faster.” – 4X Games Athlete Danielle Brandon
Research shows that by correcting your jaw and tongue position with a mouthpiece, you can significantly increase endurance, reduce respiratory rate, and even boost strength.
Put AIRWAAV to the test and see how you can make your breathing your secret weapon.
In case you missed it: Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil spoke to Chase Ingraham and CrossFit Games competitor Tim Paulson about what is the right number of events for a competition and how many is too many.
Respect: Great video from CrossFit HQ about Andrew Guarrasi — FDNY firefighter and 11th-place Occupational Games Firefighter of 2022, and fellow FDNY firefighter Chris Torres taking on New York Minute, a new CrossFit benchmark workout, at Park Slope CrossFit in Brooklyn, NY.
Murph at -55°C: Russia’s Timir Gym Could Be Northern Most CrossFit Box in the World
If you thought doing Murph was bad enough, try doing it at minus 55 degrees Celsius (-67 fahrenheit).
The members of Timir Gym in Yakutsk, North East Russia, will have nothing but their firing hearts to warm themselves when they head out into the Arctic temperatures to complete the famous workout.
Yakutsk is in Yakutia and is a remote region of Russia. It borders Siberia and the Arctic Ocean. It is home to the Sakha people. They comprise of a range of ethnic groups including Evenki, Even, Dolgan, Chukchi, Yukagirs. Many of the groups have traditionally, or still, rely on semi-domesticated reindeer to make a living.
TBL: Is Something Missing? How to Increase Open Participation
The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open is just a few weeks away, and Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil caught up with Chase Ingraham and Tim Paulson to discuss their ideas on how to increase participation. Ingraham is a 10-year affiliate owner and the south center affiliate rep for CrossFit HQ, while Paulson is the co-owner of CrossFit Pallas in Ithaca, New York. They discussed what works, what doesn’t, and why it’s important for your coaching staff to participate in Friday Night Lights.
The Perfect Shot: Carlos Bown on Creating Content for Your Gym
As a full-time creator for the last five years, Carlos Bown has captured moments on and off the competition floor for industry-leading brands such as TYR, HWPO, Podium and Mayhem Athlete, just to name a few. He’s learned a lot throughout his experience, and he shared a few nuggets of wisdom with us in last week’s Coffee Break Conversation; particularly helpful for business owners and folks running a gym.
First, it’s important to note that “we buy pretty much everything online… everything is through images and videos”, says Bown. Even if your service offering is in-person, such as classes through an affiliate, the potential member likely discovers your gym through a web search or social media prior to stopping in.
Keeping that in mind, a consistent presence of high quality content is a key step in making a great first impression. If you’re looking to hire a creative, seeking recommendations is a simple place to start.
“Word of mouth is definitely something good that you can use as a resource through your entrepreneur friends (or) business owners that have had previous experience with our videographers,” Bown suggests.
Photographers and videographers prices can range dramatically based on a variety of factors, such as years of experience and equipment they’re using. To make sure you’re going to get the best end product for you, communicate clearly up front what you’re looking for. And, if you’re not sure (perhaps this is your first time investing in content creation), give some examples of other imagery that you like as some people prefer colder tones, warmer colors, more contrast-heavy photos and so forth.
“Somebody can consider me a really good videographer or photographer, but my style might not match what they’re trying to accomplish for that specific project, right? Because everybody has a very specific style,” Bown said. “…And I think it’s super important for brands to know that before they hire somebody, they need to know exactly what to expect. I’ve shot weddings since 2019, and when somebody hires me, they know exactly what type of photos they’re going to be getting.”
That said, don’t be afraid to just get started, and clean up your branding over time if you see fit.
“I know there are some businesses in town, here in Pensacola, that their vibe is more relaxing, friendly, and they like make Reels and stuff like that. And it works very well for them because that’s just how they are showing their business — it’s just more like relaxed stuff,” Bown explained.
Crowd-sourcing content from customers can be an inexpensive way to post consistently without a significant investment. Bown shared that some of the best creatives he knows in the industry today started by shooting for free in their local affiliate; serving as motivation for all the new, less-experienced and/or aspiring photogs out there.
“If you’re a photographer listening to this, maybe be open to taking some photos for your gym — it might take you to the CrossFit games in a couple of years.”
In this same interview, we chat about important things to know before resharing photos from Instagram, Bown’s podcast where he has in-depth interviews with creators in and out of the fitness realm and much more. You can watch the full conversation here — exclusive to Rx members. Not Rx? Join here for just $1 for the first four months.
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Looking for an edge in this year’s Open workouts? Breathe better with the AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece. Research shows that by correcting your jaw and tongue position with a mouthpiece, you can significantly increase endurance, reduce respiratory rate, and even boost strength.
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Is this your first Open?! Well first off, let us formally welcome you to the team of those who continually suffer together every year and come back for more! Secondly, you’ll want to read these tips to make sure you are ready for the three weeks coming up.
🎉 Happy 14-year affiliate anniversary to CrossFit Invictus in San Diego, CA (and now in Boston, Seattle, D.C., and online).
Congratulations to videographer and content creator Wykie Etsebeth from Electric Fitness and Team Loose Kids on their first place finish in the intermediate division of the Cluster 4’s Gold Coast event in Queensland this past weekend.
Congratulations to Mike Roth (Rothy) from CrossFit Local in Chapel Hill, NC on the 750-pound/340kg CrossFit Total.
Congratulations Charlotte Sparacino from Babylon CrossFit in Babylon, NY on the 305-pound/138kg deadlift.
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