“Only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly.”- Robert F. Kennedy
MLB Umpire Challenges Himself to Visit 100 CrossFit Gyms by End of Season
In January of 2024, Shane Livensparger will turn 40 years old.
This milestone is one dreaded by some; looked to with anticipation, anxiousness and misgivings. But Livensparger is choosing not to buy into this societal, negative preoccupation with the limits of middle age.
Yes, he will soon be 40, but the best parts of his life have just begun. With his dream job locked up as a full-time umpire for Major League Baseball, married with one toddler and another baby on the way, the 39-year-old has decided to celebrate this last year in his 30s in a big way.
The big picture: Over the course of the 2023 MLB baseball season, Livensparger is planning to drop in to 100 CrossFit gyms throughout North America. His deadline is October and while he’s well on his way, he has quite a road ahead of him.
Some background: Before embarking on this challenge, Livensparger was chatting with and teasing his colleagues during the 2023 MLB Spring Training in Tampa, Florida. As a masters athlete, he is one of the older members of his crew, and while they were slinging jabs with the Spring Training athletes, back and forth about his age, this goal came to his mind, of attempting a major, long-term physical challenge on the eve of this new phase of his life.
“I didn’t want to dwell on anything negative about turning 40, I set a lofty goal for myself to attend 100 gyms by the end of the baseball season. I travel every three to four days for work and I saw that this could afford me the opportunity to accomplish this goal,” said Livensparger.
How it began: On March 30, Livensparger set out on his quest in Washington D.C., completing his first workout at CrossFit Invictus, just hours before stepping onto the field with his crew, for his first ever MLB Opening Day.
From CrossFit Union Square in Manhattan to CrossFit 720 in Denver, Livensparger has already built up a long list of gyms visited. During the All Star Break, midway through the season, he’s especially looking forward to visiting CrossFit Angola in Angola, Indiana and CrossFit Timoro in Hillsdale, Michigan.
When asked what highlights he has experienced throughout the last several months, he emphasizes the warmth of the communities and coaches.
“Obviously the community, that always is the best part of it all. And everyone is always so welcoming. There are young professionals, alongside people established in their cities and towns, that are always so happy to have me and tell me about their towns, good restaurants, landmarks. The community at each gym is amazing.”
“One of the major benefits for me has been different coaching. It’s been so helpful to work with different people, and receive different feedback, see different structures of gyms and classes. It has really helped me improve.”
“(Back home), the community is always what has drawn me back. After doing CrossFit off and on for 10 years, I always come back because of the community. The combination of the competition, the attention I get with coaching. I wish more people were open to it and would experience it to realize it’s not so intimidating and overwhelming,” said Livensparger.
As a husband and father, this challenge is a large undertaking, and while it can tax his family at times, he has their full support. And as an umpire for the MLB, his wife, Haley, and children are no strangers to difficult schedules, as his baseball season is very demanding. However, it’s a position that he worked diligently to obtain.
As the MLB only employs 76 full-time umpires, Livensparger cherishes his career and acknowledges the hard work and years it took for him to be where he is today.
Besides his work as an umpire, Livensparger is a small business owner and entrepreneur with his wife. They created the RomRod, which is a portable, collapsible mobility rod. Through his travels, he has enjoyed sharing his unique product with coaches and gym owners.
Livensparger looks ahead to his 100th gym, which he hopes to reach in October. The final stop will be back at his home box, CrossFit Total Control, in Jacksonville, Florida, hopefully in early October, to align with the end of the MLB season.
Why it all matters: When asked what inspires him to continue his challenge, Livensparger says he wants to be an inspiration for his son. He wants his son to grow up, knowing that his parents prioritize health and fitness. Age is not a limiting factor, and healthy living is life-long.
Livensparger: “I hope I’m an inspiration for my son, an image of good health, taking care of my body and my mind.”
“He sees mom and dad working out in the garage gym, and he’s growing up seeing this as a normal thing. I really want him to grow up with that and keep inspiring him.”
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🚨Wholesome Story Alert: In Wales, primary and secondary school kids participated in the third annual “School CrossFit Games” organized by Sport Pembrokeshire and CrossFit Pembrokeshire. Eleven primary schools and six secondary schools in Pembrokeshire took part, with students from fifth though tenth grade competing.
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Building Resilient Athletes, Part 1: Coaching With CJ Martin
As the sport of fitness continues to grow and expand, so too does the field of competitors. What used to be a sport for ex-college athletes in their mid-twenties and early thirties has now become a discipline that parents start their children in as young as five or six years old.
This evolution of the sport has allowed a new generation of elite CrossFit athletes to emerge, many of whom have been training at a high level and competing in the sport since they were in middle and high school. In fact, since 2013, the average age of the female competitor at the Games has dropped by six years. And while there are many positive aspects to the growth of this sport, the expansion has also presented a number of challenges, especially for the youngest athletes in the field.
From a Pair of Homemade Compression Shorts to Launching a Training Shoe: An Inside Look at Born Primitive’s Journey in CrossFit
After falling in love with CrossFit, Bear Handlon had an idea to make himself a pair of compression shorts.
His neighbor was a seamstress, so he took her his fabric and his idea and she generously stitched his shorts, as Handlon enjoyed a gin and tonic on the balcony with her husband.
Little did Handlon know, those compression shorts would become the start of his nine-figure apparel company, Born Primitive, which he founded in 2014 and today has 75 employees and distribution centers around the world, from Virginia Beach to Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Israel and the Middle East.
“It has been a grind. Lots of late nights and early mornings and a lot of stress and hard work. But we’re really proud of what we have built,” Handlon said.
The Early Days
Handlon admits it was never his intention, let alone his dream to start an apparel company.
“It was a bit of a fluke,” said the U.S. Navy veteran and Born Primitive CEO.
He didn’t even intend to start making compression shorts. He was happy with the one pair his neighbor made for him, and his plan was to wash them a couple times a week.
But then some of his friends at the gym started encouraging him to make more because they wanted to try them.
“That’s how it all started…But there was no grand plan or a vision (to be in) CrossFit,” he reiterated.
So, without a vision or a plan, Handlon and his now ex-wife who is still his business partner Mallory Handlon, officially founded Born Primitive in 2014.
They started with compression shorts, and moved into other types of apparel, t-shirts and tank tops, and eventually to “performance apparel to meet the demands of rigorous training,” Handlon explained.
In those early years, Bear and Mallory set up camp “at every single Regional competition” to gain brand awareness in the CrossFit community, never asking for outside capital along the way.
“We bootstrapped this from the beginning and have had to be very careful how we allocate resources,” he said.
Compete for a Cure launches Unbroken, a Benchmark Workout That Will Help Raise Funds for those Impacted by Breast Cancer
This October, Compete for a Cure is offering CrossFit communities everywhere a chance to sweat for something more than themselves. In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the non-profit has created Unbroken, a benchmark workout designed to help raise funds and awareness for those impacted by breast cancer.
Remind me: Compete for a Cure, which is dedicated to funding breast cancer survivors’ and thrivers’ wellness and providing breast health education for coaches, trainers, and athletes, was founded by Lindsey Marcelli, the founder of Girls Gone Rx. These organizations have been raising money for breast cancer since 2012.
Unbroken gives CrossFitters a way to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month through a community-building workout. As the organization says:
“Participating in the benchmark workout combines personal fitness goals, community engagement, and support of our mission. It is an opportunity to push physical boundaries, raise awareness, and contribute to the fight against those impacted by breast cancer.”
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