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Mal O’Brien vs Danielle Brandon at Semifinals

Morning Chalk Up

May 16   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Chad Rooney uses CrossFit to fight cancer.
  • Mal and Danielle will face off this weekend.
  • Joe Klassen pays it forward.
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“If we always choose comfort, we never learn the deepest capabilities of our body or mind.” - Wim Hof

  Living with Cancer: Chad Rooney Credits CrossFit BEO with Giving him the “Health and Strength to Fight”  

Living with Cancer: Chad Rooney Credits CrossFit BEO with Giving him the “Health and Strength to Fight”

Chad Rooney was close to four years into his CrossFit journey when, in 2019, he heard the dreaded words: “It’s cancer.”

Other than telling his wife and immediate family, Rooney, a member of CrossFit BEO in Sioux City, IA, largely kept his prostate cancer a secret, as well as any details about the treatment he was about to undergo.

Rooney’s treatment—androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)—involved basically “removing all of the testosterone from my body,” he explained, leaving him feel like he was a shell of the man he had been.

  • “I considered myself a 65-year-old woman post-menopause,” said 48-year-old Rooney of how he felt during six months of ADT. “I was getting 20 to 30 hot flashes a day. I was waking up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat.”

He added: “And my emotions were off the chart. I mean I could watch a Hallmark commercial and it would bring a tear to my eye.”

Still, Rooney kept going to the gym, because he knew it was the best thing for him.

  • “CrossFit just checks every single box across the board for exercise for prostate cancer rehabilitation (and for) future management (of the disease),” he said.

That being said, his body felt weak and tired, and he lost a ton of muscle mass and gained 20 pounds, and there were certain moments where he felt like he was having a heart attack and would have to sit down, and catch his breath mid-workout.

  • “I’d quit WODs because I couldn’t catch my breath, and people would be like, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Oh, I’m just not feeling too good.’ I kept it real tight lipped,” he said of the secret he kept.

Revealing his Secret

After six months of ADT, while he was in the hospital ready to undergo surgery to remove his prostate in March 2020, Rooney decided to share his cancer diagnosis with the world.

He didn’t feel comfortable calling or texting his buddies, so he took to Facebook and put up a quick post.

  • “When I came out of surgery, my phone was blowing up, my social media was blowing up,” he explained, adding that many of the well wishes were from his friends at the gym.
  • “At that moment, I knew that I had a bigger support group than I knew,” he said, adding that this support was only magnified when he returned to CrossFit BEO.

And from this support, “lifelong friendships” started to grow, filled with tighter bonds than Rooney could have ever imagined, he said.

Further, Rooney became an inspiration to all who knew what he was going through. The common saying became: “Well if Rooney can do this with no testosterone in his body…I’ve got no excuses.”

Living with Cancer

Nine months ago, Rooney found out his cancer is back, although doctors aren’t sure where it’s originating from now.

The good news is it’s an “extremely slow-growing” cancer, Rooney explained, so it could be months, or even years, before he has to undergo any kind of treatment again.

Still, it’s a huge mental challenge to know that cancer is in his body, yet there isn’t anything they’re going to do about it right now.

This has led Rooney to really embrace the idea of controlling what he can.

  • “I was diagnosed with cancer. I can’t control that diagnosis. I have it. It’s in me,” he said.

But what he can control is his nutrition, sleep and hydration, staying fit, and especially maintaining “as much muscle mass as possible,” he said.

And he credits CrossFit, and the CrossFit BEO community, for making it easy to focus on these things, and for giving him the “health and strength to fight,” said Rooney, who even qualified to Quarterfinals this season.

  • “Everything about the world of CrossFit has been an amazing ride so far,” he added.
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New (Old) Kicks: Check out the Nano Classics, available May 19.

ICYMI: How do Semifinals compare, historically?

Another one bites the dust: We were amped to see EZ Muhammad compete in the Masters division this year, but he revealed last week that he received a major penalty on his goblet squats and ultimately missed the cut.

One more ICYMI: The CrossFit Games website updated its database to include earlier years. Something we’ve been hoping for, for awhile.

Available now: Tickets for the fifth annual Rogue Invitational are on sale now. The event will include men’s and women’s individual competition, a Legends showcase and a 10-man Strongman competition.

  Head to Head Battle: Mallory O'Brien and Danielle Brandon in Semifinal Test Six  


Head to Head Battle: Mallory O'Brien and Danielle Brandon in Semifinal Test Six

As soon as Test Six of Semifinals was released last week I instantly thought of the battle that is sure to take place between Mallory O’brien and Danielle Brandon during this workout at the North America East Semifinal, due to their skill on their hands.

  • Event 6: For Time
    20 overhead squats
    500m row
    3 handstand walk pirouettes
    2 seated legless rope climbs
    20 strict chest-to-wall handstand push-ups
    2 seated legless rope climbs
    3 handstand walk pirouettes
    500m row
    20 overhead squats

Time cap: 15 minutes (men); 16 minutes (women)

WOMEN: 125 pounds
MEN:185 pounds

Continue Reading...
  Preacher Joe Klassen Pays it Forward, Provides Workout and Resources for Kids  

Preacher Joe Klassen Pays it Forward, Provides Workout and Resources for Kids

When Joe Klassen entered CrossFit Unconquered for the first time, he couldn’t walk across the gym without a break. As a preacher, he felt that he wasn’t walking the walk, and knew he needed a change in his life. Since then, he’s lost over 130 pounds and has found an entirely new lifestyle within the CrossFit community.

In March, Klassen decided to pay this change forward.

Every Sunday evening, he and other volunteers from the gym travel to a local Section 8 housing sector–government-funded housing for low-income families–to pick up kids. They take the participants to the gym and put them through a quick workout, a sermon, small group discussions, and a meal.

Klassen says the CrossFit portion of the evening is just the “appetizer.” The real focus of every meeting is the religious discussions.

  • “I laughingly tell people oftentimes that I make people do burpees until they have to sit and listen to me talk about Jesus,” Klassen said.

This program, which they call Faith Unconquered, started when a friend and colleague of Klassen’s approached him. She is an In-School Suspension (ISS) teacher and saw a problem in her school that needed intervention outside of school hours.

She knew Klassen would jump at the opportunity to give back, and the pair haven’t looked back. Plus, they’re not doing it alone–volunteers that help out every Sunday include CrossFit Unconquered coach Brian Clasing, firefighters, military members, EMTs, and teachers.

  • “Truthfully, it has been a humongous deal, and it hasn’t stopped just within our gym,” Klassen said.

One success story that’s stuck out to Klassen since the program began is that of Cerinity, an eighth grader who, much like Klassen, couldn’t walk across the gym when she first started. She’s completely embraced the challenges and experiences offered in the gym and Klassen says that the impact has gone far beyond the box.

  • “There’s a different level of confidence in her world now that she didn’t have when she first showed up,” Klassen said. “She’s consistently been an inspiration to those of us that come.”

Clasing remembers a specific bit of praise from a participant specifically. Having grown up in a similar situation, he’s especially connected to the program and feels the impact strongly. Since starting with the program, one participant, a 13-year-old boy, has been routinely provided for by a family in the gym. They’ve gifted him shoes, among other things, and have legitimately changed his outlook on life. Clasing says that the participant said, “I didn’t know people were nice.”

This kind of impact is exactly why Klassen started the program. Between the resources – like shoes, clothes, and meals – they’ve been able to provide for the kids, plus changes in behavior, confidence, and outlook on life, he knows the program is on the right track.

Klassen: “We care about these kids. We want them to know that God loves them beyond anything that we ever could, but also that they have great value, and taking care of their bodies shows that they believe they have great value.”



This Podcast on Mindset

Listen to this episode of Tumeric and Tequila™ with guest Sarah Vogler (who was born with a rare genetic disorder) for a story about overcoming adversity and how fitness helped her heal.




Four Ways to Trick Your Mind Into Letting You Go the F to Sleep

You're lying awake in bed and your mind is running wild. You keep looking at the clock thinking about how your time to sleep is dwindling away. What do you do? You use these four tips from Thirdzy to trick your mind into letting you go the F to sleep.



Killer Core Exercises to Help Build Gymnastics Skills

Ready to have a gymnastics core? You know, like Kari Pearce kind of abs? Work some of these killer core exercises into your daily routine.



Soft (Like, Next Level Soft) Joggers

Athleisure is on a whole new level with Vuori’s DreamKnit™ Joggers. You’ll live in your joggers (and don’t forget a matching hoodie) once you put on their softest, dreamiest fabric. Get your hands on a pair today!



This Coaching Cue for Rowing

If you’re watching an athlete rowing and find yourself wincing, chances are you haven’t taught them how to row properly. Check out this cue that might help save their form, and save you a headache.


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Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip or tag us in your Instagram post.

Core City CrossFit Kids in Detroit, MI is hosting a multi-generational fundraiser competition, the Core City CrossFit Kids Throwdown, on Saturday, June 10th from 11am-3:30pm.

  • This nonprofit organization uses the sport of CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting to teach kids the value of hard work, discipline, and self-control all in a loving atmosphere where they can become physically and mentally stronger.
  • Classes are completely free for children ages 8-16, and donations help the coaching staff offer more classes and continue to expand and develop the program.
  • The recommended donation is $65 per team of two. All donations are welcome, whether registering for the competition or not.
5/26 - 5/27: 24 Heroes in 24 Hours (Wayne, PA)
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 Albany (Glenmont, NY)
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 Clearwater (Clearwater, FL)
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)

See all upcoming events

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