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Turning a CrossFit Gym into a Financial Asset

Morning Chalk Up

September 26   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Teen CrossFit athlete Austin Donihoo opens up about overcoming drug and alcohol addiction
  • Turning a CrossFit gym into a financial asset, how is it done?
  • Brian Brand went from overweight service tech to affiliate owner and director of the Pensacola Beach Brawl
  • Are the current CrossFit judging standards acceptable?
  • Tia-Clair Toomey squashes retirement rumors in new TV interview
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“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.” - George Bernard Shaw

  Teen Austin Donihoo Used CrossFit to Help Overcome Drug and Alcohol Addiction  

Teen Austin Donihoo Used CrossFit to Help Overcome Drug and Alcohol Addiction

At the 2022 Pit Elite Teen Throwdown, athletes took a break from the stress and work of competing to attend a Saturday night bonfire, complete with Zevia, candy and football. At the center of the football scrimmage was 16-year-old Austin Donihoo–chatting, laughing, and getting rowdy with his fellow competitors.

Two years ago, though, Donihoo was in a very different place, falling down a rabbit hole of addiction. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a subcategory of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and struggles with sensory input issues as a comorbidity. For Donihoo, this means he seeks out constant sensory input, and the chemical release of taking drugs satisfies that need. In 2020, he started to spiral as he drank alcohol, did drugs, and developed depression. His family sent him to a rehabilitation center, where Donihoo was able to regain his footing and start making progress.

Another major factor in his recovery? CrossFit.

  • “Right when he got back from his treatment center, we were all on high alert for a good six months to a year,” Donihoo’s father, Kyle Donihoo, said. “He didn’t have a lot of freedom, so basically all he did was CrossFit.”
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In case you missed it: Lauren Kalil, the host of The Bottom Line, spoke to analysts Brian Friend and Chase Ingraham about whether or not they think the 2022 Rogue Invitational is now more exciting, given names like Tia-Clair Toomey, Mal O’Brien, Brooke Wells and Haley Adams are out of the competition.

Also, in case you missed it: In Friday’s Coffee Break Conversations, Morning Chalk Up’s Preslie Hirsch chat with the founder of O2, Dave Colina, about how to make your first million in the retail industry, first-time crowdfunding, building a profitable business and more. Tune in here as an RX subscriber, or join for $1 today to see the full interview.

HQ update: CrossFit delivered an athlete sanction update on Lize Burns, a member of CrossFit Commit Okavango, stating she “has been sanctioned after being found in violation of the CrossFit Drug Testing Policy” after she appealed the initial decision:

  • “After a thorough investigation by the CrossFit Games team, it was concluded the sample did belong to Burns.”

Big name love: The BBC did a great piece on Brit Lucy Campbell as more mainstream news outlets continue to cover the sport of CrossFit. 🇬🇧

Athlete update: Kateline van Zyl has joined the Underdogs Athletics team “from Down Under”.

Get cracking: Week two scores are due for the TYR Wodapalooza Online Qualifier on September 26th, 2022, at 5PM PT via Competition Corner.

Interesting readThe Washington Post (paywall) dives into when is the best time of day to work out and does this differ for men and women?

  How to Turn Your Gym Into a Sellable Asset  


How to Turn Your Gym Into a Sellable Asset

If you’re a gym owner, you probably didn’t get into it for the money.

Chances are you fell in love with CrossFit, and maybe it gave you the courage to leave your corporate job and open a gym in hopes of paying forward to others what CrossFit has given you.

As a result, most gym owners don’t go into gym ownership with much business savvy, let alone a long-term plan of building their gym into a legitimate sellable asset that they can retire off of one day.

As Stu Brauer, a business consultant and the owner of WTF Gym Talk put it: “Gym owners don’t open their door thinking about an exit. If they did, they would do a lot of things differently.”

Similarly, Audrey Patterson, a business mentor with the Madlab Group, a company that has worked with more than 1,600 gyms in the last 15 years, said: “Most gym owners don’t have an actual exit or succession strategy.”

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  Pensacola Beach Brawl: Powered by Local Love and An Overweight Technician Turned Affiliate Owner  

Pensacola Beach Brawl: Powered by Local Love and An Overweight Technician Turned Affiliate Owner

The producer of Beach Brawl, a bi-annual CrossFit competition on the beautiful white sands of Pensacola, Brian Brand, came into running the festival in a rather unlikely way. With 1,300 athletes across multiple divisions duking it out for cash prizes under the sun, about 20 vendors and a number of other moving parts, running a successful competition of this magnitude, or any one at that, is worthy of a podium recognition in its own right.

Shortly before becoming an affiliate owner in 2018, Brand and his wife, Amanda, were leading a rather unhealthy lifestyle. It was ocean-side living that led to them finding functional fitness and eventually running the fittest party on the beach.

“We had moved to Florida, and we love going out to the beach, but walking out to the beach, our current physical condition was always a task. By the time we get out there, we’d be a sweaty mess just carrying some chairs in an umbrella, and it wouldn’t be enjoyable,” Brand said. “So my wife says, ‘well, we should start working out’. I said, ‘okay, we can do that’. And then she’s like, ‘we’re going to try CrossFit’. And I said, ‘no, I’ve seen that on TV and on the internet. We’re not doing that’. Crazy, right?

She goes, ‘no, we’re going. And actually we’re going right now’. And I’m like, what do you mean right now? (She said) ‘yeah, meet me at this address’. I had just left the drive-through. I mean, think about that: I’m a service technician. I’m sedentary and overweight. So we go and in the parking lot I’m like ‘there’s no way we’re going in there. There’s no way we’re doing this, right?’”

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  Pensacola Beach Brawl: Powered by Local Love and An Overweight Technician Turned Affiliate Owner  

Are the Current Judging Standards Up to Par?

In the most recent edition of CrossFit’s Hopper e-mail that discusses judging, along with off-season competitions underway — we thought it was time to circle back to the conversation of standards. Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil sits down with Brian Friend and Chase Ingraham to discuss which type of off-season competitions should be considered an opportunity to “practice” judging and some possible solutions to better streamline communication and standards across the board.

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  Tia-Clair Toomey Kills Retirement Rumors in TV Interview  

Tia-Clair Toomey Kills Retirement Rumors in TV Interview

Six-time women’s CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey has apparently quashed all the retirement rumors surrounding her career in a new television interview.

One big thing: In speaking with local television station, NewsChannel5, in Nashville, TN, Toomey gave the most direct answer to date in response to the questions surrounding whether or not she will shoot for an unprecedented seventh straight title at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games.

  • “Yeah, that’s the plan, you know,” said Toomey, “Actually, coming up at the end of October is the Rogue Invitational which is held in Austin down in Texas.”
  • “And then next year the season starts around February. And then it’s just getting ready and prepared for the 2023 season.”

Remind me: Speculation about Toomey’s future in the sport began during the final event of the 2022 CrossFit Games.

  • On the live broadcast of that event, Sean Woodland said, “If you’re wondering why Tia Toomey took her time and soaked it in, this is it. She’s planning to retire after the CrossFit Games.”
  • And as she crossed the finish line, Woodland exclaimed, “For the sixth time and for the final time, Tia Toomey is the Fittest Woman on Earth!”
  • He later clarified that he had permission and confirmation to make the announcement, but in her post-event interview, Toomey said, in response to reporter Niki Brazier’s asking if she would retire or come back again, “That’s the question. We’ll see.”
  • At the press conference after the podium ceremony, Toomey continued to equivocate, ““Well technically I didn’t announce my retirement. We’ll see. There’s a bit of a trend going around, announcing retirement and then coming back. I’ll just keep you guys guessing.”

In the weeks since then, Toomey has made a few other statements, including an Instagram post that said “Seven sounds better, don’t you think?”

Worth noting: Toomey was invited to compete at the 2022 Rogue Invitational, but is not listed among the 20 women on the competitors list.

She also revealed that she nearly dropped out from the Games this year due to a back injury, the first time she has publicly talked about an injury of that magnitude.

Toomey has also been confirmed as competing on a team at the Down Under Championship in Australia, November 18-20.

The big picture: After 47 days of “will she or won’t she retire,” it appears we have a definitive answer from the GOAT herself. As of right now, Toomey’s plan is to prepare for the 2023 CrossFit Games in an attempt to continue her record-setting run.



Rock Before You Roll

We have a lot of cues for lifting and gymnastics…but what about cardio? Rowing can be a tough technical movement, especially under fatigue. Learn how to row by using cues like this!




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Rogue Invitational Preview

The main question is, who is isn't going to the Rogue Invitational coming up at the end of October. Some notable names, especially on the women’s side, have opened things up for the taking. Tune in to watch Lauren Kalil discuss the upcoming competition with Brian Friend.



A Pair of Nano X2's Marked Wayyyyy Down

If you've been eyeing up a new pair of shoes to wear to the gym and you are a bargain shopper- then keep reading. The Nano X2 is marked way down to only $89.97 for a limited time. What's better than new shoes? New shoes and a bargain!



Roasted Basil Tomato Soup

It’s soup season! Try this delectable roasted basil tomato soup. Use this simple recipe and enjoy a nice cup of soup as the weather gets a little chillier.


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise. Send us a tip.

  • 🎂 Happy birthday, Jessica Griffith and Gretchen Kittelberger.
  • 🍼 Congratulations to Dane and Emily Smith on the birth of their baby girl, Janey Ann.
  • Congratulations to Mason, a Youth Weightlifter from Team Soul in Miami, FL who reached his goal of qualifying for youth nationals.
  • Congratulations Matt Roberts from CrossFit Sua Sponte in North Carolina on the 305 pound/138kg clean PR.
  • Congratulations to Julia Hannaford from NTRS Performance HQ in New Town, Australia on the 190 pound/86kg snatch PR.
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