“If you’re going to face a real challenge it has to be a real challenge. You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.”- Gary Cantrell (AKA "Lazarus Lake"), co-founder and race director of the Barkley Marathons
Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run Partners with HWPO Training to Benefit Hawaiian Youth
September 16th marks the 10th annual Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run, held on Omano Track in Kauai, Hawaii. This is the Keala Foundation’s largest fundraising event and marks a decade of community, health, and support for Hawaii’s youth.
Morning Chalk Up has covered the event extensively over the years, but there are some new additions to the 2023 festivities, marking new connections and experiences that will undoubtedly encourage even larger numbers of participants far and wide.
Remind me: In an article published earlier this year, Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run founder Aaron Hoff reflected on his childhood in Kauai, and how his exposure to drugs and alcohol at a young age was the norm for many youth living on the island and still is for many current-day children of Kauai.
“We don’t really know anything else, and there is no alternative. So you’re just being walked right into a slaughter house growing up,” said Hoff.
By the time he was 23, he had cops looking for him, men flying to Kauai from other islands looking to kill him because they believed he had stolen their drugs. He was struggling to survive and eventually he became suicidal.
Twenty five years later, Hoff is now sober, runs four non-profit CrossFit gyms in Kauai and is the founder of the Keala Foundation, an organization aimed at helping Hawaiian youth use CrossFit and fitness to get fit and healthy, get clean, or ideally, avoid using drugs or alcohol in the first place.
Throughout the years, the CrossFit community has played a large role in raising more than $2.5 million dollars for the foundation via the Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run.
The CrossFit connection: Hoff told the story of how the partnership formed between CrossFit, the race itself and the Keala Foundation and how it initiated with Greg Glassman.
“The first involved was Greg Glassman. He was the first one. He came over here — and I’m really good friends with the family — and I showed them and explained to them what was happening,” said Hoff.
In time, more connections were made with legacy athlete and former Games champion Jason Khalipa as well as aerobic capacity expert Chris Hinshaw.
In an interview with Morning Chalk Up in 2021, Khalipa shared his feelings on the event.
“The UHTR is truly something special. The energy, impact, and beauty of the event is on a level you can’t find anywhere else. What Aaron and the team accomplish for the event is only matched by the impact they are making on the youth of Kauai. The team is selfless and dedicated to improving lives,” said Khalipa.
Among those participating and volunteering, one can often see veteran CrossFitters peppered into the crowd including Chyna Cho, Dan Bailey, Stacy Tovar, Sam and Jenn Dancer, Chandler and Jessi Smith, Will Moorad, as well as many more, spreading awareness for the event and the foundation.
The full experience: The run will be held September 16th, including a GORUCK division, where runners will carry a 20 or 30 pound sandbag. Additionally, there will also be a golf tournament on September 13th, and a silent auction, where regardless of one’s location, people can join and bid virtually on items and experiences.
Lazar Djukic is coming off of a dominant performance at the Madrid Championship, taking gold for the second year in a row.
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🚨 🚨 The Weekly Buzz: Check out the new collab between the Morning Chalk Up and Kettlebells and Cocktails and get caught up on some of the top community, affiliate, and sport stories of the week.
📕 📚 The official TYR Wodapalooza Rulebook is live and is intended to answer any questions that might pop up during any part of the TYR WZA season for athletes and coaches. And, if you are planning to take on the TYR WZAOC, make sure to check out the equipment list now. Athletes have two options for the TYR WZAOC, individual or team of three. Check it out and register now!
The first two weeks are focused on individual athletes and kick off on Thursday, September 14th, with scores due and registration closing on Monday, September 18th at 8:00 PM ET.
The second week starts on Thursday, September 21st, with scores due on Monday, September 25th at 8:00 PM ET.
RevitaFest: The RevitaFest Event, coming October 17-21, has been approved for 18 Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) by CrossFit HQ. This means that coaches can earn 18 of their 36 CEUs to maintain their credentials by attending. Learn more about the event and the speakers in this Morning Chalk Up article.
ICYMI: Learn more about the role athlete managers and agents play in the CrossFit space, with Lab Management.
Building Resilient Athletes, Part 3: Creating Harmonious Passion with Positive Psych Practitioner Leona Brandwene
In the 2017 documentary, “Fittest On Earth: A Decade Of Fitness,” Games reporter and announcer Rory McKernan described being an athlete at the CrossFit Games as “basically a mental illness”.
While it might seem hyperbolic and overstated to an outsider, those inside the sport of fitness know the sacrifice and dedication it takes to make it to the CrossFit Games.
What once started as a backyard fitness competition in 2007 has now ballooned to a multi-million dollar seven-day event requiring most athletes to train full-time, year-round to even just qualify.
Elite Teams of 3: 1st: $30,000, 2nd: $20,000, 3rd: $10,000, 4th: $7,500, 5th: $6,000, 6th: $5,000, 7th: $4,000, 8th: $3,000, 9th: $2,000, and 10th: $1,000.
Masters Divisions: 1st: $2,000
Adaptive: 1st: $2,000, 2nd: $1,000, 3rd: $500
RX Team: 1st: $4,000
LATAM Cup: 1st: $5,000, 2nd: $3,000, 3rd: $1,000
One big thing: Even though the Elite Individual 2nd, 3rd and 5th place payouts are reduced from $68,000 to $56,000, other placements and divisions received payout increases.
2nd place Elite Teams will be taking home $20,000 this year, compared to $15,000 in 2023 and 5th place Elite Teams will be walking away with $6,000, compared to $3,500 last year.
The LATAM Cup is a new addition this year, with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places receiving payouts.
RX Team winners will be taking home a paycheck this year of $1,000.
The bottom line: With the Wodapalooza prize purse increasing year after year, as it was $480,000 in 2022, $500,000 in 2023 and scheduled to be $567,000 in 2024, it continues to be one of the largest payouts for any CrossFit event, along with the CrossFit Games as well as the upcoming Rogue Invitational and Dubai Fitness Championship. Changes to the schedule this year more evenly distribute funds to lower placing athletes and reward additional divisions.
Colorado Gym Owner Uses Reward-Based Business Model for His Affiliate, Incentivizes Members Who “Willingly Pursue their Fitness”
Ethan Townsend wanted to open a CrossFit gym, but as a personal trainer he knew how financially risky it could be, but he went on to do it anyway. Now, he is the owner of Official Fitness/OFW CrossFit where he’s instilled a rewards-based membership model that he says is the key to his success.
Official Fitness, located in Windsor, Colorado, opened in 2016 and currently has around 270 members. Townsend’s background is in personal training and after going to business school decided to open his own gym.
One big thing: It what may seem to many to be a controversial strategy, the Official Fitness/OFW CrossFit business model features memberships that start at a low price point ($69.99 for an unlimited, month-to-month membership) while incentivizing attendance by offering 50% off for athletes who attend 12 or more times per month.
Remind me: The affordability of CrossFit as an owner and a member is part of an ongoing conversation in the community. Another example is a gym in Illinois that offers a $65 membership subsidized by Kirby Medical Center, where the gym is located and owned by the medical center’s CEO.
“I was trying to come up with a business model in which we could leverage relationships and the strength of CrossFit in terms of creating that community, but also incentivize people to come in and actually change their fitness for the better,” said Townsend.
“We landed on 12 times a month being the reward zone. So if you hit greater than 12 times a month or more, you get your membership half off.”
Townsend further explains, “we treat the membership kind of as a loss leader and to get bodies in the door, so that way I could be busy as a personal trainer and then I could start hiring trainers and we could increase profit margins that way. So the way that I initially designed it was to have the membership be that loss leader to generate traffic.”
“The business model in question was designed in such a way to keep sustained traffic through the gyms so that the personal trainers stay busy.”
Once that model was in place, Townsend said, his membership went up to about 180 members. He also recently expanded and relocated, and even added childcare as part of his offerings.
The details: The unlimited membership ($69.99 per month) requires no contractual obligation, but there are also six- and 12-month contracts for members who know they are in it for the long haul. These memberships have even lower starting price points.
And, it doesn’t matter which membership tier an athlete is at, if they attend 12 times per month or more, the next month’s price is cut in half.
“My whole idea was I want to give away the farm and sell the specialty just so that we could have those bodies coming in and increase the hit rate for personal training. It had a pretty cool side effect,” said Townsend.
“Now of our 270 members, I can say that closer to 35% actually show up and receive their membership benefit.”
“We actually give away close to about $4,000 a month in membership incentives. And so if we were to just charge everybody the flat rate of $50, $60, or $70 we would have over $11,000 in monthly revenue and memberships, but we’re happy with the $7000 because it covers our lighting and our rent.”
“The biggest trade off is simply bodies. Right. Our classes went from a good day being seven to 10 people. And now at least once a day we’ll have classes between 16 to 22 people. So space becomes a real issue, having enough equipment becomes a real issue, ensuring safety. So of course you have to offset that with additional instructors or split times.”
“Our retention is far higher. I mean we even have probably better than 30 or 40 legacy members that were with us in the first year and are still members to this day. So it definitely positively impacts our retention numbers.”
How Ricky Garard Used Kineon MOVE+ Pro to Bounce Back Quickly From Injury
Unless you have been under a rock this CrossFit season, you know there was a clear void at the 2023 CrossFit Games, and his name was Ricky Garard. About four months ago, the comeback kid, the 3rd place finisher in the 2022 CrossFit Games, crashed his mountain bike and suffered a severe fall.
“I went down heavily on the shoulder and managed to separate the AC joint within the shoulder. It was a grade 3 tear through the three ligaments.”
Ricky was told he would have to have surgery to be back to 100% and achieve the goals he had set for himself. Garard had surgery eight days after the accident, and the road to recovery began.
“I had to be in a sling for six weeks while the shoulder healed. I got one of the Kineon MOVE+, and every day after surgery to today, I have been using the machine.”
The results have been fantastic.
“Based on my recovery and my turnaround, the surgeons and the physios and even people that have experienced this injury, my turnaround has been pretty remarkable. It just goes to show that if you have the right tools, the right people, and the right mindset, you can turn things around quicker than you thought.”
Garard is now approximately 15 weeks post-op and back to full training, doing everything from Olympic lifting to handstand walks. He recently dominated the Rogue Invitational Qualifiers, coming in first to earn his spot at the Rogue Invitational.
The most significant impact of the MOVE+ Pro dealt with inflammation.
“Sometimes, after training or rehab, my shoulder would be a bit achy, throbbing, or overused. I would put it (the MOVE+ Pro) on at night to do two or three cycles of 15-minutes, and the next morning, the throbbing and pain were gone.”
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