Rich Froning is more than CrossFit’s most decorated athlete. Also being its most recognizable face, “World’s Fittest Man” has played a major role in helping transform CrossFit from a niche training fad into a multi-billion dollar mainstream fitness juggernaut. dollars.
Being the all-time leader in gaming titles, Froning also became one of the pioneers of CrossFit marketing, landing a shoe deal with Reebok and helping pave the way for many other CrossFit stars, like Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, to help capitalize financially on their exploits.
Despite his forever solidified CrossFit heritage, the former Cookeville, TN firefighter experienced the same humble initiation into the world of WOD as every other athlete who stepped into the box for the very first time – it wasn’t pretty. .
“One of the first workouts I did was when I was at the fire station,” says Froning. “And I remember doing farmer’s lifts and burpees, and then hand-over-hand pipe drags. And man, I remember being completely destroyed. After that I tried ‘Fran’, and again I was completely fried after that workout.
Froning won four consecutive CrossFit Games championships from 2011 to 2014. Last summer as captain of the CrossFit Mayhem team, Froning in his last Games won a record 10e Championship games with a sixth team division title.
More important to the sport, Froning’s popularity has had a big influence on CrossFit, growing from just 13 CrossFit boxes in the United States in 2005 to over 12,000 worldwide and valued at around $4 billion today. .
Despite officially announcing his retirement following his overall victory, Froning is far from done with fitness. These days, he manages to do his workouts at his Chaos CrossFit in Tennessee. “I tried to enter the [Mayhem] classroom workouts from time to time,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun to get in there and practice rather than crashing and practicing.”
Along with being able to spend more time with his family, Froning was able to put more work into his shoe line, the fourth release—the Froning Nano X2-the last of what he calls a success partnership with Reebok.
“Reebok and I have been together for so long. And [Reebok’s senior product manager] Short heel is such a good dude,” Froning says. “He knows what I like in a shoe. And so that makes it easier. But most things have been pretty practical over the last two years. I’ve done a little more.”
There’s more to life than CrossFit titles, including family and faith. As Froning shares his winning strategy of taking on challenges, always looking to improve, and learning to find his own community.
For me, it really depends on experience. I’ve been doing it for so long, I know which moves are really close to my heart or which ones are going to take a bit more out of me. So try to figure it out in a workout. Is there a movement, and there is a rhythm that I can hold that I know I can still push a bit but also recover a bit at the same time. So that’s just kind of dissecting the workout, looking at what the overall time will be, what movements there are as they move through in there, that’s sort of a point stopping point for me or a capture point. And if there is a place where I can maybe find my rhythm or find my rest, that I have a little enough to push at the end. So experience is a big part of that.
I mean, everyone always jokes about the quality of the beat and I just said, I’ve been in that cave of pain way too many times. So I’m afraid to go back. So I just stay on this edge of like, it hurts, but it doesn’t hurt to bet, you know, so. It’s, uh, yeah, honestly, I kinda miss it. Have the courage to go to that dark place sometimes, you know, I can’t, I can’t do it. I’ve been doing it for 13 years now. I’m like, man, I’m fine. You know, I will, I will push hard enough, but I will never exceed this limit. And sometimes you have to be able to push that limit.
Test your threshold
It’s terribly like, for lack of a better term, being drunk. You simply cannot control your body. You might go to different places trying to hide a bit from them. But it’s a good place to be once in a while, not necessarily in competition but in training, you should definitely experiment where this place is for you. There’s so much technology now with heart rate monitors and stuff like that, why not try pushing and seeing where that limit is, and what happens and how long you can recover after that.
The one that sticks out in my mind the most is 2011 or 2010, the last event where we didn’t know what we were doing and they just pulled us down – you know, the famous rope climbing failure video of Fronting. It’s the one that burns the most in my brain – I was just a complete body failure at the time. I don’t even think if I could have used my feet on the rope, if I could have done it. So it was not a fun experience. That’s for sure.
Enjoy Fitness… Don’t Let It Eat You Away
For me, it all comes back to 2010 and putting too much pressure on myself and almost letting CrossFit become my identity. Everyone knows my faith is a big part of why I do what I do. And so for me, faith was my way of saying, hey, it’s gonna be okay no matter the outcome. Don’t let what you do become your identity. And for me, it’s been a good place for me to be able to compete.
I know my identity is Christ and not who I am as an athlete so it worked for me. And I think for a lot of people, you get so busy and you think you have to do this, and you get so busy with numbers and times and things like that. But unless fitness is your profession, this should be your best time of day to unburden yourself of all your stress. You have a little fun, put your body in the wringer a bit, but once you get out of it, you leave that behind. It shouldn’t be extra stress, it should be a good thing for your life.
When I was training, I was having a blast when I was training. I’m not having as much fun so I’m in the last two months. [Lately] it worked for me and a little less training. I tried to get into class workouts once in a while, jump and mayhem classes. And it’s a lot of fun to get in there and practice rather than crashing and practicing by itself.
Rich Froning finds ways to improve perfection
As for the products, it will be something that I will use. I don’t like putting my name behind anything and not really using it. So I add a lot of information to make it super true to who I am.
I think a lot of [Reebok’s senior product manager] Short Tal, innovate with Nano X2 faceplate is they can find something, like a bit lighter material or something that flexes a bit better or find a stronger platform shape. There’s so much technology in a shoe, it’s crazy. And to see what they do year after year, you see something new when the new Nano comes out and its kind, let’s add that to my shoe – let’s change something.
The Froning X1 was by far my favorite shoe of any shoe we have ever had. And so for Tal to build on that, that’s pretty cool. It’s better, but quite different from the Froning X1s, this one was a kind of slip-on boot. With X2, Reebok wanted to move towards something more efficient by reducing a large part of the weight of the shoe. You can even remove the insole, which I often do – there are actually holes drilled into the sole to extract some extra weight. The shoe is therefore incredibly light and more capable than the X1, which was something of an everyday shoe.
Create your own community
When it comes to fitness, I personally love CrossFit. I think it’s very effective and I appreciate the community aspect of it. If anybody wants to do CrossFit, my thing would be, Hey, go find a good gym. Ask them if you can watch a class, see how the coach interacts? Check out the gym community and see how it fits in before you jump in.
If CrossFit isn’t your thing, that’s fine. Find something you enjoy, like a spinning class. People seem to love finding a certain type of group fitness that will carry you much longer and further, even if it’s an online program. We have online programming and a great online community with videos and stuff like that. Then this could be your thing. But I think having a community that you can lean on and be a part of is a huge, huge motivation to stay fit.
Mountain biking is my big thing right now. Anyone who’s paid attention to my Instagram in the last two months has realized that I’ve become super in the hunt and out in the chase…it sounds like something I’m supposed to do and that’s like that i’m wired and for that the last two months have been a lot of fun and i see myself in the future doing things that you don’t know about sitting and waiting and doing stuff like going out in the mountains getting lost and just trying to outsmart and so it’s been very good just good for my soul.
Follow Rich Froning on Instagram @richfronting.