In Athletes, Competition, Videos

July 11, 2010

Video Article

At a special summit for CrossFit’s elite-level athletes, firebreathers such as Tommy Hackenbruck, Rob Orlando, Tanya Wagner and others weigh in on what it’s like to live the life of the Games.

Part 1: The group discusses the issue of motivation and how to continue to train day-in and day-out at such a blistering pace. Wagner, Hackenbruck, Jason Khalipa and Orlando reveal their inner motivation to keep moving and how they keep driving toward the next event.

Part 2: Chasing performance gains in benchmark workouts and lifts is one thing, but barreling toward a competition of the unknown and unknowable is something completely different. In this video, the athletes turn their attention toward the process of preparing for what’s coming at them without knowing what’s coming at them.

Part 3: In the conclusion of this three-part presentation, the athletes discuss how they work with a coach or training partner and how that benefits their development as elite performers. Even 2008 CrossFit Games champion Jason Khalipa depends on a coach for a watchful eye, helpful push and proper programming.

Part 1: 6min 10sec
Part 2: 8min 28sec
Part 3: 9min 29sec

Additional video: Motivating Tommy: The Ding SLC Series Part 5, published April 28, 2010.

Free Download

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:


15 Comments on “A Ring of Firebreathers”


Bryce Greenstein wrote …

Right on, Kris! CrossFit should be challenging, varied, and a fun experience, even at the top level.

Stress is going on a patrol and wondering if you've trained your Marines well enough to handle the truly unknown to ensure everyone makes it back in one piece. Lose sleep over that, but not over a workout with a stopwatch.

Sometimes the WODs get you, but guess what, there'll be another WOD to hit up tomorrow.

Best of luck to all the competitors. Enjoy it.


wrote …

I know like, that this like, is a weird like, thing like, to comment on, but like, you guys said "Like" like, ~94 times just in the first part.

I know you're not professional public speakers or communications majors, but that gets fairly distracting after a minute or two, hence my inclination to count the "likes." I just thought you'd want to be aware.


wrote …

Did you like really count all those likes? Damn dude.

Great series. Love Kristan's attitude toward CF.


Joey Lajoie wrote …

I love these vids.

I think that seeing that you guys are all human just like the rest of us makes me feel that some day, I can be doing what you do, along with you guys.

It never ceases to impress me how such amazing athleticism can be paired with such down to earth humility.

We look up to all of you and you guys do a wonderful job of representing what the crossfit movement all about.

PS. Kristan, you are cool as hell!


wrote …

this is a sport psychology clinic! & Kristan has it down!


wrote …

I almost get the impression Pat isnt buying what the others are trying to sell. He seems skeptical about some of the statements some of the others make.


wrote …

This is interesting to see the "firebreathers" lament about how stressful it is to be at the top of their game for "the games".

The part that is frustrating for me is watching a shift in Crossfit priorities. When i first started following this methodology for my personal fitness, the main effort was not about formal competition - sure you competed with others on a wod and always competed with yourself - but the focus was fitness. Getting stronger and getting faster was the ultimate goal.

So many of the joes and jills out there never aspire to compete at "the games". We do, however, aspire to still crank off an impressive rep of pullups in our 60s and train our children to their first muscle up. We want to be fit and train in a way that makes sense. Crossfit is the answer for that. Unfortunately, this grassroots movement is morphing into another sport that focuses its elite and creates opportunity to grandstand them.

Instead of hearing from the "firebreathers" fret about how super awesome they will or will not be at the games this year, how about more interviews with firefighters and how this program continues to make them better at their jobs. interview a platoon of soldiers and get their take on how Crossfit increases their chance of survival while in harm's way. If i had 15 minutes with anyone of those "firebreathers" i would not waste my time talking about how difficult it has been for them to train this year - i would be picking their brain to learn a new skill, to get better at any number of the movements i need to work on, to have them critique my clean & jerk.

Anyone else feeling this shift from the garage athlete to the ESPN athlete?


wrote …

Cleverhandz for the win!



replied to comment from Rob Knibbs

The CrossFit Games happen once a year in July. In fact, they are this week. There has been a ton of information about the Games and about Games athletes here and all over the CrossFit world because of that. We'll continue the emphasis for a few more weeks as we tell the stories of the triumphs and defeats. But after that, the balance will return.

CrossFit is about so much more than the Games. In fact, most of the Games athletes are trainers before they're competitors. The impact we make on the fitness and health of our communities is much greater than our impact as a sport. Still, we love our sport and will celebrate it each summer.


wrote …

Total girl crush on Kristen. :)


replied to comment from Rob Knibbs

I hear what you're saying Rob, but ultimately the answer to your question is, at least as I see it, no. There are plenty of Journal articles that delve into the exact technique and applications you reference, this just happens not to be one of them.

More than hearing the side that you comment on I'm hearing many of the thoughts that go through my head when I assess my personal fitness progress. I find it refreshing to know that all levels of CrossFit athletes worry about increased capacity. I think Kristen put it well when she addressed the subject, something along the lines of incremental gains. I think you can really do damage to your own psyche if you feel that "have" to hit such-and-such time on a WOD, then fail to meet your goal. We all want to PR, but when we don't there is some comfort found in reviewing your notebook to realize that your back squat is + 30lbs from 6 months ago.

Addressing the "games" mindset though - I'm studying for my Level 1 cert at the end of the month and in reading the material for the test I did jot down a note about exactly how much is too much? If "anything over 1 hour" is doing you no good how do we apply that to the ultra training that goes on for competition? At some point do we lose sight of the long view? Luckily I'm not training to be the fittest man on the planet so I don't really have to wrestle with issue.


wrote …

YES!! Kristen, your take on competition is a breath of fresh air.

Good luck to ya girl!

P.S. Thinking about opening up a Geezer-Fit gym in about 50 years. You in??


replied to comment from John Prince

Thanks for that, John.

I'm not training be the fittest man on the planet either. I am, however, using this to train Army Reservists in Canada. Time and time again my troops are so impressed by the knowledge that is available and how "fitness" focussed this whole movement is. Crossfit makes people passionate about their fitness and i would not have imagined myself blogging about a topic like this a couple years ago. I was thinking a bit more about this today and it is fascinating how far reaching this has become. For so many, Crossfit is a passion and now a career. For others it is now an elite sport that is their competitive dream. And for many, many more it has become a means to achieve fitness in their own way and for their own needs.

Good luck on your cert later this month - i am finally certing in Aug.

And Tony, Good luck with the games this weekend - I plan to check it out on line!


wrote …

To #2 and #7 ... geez guys.

Good luck to all the awesome CrossFitters this year!

We mere mortals love you all and you are role models!

No pressure :) just go and do your thang!



wrote …

I always wanted to hear what goes through everyones minds. Which is refreshing knowing allot of them have the same they feelings towards a wod And its great to hear how they try to deal with it.
Keep it coming especially after the games, I'd like to hear their views after each of the games WODS.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)