What are the CrossFit Games? Five-time champ Mat Fraser explains fitness event.

·6 min read

About 4 million people around the globe do CrossFit, according to the CrossFit Fortify blog. In January 2022, Morning Chalk Up estimated there were approximately 12,500 affiliate gyms around the world, including non-paying affiliates like prisons and schools.

The Box magazine says the fitness phenomenon was founded by gymnast Greg Glassman in the year 2000, when he discovered weight training made him a much more effective athlete than other gymnasts who only did bodyweight exercises.

Today, the company describes its program as “a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition.”

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What are the CrossFit Games?

According to Forbes, the NOBULL CrossFit Games are a way for athletes in the program to compete against one another in an intense test of fitness. The winners of the competition, which has men’s and women’s divisions, are given the title of Fittest on Earth.

The Games pit CrossFit’s fittest athletes against one another in extreme, often unconventional tests of strength, endurance, skill, and even mental capacity, including exercises like freestanding handstand push-ups or lifting sandbags filled with cheese curds, an event which honored the competition’s host state of Wisconsin in 2021.

Five-time CrossFit Champion Mat Fraser in 2019.
Five-time CrossFit Champion Mat Fraser in 2019.

“You’re gonna have basically every form of a test of fitness that you can find,” says Mat Fraser, five-time winner of the CrossFit Games. “The Games are anywhere from four to five days, 12 to 15 events, and we have events that are cardio, gymnastics, skill work, weightlifting (and) combinations.”

Fraser says the events can be short, like single rep heavy lifts, or marathon-style workouts that can take up to three and a half hours.

According to Fraser, “(Competitors) need to be prepared for anything and everything. ... It’s not uncommon to find out an event they need to complete on the day of.”

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How do you qualify for the CrossFit Games?

Although the Games’ guidelines can change from year to year, the first step is usually the CrossFit Open, a portion of the competition meant to be inclusive for CrossFitters of all levels of fitness and ability, giving everyone the chance to compete in what CrossFit refers to as “the biggest fitness competition in history.”

The top men and women from the Open are selected to compete in the Quarterfinals. In 2022, the Quarterfinals featured the top 10% of men and women from the Open. Participants who do well in the Quarterfinals are invited to the Semifinals, where contestants compete for a limited number of spots in the CrossFit Games.

The competition recently introduced a Last-Chance Qualifier, which gives participants who didn’t quite qualify in the Semifinals a chance to fight for the last few slots.

Some participants who competed in the Open are selected for individual age-group competitions or the CrossFit Occupational Games.

For anyone wanting to seriously compete in the Games, Fraser points to the importance of preparation. “Most of these athletes make it look very easy,” he says, but he emphasizes that’s not the case. “It is a long road,” he says. “It’s not just ‘sign up for the Open, and come over from another sport background.’”

But here’s the good news: All athletes started somewhere. To those who say they can't do what Fraser does, he says, “No, you absolutely can. It’s infinitely scalable, so show up. Give it a try.”

What is Mat Fraser doing now?

Mat Fraser works at HWPO (Hard Work Pays Off) Training, which he founded. He also helped launch a nutrition supplement brand called Podium Nutrition.

But Fraser’s main focus is preparing athletes for the CrossFit Games. “I have one athlete that lives in town here that I coach daily,” he says. She trains at my house and at a local affiliate.” That athlete is young CrossFit star Mal O’Brien.

“I’m very selective with who I work with," he says. As someone who came in 7th at the 2021 CrossFit Games at just 17 years old, O’Brien definitely meets Fraser’s high bar.

“She has a long career ahead of her,” he says, “so it’s making sure to put down the building blocks, the foundation so she can have a long, healthy career.”

According to HWPO staff, among those Fraser and his company work with are CrossFit coach and athlete Jake Marconi and young up-and-comer Jayson Hopper.

Fraser also spent some time helping prepare athlete Justin Medeiros and coach Adam Neiffer for the Games in 2021. After coming in third place in his rookie season, Medeiros won the title of Fittest Man on Earth in 2021.

About coaching the next generation to success, Fraser says, “It feels nice. It’s a very, very rewarding feeling, spending that much time with someone and having them see the results and surprising themselves with what they’re capable of.”

When are the 2022 CrossFit Games?

According to CrossFit, the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games start Wednesday, Aug. 3 and end on Sunday, Aug. 7.

Where are the 2022 CrossFit Games?

The 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games are in Madison, Wisconsin at the Alliant Energy Center.

Who won the 2021 CrossFit Games?

Justin Medeiros and Tia-Clair Toomey won the 2021 CrossFit Games, according to the Rx Review.

On Aug. 7, a new pair will be crowned "Fittest on Earth."

How much do CrossFit Games athletes make?

CrossFit athletes make varying amounts of money depending on how they perform at the Games. In 2022, the winners of the men's and women's division will each get $310,000, according to BarBend.

The prize pool extends all the way to the 40th place competitors in the men's and women's divisions, who will each receive $2,250.

There are also substantial monetary prizes for Masters and Adaptive divisions. The male and female winners of the Masters division for competitors between age 35 and 39, for example, will each receive a $25,000 prize.

Athletes can also make considerable money from endorsement deals, training programs and fitness products. 2021 winner Tia-Clair Toomey, who also has a book deal, reportedly makes over $400,000 a year in total.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What are the CrossFit Games? Winner Mat Fraser shares about the event.

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