A Helping Hughes

It is very easy to cruise through life as a quiet passenger. I look back on missed opportunities to share my thoughts and have decided to avoid letting that become a habit. I can very easily get lost in my own thoughts and convince myself not to share, but not this time.


I am grateful. Four years ago, I decided to forgo the corporate world and take my talents to the entrepreneurial slash start-up arena. It has been the most complex challenge of my life (so far). Shortly after resigning from my corporate job, I moved to Austin, Texas. My intent was to work at CrossFit Central and impact that community. The vocalization of that intent eventually led me to Jeremy Thiel and Nicole Hughes. Nicole would eventually become my supervisor/team leader/mastermind partner in crime. Over the course of three years she would shape and spur my maturation as an individual creative. The validity of that statement is more potent that I could ever articulate. Nicole Hughes severely impacted my growth as a professional.


Who is that? Nicole Hughes is a bit unsung in the public eye. Until recently (she has since moved on to a new opportunity) Nicole was a driving creative force behind the online presence of CrossFit Central. Shortly after I moved to Austin, Nicole and I were paired and tasked with the responsibility of branding and storytelling for various wellness projects and events. However, our initial interactions as a team weren’t alway synergistic.


Youth doesn’t always provide wisdom … let’s be real, it rarely does. I was a passionate individual. I believed (still do) I had a responsibility to utilize my abilities to tell the the best story and deliver a delightful experience to listeners. I believed in this so strongly that I often became set on a certain method or tactic and closed to the idea of any alternative way. This made me difficult to interact with—despite my pure intention.


Our interactions started off as rocky, due to my lack of wisdom. Then I remember a meeting at JuiceLand after disagreement. It was one of those moments when you realize you’ve been a bit of a jackass and it’s time to immediately grow up. After that meeting everything changed, a noisy friction was transformed into a harmony.  For the next two-ish or more years we would collaborate on various projects and accomplish some really cool things. We collaborated on the media for projects such as Garage Gym Blueprint,  Godai Elements competition, The Fittest Games, RedBlack Gym, The Triune and CrossFit Central. I am so grateful for Nicole Hughes involvement in my professional career.


She took the time (a considerable amount) to understand and learn about me. She broke down my former way of thinking and showed me a new way to operate by her being a living example of a true leader.  She played a major role in shaping the skill sets that I have now. I look back on the last four years and feel privileged to say I got to work with such dynamic individual. I know that she would prefer to go unsung and fly under the radar but unfortunately she was unsuccessful in completely neutralizing my defiant side.  So I would like to defiantly and publicly celebrate Mrs. Nicole Hughes . Because. I am grateful.  For the arguments, long conversations, jokes, laughs and adventures. I am so very grateful.


On site at Godai Elements at the Texas Ski Ranch

Nicole Hughes and Johnathan Haynes Godai Elements


Working at the Fittest Games in Austin, Texas

Nicole Hughes and Johnathan Haynes at the Fittest Games


Thank You Nicole Hughes

Think about the people in your life that have helped shape who you are. Don’t be afraid to let them know.

Maya Angelou—An American Treasure

Yesterday, Dr. Maya Angelou  left this world at the age of 86. I woke to the news of Dr. Angelou’s passing and immediately took a moment to reflect on a ‘stranger’ that has impacted (and will continue to impact) me greatly.  I don’t often participate in the mourning of celebrities for celebrity sake. Death is a natural part of life, but this is different. I did not know Maya Angelou personally but her way with words made me feel like she could be my friend. Her poems, books, short stories and even just the sound of her voice had a way of wrapping you up tight for a loving hug—no matter who you were.

Her life journey is simply incredible and I will be forever inspired by the way she carried herself and the way she looked at people. The world lost a beautiful light yesterday, but we were left with a treasure chest of knowledge, advice and compassion—through Dr. Angelou’s spoken word and action. I am forever grateful that she chose to “just do right,” teaching the world an timeless lesson.

Maya Angelou is a true American Treasure.


Failure is part of the Progress

Originally published on Medium

My journey as an athlete is mine alone.

I am quickly learning that failure is part of the progress. Failure is part of the progress. The higher I climb, the greater the barriers will be. Bigger barriers require more — More skill, technique, mental toughness and immense amounts of patience. The victories may be seemingly fewer and farther between, but I find that they are more filling and sustaining the harder I have to work for them.

I wrote this note for myself a while ago (Yes I leave myself notes):

This journey is a process, enjoy it. Take moments to step out of yourself and realize what you are doing. You are on a mission to discover a better you. This is not something that will be handed to you on a silver platter. This is something you will have to fight for … Something you may miss the mark on for weeks, months, maybe years until you have that one moment … The one instant that you break through and discover that you are just a little bit stronger on paper but substantially better in every other way.

I experienced a perfect application of this:

I hit 260-lb. snatch early last year in my chucks. I was pretty pumped … I didn’t realize that would be my last snatch PR for quite some time. Since completing that lift I have struggled, maybe even regressed a little bit. There were days where I would miss attempts at 205-lb. and even some at 185 lb. Since I was used to those lifts being automatic it became one of the more frustrating parts on my day.

But I had a reality check. Progressing up the lift ladder requires strength but it also demands consistency … and recently I had not been consistent with my workouts. My lifts had become a reflection of that. I was not respecting the process. With that realization I went back to work with a new mentality. Yes, there were days when I would miss everything and other days where I would be on and off, but I remained consistent. Whether it was a great day in the gym or an hour of “this sucks,” I made it my mission to just show up the next day ready to work. The consistency taught me things about myself that PRs could never teach. In reality my progression was never halted, only redirected and focused on my area of deficiency. Staying at 260 lb. has afforded me more knowledge and skill than if I would have kept progressing up the ladder without a hiccup.

A few weeks ago I completed 4 snatches in a row at 245-lb. snatches. A huge moment for me. Probably bigger than the 260-lb. snatch.

It’s important to understand what you are doing. Training is a process —Enjoy it. It holds many different lessons in various avenues. Instead of getting lost in comparisons or rushing it. Respect it. See the “ruts” as lessons that will provide you long term keys to success. CrossFit is kind enough to reveal your weaknesses and invite you test them. Accept the challenge. If you fail just smile and say, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Be More Creative


It’s come to my attention that I am pretty wasteful with my time.

It’s not that I am lazy or unproductive by any means, but lately I’ve noticed that there is some serious room for improvement. There have been so many moments where an idea has come to me and I’ve just let it float on by or put it  on “the list.” That list of things is becoming a novel, it is time to turn this book of dreams in to a collection of realities. So this is the moment where I draw a line in the sand and step across to become an improved individual [I literally did that].

Exploring my creativity is something I plan to focus on for this next chapter of life. Reading, writing, photographing and sharing more is my plan to increase the value of my time. I don’t just want to spend time wisely, I want to capture it well. Stories are my passion and it’s about time I started to tell my own. With that being said, the plan is to produce more—and then just see what happens.

Here goes everything …



“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is now. Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree.”Anonymous

Photo Taken in Downtown Austin by Johnathan Haynes 

Survival of the Fitness

Finding Balance in Daily Chaos

Each day brings new challenges. They are patient teachers with valuable rewards for those that can master them.

My current teacher is balance — between my work and training. I have a passion for what I do and I dive into it face first and allow it to consume me for long periods of time. For seasons this is productive but it is difficult to maintain. Fatigue and a loss of creativity leads to dissatisfaction and frustration. I have found balance in my CrossFit workouts. Training brings it’s own set of demands and expectations. Movements require focus, intention, skill, determination and host of things that can not be articulated. It is a constantly challenging activities, yet it feels like playtime.

CrossFit asks me for my best and leaves me at my absolute worst — it is an invaluable asset.

Despite the value of varied movement, it is still hard to get up and train after working long hours. Sometimes I am too tired, other times I just don’t feel like it. There are times where I force myself to workout and it pays off. Other times it is a lost cause and more than I can handle, causing me to shut it down for the day. I leave my workouts exhausted, but pending work deadlines have no mercy … at times deadlines become as hit-and-miss as my workouts. I use those times to justify skipping my training, but that leaves me feeling sluggish from sitting at a desk all day … As you can see I’m quite the mess times. However, I came across some thoughts on how to choose between work and working out.

So Which Side Wins — Passion or Play?

I have been a competitor for most of my life so I have a engrained desire to be highly active. CrossFit has recently become my patient teacher. The lessons that I learn in the gym directly apply to my world beyond the gym. Pushing hard through a 20 minute AMRAP helps me lock-in and finish a design at 1 a.m. when I really don’t think I have the energy. There have been so many times that I have walked into a workout a mess and walked out with absolute clarity. I am realizing that each side unconsciously relies upon the other.

[My truth]: I must pour everything into everything, in order to maintain my balance. My workouts are vital because they keep me sharp and alert because I force myself into discomfort and learn to be happy there. My work is equally as vital because it is my creative outlet, keeps the lights on and inches me closer to my goals. The balance of pushing so hard on two ends of the spectrum helps me to advance evenly and survive the demands of both avenues. It is a daily adventure in progress.



People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

― Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council

This resonated with me. I’m going to work with this concept for 90 days and see what happens. 


From time to time, I struggle. With life responsibilities and self imposed pressure to achieve the things I want. To say the least I live uncommonly, almost to a fault sometimes. Mainly because too many incredible individuals have invested in me and I refuse to half ass my life. I am focused and driven to achieve my goals. Despite my motivation, I still struggle sometimes. I slip into this deep place of heaviness to where it feels like an inch is a marathon away. These times don’t last very long, but they are not the best of times.

Oddly enough, I am starting to look forward to these moments. The times where I push myself a little bit too much and momentarily loose sight of my vision. Why? Because of what comes next… It seems that when you push yourself beyond your limits and feel like you cannot move another inch, you receive a simple reminder and then you break through. Mine reminder was Fran.

[Quick Snapshot]

Francisca Mardones aspired to make the Olympic Games, she spent years on her craft. An injury sustained during a landslide left her with a broken back and severely damaged spinal cord. She fought through a years of recovery rehabilitation to be able to have use of her legs. [That alone is a feat I could spend a year talking about]    I remember meeting Fran after a workout and learning how she had competed in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, entering ranked 25th in the world (Austin 360). Aspiration achieved, in my opinion.

[Don’t Water this Down]

This isn’t about “what’s your excuse,” feeling sorry for anyone or anything like that. I look at Fran and see a champion, I see what I want to be. She was dealt a challenge and from what I can see, she is kicking its ass. She shows up to our gym and works harder than most, training for her next tennis endeavor ( I think she is ranked even higher now). On this past tuesday I was gasping for air after finishing a portion of a workout and I look up to see Fran with sandbag attached to her wheel chair, dragging it across the gym floor. She then proceeded to do work with the conditioning ropes and even a barbell movement. Seeing that changed my whole posture – mentally and physically. I stood up straight, composed myself and moved on to the next phase of training. It is a privilege to be able to CrossFit. Fran does’t take it for granted and neither will I.

There are many things in this world that will push against you, pull you down and try to take you out. If you have an aspiration for greatness, it is guaranteed to be in your path. The question is: What will you do? Do not get lost in doubt, instead realize that you have been brought to the edge of a cliff because you were meant to build a bridge to the other side. 


Fran with her coach, Nyki Helmcamp