Fittest Games Experience


At the beginning of a project I seldom think about the ending—even though endings are natural occurrences in most things. I have been a part of the Fittest Games since 2012, serving as a creative and media director for this local competition that is held in Austin, Texas for the last eight-ish years. Throughout the years  I have grown and learned alongside this event, but as 2014 comes to a close, so does my time with the Fittest Games.


The 2013 Fittest Games


I can’t help but look back at what a spectacular ride it is has been. I showed up a few years ago with a lot of ideas, ambition and determination but little experience. Jeremy Thiel and Nicole Hughes took a leap of faith and handed me the keys to a precious platform. Back then, social media wasn’t that huge of a thing but we all saw its value and soon, so would everyone else. As true with many, I have so many emotions tied to this event that I don’t even know where to begin. Special isn’t a strong enough to describe this local gathering of incredible people.


The 2014 Fittest Games Brian Sullivan


It’s not about the elite athletes. They are—no doubt—a signature part of the event but the real story is found within the heart of the community. The first-time competitors, everyday CrossFitter and those who just want to have fun are the people who continually captivated me throughout the year. These people may be labeled as average but watching them compete makes it clear that they are anything but. Watching the joy on peoples’ faces after PR’ing, learning a new skill or simply surviving a workout is the most filling feeling. I have had the pleasure of telling their story and celebrating with them. In a sense, I have shared in their trumps as a proud super fan. Many hours of sweat, stress and strategy went into the making of the Fittest Games and it certainly wasn’t possible all on my own.


Media Room at the 2014 Fittest Games


I have had the pleasure of working with incredibly talented photographers, videographers and all-around creative folks. Outside of the media realm—I also collaborated with phenomenal event coordinators and logistics magicians. Ingrid Kantola, Laurie Pospisil-Gotcher and Michael Winchester are three outstanding individuals that have helped orchestrate a beautiful event that plays out like a sweet symphony—building to a crescendo on the final day.

It is a beautiful thing to be able to communicate and idea and have others buy in and help bring it to life. Brian Sullivan, Michael Bing, Dean Zu, Hance Taplin, Keir Simon, Elliot and Lindsey Schrock, Caleb Kerr, the assassin that is Walter Stokes, Bentura Flores, Heather Olsen, Chad Hamilton, Scott Wallace, Matt Block, Brian Flannery, Tim Bougie, my partner in crime Nicole Hughes and countless others have all contributed a wonderful creative verse in this great story. I am both proud and honored to have had the opportunity to interact with them. I am a better artist and individual because of them.


2013 Fittest Games Media


Above is the 2013 Media Team and below is two brilliant videographers I am honored to have worked with them.


Elliot and Lindsay Schrock


There are many who work behind the scenes and volunteer there time to make (and continue to make)  this dream possible. The care and craftsmanship they bring to the table adds a flare to events like this that help bring the social experience to life. You may not have noticed them, but then again you weren’t supposed to. Your job was to enjoy the event, celebrate with your friends and then sit back to re-live the story we captured for you.


Caleb Kerr Fittest Games


I’ve learned so many valuable lessons and it would take more than just one blog to fully appreciate the past three years. I hope your experiences and memories from the Fittest Games are as fulfilling and heart-warming as mine.

From The Yard to Limitless and finishing with the Kingdom, my journey with the Fittest Games is one that I will treasure forever.


The 2014 Fittest Games


I did not create the Fittest Games, I do not own it, it was never something that was mine but I love this event like it was my own and poured everything I had into it. I look forward to seeing it continue. Thank you to everyone who is involved with this event in any capacity. The 2015 season will no doubt be special.





The above sums up the marquee lesson I take away from the CrossFit Games. I’ve worked or been a part of this event for four year now, but this year is by far my favorite. It was the most challenging, thought-provoking, patience-testing project I have ever been a part of. It was also full of the most fun and rewarding things I have done or been a part of in a long time.


There are many things I want to talk through and share about my experience, but I wanted to lead-off with this simple message of control. It’s tempting to draw a large circle around the things you care about and try to make sure everything happens the way YOU feel it should. This is exhausting work. Instead, draw the smallest circle possible and make sure that space is grand. Pour everything you have into it and let the rest worry for itself. Make your small circle the best you know how. Then you are in control. You have learned to become a servant to your surroundings and a master of yourself.  If you can put that into repeated practice, people will grow your circle for you. Then, you’ll truly have to fight to keep it “small.”


The joyous  feeling of accomplishment stems from the journey and the battles overcome. Johnathan Haynes

We all train for the Games

It’s CrossFit Games week and this is my fourth year making the trip to the proving grounds for the Fittest on Earth. Each year my understanding of this community and its sport grows—fueling my love, passion and excitement for the gathering that takes place in a few days.


Since Froning and Briggs were crowned and the tennis stadium emptied last year, the clock immediately reset and the countdown began for 2014. I imagine many Games athlete left StubHub Center with internal promises and pacts to themselves about how they would prepare for the coming year. But so did many of the spectators. A unique aspect of this sport is the crowd. The CrossFit Games allows for immediate participation and advancement if your training, effort and execution is sufficient.


Competition means many things to many different people. Not everyone in the CrossFit community has hopes of competing at the Games, but we all train. Each person has their own goals and aspirations that reach beyond the gym, but we all train. We show up to the garage, backyard or affiliate to prepare our bodies and minds to go out and conquer whatever is front of us.  Many workouts beat us and we are better for it. We practice failure and recovery in training to be better equipped for life. Consistent training  can confirm the idea that we have the ability to continually improve and turn a goal into an accomplishment. A great opportunity for that is the test of fitness, Open to anyone as personal measurement of progress or a worldwide competition. The choice is always yours.


From this worldwide competition of athletes, about  550  have earned the right to take the field in Carson, California. They were tested against a community of hard workers. One that carries countless stories of struggle and triumph from all walks of life. Each year the test gets tougher. I think a tougher test is almost required because we’re getting better. As a community, we sharpen ourselves against each other and collectively test and advance our limits. We progresses together through the Open and Regionals and produces some of the Fittest on Earth for the final test. These athletes represent their dreams, family, local community and much more. They are representation of our collective commitment to wellness.


This week athletes from all over the world are filling Carson, California. Some will prove themselves on the competition floor. Other athletes will hold cameras, run media, coordinate event logistics,  volunteer and work as judges—while the large majority of athletes celebrates and cheers from the stands. There are many roles in this community and none insignificant.  Year after year, regardless of  role or responsibility, we all train for the Games.


See you there.


We all train for the CrossFit Games

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.

Downtown LA

A few weeks ago, one of my childhood friends got married in a beautiful Catholic Cathedral in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, California.  I have been traveling for the good majority of this year and it has been full of fantastic and special experiences. Coming home to witness someone I’ve known for so long take that next big step in life was a treasure that I hope to never forget. The concentration of joy, laughter and fun was perfect.


As a result of bouncing around this year I have picked up a habit of looking for new experiences in common places. After the wedding I returned to downtown LA to visit a friend and see how the heart of the city has changed—since I was a child. There are a lot of perceptions about the area, some true and some exaggerated. For the most part it is a city that leads a double life. On one hand you have the hustle and glam that drives surface expectations of the City of Angels. The other hand is hard at work to renew the culture and vibe of the inner city. In any either case—if you look close of enough—there is something really neat brewing in the heart of the city.

Creating the Most

I Uber’d my  way downtown to visit the friend I mentioned earlier. We have been close for quite some time and I was excited to see what she has created with her given space. She is overwhelmingly talented and a wonderful artistic mind. I can try and describe . I walked into her apartment and experienced this:


Downtown Los Angelos Loft

You’re looking  at a living space with work spaces on the bottom and sleeping quarters on the top. My friend and her two roommates  thought-up, created and assembled it from scratch.  One of the cooler adult space usages I’ve seen. Here is a closer look at her work space:

Downtown Los Angelos Workspace


I absolutely love it. It opened my mind to different ways that I could create the most with what I have available to me.

Keeper of Stories

After checking out the apartment we decided to stroll the veins of the city at night. We ended up at the Last Bookstore. Upon walking in, this place became an instant favorite .  I grew up in Pasadena, California and spent a good amount of time at the library (nerd alert). I love the smell and experiences that are associated with a room full history, sayings, tales and thoughts. This place took me back to special moments in my childhood.

The Last Bookstore

This place was very unique to say the least. Let me just show you.

The Last Bookstore DTLA

Clever book arrangements are kind of their thing.

Last Bookstore -DTLAThey also had interesting artwork .

Interesting Paper illustration - last book store

There was also this thing created by an artist who labeled himself a “thing maker.”  Fitting.

Thing Makers Art The last bookstore

I don’t know what this was all about but I kind of liked the dinosaur and music combo

The last bookstore Art

As you can see, the place has a lot of character. Seeing these sights was a good expansion of my perspective of the city. There is so much to see, if you are willing to look and pay attention to the details. I had a limited amount of time to observe all of the aspects of what was going on, but what I did see encouraged me.  A new wave of artists and innovators are slowly putting their touches on the city. I am curious to see how DTLA continues to evolve.

The photo below is one of my favorites of the night

Checkout at the Last Bookstore

Enjoy the Adventure.


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.”

X Games Austin Scavenger Hunt

Last Wednesday I received an email calling for sign-ups to participate in the X Games Austin scavenger hunt. Without even thinking about it, I hit the sign up button and begin to register three of my friends and myself (I text them afterwards to inquire what they were doing on Sunday.) It’s funny because none of us really knew what to expect, we just decided to show up ready to have a good time.

Around 1:45 p.m. Team Bow Jacked arrived at Mohawk ready to play.

XGames Austin Scavenger Hunt - Chelsea Mckinney - Jeff Mckinney - Alyson Boyd - Mohawk Austin


We (Chelsea, Jeff and Alyson—from right to left) received a task list with 98 objectives to complete in about two and a half hours. The four of us pilled into the car and headed towards our tasks. It all began at the State Capitol. (Task numbers are in reference to where they were on the list)

Task 30:  Take a picture in front of the Captiol building with our clothes on backwards.

Johnathan Haynes XGames Scavenger Hunt - Chelsea - Alyson - Jeff

Easy points for team Bow Jacked

Task 33: Tell a stranger about XGames Austin

 Task 64: Take a photo in front of a Ford vehicle

XGames Austin Ford Vehicle - Team Bow Jacked


Task 63: Form a human pyramid (Oh we did, and in style) Photo cred to the silver fox in the next task

Task: Slow dance with a senior citizen (this one was hard, Chelsea got turned down two or three times before this guy.)

Task 53: Create your own trick … Naturally, the ladies crushed this

Task 66: Jump into the air holding hands with strangers … The ladies rocked this one too.  (Thanks to the randoms for being so cool) XGames Scavenger Hunt - Jump with randoms

Task 24: Order a coffee/tea under the name Kanye West @joscoffee. I’ve got this

XGames Scavenger hunt Order like Kanye West

Task 55: Chicken Dance in a crosswalk (Big thanks to the one car for entertaining our little “show”) 


Task 68: team members wearing Oakleys … we kicked it up a notch

XGames Scavenger hunt

Task 95: Do Parkour on something random … Let’s Go

Task 13: #Selfie with a stranger

Selfie with a Stranger

Task 67: Daily Juice employee doing a cartwheel #KeepAustinWeird

Task 41: everyone sipping a Dr. Pepper

Everyon Sipping a Dr Pepper

 Task 88: rotating X  (for XGames) cartwheel

Task 7, 78 and 79: Jeff Mckinney kicked it into overdrive for this one. Shoutout to Ken Block

Task 45: Walk a Strangers Dog

Walk a strangers dog

Task 97: Create an XGames themed post card and give it to a stranger

XGames Post Card to a stranger


Tasks 81: Tricks over traffic cones. Cue Jeff Mckinney

 Task 48: Team Photo on a reflective surface … Check

XGames Austin

Task 58: Pedicab ride … Easy Money

XGames Austin Scavenger Hunt PediCab

Task 79: Take a picture with a statue … Of course we had to find Willie

XGames Austin Scavenger Hunt

Task 11: Take a picture in the bathroom of the opposite sex … thanks for taking one for team ladies. The Ladies room is way to scary.

Xgames Austin Scavenger hunt bathroom


Haha and Finally Task 71: Do your best Ken Block Gymkhana impersonation. On the way back to the start/finish, Jeff took the wheel on this one. You have to watch a Ken Block video to get it. Here is our rendition


Haha, that about sums up our little adventure. My Instagram account has most of the tasks we completed on Sunday, sorry if I blew up your news feed—it was for a fun cause.

In the end we came up about 150 points shy of winning tickets to this year’s X Games Austin,  but we all had a great time (a couple teams got X Games tattoos in order to win tickets … That’s true dedication.) It’s been a while since I did a scavenger hunt and it was a fun and exciting way to enjoy our Sunday. Special thanks to everyone who had a hand in getting us all outside of our comfort zone and creating a fun afternoon.

Enjoy the Adventure.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt


Moving Weight

Last friday a pretty fun clean and jerk cycle that began with two clean and jerks every minute on the minute (EMOM) for five minutes. The final five minutes were one clean and jerk. I started at 235 lb. and finished at 335 lb. It was a good day.

I happened to leave my lifting shoes at home and things still worked out fine. I always used to lift in chucks so it was kind of a throwback.