The 2008 Fittest Man on Earth talks about the evolution of the Games and what he’s up to.
Most people think of Bill Kazmaier as one of the early champions in strongman or Arnold Schwarzenegger as an early king in bodybuilding. One of the first big names associated with the beginning of the CrossFit Games is Jason Khalipa.
The 2008 men’s champion has had a front-row seat to view how far the sport of fitness has come in the decade since his victory. He’s been involved both as an athlete and in business. He’s been a part of the global growth with Western Digital and working on the media side with his venture into podcasting. While in Thailand, Khalipa took some time to fill us in on what he’s up to as well as his thoughts on the current status of the sport he helped grow into the current phenomenon it’s become.
You mentioned to me in my first message that you were in Thailand. What's happening over there?
We have three locations in Malaysia and one in Thailand with Western Digital that we operate. I was in Asia for a grand opening of a new location in Malaysia and stopped by the rest. We have locations in China, Japan, the Philippines, and the U.S. also.
Some of our readers might not know about your history. What was your background in fitness before you started training and competing in CrossFit?
I did the conventional bodybuilding-style training and played football while working at the front desk of a gym in high school.
You were a part of the CrossFit Games in the beginning, well before it became the major event it is now. What was it that led to you competing in the Games when there were so many unknowns?
A friend introduced me to CrossFit just before the 2007 Games and it seemed interesting. The 2008 Games were an hour from my house and thought I’d give it a shot. At the time I just loved to train hard and wanted to see how I stacked up against the rest.
As someone who was involved with the Games so early on, what do you see as the biggest differences between how the events are now and when you won back in 2008?
The volume is higher and events more varied; athletes have developed to accommodate it.
Did you have any idea of how big the Games and fitness overall would become around the world?
No idea, not sure any of us did. I started a gym to do what I love for a living and help others. I didn’t think of it at the time growing to where CrossFit or our gyms are at now. I began competing to push myself against others in competition and see where I stacked up. It was never for the money or fame.
What were your thoughts about the 2018 edition of the Games in Madison?
I thought they were good. The sport has found its place. It seems as more of a fairgrounds event vs The Home Depot Center, which is completely fine.
Anybody you saw that you think will be the future of fitness? What stands out about those athletes?
In 2018 what I thought would happen happened. I’d like to see some of the athletes share more about themselves than just competing. Let us know about other areas of their lives.
I imagine that you would be considered a mentor for a lot of the up-and-coming people who are starting to make waves. Do any of the athletes come to you and ask for advice about competing?
A little bit. It’s more the guys that see how I have tried to expand outside of competing into gyms/digital etc. and want to know how. I’m always available to chat, I want to see these athletes create a sustainable living while competing and after.
Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone reading this that may just now be committing to fitness?
We want to be fit forever, not just a year or month. Train to put yourself in the best position to do this. Move well, train and eat in a sustainable way. It doesn’t do you any good to go crazy for a month if you can’t maintain for a long time, make it a part of your routine and something you look forward to.
Tell me about your podcast and how readers can listen to it.
My book “As Many Reps As Possible” is available for pre-sale now on Amazon. All proceeds from pre-sales benefit Pediatric Cancer. I share a mindset I call the AMRAP Mentality in the book which now is a podcast. We just released our first episode with Mat Fraser and have many more amazing ones ready to go.
You can find the podcast on all channels (iTunes, Spotify, etc.) as well as on YouTube.
Roger Lockridge is from Lewisburg, WV. His work has been featured on numerous platforms and magazines in the fitness industry over the last 10 years. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @rocklockridge.