Today I’m chatting with Jason Khalipa, former CrossFit Games world champion. He’s also the owner and founder of NCFIT gyms, and host of the Business of Fitness and AMRAP Mentality Podcasts.
I had such a great time going on his show recently that we decided to have him come be a guest on the WHOOP Podcast as well.
Our conversation includes Jason’s new book As Many Reps As Possible and the mentality behind it, as well as how he got into the business side of his sport. We also explore what it takes to become a world champ, what he’s learned from using WHOOP, and the various training and recovery techniques that he’s found valuable throughout his career, both as an athlete and a coach.
I expect this episode to be a big hit with many of our members, especially those who are into weightlifting and CrossFit.
4:13 - Fittest Man on Earth. What is the typical background for someone who wins the CrossFit Games? “It’s more of a body type than it is a background.” Jason says the ideal size is about 5’8” and 190 pounds. “Really what caters to people having success at the CrossFit Games is having a strong belief in why they’re there, and having the work ethic to put in a lot of time.”
6:02 - Evolution of the Games since he won in 2008. He thinks his better accomplishments are actually finishing second in 2013 and third in 2014. “I saw the sport grow so much, but I was able to stay at the top.”
7:28 - Training and Preparation for the Games. “I was probably in the best shape of my life when I took third in 2014.” There was a greater variety of events and much better competition than when he won in 2008. “It was just a totally different landscape.”
10:17 - Fasting Workouts to start the day. He works out first thing in the morning and doesn’t eat until later.
11:15 - Morning Routine. Jason likes to ride a stationary bike in the morning, “I’ll just hit up intervals right when I wake up, and the reason I like doing that is it gets my body going and pumping early without incorporating a load. As soon as I start putting in an external object, like a barbell or whatever, I need a little bit more time to warm up and groove. In the mornings I normally like to just get after it so I can get on with the day.” The external load puts more strain on his body, “I need to be mentally and physically prepared for that … my body is getting warmer and warmer as the day goes on.”
12:35 - Develop His Own Process, or did he collaborate with others to create his workout routines? “I do think too many people listen too much to the program … if you have somebody else writing your program for you that’s fine, but they don’t know how you feel.” He talks about the value of listening to your body.
13:50 - Critical Component for Success. “Surround yourself with people who are going to raise you up and push you that extra 1-2%, that could be the difference between you getting on the podium or not.” Will says “What you described is a very WHOOP mindset that you should be putting the proper strain on your body for how recovered you are.”
15:04 - Good at Everything, Great at Nothing. “I do think in the CrossFit community there is more focus on training and recovery, because that is ultimately what the sport is.” Other athletes need to practice their specific sport as well as train. “For us, because our sport is the sport of fitness and training, we spend a lot more time and emphasis thinking about that. ... In CrossFit you want to be good at everything and great at nothing.”
16:56 - His Motivation Today to stay fit, now that he’s no longer competing. “I never want fitness to be an inhibitor of my life, ever.”
19:32 - Giving People the Right Tools. He used to sell gym memberships, but didn’t actually believe in what the gym was selling. “I remember thinking ‘I’m not giving these people the tools that they need to actually get in the best shape of their life.’” Jason’s business goal now is for his members to always think they are getting good value from the service provided.
22:03 - Fitness as a Community. “You find yourself drafting of each other’s energy and that collaboration is where the time flies by. That’s really what we’re trying to do in our gyms, create this room full of people where people are trying to raise the bar.”
26:13 - What to Look for in a Gym. “Go find a gym that specializes in more of a coach/community aspect … where there’s a coach who cares who wants to provide you a phenomenal experience.” Jason says these are likely not going to be conventional gyms, but more of the “boutique style” gyms.
27:23 - Identifying a Good Coach. Is their vibe warm or cold? What is their on-ramping process? How much attention are you getting? His gyms want you to be “touched” at least three times per visit, even on your first day. “You’re one bad experience away from never coming back in.”
29:21 - Fitness Trends he is a fan of. “I think anything is better than nothing, I think anybody getting off the couch and moving is phenomenal.” People will seek out what they want. His gyms are founded on functional movements and performing with a coach at your best effort.
31:20 - AMRAP. What was Jason’s goal in writing the book? “By me incorporating this mindset for so many years it put me in the best position to battle this huge life challenge, and I want to provide this set of tools to other people.”
33:11 - Daughter’s Leukemia Diagnosis. “We got a lot of really bad news that night. It was a really really terrible night … but we were just super grateful that her results came back with the more favorable version of leukemia that was treatable. That sparked a lot of really challenging conversations and experiences that have transformed my thought process and who I am forever.”
37:18 - Knowing Your Why. At first it was providing for his family, now it has evolved to spreading his message and supporting other families dealing with pediatric cancer. Check out avaskitchen.org, which raises money to give families “breakaway opportunities.”
40:05 - Wasn’t Motivated Early On. Things shifted for him in college, “When you get into the real world, there’s no benefit for moderate effort … in life you have to put in the effort.”
41:45 - Millennials are Soft? “People think they are going to get results overnight … they just want that instant gratification.” Jason believes social media is partially to blame, “If someone is successful people want to hate on them and think they got lucky, instead of just reflecting on maybe they just put in their dues for a long time.” Will adds “The reality is it takes a long time to become an overnight success.”
45:41 - How Do You Become a Hard Worker? “Go lift up a barbell.” He discusses the mental benefits of fitness. “I think we have found a secret that no one else knows about. I think the benefits that come from fitness are so astronomical, that if someone isn’t doing at least something, they’re missing out on something really beautiful.”
47:15 - Power of Communication and being mindful of cell phone usage. “When you’re at work be at work, when you’re at home be at home, when you’re with someone at dinner be with them.” Jason and his wife met at the age of 14 and bonded through good communication, “You can’t do that if you’re one foot in and one foot out.”
49:09 - Benefits of WHOOP. “It holds you accountable … it’s a piece to a big puzzle,” just like nutrition and fitness are also components. He points out how data tracking makes you aware, “if you don’t measure it you can’t get information from it.” In Will’s words, “you can only manage what you measure.”
50:28 - WWE Wrestler Seth Rollins’ Heart Rate on WHOOP. “We were having a really cool conversation about how his heart rate was at 170 for 45 minutes straight while he was on the floor competing.”
51:54 - Use Cases with Baseline Data. By looking at WHOOP data before and after, it can be seen how specific changes in diet, lifestyle, workouts, etc affect your body.
52:55 - Food Sensitivities. Has his nutrition changed over time? Now that he’s not training so much “I do need to be a little bit more aware of what I’m eating” since he doesn’t need all the calories. He also pays a lot more attention to potential food sensitivities now, something Will believes strongly in.
54:06 - Beating Jet Lag. “When I first get on the plane I’ll ask the flight attendant for ‘x’ amount of bottles of water based on how many hours the flight is. … As soon as I land, no matter what time it is, I go work out.” He also times his meals based on the new time zone he’s going to.
55:41 - Bedtime Routine. “It’s a non-issue for me, as soon as my head hits the pillow I’m asleep.” However, in the morning he uses cold plunges and sauna. He sits in a cool pool for 20-30 deep breaths after a workout. In the future he’d like to try combining a sauna with a...
57:35 - Bio Freezer? “It’s like something you’d see in the deli section.” You fill it halfway with water and get in it. “Obviously you make sure it’s unplugged before you get in. The hack is you just don’t leave it on all the time so the water doesn’t become ice.”
59:13 - Optimal Performance. “Obviously in our industry it’d be Matt Frasier. ... But I think for me, it’s anybody who’s optimizing their life and feeling like they're elevating their game every day.”