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March 9, 2021

Podcast 114: CrossFit Owner and CEO Eric Roza on Making His Dream a Reality

This week’s WHOOP Podcast guest is Eric Roza, the owner and CEO of CrossFit.

By Will Ahmed

Listen, review, subscribe.

WHOOP and CrossFit just announced a multiyear partnership naming WHOOP the Official Wearable of CrossFit. The partnership will help athletes at all levels of the sport benefit from WHOOP data around training, sleep, and recovery.

Eric shares his story and explains why owning CrossFit is his calling in life. He discusses how he’s changing the culture of CrossFit, his vision for it moving forward, and why surrounding yourself with good people is one of the keys to success in business and in life.

Stay healthy and stay in the green!

 

CrossFit Owner Eric Roza Podcast Show Notes:

2:34 – Why CrossFit? Eric details how he discovered CrossFit at the age of 40 and how it changed his life. “About 10 years ago, I decided that after my chapter running the tech company I was leading, Datalogix, if I could do anything with my life it would be to lead CrossFit into the future.” Eric eventually bought CrossFit in the summer of 2020.

6:36 – Changing the Culture at CrossFit. Eric bought CrossFit from founder Greg Glassman, who stepped down as CEO of the company shortly after tweets about George Floyd’s death outraged many in the CrossFit community. “It was as close as I’ve ever felt to a calling. This is what I need to do now,” Eric says of his decision to buy CrossFit in the fallout of Glassman’s comments.

10:04 – Being Accepted by the CrossFit Community. “I had to see if people would accept me as the person who could come in and right the ship. … What I realized was that people were very much craving CrossFit to continue.”

10:36 – Economic Impact. “There were 100-some people who were employees of CrossFit itself. But I estimate there are 100,000 people who make their living in the CrossFit ecosystem. And only about half of those work at gyms … They needed CrossFit to exist. It was part of their livelihood as well as their meaning.”

12:56 – WHOOP-CrossFit Partnership. “We’re excited to partner [with WHOOP]. Where WHOOP focuses around sleep and recovery and things like that are just so core to what we think about.”

15:10 – His Vision. “My goal, and I don’t know whether this takes 20 years or 30 years, I don’t know how long it takes, is that we end up with 100 million CrossFitters around the world. That’s what we’re shooting for. I think of it in terms of by the time there are about 10 billion people in the world, there are about 7 and a half billion now, I want one percent of them to self-identify as part of this group and this movement that prioritizes this lifestyle of health, happiness, and performance.”

19:29 – Reach of CrossFit. “We’re the biggest certifier of personal trainers in the world. We have about 150,000 credentialed CrossFit trainers around the world.”

25:11 – New WHOOP Activity. CrossFit has been added as an activity in the WHOOP app. “So all of you who have been putting in functional fitness can now finally put in CrossFit.” Will says. “We’re going to be creating subgroups and subteams for lots of different competitions and for different people at different CrossFit stages so you’ll be able to identify with other CrossFitters who are just like you.”

31:41 – What Sets CrossFit Apart. “I’ve thought a lot about what makes CrossFit CrossFit. People were doing pushups and pull-ups obviously well before CrossFit,” Eric says. “One of the magic things about CrossFit is some of these movements are just very neurologically taxing. They’re very complicated. … The notion that you’re being introduced to new and very complicated movements is really good for your brain too in ways that I think are hard for people to appreciate when you’re exhausted after a CrossFit workout. Some of it is the physical intensity, but some of it is the complexity of the movements you’re doing. That’s why the coaching is so key, but it’s really fun and rewarding.”

39:13 – Drive of Elite Athletes. “The best athletes not only have some incredible genetics and drive and all that, but their life is built around training now. They would all tell you that. Mat Fraser used to say to me [when I asked him what he was up to] he’d say, ‘Train, sleep, eat.’ That’s it. These guys are [doing] 4, 5, 6 hours a day of super intense training. That’s not what most of us are up to. But what’s really cool, for me, in an average week, probably 3 to 4 times I’m going to do a CrossFit workout. I’m doing that because I enjoy it inherently but also because I want to keep skiing bumps my whole life. I get inspired by what the crazy high-end athletes are doing.”

41:50 – Improving Sleep. “I think, as an overall CrossFit movement and philosophy, we haven’t been very vocal around specifics on sleep. [WHOOP is] helping us with more education on [sleep performance and sleep hygiene.]”

46:36 – Keys to Succeeding in CrossFit. Eric highlights good nutrition, listening to your body, physical readiness, and quality sleep as critical components to performing well in CrossFit.

50:58 – Advice to Entrepreneurs. “Cultivate a lot of great people in your life because I think then the external magic comes in from unexpected sources. People conspire to help you. … That’s really important, to have people who can help you.”

Connect with Eric on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance. WHOOP today works with everyone from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts to executives. Ahmed has raised $200 million from top investors and has an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, and designers. He wrote “The Feedback Tool: Measuring Fitness, Intensity, and Recovery,” which sparked the underlying physiology and engineering for his work today. Ahmed was named a 2011 Harvard College Scholar for finishing in the top 10% of his class and a CSA Scholar Athlete; he captained the Harvard Men’s Varsity Squash Team. He was also recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40.

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