CrossFit athletes and NFL players now have more in common than impressive bench press results.
Thanks to a program run by the NFL Players Association’s Player Affairs and Development Department, 10 active and former players are learning the ins and outs of the business of CrossFit:
- Carlos Bradley (Former Player)
- Carl Bradford (Linebacker, Green Bay Packers)
- Justin Forsett (Running Back, Baltimore Ravens) and wife Angie Forsett
- William Henderson (Former Player)
- Vonta Leach (Former Player)
- Tim Masthay (Punter & Co-Alternate Player Rep, Green Bay Packers)
- Earl Mitchell (Defensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins)
- Logan Paulsen (Tight End, Washington Redskins)
- Tim Semisch (Tight End, San Diego Chargers)
- Stan White (Former Player)
“We have a lot of players transition into life after football without being sure what it is they want to do,” said Leslie Satchell, NFLPA Senior Manager of Player Affairs and Development. “We work with the good people at CrossFit to help players obtain their Level 1 Certification, which opens doors to being coaches and trainers. We also want to expose players to the business side of CrossFit to help open their eyes to entrepreneurial opportunities available.”
The NFLPA notified players about the off-season opportunity through e-mails and social media in the winter.
“My curiosity has been piqued in recent years about CrossFit,” Masthay said. “I’d had limited exposure to it, so when I saw the union put this event together, I said, ‘Hey I’d love to go to D.C. and learn more about CrossFit, both the training side and the business side.’”
CrossFit is self-described as a strength and conditioning program that implements constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement. The three-day NFLPA-run workshop in Washington, D.C. offers something for everyone, whether a player is unfamiliar with CrossFit or he is already well into his career.
The program started by taking participants to different CrossFit facilities in the area – CrossFit Petworth, HumbleBeast CrossFit and Trident CrossFit. At the Boxes, players were able to hear directly from owners about what works best for their business. On Day 2, players will dive further into requirements for Level 1 Certification, including foundations technique, nutrition. They will also master movements such as the Push Jerk, Deadlift and Medicine-Ball Clean before taking the exam at the end of Day 3.
Bradley, a former NFL linebacker, is already a personal trainer and director of a CrossFit box in Philadelphia. While he already has his Level 1 Certification, he said he came to the program to get exposed to different ideas and methods.
“I wanted to see what was happening at other Boxes and pick up new ideas to keep my Box growing,” Bradley said. “Touring the different Boxes was a great experience and helped me get those perspectives I was looking for.”
At the end of Day One, participants gathered at NFLPA headquarters for an intimate panel discussion. Leading the discussion was CrossFit Flowmaster Chuck Carswell who works directly on Level 1 and Level 2 certification courses. On the panel was former player Andy Hendel, owner and head coach at Reebok CrossFit Charlotte Uptown; John Chick, founder and head coach at JC CrossFit and Marcus Taylor, co-owner and head strength & conditioning coach at CrossFit Petworth.
Chick, who is now in the CFL after stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars, attended the NFLPA’s CrossFit program in 2015.
“I was brand-new to CrossFit last year, but after this experience and visiting the Boxes, I fell in love with it,” Chick said. “As long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be in the fitness even after football, but I didn’t want to just open a gym where my buddies would come hang out. I wanted to do the kind of athletic, competitive activity that I’ve been doing my whole life.”
“As soon as I left here last year, I joined a box at home and continued to fall in love with CrossFit,” Chick continued. “I’ve been putting a business plan together over the last year. You can’t do enough preparation in that realm.”
Chick joined up with an existing gym in Regina in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan and brought CrossFit to the facility. He said it’s been hard work, but that he really enjoys merging concepts and getting individuals away from traditional cardio machines and into the team atmosphere.
Hendel, on the other hand, opened only the second CrossFit gym in the state of North Carolina back in 2006. Taylor opened CrossFit Petworth within the last two years but in a very competitive marketplace. With such varied experience, player participants were able to get a wide range of advice when asking about starting a business.
“This is a great way to diversify my fitness knowledge,” Paulsen said. “The program is a great resource, and I’m enjoying the opportunity to hear about not only the fitness side of it, but the business side as well.”
The players drilled the panelists for the full two hour allotment, getting into specific areas such as marketing, equipment, demographics, class offerings, insurance, financing, staffing and more.
“If you believe in what you’re doing, you will pass that along,” Hendel said. “There is so much more to CrossFit than lifting barbells and swinging on monkey bars. It’s amazing to see what you can help people achieve.”
For more information on educational opportunities offered by the NFLPA, visit https://www.nflpa.com/active-players/playerdevelopment/education.
Notebooks out at #NFLPAPlayerDev @crossfit panel discussion at #NFLPA HQ. 📓🖊 Great questions from player participants about financing, marketing and other vital aspects of owning a #CrossFit Box 🏋🏅💪 (pictured: @packers Tim Masthay, @redskins Logan Paulsen, @chargers Tim Semisch, former players Vonta Leach & Carlos Bradley)