If you’re familiar with training, then you’re familiar with CrossFit. And if you’re familiar with CrossFit, then you’re more than familiar with Rich Froning. Quite arguably the most recognizable name in the sport today, Froning has taken the CrossFit world by storm. Since his introduction to competition in 2010, no one has amassed as impressive a resume, or the same amount of international fame, as Froning. He is the only athlete in the history of the competition to repeat as CrossFit Games Men’s Champion putting him in the upper echelon of his sport. To say he is a fitness icon would be putting it lightly. And now he can add one more impressive stat to his growing resume: Oakley athlete. Froning joins the Oakley team of athletes as the first member of the company’s training category.
Oakley continues to grow and improve on its eyewear, apparel and accessories technology and the addition of Froning, the premiere athlete in the training realm, is major proof that the company means business. Froning will be the first ever athlete to endorse Oakley training apparel in the CrossFit Games.
Get to know the newest member of the Oakley family of athletes in an exclusive Q&A with the 2011 and 2012 CrossFit Games Champion:
Oakley: Welcome to the team! Give us a “Cliff Notes” version of “Who is Rich Froning?"
Rich Froning: Well, I’m the 2011 and 2012 CrossFit Games Champion. I played baseball growing up. I played a little bit of football, but mainly baseball; I like to do a lot of stuff outside. Also a lot of the action sports type stuff that you guys (Oakley) do, like wakeboarding, mountain biking, snowboarding…that type of stuff.
Oakley: Awesome! Well, you can now add “Oakley athlete and family member” to your resume. What does that mean to you?
Rich Froning: It’s pretty cool! I’ve been wearing Oakley since I was probably 14 or 15, when I played baseball. I started out with M-Frame, because that’s what baseball players wore. So I’ve bought Oakleys on my own for the past 10 years or so. I love the brand, I love the glasses. The apparel is kind of new to me, but I’ve been wearing it the last two months or so, and so far, I’m liking it a lot! It’s quality stuff and it fits right, so it’s all good.
Oakley: As far as the sport of CrossFit goes, you joining the Oakley team is a pretty big deal. You’ll be the first person repping Oakley apparel in the CrossFit Games. Tell us about that.
Rich Froning: I think to have another brand that’s vested in making and building apparel that CrossFitters can use, I think is awesome and it’s going to be cool to see how it grows.
Oakley: Exactly. And that was one of the main reasons you visited Oakley HQ this week was to have your input on the apparel you’ll be wearing. What did you think of the place? The people you met with?
Rich Froning: First of all, the building looks like a fortress. So that’s pretty cool, with the tank outside especially. All the people are awesome. I’m just excited to be a part of a group of people that are this fired up about what they do. I got to meet with the apparel people, and same thing; it’s been a blast trying to figure it all out. They’re going in the right direction definitely and it’ll be cool to be a part of that and see where it goes.
Oakley: Let’s get back to you, personally. Tell us how you got into your sport, how you became interested, etc.
Rich Froning: So, I was getting my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science at Tennessee Tech back in June of 2009, when one of my professors showed us what it was. I would do some of the workouts. I worked out already on my own. I was a firefighter for the city of Cookeville. So, I was doing some of the workouts, then in June of 2009, I went to the Level One Seminar, learned what CrossFit is, why we do what we do, how we do it, all that type of stuff and then opened a gym in August. I started training people. I did that for about a year and a half and was a strength coach at Tennessee Tech, and then just recently back in October I re-opened our gym, CrossFit Mayhem. So my background, I guess is coming up on four years of doing CrossFit.
Oakley: And your big accomplishments came during the past two years (2011 and 2012 CrossFit Games Champion). Tell us about those experiences.
Rich Froning: CrossFit is an interesting thing. It’ relatively new, so it’s been cool to be a part of the growth and to see how it’s grown like it has. This will be my fourth CrossFit Games. The first year I got second and the last two years I got first. I couldn’t do it without all the people around me that support me, train with me, help run the gym for me so, I’ve been blessed in that respect for sure.
Oakley: Banking off of that, CrossFit has become extremely popular, not just at the elite level like yourself, but also with the mainstream public, if you will. What do you hope to see from the sport of CrossFit in the future? And beyond that, what do you hope to see from your career in the CrossFit Games?
Rich Froning: The sky is the limit with CrossFit. Even from when I started, it was already catching momentum then. But now that its taken off, it’s kind of cool to see how many people are doing it and recognize what we’re doing. So I hope it takes over and everybody starts doing it. You know, even whether you’re doing races, triathlon, stuff like that, you can still train using CrossFit. So I think that’s the goal, is to see other people doing it, but it’s already catching on.
And then for me personally, of course I want the third CrossFit Games. I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get it, but I’ve been lucky enough to get two already.
Oakley: And you don’t just train yourself, you also own a CrossFit affiliate in your hometown. Tell us about that.
Rich Froning: Yeah, CrossFit Mayhem is in Cookeville, Tennessee. We’ve got around 150+ members. We just started CrossFit kids class, which is cool to see the kids getting into it. They’re not necessarily doing the stuff we’re doing, but they’re learning the movement patterns with PVC pipe or without any external weight or objects. So it’s kind of cool to see the kids getting fired up about it and getting in shape.
Oakley: That’s awesome. Is “passing it on” a big deal to you?
Rich Froning: Definitely! Especially with the epidemic we have now with obesity and kids being over-weight, its frustrating to see, so it’s cool to be a part of that and see if we can help reverse the trend.
Oakley: While Oakley is a proud company, one of our most emphasized characteristic company-wide is “humility. “ From the way you talk, being humble is a very important attribute to being a professional CrossFit athlete. Are we right?
Rich Froning: What’s cool about CrossFit is that CrossFit is very humbling in itself. There are SO many different things that you have to be good at that you’re going to eventually find that one, or even ten, things that humble you. So like I said, CrossFit is very good at humbling you and that’s what I think makes the sport so great is that everyone pushes each other and even after the workout, we’re still friends.
I came out to California to do one of the open workouts, the demos, and I stayed with Jason Khalipa who’s one of my biggest competitors. So we get along, we train together, but it’s still competition at the same time.
Oakley: On a lighter side…do you have any gnarly stories from your times as a CrossFitter that you can share with us?
Rich Froning: Yeah, there’s a notable fall on YouTube, where I fell off a rope. Most CrossFitters will know about that one. I mean, you could sit here all day and just talk about stories like that.
I actually broke my ankle right before Thanksgiving coming off of a rope. I landed on top of the rope and my ankle twisted.
That’s what’s kind of the draw is that it’s a little bit more extreme in some respects, but its also every day stuff that you need to learn, need to know how to do.
Oakley: Alright, let’s wrap this up. You’ve seen everything, you’ve walked past our wall of athlete photos, you’ve seen what everything Oakley entails. We pride ourselves as being one big Oakley “family,” both employees and athletes alike. Can you describe to us how that makes you feel to be a part of this family?
Rich Froning: I’m fired up to be a part of this family. Every time you see that Oakley “O,” you recognize excellence with it. You see it with Shaun White doing everything that he does, which is insane. And then from NASCAR to Motocross, to baseball, me being a baseball guy; it’s just cool to be a part of that and to be on this team, this family. I’m looking forward to it!