Episode 87 – Justin Bergh
Justin Bergh is the General Manager of The CrossFit Games. He is the man behind the curtain and he really makes the Games go–everything from making sure the athletes start their heats on time to making sure the events flow well. He is the guy that puts it all together. In this episode, we are going to talk about what it takes to guide massive team of volunteers; what it takes to keep everyone following the rules; and how the CBS and Madison deals came about. More importantly, I want you to know the human element of HQ. These are some of the friendliest, happiest people on earth and they are here to serve you.
Justin has a background in sports. He graduated from a sports management program and worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars and also at a sports technology company. Additionally he has worked with the PGA tour and also many other events. He found CrossFit in 2006 before there even was such a thing as the CrossFit Games. In 2008, as the world economy was falling apart, Justin took the risk of jumping from his day job and opening a CrossFit gym. Justin knew that he wanted to be a part of making people healthier through meaningful work.
After opening the gym, he went to the CrossFit affiliate gathering and approached Greg Glassman about helping him with technological aspects of CrossFit. He was offered an internship chance on the CrossFit seminar staff which eventually turned into a full time position with CrossFit.
As part of the early years of The CrossFit Games, Justin experienced many challenges while the groundwork for what The Games would eventually become was being laid. One of the most challenging aspect of The Games is that many events are unknown until just before the workouts are about to begin. This challenges the staff to keep the information secret and control equipment throughout the venue at the same time.
For the first few years as the competition and the caliber of athletes was growing, they started touring a list of cities to host the annual CrossFit games. After looking at Madison and the Alliant Energy Center campus, the lightbulb went off and they really like what they saw. Madison was a place where the foundation of CrossFit could be built going forward.
First and foremost the goal of the CrossFit Games is to crown the fittest woman and man on earth. The second is to create a great community event and tell great stories through media. With these goals in mind, CrossFit feels like they have a great partner in Madison to provide more entertainment, education, and fun to the CrossFit games.
Justin could not manage the CrossFit games every year without the help of over 800 volunteers. The volunteers are extremely motivated to help the sport succeed and very experienced which makes running the event much easier. This is not to say the team has not made mistakes. Most of the mistakes made by Justin and his team are from being too ambitious or attempting to be too precise. Ultimately the meaningful work is what makes the CrossFit Games successful and keeps Justin coming back for more every year.
0:55 – Justin Bergh Introduction
2:48 – Justin Bergh Story
13:41 – Justin on how he made inroads into CrossFit
18:26 – How did the Home Depot Center get selected?
21:20 – What prompted the move to Madison?
28:58 – What is planned for next year for the CrossFit Games setup?
36:12 – The type of leadership required to run the CrossFit Games
43:02 – How many people come back every year to volunteer
43:56 – How is conflict resolved amongst so many highly motivated people?
48:06 – What is to come with CrossFit Games of the future?
Justin Bergh on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jb_crossfit?lang=en
Justin Bergh on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jb_crossfit/?hl=en
Justin Bergh on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-bergh-97a55255/