Why Mat Fraser Vs. Dave Castro Doesn’t Matter

Two red boxing gloves come together and cause an explosion.

Welcome to Pressing It Out! This week:

  • What CrossFit Games champ Mat Fraser and a Formula 1 driver have in common when it comes to criticism.
  • Mike Burgener says “fix the feet” even though everyone refuses to do it.
  • Dick’s House of Sport uses The Force.
  • Former WWE champion wins DOMS belt on Wrestlemania 37 weekend.
A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

Mat Fraser Vs. Dave Castro

Re-listening to the Mat Fraser episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, I found it really interesting that Fraser cared at all about Dave Castro’s comments that he was “slipping.”

At the time Castro made the comments—likely just to stir the pot, create some drama and switch up the 1,500-day “Fraser is dominant” narrative—Fraser’s four-year run of CrossFit Games championships was already more impressive than literally any other accomplishment in the Sport of Fitness.

Even with four titles each, Fraser had already bested Rich Froning by my estimation. That’s no shade on Rich. It’s just that the competition gets harder to win every year as the sport grows and the world’s athletes get fitter. So I gave Fraser the edge for his more recent four-peat. And that was before he won a fifth time.

The whole beef with Castro felt like spitballs against a battleship to me. Then I watched Season 3 of the always-amazing Netflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” and saw the irritation of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas after some rando criticized him on social media. Bottas was looking at his phone like he was holding a rotting piece of chicken.

So I guess no amount of success can truly drown out criticism, whether you’re utterly destroying all fitness competitors every single year or jet-setting to Monaco to drive a four-wheeled rocket ship past the Casino de Monte Carlo at 360 kilometers an hour.

Irritated or not, Fraser will stop at five titles and is without doubt the sport’s greatest athlete. His retirement leaves the men’s field wide open. So who’s next? Noah Ohlsen maybe? The always entertaining Patrick Vellner? Personally, I’d like to see Justin Medeiros win for no other reason than the mullet.

Leave a comment and drop your choice for Fraser’s replacement as king of exercise.

The Novice’s Curse Revisited—Again

It was great to see Coach Mike Burgener in the CrossFit Email of the Day this week to remind that “90 percent of all missed lifts are attributed to the feet.”

Coach B—of Burgener Strength—has been saying this for decades, yet many lifters don’t listen. Instead, they just keep going heavier and inventing more challenging barbell complexes with which to showcase their fundamental errors.

If you’ve ever coached a bull-headed athlete with functional fitness aspirations, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Were I to start an Oly club today, I probably wouldn’t use barbells for about a year. I’d just drill footwork with PVC for 12 months straight. After that, we’d bring out the barbells, get a little stronger and beat all the lifters who are still short-stepping jerks and jumping six inches forward on snatches.

Want more on footwork? Check out this article I wrote back in 2016 with expertise provided by Coach B: “Perfecting the Jerk: Part 1.”

Home Run for Dick’s?

The Independent Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Associaton newsletter recently directed me to a list of feel-good stories after a dismal year of COVID in the fitness world. One of those stories was about Dick’s House of Sport, a new store/super-playground in Rochester, New York.

The store seems to be a blend of try-before-you-buy retail, facility rental and fitness/sports community. The facility has a putting green, batting cage, turfed sports field and climbing wall, and you can book services like a four-week bridal boot camp run by Victor CrossFit, time on the climbing wall and something called “Jedi Training” on Star Wars Day.

A collection of sporting goos with the caption: "Not pictured: Lightsabers."

Dick’s also offers free stuff like a personalized shopping experience for mothers and store-perimeter walking sessions for seniors.

When I worked in sporting goods back in the day, people always claimed to want to “try out their cuts” with new shoes but almost always made final choices based only on color, brand or style.

Beyond that, the in-store putting green was definitely abused by some and probably got its best use during after-hours staff sessions involving betting and pitching wedges from the bike department. And I heard about a few speeding golf balls that got through the netting in the driving area at a sister store.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see a creative retailer opening up more places for activities and connecting with local gyms—even if you have to exit through the pro shop.

Seth Rollins Is Sore?

On April 20, the Morning Chalk Up published long and interesting member-exclusive article about WWE star Seth Rollins. (You’ll find him on the CrossFit Games Leaderboard under the name Rollins uses when he isn’t delivering the Pedigree to Roman Reigns: Colby Lopez.)

Rollins completed the five Quarterfinals tests a day or two before taking on Cesaro at WrestleMania 37 on April 10. The part I found most interesting: Rollins said he hadn’t done GHD sit-ups for two years due to a back injury, and he did 110 in Test 2.

That’s gnarly.

Say anything you want about Wolverine-esque powers of recovery and intestinal fortitude that reminds of the best days of Macho Man Randy Savage. Doing 110 GHD sit-ups at intensity after a long layoff is “not advised”—to say the least. Doing the sit-ups—and a bunch of other tough workouts—before a scripted but incredibly physical wrestling match might be considered the sort of torture only Mick Foley could endure.

That’s not to criticize Rollins. Professional athletes can do as they see fit, and they have coaches and trainers guiding them. I point all this out only because I’m surprised Rollins could even stand up straight to battle Cesaro at Raymond James Stadium. If I did 110 sit-ups at high intensity today and sneezed tomorrow, I’d likely implode. Indeed, the man they call “CrossFit Jesus” said the sit-ups left a mark.

Rollins lost at Wrestlemania, BTW—so perhaps the GHDs were all part of the angle Seth is working right now. I can almost hear legendary ring announcer Jim Ross now:

“As God as my witness, the GHD broke him in half!”

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