December
07
2015

TwoBrainRadio Episode 8: Brian Mulvaney, Strategist at CrossFit HQ

By Chris 1
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“If you can afford him, you need to go see Greg Glassman.”

In 1999, Brian Mulvaney found Greg in a dojo in Santa Cruz after his neighbor–a fitness trainer herself–described Greg as “the best in town.”

Fifteen years later, Mulvaney is the director of strategy for CrossFit HQ. The brand, which didn’t have a name then, has become a worldwide phenomenon. But the exercise prescription hasn’t changed.

“A CrossFitter today would recognize the programming from 15 years ago,” Mulvaney said.

In this interview, Mulvaney walks us through the history of CrossFit through the eyes of an insider. Then we get into the real purpose of the interview: the philosophy at HQ that makes CrossFit take up arms against Big Soda, licensure and bad science. Mulvaney answers the question, “Why US?”

We start with the definition of libertarianism, “It’s quite often misunderstood,” Mulvaney said. He describes the difference between the US “Libertarian” political movement and the philosophy of self-ownership. One of the first books Greg “forced on” Mulvaney was Libertarianism: A Primer” target=”_blank”>Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz.

“We’re betting on the entrepreneurial spirit and initiative of entrepreneurs ’round the globe. And that’s a pretty solid bet, Chris.” he said. “Entrepreneurialism is an act of service. It starts with giving.”

My own perspective–that joy comes from service to others–is shared by thousands of other gym owners who are capitalizing on the opportunity created by the affiliate model.

“What’s the value of life WITHOUT service?” Mulvaney asks. “I don’t think we can be fully human without expressing that.” While he believes there are infinite ways to pursue service to others, “the one we’ve locked onto is people opening facilities with the CrossFit name with the intent to make a difference for others.”

In the pursuit of service, Mulvaney said we sometimes butt heads with conflicting interests.

The “Global Energy Balance Network” was disbanded thanks in part to CrossFit’s efforts.  This is indicative of HQ’s commitment to health: though most commonly considered an exercise company, CrossFit confronted the “scientists” claiming exercise cancels out a bad diet.

The “Energy balance ladder” Mulvaney refers to is from this interview:

In the “Why is this OUR Fight?” section, I ask, “Who stands with us in this fight?” Mulvaney asked me to link to kickthecan.info.

According to Mulvaney, we’ll have 100 million diabetics in the US by 2050. “If we get to that point, healthcare will be totally unrecognizable. The ER will be clogged. The whole thing is unsustainable. Anyone who’s seen the connection between consumption and outcome is with us.”

“This matters for Affiliates because the conjunction of soda and a failing fitness authority–ACSM, NSCA and USREPS–have gotten together to push legislation at the state level to determine who gets to be a trainer and who doesn’t.”

Other questions asked:

“How many CrossFit gyms will there eventually be?”

“What made Greg proud at the Games?”

“Why are we licensees instead of franchisees?”

Like every single person I’ve ever encountered at HQ, Mulvaney is generous with his time and willing to answer any question. It’s a shame that every new affiliate owner can’t tour the various offices of CrossFit HQ, because mystery breeds distrust sometimes. But trust me: every visit I’ve made has left me inspired to be a better person. This podcast will do the same for you.

Recorded on December 3, 2015.

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