Rory Mckernan

Rory Mckernan
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Juliet: [0:04:01] Rory, welcome to The Ready State Podcast. It’s so fun to see your face.

Rory Mckernan: [0:04:05] What a joy, my friends. One of my favorite mediums, media, and two of my favorite people. So thanks for having me. 

Kelly: [0:04:10] We just have to get the elephant out of the room first. You’re looking so clean shaven. I know it’s been a minute.

Juliet: [0:04:18] Wait, did he have a beard for a while?

Kelly: [0:04:20] Did he have a beard?

Juliet: [0:04:21] I mean somehow-

Kelly: [0:04:21] He had a man’s beard.

Juliet: [0:04:22] I actually forgot about that. I’m going to have to go back on the internet and look at it.

Kelly: [0:04:28] There’s a scene from the early Dune movie from 1985 and he’s like, “Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has not even seen.” And that’s what that beard represented for me, wormsign, like the biggest… It was the beard of all beards. How did you talk your family into that?

Rory Mckernan: [0:04:43] It is funny. It was one of those things, it was like a curiosity. Actually, we’re coming up on a year. So it was at the CrossFit Games. And for the first time in I don’t even know, in over a decade, I found myself, my appearance did not matter. There was zero impact on my job. Whereas I had to be clean shaven in the past, right? And so I didn’t shave all Games week and I’m like, oh, this is fantastic, but now I look like Rich Froning. And Rich is like the constant stubble. There’s like a Cookeville uniform, right? And part of it is stubble. And I was like, well, I’ve got to set myself apart somehow. It’s like let’s just keep this baby rolling. And I passed that… It’s like when you’re growing your hair out, you get to that point of no return. And I was like, I’m there, I might as well roll with this thing. And little by little, it just kind of got this life of its own. And we can go down this rabbit hole; we don’t have to. But you know like just as with other things, there are beard people.

Juliet: [0:05:30] Oh my Lord, yes, we know. We know.

Rory Mckernan: [0:05:33] Yeah, and once they get on your side, it’s like I almost felt like a traitor. Once I shaved this thing, I was like they’re going to hate me; everybody’s going to hate me.

Juliet: [0:05:39] Oh, I mean Kelly has had a beard a couple of different times and then he ends up shaving it off mostly just because summer.

Kelly: [0:05:44] I don’t want to look like I’m 60 years old.

Juliet: [0:05:45] Well, yeah, and his beard is half grey. I mean the internet loves him with a beard. So yeah, I mean we actually have to have a conscious conversation, like okay, it’s 100 degrees out. Kelly’s like, I’m too hot with this beard on my face. But he’s like there’s going to be some blowback.

Kelly: [0:06:03] And I’ve got some catfishing to do with my wife so I want to look younger than I really am. Where are you talking to us today?

Rory Mckernan: [0:06:09] I wanted some authenticity in the mix so I’m actually in the media office here at CrossFit Mayhem where all the YouTube magic kind of comes together and happens. 

Kelly: [0:06:19] That’s amazing.

Juliet: [0:06:19] Wait, so we talked about this at the beginning and it’s really kind of a non sequitur, but I heard that you discovered you have a cave on your property in Cookeville, and what’s the deal?

Rory Mckernan: [0:06:30] You want to dive right into the cave? Let’s go.

Kelly: [0:06:32] Oh, let’s do it.

Juliet: [0:06:32] I do. I mean Kelly mentioned it and then I was like, okay, we could talk about athletics and business and CrossFit, but I want to talk about this cave.

Kelly: [0:06:40] There’s a lot of Stranger Things in our world.

Juliet: [0:06:42] Yeah. This feels very Stranger Things-y.

Kelly: [0:06:43] And just as an aside, they just discovered the Spanish galleon that was the legend root for The Goonies, which is very cave based.

Rory Mckernan: [0:06:54] They actually discovered it?

Kelly: [0:06:55] They discovered the timbers. That was why the emeralds and the whole story of that sort of Oregon Coast. So I’m very much alive with caves are rad, my friend owns a cave. Continue.

Rory Mckernan: [0:07:08] Well, and I’ve got a legend for you too and it ties in. So the context you need to know is that when we moved to Cookeville, Tennessee, we were like, hey, the dream was always small farm, land, whatever. So about six months ago, we moved onto 12 acres with a fixer upper in the middle of demolition. So you guys, it kind of cuts your feet out from under you a little bit. So if I forget my children’s names or whatever later in this conversation, just know that I’m on the backfoot right now. 

But yeah, in discovering the land and chopping down trees and doing the bushhogging and getting things uncovered, we found a bunch of little foxholes and dens for different animals. And I just happened to be kind of banging around one day on the dirt bike and I was like, man, that’s a big one. And I did a doubletake and I was like, no, that’s a hole. And then I went over and I looked down it and I threw a rock down it, and I was like, oh, we legit have cave. And this area of Putnam County actually is known for it. So under Tennessee Tech, under downtown, there’s very well-known cave systems that are miles long so it wasn’t out of nowhere, but for me to be like, dude, they sold me the house, they didn’t say anything about it, it’s great. And so yes, since then there’s been a couple of explorations where I went down there. 

So the important cave lore though, my friend, and I will bring you out here for this, is in the aftermath of the Civil War, apparently no one knows what happened to the Confederate Army’s gold. And so there’s a couple of different legends about, oh, some of it went here, some of it went there. There is a story that specifically ties back to the Cumberland region. And there was a bunch of Confederate soldiers, they got caught by the Union soldiers, and before asking them any questions, they just bang, shot them all, which was shortsighted, obviously. No one knew where the gold went, nobody knew anything about it, and now we know that it’s on my property.

Kelly: [0:08:45] I can already see the movie called Rory’s Gold

Rory Mckernan: [0:08:49] There’ll be no movie. You’ll never see me again. You two will see me again. But I’ll be off the face of the earth. We’ll buy an island together. 

Juliet: [0:08:55] Okay, so you went into said cave and just set the stage for me. Is this something where you roped up and repelled into your cave or can you just walk into it and did you go alone or with others? I would be too scared to go by myself, so.

Rory Mckernan: [0:09:10] Well, so the first time I was like I have to get down there before I call anybody about this so that I can get said gold and make sure that I had it and secured in a safe place. And I’m only half joking about this. The more you think about gold, you’re like I think it really is down there. The answer to your question is it is an actual down climb about 30 feet. You could repel. But it’s small enough in diameter that you might push on both sides. You can down climb pretty easily. And when you get into it, you’re in a probably 30 foot deep and at least 20 feet high room. And it chokes on either side down to another room of equal size. 

And so I went down there by myself. I’ve got a couple of janky flashlights. And I start to kind of get that… I tried to get myself brave enough to go down into the second room, can’t pull it off. Try again the next day, won’t do it. But I go further and further each time. As luck would have it, since we are in this cave rich region, there’s a bunch of people around here who are way into spelunking and whatnot, and called a guy that I know, local guy named Jim Fox, and he was like, “I would love to explore your cave.” I think it was 80 feet, if it’s 80 feet or deeper you get to name it. And anyways, Jim came over. And the dude is, he’s incredible. I’ll tell you all about his story some other time. But he came over with a bum arm. He’d had a staph infection and so he really wasn’t supposed to be doing this. He goes down to that second room like it’s nothing. He took for granted that I had already been in there. And I was like, “No, no, hadn’t been that far yet, just waiting on you.” Well, then he just progresses through these little cracks and caverns, like he’s sticking his head in places you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to go. 

Kelly: [0:10:43] Because there are no snakes in Tennessee.

Rory Mckernan: [0:10:45] Well, not in caves. It’s nice and cold down there. So actually, I think you’d be guaranteed not to run into a snake down there. But anyways, long story short, he’s like, “Hey, there’s a third room. We could totally get into it.” And this dude, he’s upside down and pulling rocks out and throwing them, like trying to dig his way into the third room. And I’m like, “Bro, what if this thing collapses on us?”

Kelly: [0:11:07] Talk about unknown and unknowable fitness. I love it. You’re like, “Cave? Let’s do this.

Rory Mckernan: [0:11:11] And he loves it. So anyways, so he’s coming back, so I’ll keep you guys updated when we get into the third room. For now, two rooms, exciting to have on your property.

Juliet: [0:11:22] Last question for you though. Is it like you go down to one room and then you go down again? Are you down in the one room and then you just kind of stay at that same depth and go to the other rooms?

Rory Mckernan: [0:11:31] Room one to room two is like downish. It’s almost like it’s effectively the same. Yeah, effectively once you get down there, you’re on the same plane. 

Kelly: [0:11:38] Do me a favor. There’s a movie called The Rescue made by our friend Jin-hee.

Rory Mckernan: [0:11:41] Watched it.

Kelly: [0:11:42] Yeah, thank you.

Juliet: [0:11:43] Great movie.

Kelly: [0:11:43] Yeah, thank you. Just watch that again before you go down there in the reins. Just do us a favor.

Juliet: [0:11:47] Maybe just tell your wife that you’re going to be going down into the cave next time. Just tell someone. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:11:52] For people that haven’t seen that movie, it is fantastic and probably one of the most stressful things I’ve ever been through, and I didn’t go through it, I just watched it.

Kelly: [0:12:00] You are a non-native Tennessean. I don’t know if you know this.

Rory Mckernan: [0:12:03] I am not.

Kelly: [0:12:03] For everyone else. How did you end up in Tennessee and specifically in Cookeville, Tennessee?

Rory Mckernan: [0:12:09] I am not a native Tennessean. I am a native Texan and my wife is from Michigan. That doesn’t answer the question exactly. But we met, fell in love, made a family in California. Spent a great couple decades out there and kind of just saw that through to its natural conclusion. And we knew, we made that decision before I got let go by CrossFit. But in the midst of deciding we were going to move away from California, I got let go by CrossFit in the midst of all the craziness. And it sealed the deal. Amongst other things just for cost of living, speed of life, and a real need for change. But everything was on the list. I spent a lot of my youth in the mountains. So as much as a lot of people are ocean people, I’m a real mountain guy. Those were real high on my list but we both had veto power. So Ang vetoed most of my mountain destinations because she grew up in Michigan and wasn’t looking for the snow. 

But Cookeville was basically… Nashville was high on the list. And at the time that I mentioned that I got let go by CrossFit, I was actually in Cookeville not long afterwards for an event that Rich has done on a yearly basis called Mayhem for Muster Seed. And so I was just out to emcee the event. And kind of like you, I’d just been out here for seminars and a weekend at a time, right? I’d never actually explored. And when I came back, it was really kind of like just a flippant, “Hey babe, maybe Cookeville would be cool, you know?” And we literally laughed about it. We were like, “Ha ha, no way.” But it sort of sank in. And over the next couple of days and weeks we were like, man, it keeps on kind of resonating. And so we came back to visit as a couple. And by the time we left, we spent a week here, brought the kids back, and by the time that week with the kids was over, we were already looking at houses. So it was a very honest, again, almost started as a joke, but we were shopping for a place to live and this just kind of jumped out and grabbed us at the right time.

Juliet: [0:14:04] So I have not had the good fortune to be out there in Cookeville yet, although one of these days I would like to go. But Kelly describes Mayhem and the community there as like… In fact, sometimes I think he can’t come up with the right words to describe it other than that it’s a really special place. I don’t know. I’d just love to hear you describe what is it about it, what’s special sort of, and maybe even kind of paint the picture because I know Mayhem’s doing a lot of different things. And so if someone were to show up there-

Kelly: [0:14:31] And what is Mayhem?

Juliet: [0:14:32] Yeah. What is it?

Kelly: [0:14:32] It started out as a gym but it’s a little bit bigger than that now.

Juliet: [0:14:35] If you show up there, what is it? If you show up, what do you see? Who’s there? What’s the vision? Definitely just fill us all in.

Rory Mckernan: [0:14:43] Yeah. I’ll separate those into gym life and outside the gym because outside the gym was something that really, it was all icing on the cake, right? We knew we were going to move here and plug into a really large affiliate community. We didn’t know exactly what it was going to be like. But the stuff outside the gym has been a real joy as well. And I know you guys are so outdoorsy that that was the upsell for us when we got here. And I was like, wow, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a state or national park, you know? So all sorts of waterfalls, all sorts of rivers, and then I guess I’m putting the cart in front of the horse here but there’s not just pressure to get in the gym and be fit, but there’s like, yeah, we’re going mountain biking, hey, we’re going out to the lake. There’s just all sorts of activities that are kind of happening on a consistent basis, whereas this isn’t my previous job’s fault, but when I was in NorCal, I just found that I was doing less things. I had to really plan my special occasions and here I feel like there’s always something going on so you’re always kind of keeping up. 

But inside the gym, the affiliate community is really cool. And I think what steals the attention and steals the show is the fact that Rich and his team are training right now, there’s two other teams that qualified for the Games, they’re all here. And in less than a week—yeah, the Fourth of July’s coming up, right—there’s going to be about 20 athletes that are going to the CrossFit Games that are going to stop in and make it their home. What would you see if you stopped in at CrossFit Mayhem now between July and August? You’ll see a large percentage of the CrossFit Games field in their training environment throwing down head-to-head. What I was really pleasantly surprised here because we moved here outside of Games season and it was at a time when I was less involved anyways, but the affiliate community was super strong. I train at 5 a.m. now. There’s a huge amount of people who are just there throwing down trying to get better just like you would see in most affiliates around the world. I do think that there’s a little bit of a higher drive here. When I first started training, I was just doing an 8:15 class. All these people were my peers and they just dropped their kids off. But the workouts were hard. And people were going ham, you know?

Kelly: [0:16:48] So you had to move to 5 a.m. because you’re like, okay, can’t keep it up, 5 am.

Juliet: [0:16:52] At least the 5 a.m. crew, they’ll be a little tired.

Rory Mckernan: [0:16:54] Where can I fit in? Yeah. But yeah, no, I’ve been really, really impressed by that. And then again, I’m not here to say that this has been unique to my life. From the minute we touch down, there were people, and this wasn’t just CrossFitters, this was community wide, new neighbors and things like that, they just scoop you up. There’s less of a barrier in the South. People are a lot less afraid to just throw out a, “Hello, how you doin’?” and sit and wait for your answer and actually listen to what you have to say. And that was really important to us because our kids, Gus was about to go into the fifth grade, so he was about to be in middle school. And we were like, man, this succeeds or fails based on how well our kids adapt and how well they like it. And yeah, so we just got scooped up right away and that was the selling point. I can be somewhere far less attractive and if the people and the community are solid and they’ve got your back… At the end of the day, you guys know raising kids, that’s what’s important.

Kelly: [0:17:52] You just pulled off a 24-hour mountain bike race. Is that an example of what you’re talking about in terms of people are out there training, but also playing?

Juliet: [0:18:02] Playing. Yeah. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:18:04] Yeah. And that’s more like Rich, the ringleader. When Rich wants to do something, he’ll toe a crowd with him. And he’s not even like, “Hey, do you guys want to do this?” He’s like, “Hey, we’re doing this,” you know? So we’ve got a couple like-

Kelly: [0:18:15] This is what we’re doing now.

Rory Mckernan: [0:18:16] This is what we’re doing. And so yeah, the mountain bike thread, that was one that he just kind of dropped in there. But yes, that is what I’m talking about. And it’s not like you’re going to get kicked out if you don’t stay fit. But there’s more opportunities I feel like, right?

Kelly: [0:18:33] No, I feel like I’m going to get kicked out of our family if I don’t stay fit. I understand. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:18:38] Okay, good, you know the deal. I wanted to stay political about it.

Kelly: [0:18:41] One of us is a World Champion and one of us is not.

Rory Mckernan: [0:18:43] And you guys just, while we’re on it, were invited to the 24-hour mountain bike race and I expect to see you next year. Otherwise, we’ll have issues.

Kelly: [0:18:52] In full disclosure, we already had a 24-hour mountain bike race on the books for two weekends from now or next weekend.

Juliet: [0:19:00] Like two weekends from now.

Kelly: [0:19:01] But things got too hairy.

Juliet: [0:19:02] Our team has imploded.

Rory Mckernan: [0:19:04] Oh no.

Juliet: [0:19:04] I mean not just us but on a broader scale. So I think we may abandon planning our own and just join yours.

Rory Mckernan: [0:19:11] Nice. Nice.

Kelly: [0:19:13] Okay, so here you are media director at CrossFit, really face of this big gigantic international competition, in fact the largest sporting event in the world with the most number of participants. That’s what the CrossFit Open is. And you really are the face of that. That pivots or changes for you with all of the, we’ll just call it the troubles. Call it the troubles. You end up taking this role at Mayhem. And what is your role there? Because I feel like that was a big inflection point for them and potentially a real second act for you. Or a third act, rather.

Rory Mckernan: [0:19:55] So when I left CrossFit, the real long story short is I kind of delved in and dipped a toe in doing the YouTube stuff and the freelance media. It was rewarding in some senses but it was also, if I’m being honest, it was like really lonely. I am somebody who really likes a team. And so while it was cool to feel the confidence that comes with shooting out on your own, doing your own thing, at the end of the day I would go on these trips, and I went to China and around to Iceland and back home with multiple events in between. And it was high touch and I was seeing a lot of people. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t anybody to give a high five to. And it just kind of didn’t feel like I was able to make the same impact. 

I had a short little sojourn there with Noble where I was working on their media and their projects. But ultimately, I got the opportunity to work with Rich on the Mayhem Classic. And it was pretty much a glorified volunteer position. But based on all of my prior experience, I got to be like, “Hey, look, you guys are really undershooting your landing. There’s a lot more potential here. Hey, why don’t we do a broadcast? Have you ever thought of doing things this way?” And it was just like a really, really solid working relationship with no pressure, right? I wasn’t looking for a job, he wasn’t looking to hire me. But when it was all said and done, I guess this ends up being right before the pandemic, I parted ways with Noble. And was kind of going back into the freelance media stuff. And the first thing that Rich ever asked me was, he said, “Hey, would you be my agent?” And I was like, “The first thing that shocks me is you don’t have an agent and you never have. And the second thing is that it’s important for me to tell you that I’ve never been an agent. And while I do have fantastic relationships in the community and I know how to leverage brands well against media, I don’t know that it does or doesn’t play to my strengths.”

 But having had time to see what you guys are all about and get a deeper dive into Rich as a person, because you guys know, you meet a lot of people of celebrity status, and for me, I am always trying to kind of poke holes. Not in a negative way, but I always want to test that authenticity and Rich has always passed the test for me with flying colors and then some. So I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. And it’s a really long way to get around and answer the question. But my official working title now is director of business development because being Rich Froning’s agent also means that you’re dealing with at least five different business verticals because he owns an apparel company and he owns the gym which has massive events on a consistent basis. There’s an online training division. Now there’s coffee. And we have sister companies like Froning Farms. And so it’s a complicated web, right? It’s not just like, sure, company x, I’ll do said endorsement deal with you and it’s simple and we move forward. There’s a lot going on here.

Juliet: [0:22:38] Did you feel like even though you had never been an agent you were just able to sort of hit the ground running and leverage all of your prior experience in media and working with CrossFit and working with athletes for so long? I mean to me it seems like a perfect fit, knowing you. But were there bumps along the road or were you like, okay, yeah, this totally fits within my strengths?

Rory Mckernan: [0:22:56] Yes to both. I had negotiated on my own behalf for when I delved, even though it was just one year, when I went into the freelance space. So that and the experience of having, especially with broadcast media and Instagram and stuff, I felt like I had great chops there. And the power of Rich, you guys know the power of Rich, right? He does create things. I think I haven’t met a brand yet who’s had a bad experience with him. So yeah, more than anything it was just like I felt the pressure of wanting to do a fantastic job. I’m a real task-oriented guy. I didn’t want to blow it. So luckily for me, the first six months to a year was really, there was a lot of untangling, there was a lot of basic organization and some structure. 

And this was a time when Mayhem was also making a shift into doing that a lot more intentionally. We’ve kind of joked about this. But the distance that Mayhem came in absence of, I don’t want to say in absence of structured planning, but really, a lot of it was just like, hey, what’s the next right thing? Cool let’s do it. And Rich has been training his face off to go win the CrossFit Games every year, right? And so the success has come really very, very naturally. But yeah, I think in some ways it was a perfectly natural fit; in other ways, it was uncomfortable. But I don’t know, as a human, it’s super cheesy, but a lot of people will tell you these worst things that happen to you end up kind of shifting and being the best thing that happened to you. I probably would’ve stayed at CrossFit for the rest of my life and withered away and died as a company man. And the opportunity to shift and flex a bunch of muscles, try a bunch of new things, be part of an organization where you can thump your chest every day and be proud of it, all those things were a huge blessing in disguise.

Juliet: [0:24:44] So I’d like to talk a little bit more about the CrossFit Games just because it’s coming up here in really just a number of weeks. But I know Mayhem’s going to be fielding multiple teams, as they always do. But maybe you could tell us specifically a little bit more about that and what you’re looking forward to.

 Kelly: [0:24:59] And how many individual athletes because it’s impressive.

Juliet: [0:35:00] Yeah. And how many individual athletes. And then also maybe tell us a little bit more about why do all of these athletes drop in in that coming month? Are they international athletes who just need a place to land and get ready? I’d love to just sort of hear about what the vision is since we’re definitely into CrossFit Games season right now and Mayhem is always one to watch.

Rory Mckernan: [0:25:20] So three teams that we know of and if I had the spreadsheet here with me, I could tell you there’s probably a bunch of other teams who associate themselves as well. Three teams we know of. Fourteen individual athletes, which is far and away the highest that I know of out of any training camp. And then if you put everybody together, so if we’re going to do masters, teenagers, et cetera, we’ve got over 80 athletes who will be represented at the Games, which is really just face melting, if you really kind of step back and think about it. I wish I knew the answer to your question, JStar, which is what’s the attraction. I think part of it is the vibe around here and the way people go about things. Some people need very strict hands-on coaching. I think that what happens here is that there’s a great framework provided and people know what they can expect. And from there, it’s jump in and throw down and kind of learn by doing. And on top of that, obviously, you may not have been here yet, but you’ve seen the facility, and it continues to grow and morph. 

And so I think it’s probably one of the only places where for example you could have four teams practicing at a time and they’re all using a worm. Plus, any other kind of crazy specialty equipment that you could want as well and there’s the space to facilitate it. Kelly, since you’ve been out here, probably I’ve told you about it, but I’m not sure if you’ve seen any of it, but the outdoor pad that used to be, once upon a time it was a concrete pad, then it was a covered pad, well, now it’s a closed in pad, which is going to be reserved for the Mayhem Athlete Training Crew, athletes of a certain caliber who will be able to come here. I think partially there was too many cars on the driveway at Rich’s house and the barn was running out off equipment. But we’ve gotten to a place where we’ve expanded beyond the barn.

Kelly: [0:27:02] Let me ask you, I think I have so many questions. Mayhem is a gigantic and really integrated programming approach. So anyone on the planet can drop in and have their needs met across a whole bunch of hosts, whether I want to get stronger or work on my Olympic lifting, I want to go to the CrossFit Games. And you have literally some of the world’s best athletes using the programming from afar. Just that’s it, they know how to coach and program. And yet simultaneously, I think one of the reasons that Mayhem is so cool is that it’s actually a place where real people come and work out there. Is there ever any tension between people that work out there and also this machine that makes the place dope and simultaneously is a distraction because you’re filming things and there are automatons, mutants, walking around? How do you guys think about that consciously and do you think about it consciously?

Rory Mckernan: [0:27:53] We absolutely do. But I would say my answer to the question may be you should take me out of it and ask some of the members individually. But Josh Malone, our gym manager, would certainly have an answer as well. But he is hypersensitive to it. And so Josh is very tuned into member concerns. And that’s not just day to day, but you think about it, we have seminars on a consistent basis. When I say consistent, I mean almost every single weekend. We run competitions. In December, we’ve got a Legends Masters competition coming up. Gym’s going to be shut down Wednesday through Sunday. If you’re an everyday CrossFitter and you’re paying a membership, that stings a little bit if you’re not getting it paid back to you or made right in some other way, shape or form. 

So yeah, I mean the most important thing to say is that, yes, we’re hypersensitive to it. And I don’t see those tensions. I think actually people are pretty proud of where they come from. I’ve even got my dad’s crew at 5 a.m., they’ll go do drop ins, like some of them are going down to Florida for the weekend and they’re like, “Yeah, dude, wore my Mayhem shirt. People had all sorts of questions.” It’s a little bit of a badge of honor, a point of pride. But for the obvious reasons also that I just mentioned. I mean sure, they sometimes have to share their house with a lot of people. When it comes to the elite athletes though, I think for the most part until now that has integrated seamlessly. And that’s the reason for building the outside facility, is so that the regular classes can run on their own schedule, open gym can run on its own schedule, and the CrossFit Games athletes can come in and do all their beast mode stuff, and neither group feels like the other one is impeding their training opportunities.

Juliet: [0:29:28] And not to get too deep on silly logistics, but space-

Kelly: [0:29:30] Ooh. I was hoping you were going here. Oh.

Juliet: [0:29:32] Well, I was just going to say space solves a lot of problems, and when you’re in a place like Cookeville where the real estate isn’t one million, billion dollars and you can expand and meet some of those needs. Because I can say, being a former gym owner, space was always the challenge for us in terms of trying to solve those tensions.

Kelly: [0:29:48] Because we weren’t on Starrett Way. Basically, their gym is on Froning Way.

Juliet: [0:29:51] Yeah, that’s on Froning Way. So anyway.

Rory Mckernan: [0:29:53] You guys had a creative solution just taking the walls away. And then there’s no constraints, you know?

Kelly: [0:29:58] Initially I was like, it’s the infinite gym, it’s totally great.

Juliet: [0:30:00] Yeah, yeah, just no walls, and that made it easier.

Kelly: [0:30:02] And especially since it never rains here anymore.

Juliet: [0:30:03] Just back to also the elite athletes and this discussion about what attracts people to Mayhem, I mean the unsaid thing must be that these athletes do well and see gains in performance, both being at Mayhem and following Mayhem program. And so that has to be a big part of what brings people there and keeps them there, I have to think.

Rory Mckernan: [0:30:25] I would agree with you. And I mean, yeah, listen, 14 individual athletes, 80 total athletes that are going to the CrossFit Games. If we still consider it to be the ultimate proving ground, these people are having massive success. Yeah, so I think that’s a fantastic point. It’s like at the end of the day, if you’re not seeing the results, then you’re not going to stick with the program. 

And then one more thing that I think is fairly obvious too is Rich himself, and by extension his entities, has a real well-defined sense of self. It’s like, hey, here’s what we’re all about, right? It doesn’t mean that no one can come here that’s not a Christian or who’s serving on a 501(c)(3), but he’s like, “Hey, here’s who we are and what we’re all about,” and he puts it out on a consistent basis on YouTube, social media, et cetera. And I think that a lot of people are gravitated towards that, either because they have the exact same values or they’re curious about them. But there’s a lot of, hey, what you see is what you get, and by the way, our training works.

Kelly: [0:31:21] So serious question now, dovetails into that, how important is Buffalo Brew, actually having a legit coffee company at the shop, changed your culture? Has it changed your culture? Because I came to think very differently, I’m in Cookeville like 100 years ago, and I’m like, oh, I’m drinking Folgers. And then I show up at Cookeville and I’m like, oh, this is one of the best cappuccinos I have ever had. What happened? And I can just deadlift, get a cappuccino and a Topo Chico, deadlift.

Juliet: [0:31:49] Forget about that. You didn’t come back talking about the coffee. You came back talking about the cereal bar. Like he didn’t come home and he was like, “I got a great cup of coffee.” He came home and he was like, “Oh my God, they had a cereal bar Train with Rich.”

Kelly: [0:32:01] Of course. I actually knew about that. That’s the reason I went out in the first place.

Rory Mckernan: [0:32:05] Let me speak to it personally first, it’s bad in terms of just like putting a bar in the foyer of an alcoholic’s office. I’m like coffee for days, all day, every day. But no, it is a game changer. And it’s funny, did you come out for the Mayhem Classic, Kelly?

Kelly: [0:32:21] No, I haven’t been out yet.

Rory Mckernan: [0:32:22] Okay, so even as recent as that, that space was completely unutilized. It had tried to be a couple things in the past, including treatment rooms and eventually just storage. As a benefit add to the fitness center, it’s next level. That’s all the way from my crew finishing up at 6 a.m. and we probably stick around for another hour and a half. So people who are passing through on a consistent basis, “Oh wow, the gym’s not actually open but I can come and buy a T-shirt, hang out in the coffee shop, maybe meet some of the folks who are around.” And then yeah, I think for members who can just kind of mill around. 

It’s funny, when we actually started, I actually reached out to Annie Thorisdottir because when I went to Reykjavik one of my favorite things was to be able to order a smoothie before you went and did your workout. And then when you’re done, scooped it off the counter and went and sat in the hot tub, you know? But yeah, it has been a game changer.

Kelly: [0:33:11] Shout out to those amazing folks there and the great breakfast burrito that is also available. As a food log breakfast burrito connoisseur, it’s next level.

Juliet: [0:33:19] Well, and it doesn’t seem that Mayhem is shy on creating culture and community. Interestingly, we just got back from Europe, where we’re always reminded that a café is an essential part of a gym in Europe. In fact, we have a friend who owns a CrossFit gym, and he’s like, “Oh, no, no, you cannot own a gym, no one will be a member of your gym in Europe unless it has a café because the whole culture there is about you work out”… And at least in Germany, it’s about you finish your work out and have a beer. But separate and apart from that, it’s like it does create this thing where you have this workout where this a community vibe and whatever, but then people actually hang out afterwards and enjoy a beverage together, whether that’s a coffee or a beer or whatever it is, and that’s another way to create connection and community. So I think it’s awesome for that.

Rory Mckernan: [0:34:05] Yes. So much yes. You know, it’s funny, just kind of including that into the conversation about space, like I said, I’m a morning person, but once I get done with work and I pop back into the gym, it’s mind blowing to see that coffee shop cranking just like you’re talking about, people just socializing, having fun, some of them who are just curious about the gym and some of them who were just in it. But then you walk into the gym, you’ve got a kids’ class going at the same time as an endurance class, a regular CrossFit class, and some competitors shifting around. It’s a crazy hive of energy.

Kelly: [0:34:36] It is a crazy hive of energy. I’m not going to lie, I love going there. I always feel inspired. Something that I don’t think… You and I, we catch up every couple weeks or so. We drop into each other’s lives. And something that happened recently that you said really worked for you was something about habits. You had just committed to making some habits. And I feel like there’s a lot of executive people who were listening who were benefitting from this. And I want to tell you that one of the things that I took away from that and was like, okay, I’m going to steal one idea here and I’m going to try to get my protein macros every single day. Of all the things that I’ve really been trying to do, that was one thing that I really took away. I was like, oh, I’m going to just develop this habit. Can you talk about this habit and how it helped you as a father, dad, crazy entrepreneur in this really wild space right now, how that kind of affected you?

Rory Mckernan: [0:35:27] Yeah, certainly. Certainly. And man, I’ve tried so many different habit formation tools.

Kelly: [0:35:34] Can I explain the Zone to you? Is that what you mean?

Rory Mckernan: [0:35:36] Yeah, please. Yeah. I’ve had success there too. This one in particular was Andy Frisella’s 75 Hard program. And it’s funny, I didn’t bring it to the table; Ang did. She was like, “Hey, 75 Hard, it sounds fun, sounds crazy, let’s give it a shot.” And what it is, is a set of five rules that you follow on a daily basis for 75 days. And make no deals with yourself, there’s no gimmees, there’s no cheat days, there’s no nothing. And man, it was a huge slog, but it was incredibly beneficial for me, less so about the actual habits themselves but the act rather of I’m going to commit to these for a severe amount of time. Because for me, I used to be like, well, I’m going to try this for 30 days at a time. And I’ve done that with multiple things, everything from surfing to writing. But 75 days was this crazy magical number where they pin it as a mental challenge more so than an actual physical challenge. Because some of the stuff wasn’t as difficult for people who live in our stratosphere. Like working out twice a day for 45 minutes, it was doable because there’s a gym through that wall behind me, right? But some of the other stuff, like as simple as reading 10 pages a day. Drinking a gallon of water. Where it became a daily discipline that you weren’t willing to cave on. 

And me, I came out of it on the other side like just absolutely on fire. So to answer your question, the physical results were astonishing. And not just like appearance and not just performance, but even the stuff under the hood. Like I prefer the WHOOP in terms of basically showing me metrics over time and where they’re trending. And I’ve never been able to affect my HRV with anything else. And I can’t tell you which portion of 75 Hard it was, but it was the first time ever in wearing a WHOOP at least, that I have been able to affect my HRV in a substantial way. 

Kelly: [0:37:30] And by that you mean in a positive way because I know you’ve been able to affect your heartrate variability negatively.

Juliet: [0:37:34] I don’t want to mess with your train of thought. But does everybody in this program choose five habits and is it like you choose them yourself? Tell me a little bit about how you choose or how the habits come to you.

Rory Mckernan: [0:37:47] The only thing you get to choose are the diet. And so the rules are follow a diet, so any diet. And so KStar, to your point, Ang’s only goal was to maintain her calories. So she wanted to stay under the caloric limit that she had set for herself. So she wasn’t even really doing macros. And that was her diet. Paula and Jordan, my in-laws, they actually did a keto version of a diet. You drink a gallon of water, you take a progress photo every day. You read 10 pages of a self-help book. And then you work out twice a day, one of which has to be out doors. So it’s a 45 minute period of time that you’ve allocated as exercise, and that could literally be walking, and it often was for us, especially towards the end of it. So no, the answer to your question is that it was decided for you. And the reason that I don’t mind promoting the heck out of it is because I don’t know if you ever listen to Andy’s stuff or who he is, but he doesn’t charge a dime for it. So it’s nonmonetized, which I like even more.

Juliet: [0:38:43] Yeah, that’s really cool and so unusual. 

Kelly: [0:38:46] And when one of my friends is like, “Dude, I just discovered this thing and you’ve got to try this,” I pay attention to when my friends say things like that. Especially, once again, you are like, and you have five friends who help you. It wasn’t that at all. You were like, “Dude, I just started drinking some water, moving around outside a little bit more and I didn’t stop for 75 days.” And I was like, wow. I often am like going to get my protein macros and I’m like wonk wonk, I didn’t do it.

Rory Mckernan: [0:39:12] Yeah, we can all do it. And to your point about how did it help you as a human being, it’s easier for me to say that I even noticed after I came off of it and I was like, aw, I’m just going to let it off the rails for a couple of days and that turns into, I mean for me I’m pretty extreme one way or the other. It’s like I need discipline in my life. This was an easy set of rules for me.

Kelly: [0:39:33] Do you feel like other people don’t need discipline in their lives? And I don’t even think it’s discipline or structure. I think people need routine and structure. 

Juliet: [0:39:41] But I think people are a little different. Those people who have their Saturday cheat day, that’s not for me. If I follow a diet, I just need to do it seven days a week. For me a cheat day just bleeds. I’m not a cheat day kind of person. That ends up bleeding for me into being, well, all right, Saturday was a cheat day, now Sunday.

Kelly: [0:39:58] Well, I don’t know if that’s discipline though. 

Juliet: [0:40:01] Yeah. I don’t know.

Kelly: [0:40:01] What I’m saying is you’ve never struck me as a person who doesn’t have drive, but having some constraints, some structure, anyway, that resonated with me, I think. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:40:09] It worked for me. Actually JStar, to your point, the only think that I really disliked about it was Gus’s birthday came up. I might not be an every Saturday cheat guy, but I want to be able to say in my life, not feel bad when I’m like, ah, it’s the kid’s birthday, I’m just not going to be a psycho today. Or it’s a special occasion that Ang wants to have a good time and we want to go out and have a nice dinner. I want to be able to enjoy that kind of stuff. But yeah, it was a phenomenal experience for me. Especially, it’s been, well, I mean probably since I was very early in my CrossFit career and just super passionate about getting fit and whatnot that I was dieting hard and working out hard. And it was a game changer to be like, oh man, still got it baby. 

Kelly: [0:40:51] It’s almost like it works.

Juliet: [0:40:52] You know what’s interesting is we’re always trying to be really sensitive to the fact that people are really busy and don’t have time. And I think it might have been EC Synkowski recently posted some study or data point that the average American actually has five hours of free time a day, but most of us are spending that watching TV or being on our phones. So it’s interesting because the first thing I heard when you said two 45-minute workouts, my brain went immediately to, well, people don’t really have time for that or access to that. But then in the end, they probably actually do. I mean you seem to be doing your workout at 5 a.m., which most people aren’t working at that time. 

Kelly: [0:41:24] And even the second one, walking. Walking twice.

Juliet: [0:41:25] Yeah. Or even the second one. You just say, okay, after dinner we’re going to go for a 45-minute walk. In fact, most people probably do have time to do that. It just sometimes feels so good to lay on the couch and watch Stranger Things or whatever. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:41:38] Hey, listen, and some of those times it was literally snowing out and you had to do your outside workout. And so it was extreme in that sense too where it was like, oh-

Kelly: [0:41:48] I like the outside part.

Rory Mckernan: [0:41:49] Yeah. You’d be planning ahead. You’d be like, oh, it’s going to rain this afternoon, I guess I’ll do my outside workout first. Or drag the rower out into the end of the parking lot if you were at the gym already. So yeah, the extremity of it, I think some people would probably have an issue, like they would bounce back too far. But for me, it was a great kick in the ass and just a reminder that you can do these things. And to your point, you recognize how much time you actually have in a day. And instead of waiting until the iron’s hot, you can strike and make it hot was one of the takeaways was like you can’t just wait for inspiration, man. I’m guilty of that over the years, of being like, oh, it’ll come; just give it time, it’ll come. 

Juliet: [0:42:25] No, no, no. Well, before we leave this subject, can I just ask one more question?

Kelly: [0:42:30] Go ahead. Yeah. Please.

Juliet: [0:42:30] What, if anything, are you still doing it, are you doing a version of it that you think is sustainable for your life? What are you still doing?

Rory Mckernan: [0:42:38] He actually takes it up a notch a couple more times.

Kelly: [0:42:40] Does a gallon of coffee give you diarrhea? That’s what I want to know.

Rory Mckernan: [0:42:44] I can verify that it depends on your stomach. Next what I’m doing is what they call Phase One. So it’s the same five rules plus two more, which is cold showers and I do the cold plunge already. So it’s not even add on for me. So cold exposure. And you make like a power list, you try and get through some stuff in a day. I got four days into that and failed because I got strep throat and I was like, I’m out. So last week was a sick week for me and so I’ll jump back onto that.

Kelly: [0:43:09] The two of you are interesting, I’ll bring this up, I have friends, we’re both at this age, but both of you are cancer survivors. And I just hear you both resonating with we do not mess around, we need to be fit, we need to eat, we need to get outside. You’ve sort of had a glimpse of the possibilities of not having those choices. And it is interesting that both of you are highly motivated about those things in a way that those of us that have not had cancer sometimes aren’t. Will you talk about that?

Juliet: [0:43:44] Yeah, but also maybe you feel it’s no longer a choice, right? You’re like, well, lost my choice here.

Rory Mckernan: [0:43:50] Yeah. Totally true. And I think for me, Juliet, I don’t know how you guys dealt with this, I’m 40 this year, it’s like I also just got hit with midlife. And a lot of it for me was like, hey, man, I’m not staring down the barrel or anything but years are definitely numbered and cancer wakes you up to that fact, how am I going to do all these things. So another rule that I mentioned on that 75 Hard is you don’t drink. I quit drinking in 2020 and partially based on everything that we’re talking about right now. It just ceased to bring benefit to my life. And I do want to maximize these times, right? For as long as I can. Hopefully I’m doing it with my kids when they get old enough. But these 24-hour mountain bike races, the Century Rides, things like that, where it’s like you don’t get that stuff forever. I like the way that she put it. But yeah, cancer is, it’s been a minute for me, so I feel like sometimes I lose that perspective. But it is a good reframing where it’s like this could be like tomorrow.

Juliet: [0:44:49] Well, can you just give us a quick backstory of what happened to you?

Rory Mckernan: [0:44:53] Yeah. Yeah. I was healthy as a horse. I don’t even think I had health insurance the year before. But I was young in my CrossFit career, it was the first year we were going to be on ESPN, I was still bulletproof. And just one time, literally I remember the day, and I was like, man, that’s not supposed to be there. And I felt something on my nut. Sorry, that’s the scientific term. And I didn’t… I remember these are all kind of extraneous details. I didn’t have a doctor at the time. But I went to a physician, you can sympathize with this, I took the guy that was just taking patients. I went to him, I told him what was going on, and he literally, the guy gloved up and felt me up and told me I was good to go. And back of my mind, I was like, that ain’t right, and I know it’s not right, but it’s exactly what I want to hear. And so off I went. And within a week, I was on Christmas holidays, and it felt like I got kicked in the nuts. So I knew exactly what was going on. Didn’t want to believe it. But then I came back to Santa Cruz. You know Mark Rosen?

Kelly: [0:45:56] Yeah.

Rory Mckernan: [0:45:56] You guys know Mark Rosen? Remember him?

Juliet: [0:45:56] Yep.

Rory Mckernan: [0:45:58] Mark Rosen was a urologist who was at Gregg Glassman’s original gym back in the day. He became a great friend. Anyways, I went to him. He knew that I had cancer before we even did anything. So he sent me immediately to the hospital. And that was a Friday. I had the surgery on a Monday. They pulled it all out. And frankly, there’s a lot more details. But that was really the end of it. We had six more years of surveillance and decided not to do chemotherapy because Angie was sick, or was pregnant, rather. But yeah, in the grand scope of cancer, it was an amazingly fast and curable ordeal. But anybody who’s been through that knows that the terror and uncertainty and all the kind of decision making processes you go through are indescribably stressful. I would not doubt that that’s where all my grey hair came from.

Juliet: [0:46:46] Grey beard. Grey beard. Back to the beard thing. You know, what’s interesting that made me think of that is one of the things that bugs me is when people say like, “Well, you know, when you were sick.” And I was like, well, was I sick because I was in great shape. You have this thing happen to you but other than having this tumor situation in your body, I wasn’t really sick, I was jacked and fit. I don’t know. I thought of that when you were saying that because people would say, “Well, back when you were sick,” and I was like but were you sick. I guess technically, medically you were sick. But you weren’t really sick.

Rory Mckernan: [0:47:19] Yeah. And it’s all relative, right? So we had chosen a lifestyle prior to that that was of fitness and expressing yourself with movement and all these things. And so I think that it’s just a bump in your road. But I get a lot of perspective when I talk to people who didn’t choose that lifestyle and they go through the exact same thing and it is this monumental hurdle that they’ve got to overcome. And one other small detail is in the post cancer scans for me, Kelly knows this obviously, they said, “Hey, good news, bad news. The good news is the cancer’s gone. The bad news is you’ve got this weird thing in your lung that we’ve got to get sorted out.” And it ended up being a nonfunctioning lung tissue growth that had been in the bottom lobe of my right lung since birth and it had this crazy blood flow coming to it. So the long story short there is that I had to have the cancer for this lung tumor was far more invasive than anything that happened with cancer. And so even still, I got back to within I don’t remember, maybe it was six months or at least a year and I was overhead squatting 300 pounds. The point of that story being I’ve met people who’ve had very similar things. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, you run? You do sports?” And I’m like, yeah, dude. Matter of fact, I’m back to probably better than I ever was pre-cancer and lung stuff.

Kelly: [0:48:36] You may even be a little bit lighter.

Rory Mckernan: [0:48:39] It’s true. All that pesky lung tissue. 

Kelly: [0:48:41] The weight ratio. I’m just saying. I remember Juliet complaining that her snatch had gone down and that she’d dropped on her pullups a little bit. That was some of her complaints. I was like, that’s reasonable. You pullup whores.

Juliet: [0:48:54] Well, yeah, I mean I think the other thing that I would say is that everyone’s like, “Well, I mean I’m not like you, I don’t heal very quickly” And wow, you heal so quickly. Well, yeah, I mean I have this problem now and I’m not like you.” But you are like me. I’m just a normal human with regular, well, obviously crappy genetics, but normal human. But I’ve just sort of created an environment-

Kelly: [0:49:13] Have you seen your daughters? I’m going with good genetics.

Juliet: [0:49:16] But just created an environment for myself where I have some tools available to me and training history.

Kelly: [0:49:22] And non-negotiables. And interesting that both of you stopped drinking. You guys don’t drink. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:49:26] Boring.

Kelly: [0:49:27] I know.

Juliet: [0:49:27] So boring.

Kelly: [0:49:28] So boring. Let me ask you this. I want to pivot back just for a second. We are in what I think is… I used to think we were at peak Games, but we’re not. The CrossFit Games have become so sophisticated. The organization aside, the actual putting on the Games aside, the people who are participating in the Games are legit. And they’re legit younger and they’re stronger and fitter. Recently there was a really well-known super coach in the world who was still making fun of CrossFit. And some of my friends were texting me, like wow, is that just like you don’t know what to say so you laugh at CrossFit. And I just saw a guy snatch over 300 pounds and then run like a five-minute mile. And I was just like I don’t understand. Give me your shot on this where this isn’t working where I have the freakiest athletes in the world becoming even freakier, where I still am more and more blown away from this next generation. You have been there from the start. You’ve seen this trajectory. And now you’re in the heart of it. Where do you think the CrossFit Games is going in a positive way and what do we need to watch out for as athletes?

Rory Mckernan: [0:50:33] Great question. Where do I think that it’s going? I think that you made a great point about how young the athletes are getting. I think that that trend is going to continue as people are finding this early, they’re getting access and hands on to fantastic coaching. I think that the international element continues to kind of astound me. I remember, well, I’m sure you guys do too, but for some people who are listening, there was a point in time where we would offer a couple of spots to the Latin Americans, a couple to the people who lived in Africa, and a couple to the people in Europe. And it was almost as if it was like we want to do this just to kind of engender some international growth. Well, now that some of the most legitimate athletes in the space are coming from all three of those places, namely South America and Europe, so I think international growth continuing is going to be one of the biggest growth motivators. I don’t know this, but I would hope that in the future we might see the CrossFit Games actually move to those places or some of these training camps that are in other places will start to lead the way. And you know how that goes. Same thing as men’s soccer in the United States hasn’t really taken off. They haven’t continued to dominate. But you can get a little bit of inspiration, get a little bit of some of the top athletes in the sport performing well that can help out. So I hope that that trend continues and I hope that we see more of an international flare.

Kelly: [0:51:51] I feel like we’re also starting to see athletes be able to make a living. Not necessarily like… There’s some CrossFit athletes who’ve had stratospheric success, as in all top sports. But I’m also starting to see that there are working athletes who are making a career or a living, the same living maybe if you played professional women’s soccer. I mean on that level. And you may not even be a podium athlete at the CrossFit Games, but you’re making a living as a CrossFit athlete, which is kind of crazy.

Rory Mckernan: [0:52:16] Yeah, and I think that there’s still a massive delta between top of the game and even middle of the pack. But yeah, I think you’re right. And I don’t think it’s been nailed yet, but I do think that some of these athlete organizations that are springing up, trying to work in collaboration with CrossFit, CrossFit Games, et cetera, that’s a step in the right direction because you’re not going to have parity across all athletes, we don’t see that in any sport. But I do think that it could be more equitable in the sense that you’re saying, where I can up the game for everyone by providing opportunities where people can make a living and actually train full time. 

You asked what people should look out for. And it’s funny, I don’t know that I had an answer to begin with. But I think what’s really important is that it’s easy, especially when people have, they have a flash of success, to lose sight and perspective on how intertwined, and I don’t want to say shaky, ground that we’re on. But you’re right, the growth is massive. There are athletes who are making a lot of money. But at the same rate, I saw some true colors in the past few years, especially when COVID came out, when things got upside down, where people kind of stopped remembering that there’s a large community element to this and that it’s built on a foundation that really incorporates CrossFit affiliates and gyms. And it’s important to have the fan base and it’s important to serve the volunteers and judges who are making these events happen. And so if I was going to say what is there to look out for, I think that it’s putting your cart in front of the horse and lacking the perspective on what really drives us and makes this thing tick. Because again, if everybody’s just pulling for themselves, I think there’s the danger of us shooting ourselves in the foot.

Juliet: [0:54:00] Yeah, you know, I mean I am not one to make critiques, but I think one of the biggest losses in that department was the loss of the in-person regionals. And I get it, I run a business, and I know how much it costs to put on events, how expensive that is and time consuming, put events on all over the country and around the world. But I know at least when we owned an affiliate once the regionals ended, that really disconnected our affiliate community from the games. Because up to that point, it’s like we would have a San Francisco CrossFit 10 at the NorCal Regionals and all our members would come and cheer on teams and they really were connected to it.

Kelly: [0:54:38] And connected to the regional athletes.

Juliet: [0:54:38] Yeah. And connected to the regional athletes. And even if they weren’t from our gym, they knew that Jenny Labaw was a NorCal athlete or whoever. And there was a real connection between just our normal paying gym members and the Games. For me, that’s when I noticed there was more of a disconnect between the Games as this unique thing over here and the affiliates are this unique thing over here. And again, I get it. From a business standpoint, I could never see how bringing those back would make sense. But it’s a loss anyway.

Rory Mckernan: [0:55:07] None of this happened in a vacuum, right? I would say this entire community, sports fans and gym goers and affiliate owners alike, we’ve been through a lot of shit in the last couple of years. And so the good will’s been sucked out little by little by little. So I get it. It’s hard to show up and cheer for the regional athletes when there’s larger issues afoot that are affecting the way that you make income or you don’t know if CrossFit’s going to be around in another month or two. I do feel like the ship, the rocking is diminishing and it’s starting to get back on the right track. And I think largely that’s because you can’t kill us. I think that any other grouping of people would have just burned each other alive six months ago, a year ago, right? If you think about it-

Kelly: [0:55:50] But we did that to ourselves with handstand pushups.

Rory Mckernan: [0:55:54] Exactly. Exactly. And then laughed and high-fived afterwards. But yeah, think about it, man, there’s been a lot of two pulldowns and we’ve weathered those, right? There’s still friendships and affiliations that are still intact that it’s shocking that they are. So I don’t know, I think that’s still a testament to how strong this community is. What I think of as the good old days, ’14, ’15, ’16, when it was just humming and a lot of people had some good stuff going on. Or even like 2010, there was a real feeling of togetherness and camaraderie that got shook to its core more than once.

Juliet: [0:56:29] True fact. So Rory, what are you excited about, what are you looking forward to, what’s next for you?

Kelly: [0:56:34] We say this in our family. We do this once a week. We’re like what are we living for this week. 

Juliet: [0:56:37] Yeah. What are you living for? What are you looking forward to?

Kelly: [0:56:39] What are we looking forward to?

Rory Mckernan: [0:56:40] Oh man, okay, well, on a personal level, we’re doing a house remodel. And so I am looking forward to having a house again. Mostly for the sanity of my wife, right? I was okay with the demo process. But we’re living on subfloors and dust right now. So I’m ready for that to be… I’m living for the remodel completion. Professionally, I mean I always have been and always will be a massive CrossFit Games fan. That’s up and coming. Can’t wait for that. We’ve got a-

Kelly: [0:57:08] Are they going to bring you back to commentate? Please tell me that’s going to happen.

Rory Mckernan: [0:57:11] I mean put in a call for me. I haven’t heard anything yet. So maybe your listeners can petition. But if I’m being honest, there’s enough commentating stuff going on with Mayhem that I have my hands full anyways and I don’t mind just hanging out with my friends and cheering either. And then, dude, we’ve got a trip to Sardinia after that. We’re running a competition here in Mayhem that I hope you both can attend in the first week of December. That’s all geared towards Masters. That’s the Legends competition.

Kelly: [0:57:38] Why are you looking at us?

Rory Mckernan: [0:57:40] Because any excuse to get you here.

Juliet: [0:57:42] We would just be spectators, baby. 

Kelly: [0:57:44] I’m almost a Senior Master. We are senior masters.

Juliet: [0:57:44] Yeah, yeah. We’re spectators. We’re spectators.

Rory Mckernan: [0:57:48] That’s what I’m asking. That’s all I want. I just want you to come spectate.

Juliet: [0:57:50] Yeah. We’d love to. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:57:51] And then yeah, just the completion of this Mayhem athlete facility and getting you guys back out here to play in that thing too is going to be… Man, I feel like we’re doubling the size of Cookeville, Tennessee. So just going to keep on going.

Juliet: [0:58:02] And don’t forget the upcoming discovery of Confederate gold in your cave.

Rory Mckernan: [0:58:06] Thank you. 

Juliet: [0:58:06] Leading to your movement to an island.

Rory Mckernan: [0:58:09] I didn’t want to over advertise because I don’t want people banging down my fence to get to it. 

Kelly: [0:58:15] I just want a cool place to hang out with my man friends. That’s just like Rory’s man cave. You’ve just set the bar.

Rory Mckernan: [0:58:22] Literal man cave.

Kelly: [0:58:23] Literal man cave. 

Juliet: [0:58:23] Actual man cave.

Kelly: [0:58:25] Rory, tell us where we can find you professionally, where we can find you-

Juliet: [0:58:30] On the internets.

Kelly: [0:58:30] Personally. Because there’s a faction of Roryphiles for sure. Where do we find the Ro’s?

Rory Mckernan: [0:58:36] Well, so on social media I keep it easy and I just go by Rory Mckernan.  So that’s an easy one. Man, I live on Instagram. I’m going to follow you guys down the TikTok hole one day. But for now, it’s Instagram. All things Mayhem is and all things Mayhem training is And that’s a fancy new website. And yeah, man, it’s kind of a catchall for everybody to see what’s going on. 

Kelly: [0:59:02] My friend, please give your wife a huge hug.

Juliet: [0:59:05] Yeah, a big smooch from us.

Kelly: [0:59:06] And I don’t know if your son is 6’5 yet and is taking you out, but it’s got to be next week, for sure. 

Rory Mckernan: [0:59:12] He’s coming up, dude. He’s coming up. He just started tackle football and doing the strength and conditioning. So no big deal. Prescott South football coach here.

Juliet: [0:59:19] Oh my God.

Kelly: [0:59:20] Wow. That’s legit.

Juliet: [0:59:20] Congrats.

Kelly: [0:59:22] We have so much to talk about more, but how does your son feel about his dad coaching the team?

Rory Mckernan: [0:59:26] Oh, he’s fired up. He’s fired up. He’ll still give me a look like when something goes down that he doesn’t like. But besides that, I’m still cool. I think I’ve got one more year of being cool and then you guys know the rest of the story. You’ve got teenagers.

Kelly: [0:59:39] Georgia’s on a trip with her boyfriend’s family right now. And she just texted me for workouts yesterday. That’s all I needed.

Rory Mckernan: [0:59:44] Yes. That’s awesome.

Kelly: [0:5945:00] The slow blade penetrates the shield. That’s my second Dune reference, everyone. You’re welcome.

Juliet: [0:59:50] Thank you so much, Rory. It’s such a pleasure.

Kelly: [0:59:51] So good to see you, my friend.

Juliet: [0:59:51] Thank you for chatting with us.

Rory Mckernan: [0:59:53] Thank you, friends, it was awesome.


Kelly: [0:56:15] Thank you for listening to The Ready State Podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, check out all our episodes here or at And be sure to subscribe or leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [0:56:26] Check us out and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @thereadystate.

Kelly: [0:56:31] Until next time, cheers everyone.


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