What’s the Future of Strength Content? (w/Andrew Gutman)

Today I’m talking to Andrew Gutman, BarBend’s Editor-In-Chief. Andrew has joined the BarBend Podcast before, but this time, we’re talking about something a bit different: The future of strength content. What will the industry look like in 5, 10, or even 20 years? And what was it like (for both of us) to witness the downfall of print in fitness journalism? We look into the past to try and see the future — and that means predictions about everything from BarBend itself to fitness influencers. Let’s see what comes true!

First, a quick word from today’s sponsor. Organifi is a line of organic superfood blends that offers plant-based nutrition made with high-quality ingredients. Each Organifi blend is science-backed to craft the most effective doses with ingredients that are organic and free of fillers and contain less than 3g of sugar per serving. Take Organifi Red Juice as an example: It’s formulated to recharge your mind and body with a delicious superfood berry blend of premium, organic superfoods that contain potent adaptogens, antioxidants and a clinical dose of cordyceps. It’s designed to promote energy with zero caffeine and only 2 grams of sugar.

Go to www.organifi.com/barbend and use code BarBend for 20% off your order. 

Andrew Gutman BarBend Podcast

In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, David Thomas Tao and Andrew Gutman discuss: 

  • Does joining the BarBend Podcast count as “time off?” (2:15)
  • Starting in the fitness industry while focused on print (5:30)
  • What has social media done for fitness content and athlete insight? (10:00)
  • Is Brian Shaw the savviest person in strength? (13:30)
  • The role of subject matter expertise (20:18)
  • Do influencers really control their own content? (23:00)
  • 2022 CrossFit Games predictions (26:35)

Relevant links and further reading

Transcription

Athlete-driven content has just exploded. It gives the athletes a lot of power. Strongman…You’ve noticed this, or I’ve noticed this at least.

 

Brian Shaw is now coming up on his third Shaw Classic, his namesake competition, and that I don’t think ever would have happened if it wasn’t for the power and exposure that he’s gained through social media.

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “BarBend” podcast where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host David Thomas Tao, and this podcast is presented by barbend.com.

 

Today, I’m talking to Andrew Gutman, BarBend’s editor-in-chief. Andrew has joined the BarBend podcast before, but this time, we’re talking about something a bit different, the future of strength content.

 

What will this industry look like in 5, 10, or even 20 years? What was it like for both of us to witness the downfall of print in fitness journalism?

 

We look into the past to try and predict the future. That means predictions about everything from BarBend itself to fitness influencers. Let’s see what comes true. Before we get into that, a quick shout-out to today’s episode sponsor, Organifi.

 

Organifi is a line of organic superfood blends that offer plant-based nutrition made with high-quality ingredients. Each blend is science-backed to craft the most effective doses with ingredients that are organic and free of fillers containing less than three grams of sugar per serving.

 

Take Organifi Red Juices, just one example. It’s formulated to recharge mind and body with a delicious superfood berry blend of premium organic superfoods that contains potent adaptogens, antioxidants, and a clinical dose of cordyceps designed to promote energy with zero caffeine, and only two grams of sugar per serving.

 

Visit organifi.com/barbend and use code “BARBEND” for 20 percent off your order. Now, let’s get back to the show.

 

Andrew, thanks so much for joining. I always say thanks for joining to our podcast guests, but I talk to you literally every day. I’m going to be honest, that thanks was a little inauthentic. I hope that doesn’t sting too much.

It hurts, but we’ll move through it. Happy to be back. Like I said, I feel like I got to start billing you for this time, but technically I do. Happy to be here.

David TaoDavid Tao

I have to carve out this 35 minutes or this 40 minutes and make a special note on pay stubs, anytime someone on the team joins this, and just treat it differently. I don’t know. I don’t think I can do that. I appreciate you coming on.

 

Last time, we had an awesome conversation. I’m biased, I thought it was an awesome conversation. I learned a ton from you about how to break in to fitness media. If you’re interested in becoming a writer or maybe making a career change, maybe your early career, trying to figure out the fitness media landscape that’s rapidly changing.

 

I listened back to that episode. One thing that was referenced was that it is rapidly changing. Fitness media now is not what it was 10 years ago, and certainly not what it was 20 years ago. We got some requests in to talk about the future of fitness media, and that’s what we’re going to do today.

 

To give a little bit of background for those who didn’t listen to the last episode, can you give the cliff notes, the short or the abridged timeline of what your

Definitely. I feel I’m getting pretty practiced at saying this. I went to Springfield College in Massachusetts. Just want to shout them out. Love Springfield College, feel pride. I was an exercise science major, transitioned to journalism.

 

Then, in 2016, landed a gig at “Muscle & Fitness” where I was for four years, left in 2020. The brand was sold, and with it, most of the print staff left. Freelanced at a bunch of brands, “Insider,” “Insider Reviews,” “Men’s Journal,” “Men’s Health,” and then ended up at BarBend, where I’ve been for a year and a half now.

David TaoDavid Tao

Actually, over, almost two years because you joined BarBend in September 2020. You’re coming up on your two years. Let me tell you, there is no surprise for your two year. We always have a surprise for folks who have been here for one year. I got nothing for two years. You’re getting no…

..Ellen, like an Ellen DeGeneres, the clown comes out of the box just scared?

David TaoDavid Tao

Actually, I need to know your deepest darkest fears because that’s what we’re going to leverage for your two-year anniversary.

Just so folks know, my experience at BarBend has been great. I have been waiting for the downturn, and good to know it’s coming at two years.

David TaoDavid Tao

Everything boomerangs back. Everything has to be a double-edged sword.

 

I’m old, so I came to fitness journalism a little bit before you, but you came at a really interesting time because 2016, we were squarely in the Hey Digital first-age. When I started in the space, everyone was still like, “Wait a minute. Are magazine’s really going away? Is digital really what’s going to happen? How do we balance print and digital?”

 

By 2016, everyone’s like, “It’s all digital.” Social media was driving a ton of traffic. It was driving a ton of impressions, and really in the driver’s seat.

 

I want to focus on between 2016 and now, you’re six years into your career. Maybe, just take over. Congratulations, by the way, not to date you too much. How have things changed? What is this landscape like now in fitness content versus what it was in 2016, as you see it?

One thing I do want to point out is it was all digital, but Muscle & Fitness was still a magazine. I worked pretty much exclusively on the print edition for the first couple years.

David TaoDavid Tao

I was wrong. I gave a terrible intro to this question.

No, no, no, but it’s good to note because my learning curve was pretty slow. I was in the print arena for two years, and it wasn’t until 2018 or 2019, where my boss was like, “Hey, we’re going to start scaling back on the magazine, and we’re going to need you to write more online.”

 

I got plugged in pretty late for being a relatively young guy. Then, now, of course, BarBend is all digital. We don’t have a print edition. How have things changed?

 

I was thinking about this, and one trend that I’ve noticed, David, is athlete-driven content has just exploded, and that’s been the case. I don’t remember ever seeing too many athletes with their own YouTube channels, at least in the strength sports space when I started at Muscle & Fitness.

 

Now, it’s par for the course, and it’s really interesting because most people who are a fan of Strongman can’t hoist the 450 pound Atlas Stone like Brian Shaw, but they can train like him, and eat like him, and live like him.

 

I think that although the competitions themselves are really interesting to watch, it’s the lifestyle that most people are attracted to. This has allowed athletes to change the way that fans digest sport content. It’s actually given these sports a life outside of their typical seasons.

 

It’s also been very good for business because it gives us as strength sports journalists a lot to cover. I think that answered your question, but I would say like athlete-driven content has been the biggest trend I’ve noticed.

David TaoDavid Tao

I really like that, and I completely agree. We started BarBend in 2016. We started BarBend when you were starting your career with Muscle & Fitness in this space, and now we’re here over six years later.

 

You’re totally right. What I think I’ve noticed is there is content to cover. Having more off-season content is good for business for places like us, gives these athletes a way to shout out their sponsors, and good for their business in the off-season because they maintain that visibility, and they get to keep growing their profiles.

 

One thing I’ve really noticed is it actually gives more context to the in-season coverage that we’re able to actually create. It lets us know more about the athlete. I feel like we’re able to have a look into, like you said, their lifestyle, their thought process, their approach more frequently.

 

It allows for our team and other outlets in the space as well to create richer content in-season because they’re able to contextualize things. They’re able to say things like, — take Strongman as an example — “This athlete had a real weakness in the log press and in the off-season, they found a coach to focus on overhead movements, and really drilled that in.”

 

That makes its way into our in-season and event coverage. It creates a richer content experience for folks. I’m curious if you’d had similar thoughts or reactions to that.

Yeah, I agree 100 percent. In fact, BarBend’s news editor, Phil Blechman and I were talking about this recently — where in bodybuilding…

 

For anybody who doesn’t know bodybuilding competition is where folks stand on stage, and they complete a series of poses, and then they’re judged on their physique. It is, to be quite frank, not the most exciting thing to watch.

 

What makes or attracts people to bodybuilding is it’s the lifestyle, like what we were just talking about. It’s the work, is what are these athletes doing to get as big as possible?

David TaoDavid Tao

One thing, I will just give a quick addendum. We’ve seen the fastest growth in bodybuilding interest in BarBend in the non-open categories, so in the not-as-big-as-possible categories like physique, classic physique, figure, wellness, that sort of stuff. Just to clarify for folks.

No, that is a good note. I should say as big as you can get relative to what your division will allow.

 

Chris Bumstead is somebody who’s the reigning three-time Classic Physique Olympia. We cover him quite frequently. He puts out a lot of great content.

 

Phil was noting, “Well, he’s talking about bringing up his arms a lot or his back a lot, and we’re going to know come Olympian time if that’s happened.” We’re going to have the proof to say, “These are the arm workouts, and this is actually when he said it in June or April,” or whatever. It does create a nice timeline.

 

Bodybuilding, specifically, that’s interesting because these folks are already so maxed out. The one criticism I used to hear is, “Well, do they actually look different? Are they actually getting bigger?” All of this content allows us to analyze that.

David TaoDavid Tao

I’ve noticed it, and this is maybe a more esoteric example. I still do a lot of weightlifting color commentary with USA Weightlifting. We’re the official media partner of USA Weightlifting. I missed nationals this year due to COVID exposure, which was a bit of a bummer.

 

When I do color commentary with USA Weightlifting, even if it’s not the biggest name athletes, if it’s athletes just posting about their training…Sometimes, they are big-name athletes. Sometimes, they’re just athletes who they want to post on social for their coaches, or for their family and friends.

 

I’ll look into what they’re training in the off-season or pre-competition is interesting because someone might struggle with the jerk, or someone might struggle with leg strength standing up from the clean.

 

It’s always interesting to look back, and when I’m giving color commentary to say, “Oh, this lifter Kelly Smith,” — that’s just a name I’m making up — “has struggled with leg strength coming out of the clean. We see a massive improvement here.”

 

She might be strong overhead, the jerk’s going to be no issue. It’s all about, is she going to be able to stand up from the clean? I might have that context only because of the social media content this lifter has posted saying, “Hey, really drilling front squats, really drilling paws front squats, really drilling,” coming out of that bottom position.

 

It doesn’t even need to be the athletes with millions and millions of fans and followers. Sometimes, it’s athletes who are up and comers, or they’re just competing, and we’re covering the event via color commentary or live. It’s just nice context to look back and be like, “Huh, this is something they were working on.” Kudos to them because we’re seeing that play out on the platform.

I can imagine that’s nice being a commentator. Obviously, everybody knows about Lasha Talakhadze and can follow his career, but if you’re Joe Smith and this is your second ever competition, it does give you as the commentator something to go off of.

 

One thing I want to touch on, too, since we’re going down this path, is it gives the athletes a lot of power. In Strongman, you’ve noticed this, or I’ve noticed this at least, Brian Shaw is now coming up on his third Shaw Classic, his namesake competition.

 

That, I don’t think ever would’ve happened if it wasn’t for the power and exposure that he’s gained through social media. This guy has a huge following on Instagram and YouTube. He has his Shaw Elite Club.

 

I don’t want to speak out of turn. I don’t know, for sure, but I would think this guy probably makes more money off those channels than he has ever in his Strongman career. Now, he’s able to put on his own show, and actually give back to the athletes.

 

The roster for the Shaw Classic this year is crazy. It’s going to be, competition-wise, the biggest show of the year. You have both Stoltmans. You have Novikov. You have Žydrūnas Savickas coming back. It’s unreal. Magnús Ver Magnússon also just launched his namesake show last year.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

The example I would give is we have examples of namesake shows in the past, the most relevant being the Arnold. The Arnold, the biggest sporting festival in the world, basically.

 

That was something that began after Arnold’s career was over. He was not an actively competing athlete at that point. It was something where he had a lot of partners to do it. It takes a village, and now, it takes a whole city basically to put on…

He was the governor, too, eventually. He was the biggest blockbuster star of…

David TaoDavid Tao

There were a lot of factors like Arnold had grown beyond being an athlete. In fact, he wasn’t an athlete anymore at that point as far as competitive athlete. It was a very interesting example.

 

That’s one that I’ve brought up the Shaw Classic in conversations with folks. They pointed to the Arnold, and they’re like, “Oh, the Arnold, that’s a great example.” The Shaw Classic is a little bit different.

 

Brian Shaw’s competing in his own event. Some people have rolled their eyes at that. I actually love that Brian Shaw competes in his own event. I think it’s a really cool thing. I don’t think anyone’s perfect. That’s going to bias some things potentially, but it’s cool for the sport.

 

Folks have expressed, in the Strongman community, they love competing alongside and against Brian. There’s a lot of positive to him doing that.

 

You’re totally right. It’s a really interesting way that the athletes have been able to leverage what they’re doing, and their name, and their following, they’re growing following, and get the benefit of putting in that work, growing their following.

 

We’re seeing Mat Fraser do that. He’s retired from competitive CrossFit, but has built a huge training program, and system, and team around his Hard Work Pays Off training, and he’s now coaching elite athletes, etc.

 

We’ll get back to that in just a second, but first, a quick shout-out to today’s episode sponsor, Organifi, makers of organic superfood blends that offer plant-based nutrition with high-quality ingredients.

 

Take Organifi Red Juice is just one example. It’s formulated to recharge mind and body with a delicious superfood berry blend of premium organic superfoods that contains potent adaptogens, antioxidants, and a clinical dose of cordyceps. Designed to promote energy with zero caffeine, and only two grams of sugar per serving.

 

Visit organifi.com/barbend, and use code “BARBEND” for 20 percent off your order. Now, let’s get back to the show.

 

Is the future of fitness media all influencer based, or is there any chance that things skew back toward the brand side, which was kind of the dominant force 10 and 20 years ago?

 

Yeah. BarBend exists, and we’re doing pretty well. I certainly hope that companies like us stick around. Look, we are a health and wellness company. Meaning, we do news. We also have our other verticals, our training, our nutrition, our reviews.

 

When I’m explaining to people what we do specifically on news, this might sound — I don’t know — maybe a little out of pocket, a little arrogant, but the easiest way to explain it is we are the ESPN of strength sports, the way ESPN covers baseball, football, soccer and all this. BarBend covers bodybuilding, CrossFit, powerlifting, Strongman, and weightlifting.

 

Look, I hope we’re still around. I know that BarBend is growing. People love to have a brand that they can rely on, and also a place that they can go to get all that information. There are sites out there that do cover other singular sports, but there are very, very few that cover all of the sports.

 

Then, also, I think people like opinions. Brian Shaw is always going to have a big following. People want to hear opinions about Brian Shaw and other competitors from people who aren’t those people. People have opinions. People have hot takes.

 

Again, going back to Phil Blechman, BarBend’s news editor, his prediction pieces at the World’s Strongest Man always catch fire because people love to know what Phil thinks about World’s Strongest Man. I do think that there is room for non-influencer-based media. I think BarBend being a prime example.

David TaoDavid Tao

Just to give Phil a shout-out, Phil is a core longtime, amazing member of the BarBend team. Love Phil to death. I was friends with Phil before I was colleagues with Phil, and that speaks to how much I like, how much I respect this person.

 

He had two prediction pieces. There was a prediction piece for World’s Strongest Man this year for like, “OK, who’s going to make the finals, and then how are the finals going to shake out?”

 

I’m shooting off the cuff here. These numbers might not be exact. He was 80 or 90 percent correct on both of those things. He was 80 or 90 percent correct on who was going to make the finals, including some real surprises. He was 80 or 90 percent correct as far as the ordering of the finals.

 

The day after both those pieces came out, before we knew, before group stages started, and then before the finals finished, those two different points, I was getting forwarded screenshots of people on social media being so critical of that saying, “Phil has no idea what he’s doing. This guy’s never even seen a Strongman competition. He’s basing this off like watching YouTube videos. You need a real pro to cover this.”

 

Phil’s the only person, the only journalist who’s covered the World’s Strongest Man live and in person multiple times during the COVID pandemic. He’s literally the only person in the world who’s done that. He’s boots on the ground, know these guys, is more experienced covering this.

 

It’s really funny to see his predictions be more accurate than anyone else’s, even though people tried to flambe him because they thought they knew more.

What I love about that, too, is for the finals, I was talking to him about this. It’s really easy to predict the top…It’s not easy, but it’s easier to predict the top three in any event.

 

Then Phil’s having to choose who’s going to get seventh over eighth. It’s like they’re all strong. They can all deadlift well. They can all pull a trap. Relatively speaking, all these folks are contenders.

 

He had Martins Licis in fifth on the deadlift ladder, and he nailed that. He was nailing sixth, seventh, eighth.

David TaoDavid Tao

I use this to illustrate a point. One of our hopes at BarBend is that deep subject matter expertise from actual journalists like Phil. Phil’s a real journalist. Phil talks to these athletes. He builds rapport. He gets sources. Some articles are more in-depth and complex than other articles.

 

Phil does a lot of the muckraking — to use an overplayed term — that journalists have to do, but for these specific sports. I hope, and we’re banking on this in a sense at BarBend, that that deep subject matter expertise from people who are doing real journalism is still relevant in 5 and 10 years.

 

I think that’s just an example that I harp on as like, “Hey, he’s not just an armchair analyst. He’s going several levels deeper.” I hope readers occasionally see that.

 

No one’s obligated to read our content. No one’s obligated to like our content. I hope that deep subject matter expertise that takes time to build does show through, at least to some folks in these communities. That’s my hope moving forward.

We’re professionals, and we take this seriously. We don’t cover politics, or finances, or anything like that, but we cover strength sports, and we take it as seriously as the folks who do cover politics and finances.

 

I agree, David. I think people do crave objectivity, and that is the one downside to the athlete-focused content is it’s inherently subjective. Just because we’ve been talking about him, Brian Shaw is never going to be like, “That performance wasn’t the best, and here’s why.” Maybe he would but…

David TaoDavid Tao

He actually would. I know we’ve been using Brian as an example, but Brian actually can be pretty objective about his own performances. Brian, if you’re listening, just give me a shout-out there.

Brian, no shade, we love you. It’s just that you’re that big. Anyway, it’s easy for somebody to maybe be subjective. As a news outlet, BarBend is inherently objective. There’s a lot of benefit to that.

David TaoDavid Tao

We work to be objective. We have our biases, too. Your role as editor-in-chief at BarBend…A lot of what you do to give yourself a little credit is you are the one who is responsible for seeing the forest through the trees, and stepping back and being like, “Hey, could we have approached this from a more objective standpoint, or could we have approached this not assuming our readers had a particular perspective necessarily?”

 

That’s another thing that having that kind of governor or that safety net, in a sense, individual content creators, they don’t have an Andrew. They don’t have any Andrew Gutman to step back and be like, “Hey, actually, are we approaching this in the best way? How can we iteratively get better?”

Yeah. “Should we talk to that person? Should we talk to this person?” That is a good point.

David TaoDavid Tao

Individuals will gravitate toward people they are social with, and they’ll gravitate toward their friends. If you are inviting folks out to a dinner, you are going to invite your friends. You are not going to invite people you know, but don’t like.

 

Same with individual content creators, when they’re doing collaborative things, they’re going to invite…They’re going to be biased toward their friends and people they like spending time with, not folks who might have a really good valuable perspective, but they just don’t being around. They might occasionally do that, but that’s not going to be their first gut reaction.

That is the difference. We’re all passionate about it, but it is our job. Whereas content creators, it is more their passion first, their job second. It’s their job, and that they make money off of it. It’s, of course, their lifestyle. It is very much, are they going to risk their reputation or are they going to mingle with people who they don’t like? Probably not, right? [laughs]

 

David TaoDavid Tao

Yeah. It’s their career, and they do take it very seriously. I think many content creators in this space, they get into it because they have the passion first, and then they are like, “Oh, I can make a living off of this. I can get more professional, and I can professionalize what I’m doing.”

 

Whereas the vast majority people who work at BarBend, basically, everyone except me, I think came to this as, “Oh, they’re passionate about the space.” Pretty much everyone except me at BarBend applied for a job, and went through that application, and treats it as a job first. Then, it just happens to intersect with personal passions hopefully.

These folks, also, they don’t need to do anything that they don’t want to do. What I mean by that is, there are stories where we feel a need like we have to cover that, that is newsworthy. How many stories pop up where it’s like, “That is huge”? It’s not a matter of, “Oh, yeah, I think this looks cool.”

 

Sometimes, we do have a little freedom to cover things that maybe if we didn’t cover, it would be OK. A lot of the times, we’re covering what we feel like the people need to know about and what’s impacting the industry. These content creators, I’m not saying this is good or bad, but they don’t need to do anything they don’t want to do.

David TaoDavid Tao

Looking forward, we’re talking about predictions. We’re talking about the future of fitness media. The trend is getting increasingly influencer and individual content creator focused. Outlets like BarBend, we’re trying to navigate that, figure out how we play into that, and how we can continue to bring additional value.

 

Because this is a predictions podcast, and because we have the CrossFit Games coming up in a couple of weeks, I got to ask for your CrossFit Games predictions. I know it seems like a complete non sequitur, but I just need to have something to either point to you, as like, “Andrew has great powers of prediction,” or something to hold over your head if you get it completely wrong.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Tia-Clair Toomey is going to win all the divisions.

David TaoDavid Tao

A-League women, A-League men, team?

Tia-Clair Toomey wins A-League women. Medeiros, we really saw him develop into just a well-rounded athlete. He pulled the way in the second half of 2021. It’s going to be a new reign. We’re going to see a repeat. It’s just that mullet man, he seemed like a winner in 2020. We’ll see him repeat.

 

Then Froning’s Mayhem will win again. It’s boring predictions, but I just think there’s so much dominance right now that that’s kind of the big three. I would also like to point out, I hope Guilherme Malheiros…I’m sorry, I just butchered the name.

David TaoDavid Tao

Guilherme Malheiros is how I pronounce it. I’m not claiming that that’s correct, but Guilherme Malheiros is how I say it. Gui, he goes by Gui oftentimes.

He goes by Gui?

David TaoDavid Tao

Because he’s trying to be nice to American journalists who don’t know what the heck they’re saying.

He’s trying to avoid this awkward interaction.

David TaoDavid Tao

Yeah, exactly. He was trying to help us. He was being a buddy. We did this to ourselves.

Gui at Brazil, I don’t want to go out and throw a prediction, but I do think and hope that he’ll be in the top five. That guy is just magnetic, man. He really broke out in 2021, and just took CrossFit by storm and really brought a lot of eyes to CrossFit in South America. I’d like to see him break out in the top five.

 

David, I’m going to pass it back your way. You’re in this with me. What are your predictions?

David TaoDavid Tao

The team competition often finishes first, so that’s the first trophy Tia-Clair Toomey wins this year. No, I’m kidding. There’s got to be a joke. Actually, we should talk to our social team, because there’s definitely a joke there about Tia-Clair Toomey winning all divisions because she’s so dominant.

 Then, the presidency?

David TaoDavid Tao

Then, the president, she’s not a national-born American citizen, so we’d need a constitutional amendment for that. We don’t talk politics on this podcast. I think she wins elite women.

 

I think the smart money is on Medeiros. I think he looks great. He doesn’t have a lot of holes. I think that he’s very consistent.

 

Look, he only won one event last year. He won the final event of the CrossFit Games last year. It was the only event win, but he still had a fairly dominating overall win, which I think is exactly what you need in CrossFit, in that he doesn’t have weaknesses.

 

You win by being really darn good at everything, not necessarily being the best at everything, which is what Tia is, which is why she’s untouchable and a miracle of athleticism. I think smart money is on Medeiros.

 

I was really impressed by the two Canadians last year, Brent Fikowski and Pat Vellner. Folks had said they were in the twilight of their careers. They are both older athletes.

 

They’re both bigger athletes relative to a lot of other CrossFitters, which stereotypically isn’t always the best thing for longevity, but we could argue over whether that’s the case or not. Each have multiple podium finishes, and they’re gamers. They have experience. They look for every edge.

 

It’s probably not a smart on-the-money prediction. I’m also biased because I personally like both of those folks, and think I have a decent relationship with both of them. I wouldn’t be shocked to see like Vellner or Fikowski, if the chips fall their way, like really pull ahead with some smart moves.

 

They’re folks who really know that this is a long slog. It’s a multi-day event. It’s not about coming out and winning every event, days one and two. I would say Medeiros.

 

I don’t know if Vellner and Fikowski both make the podium, but I wouldn’t be shocked if one of them breaks through, wins, and then basically immediately retires. You know what I mean? That’s one of my thoughts.

 

Then, on the team competition — I’m going to throw a curveball — the favorite’s certainly Mayhem, CrossFit Reykjavik, Annie’s team, which is a super team, I never bet against Annie Thorisdottir. I never do, and I don’t think I ever will. I’m going to throw a curveball in there, so I’m going to say Team Reykjavik takes it from Mayhem.

All right. Well, hot take.

David TaoDavid Tao

Hot take.

I wouldn’t be surprised either.

David TaoDavid Tao

Hottest take because you talked about experience. Look, Rich Froning has been competing at the CrossFit Games since 2010. He’s very experienced.

 

Annie Thorisdottir has been competing at the CrossFit Games since 2009. We haven’t seen her go team before, but there is no one who knows more about competing at CrossFit than Annie Thorisdottir.

 

I don’t know if that gives her an edge over Froning because he has so much team experience, but I don’t bet against Annie, not going to start betting against Annie. I say CrossFit Reykjavik, hottest take.

 I do like the thought of Froning sweating a little bit. I feel like it has been a little too easy.

David TaoDavid Tao

People forget Mayhem got second in…Was it 2016 or 2017? They haven’t won every year they’ve competed, but they’ve won pretty much all the other…You know what I mean?

 Yeah.

David TaoDavid Tao

They had a chink in their armor. No one’s perfect, even Rich Froning. I know he looks at that second place and hates it. I don’t know. I’m excited about the battle this year. I’m betting on Annie and CrossFit Reykjavik. I may be wrong, but I’m going to stick to my guns there.

 

Andrew, I appreciate you coming on. It’s always a pleasure to chat in this situation. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you. I don’t take it for granted when we get to hop on the mic and share some of our musings with our audience, whether they like it or not.

We’ve held them hostage for 30 minutes.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Awesome. Andrew, appreciate it. I’m sure we’ll talk later today because that’s what we do. We do work together. Thanks for joining.

 

Thanks, David.