Cole Sager: Can He Change Your Life?

Cole Sager is a CrossFit Games veteran and Spirit of the Games Award Winner. He’s a full-time athlete who spends an incredible amount of energy trying to reach people outside the sport. Find out why Cole is so focused on showcasing his life outside the gym, and learn where this former D1 football player (and one-time CrossFit critic) thinks the sport will take him. We also discuss Cole’s weightlifting hero and thoughts on the cuts at the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games.

In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, guest Cole Sager and host David Thomas Tao discuss:

  • Cole’s coffee obsession (2:20)
  • A future business endeavor: Cole’s Coffee Corner (4:15)
  • Cole’s initial criticism of CrossFit, and the transition point where he went all in (5:00)
  • The early videos that inspired Cole’s competitive CrossFit career (9:38)
  • How athletes can misconstrue social following for personal value (12:56)
  • Why CrossFit athletes have reached the professional ranks (16:08)
  • A day in the life (17:54)
  • The invisible support system behind CrossFit’s top athletes (20:31)
  • The impact of managers and agents on athlete lifestyles (23:45)
  • Cole’s thoughts on changes to the CrossFit Games — including cuts (27:00)
  • The “cloud” of cuts at the 2019 Games (28:20)
  • Favorite CrossFit Games memory (30:06)
  • Becoming a Games veteran and encouraging the next generation of athletes (32:40)
  • Cole’s favorite athlete (hint: it’s a weightlifter) (33:33)
  • Starting CrossFit without a gym and learning from YouTube (34:24)

Relevant links and further reading:

Transcription

Cole SagerCole Sager

The way that I see it is starting in a community, growing with a community and as it grows and I grow and we grow and we expand and we reach more people together.

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.

Cole Sager is a multi-time CrossFit games athlete, Spirit of The Games award winner and former D-1 college football player. That’s an impressive athletic resume, sure. But it’s really just a small slice of how Cole sees his potential impact on the world. Can this elite athlete, and unapologetic coffee fiend, change our lives outside the gym?

It’s a big question but it’s exactly the thing Cole likes to think about out loud. For Cole, CrossFit and success in that sport is just a springboard to reaching a broader audience.

Cole is technically a full-time athlete and his weeks are focused around an intense training schedule. If you dig a little deeper though, it’s easy to see there’s a lot more going on here. Cole and his wife Genasee spend hours every day recording and editing content for social media and YouTube. So far, so good.

A career as one of the world’s top CrossFitters has helped Cole build a reach in the hundreds of thousands, but to what end? In our conversation, we talk about Cole’s larger goals, the lifespan of an elite CrossFit career, and why success at the games is just the tip of the iceberg for some of today’s fittest athletes.

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Cole Sager, thanks so much for joining us today. First thing I noticed is you got a big old mug of coffee with you this morning. What is your daily coffee routine? That’s something you’re known for.

Cole SagerCole Sager

Yeah, I’m big into the artists and coffee scene. It’s something that I want to grow and understand more and more as time progresses. I’m an [indecipherable 02:37] and AeroPress guy. I really like the AeroPress. It’s a smooth cup of coffee. It’s just a good way to start the day.

David TaoDavid Tao

 How many cups do you do throughout the day, and is your first cup the AeroPress?

Cole SagerCole Sager

 Yes, most of my cups are the AeroPress. I’ll do a pour-over from time-to-time but that’s really roast-dependent.

Depending on what kind of roast I have, light, medium or medium-dark will depend on my brewing process more than anything.

David TaoDavid Tao

I’m going to ask a very personal question. Before we get into the questions about CrossFit and athletics, and all of that fun stuff, nothing fitness-related yet. Here’s the question and feel free to plead the fifth on this and not answer. How many coffee making devices do you own?

Cole SagerCole Sager

 Oh my gosh, probably more than my wife would prefer me to have. [laughs] Let’s see, I have an AeroPress, the French press, two different pour-overs. I have a cold brew, I have cold brew pods, I have…what are those called? Those little bags you put your beans in and brew cold brew in.

I have a Nitro Shake to do nitro cold brew… [laughs] we’ve started calling the part of the kitchen that has all the coffee stuff, “Cole’s coffee corner.” Maybe that’s a coffee shop that I’ll open someday, “Cole’s Coffee Corner.”

David TaoDavid Tao

It brands itself, that’s fantastic. I have to say, I’ve long admired you as an athlete and as a personality in the fitness space, in the CrossFit space. These are just coffee goals. I see you as a completely different person now.

Cole SagerCole Sager

 [laughs] There’s a whole side of me that has all this coffee-bowl stuff that I’ll get to eventually.

David TaoDavid Tao

Cole Sager, you are perhaps best-known online in the fitness community and a multi-time CrossFit games athlete, someone who has been competing at CrossFit’s highest competitive level for a number of years, performing very consistently.

It’s earned you the nickname the “Sager Tooth Tiger,” which is absolutely fantastic and one of the best nicknames in the sport. Tell us a little bit about how you first discovered CrossFit and when you decided that this was something that you wanted to compete in.

Cole SagerCole Sager

This is probably one of my favorite stories to tell about my athletic career, because it was a big transition point. I think we all face that in our lives at some point in time when we have a direction and a goal, and we know where we want to go, and we know what we want to do in the long term, but, what we’re currently doing no longer fits how we want to get there.

That’s the transition point that I experienced. I was playing collegiate football, I was playing football at the University of Washington, Huskies, GoDawgs. [laughs] I was playing UDub and I had a buddy of mine who was in the military at the time. I don’t know what it was, but he had a resistance towards me playing football, he saw a little bit of ego and he was like, “Oh man, you’re so involved in football, and you’re obsessed with it.”

At that time I wanted to go to the NFL. I mean, who doesn’t, right? That’s like, a young boy’s dream. I wanted to go to the NFL, I wanted to create a platform through competing and playing football.

My buddy sent me down [indecipherable 06:27] one time, when he was in town and he was like, “Hey dude, I got some serious things I want to talk about. You need to give up this dream of playing football, and you need to go to the CrossFit Games, and you need to win the CrossFit games, that’s where you need to go, dude”.

David TaoDavid Tao

 And this was before you’d ever done CrossFit or training CrossFit before?

Cole SagerCole Sager

I’ve heard of CrossFit, I had never done CrossFit workout. I was anti- CrossFit, I was like, “I will never do that, they do push-ups and pull-ups and bends, that’s hilarious. I play football, I do bench press, I do squats, I lift heavy weights, I push people around.”

I had this tough man’s mentality, [jokingly] this football player mentality. Having no clue what CrossFit really was about and what it really entailed. I was completely resistant to it.

David TaoDavid Tao

What year was this and how long did you train before thinking back to this conversation and you thought, “Maybe this guy is right, maybe I should go to the CrossFit Games, maybe I should try to win this whole thing”?

Cole SagerCole Sager

 It would have been in 2012, I played football at the UDub, 2009 to 2012 season. He sent me down before the end of my season, he said, “When your season is done, you need to get into CrossFit.” I found it out four-five years later, he hadn’t even been doing CrossFit at this time. He [laughs] had just watched it on YouTube, [laughs] I looked at him and was like, “Really, really me?”

 

David TaoDavid Tao

 I was going to start going after people — I live in New York — on the subway or in coffee shops, just pairing them with random sports, like, “You — badminton. That’s what you need to do, you need to quit what you are doing,” or “Mini Golf.” I was going to start motivating people in random public spaces.

Cole SagerCole Sager

To be fair, this is and was my childhood best friend. Our dads were best friends when they were in high school. We grew up together, we were best friends. He knew my heart, and he knew why I wanted to do what I wanted to do.

He really wanted to came down to…the reason why I talked about the transitioning point, and, knowing where I wanted to go and just seeing that the place I was currently in, no longer was serving the direction that I wanted to go.

That was because, I wanted to build a platform, that’s why I got into CrossFit in the first place. I saw an opportunity to build a platform in order to be a positive influence, be a positive impact in a community and reach people, encourage people and inspire them to wake up every day and really chase their dreams, really get after and make the most of this life.

I didn’t see football as that anymore, and I think that my buddy could tell that, I was certainly playing with that a little bit in my mind. So, when he saw CrossFit, he was like, “Man, I really think you should do this”.

The story is funny, but, his heart was good about it. I was resistant, I was like, “No dude, I’m not really interested, that’s kind of a funny sport.” He was like, “Hey, put your ego to the side, go check these videos down.” He sent me some videos of Dan Bailey and Rich Froning, like, legends, right?

It wasn’t even videos of them working out, it was videos of them sharing their journey, their faith, and why they are in the sport in the first place. That was what inspired my heart, I was like, “If we have a community, a sport that has leaders like that, that’s the kind of community that I want to be a part of.”

David TaoDavid Tao

Those were the videos around 2012 that they were living and training around Tennessee Tech. I think Rich was coaching at Tennessee Tech at that point, right? They were living together?

Cole SagerCole Sager

Exactly. Those are those videos, way back in the day.

David TaoDavid Tao

You start training in CrossFit, and you have success. You build this platform to reach people. You have a large social-media platform. It’s growing.

Is this the outlet and the community where you want to spread this positivity long term? Are there other communities or outlets you want to start exploring?

Cole SagerCole Sager

That’s an interesting question, because you’re almost splitting them. I don’t see it that way as much as…The way that I see it is starting in a community, growing with a community, and as it grows, I grow, we grow, we expand, and we reach more people together.

It’s a together…It’s not just a me thing. It’s never about me. I’m one man. I can only do so much.

I think that our impact, my impact, is really expanded through the reach of other people. I think that just in being a positive influence in our space and that reaching out into other arenas, other people’s interests, and other people’s goals and dreams, then now, all of a sudden, yes.

Now, we’re reaching far beyond just the CrossFit community, but the golden heart of the CrossFit 

 

David TaoDavid Tao

Is there any resistance that you think folks have when they first come across you? Say they come across you via Instagram or YouTube. You’re very active on YouTube. I want to talk about that a little bit later as a platform you’re using to expand your reach.

You’re really going cross media. It’s Cole Sager, the media personality, in addition to Cole Sager, the athlete, to expand this reach.

Is there any resistance that you think you face when people see that you’re doing this, you’re producing this content, and you’re trying to expand your reach?

They might see you as, “He’s an athlete. He’s working out six hours a day or whatever it is, five times a week, six times a week. I want to see him as an athlete. That’s how I bucket him. That’s how I see him. I’m not really interested in listening to him on anything else.

“I’m not interested in Cole Sager, the coffee guy. I’m not interested in Cole Sager, the person who wants to talk about all these other aspects of living a rich and full life.”

Have you faced that resistance and, if so, how do you combat that?

Cole SagerCole Sager

Yes, I have, but I’m really not too concerned about it. It’s one of those things I think yeah, people are going to start following you. There’s a metric on Instagram that you can follow once your account get the big math. You start to get insights on your Instagram accounts.

There’s a metric on there that shows you, in a week’s time, how many people followed you but, also, how many people un-followed you.

It’s a really interesting thing, because you can dive into those metrics and those insights and start to see, “When I posted about relationships and friendships, and it had nothing to do with me working out, I had this many followers un-follow me.”

You can almost see that per post. You can really get nitty gritty.

If I got so caught up in that, I would let those metrics and those insights drive who I am as a person, and I’m no different than when I started the game, when I started doing CrossFit. I haven’t changed. Go back to 2014, and look at my posts back then. They were the same.

I was trying to do motivational stuff. I was trying to say motivational things. I’m refining as I age, but that hasn’t changed. Now, knowing and seeing those metrics, it’s not going to change who I am.

The way that I approach that is I’m going to live out what my heart really feels it needs to, what I feel on fire for, what my soul feels called to. If people want to follow that, great. If not, they’re not going to follow me.

That’s OK, because for my life to really feel good and valuable, I don’t need a big Instagram account. I don’t need [laughs] a big YouTube following.

I also know that if I live from what my soul is on fire for, eventually, it’s going to attract other people, because they’re going to want their soul lit on fire. If I live and I burn hot enough, it’s going to light other people on fire.

David TaoDavid Tao

What does a typical week look like for you? Obviously, training is a big part of your life. I know you’re a dedicated family man, as well. You probably spend about four hours a day brewing coffee, it sounds like.

Cole SagerCole Sager

[laughs] No.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

That might be just a slight exaggeration, but you are producing a lot of content on social media, on YouTube. What does a typical week look like for you? Every time I talk to a top-level CrossFit athlete, I get wildly different answers.

You talk to Jacob Heppner, he’s just, “I’m in the gym for 14 hours a day, and I sleep with a barbell.” No, I’m absolutely kidding on that but maybe not really.

Cole SagerCole Sager

You’re kind of not. [laughs]

David TaoDavid Tao

I’m kind of not kidding. Some athletes, they go in…Marcus Hendren, a few years ago, when he was at that top level, he was an athlete. He says, “I go in, I work out for an hour a day, and I leave.” Three months before the games, he said he upped that to two hours a day.

Then, he was just on his family farm the rest of the time, obviously staying active, but he had a very structured, limited time in the gym.

What does a week look like for you, and how are you dividing your time?

Cole SagerCole Sager

Going back to just your comment about Marcus Hendren, because that was back in ’13 and ’14, let’s jump the five years back to where we are now.

I think that, in that period of time, we’ve seen a pretty big transition in our sport to the point where we’re starting to see more of a professional athlete in the space where people are being able to do this full time, whether it be through winnings, through sponsors, through social-media accounts, or whatever it is. They’re able to do this on a full-time basis.

I am one of those guys who’s blessed to be able to do that. This is my full-time thing is competing as an athlete in CrossFit.

I lean towards the there’s a lot of athletes who go and they spend six to eight hours a day in the gym, and they’re training. That’s just what it looks like. We’re pulling double days. Almost everybody, year round, are pulling double days, now.

When we get to the games, we start to pull triple days. It’s just because we’re trying to build every facet of our being in order to compete at the highest level to CrossFit games.

For me, I have a coach, Ben Bergeron. He’s the mastermind. He’s the wizard behind the programming and the planning.

David TaoDavid Tao

He’s the man behind the curtain for a lot of top athletes.

Cole SagerCole Sager

Totally. I’m just the executor. I have a lot of say in everything that I do, just depending on the body. He puts in…We’ll just call it suggested programming. They it really comes down to you got to go and you got to know you’re the professional athlete here. You got to know what you can do and what you need to today.

For us, my wife and I, Genasee is at home full time now, helping me through all of this. That’s just incredible and awesome, and I could talk about that all day. Just, what a blessing to have your spouse with you just churning and working with you.

We wake up. We tend to have a slow morning of answering some emails, some messages that maybe came through overnight. Having a good-quality breakfast, making plenty of coffee. [laughs]

Then we get into the garage typically, and at 9:30 range, we’ll pull a session from 9:30 to 12:30 maybe, sometimes. Maybe they’ll go a little bit longer depending on how many conditioning pieces we have in that session. They’ll last anywhere from three to four hours. You’re not working out that whole entire time, but you’re doing a lot of high intensity pieces.

You’re warming up, you do the piece, you cool down and you start that process over again for the next piece. Then we’ll take a break, essentially take a lunch break. That is full of editing videos, getting stuff ready for social media. When we feel like, “I’m ready, I’m trying to get antsy.” I go back out into the garage.

I’ll go hit my second session. Whatever that looks like, that tends to be about two hours in the garage. I train at home, most of time. I have a garage-gym and I train at home. We’ll go back into the garage, and we’ll do our training then. We come back out, get cleaned up, get protein shakes, and get a meal in us.

The evening is pretty much editing videos, coming up with plans for the next video, looking through any sponsor-requirements that we have, any posts that we need to get out that we feel like we want to get out. That’s what the rest of our day and a lot of our extra time is spent doing, is that social media side.

David TaoDavid Tao

I like how when you talk about the schedule, you make liberal use of your support system, your coach, your wife. As these athletes, as these top CrossFit Games athletes made the transition to full-time, a lot of fans, myself included, assumed it’s a very solitary thing.

They’ve got plenty of time, they’re training alone, they’re doing this full-time. But it really takes a village.

Give us a little bit more insight into the support system that you and maybe a lot of other athletes you’re interacting with and that you’re close with have to build around themselves in order to support their training, their recovery, etc.

Cole SagerCole Sager

Totally. One of the things that stands out the most right now is that we’re starting to see with a lot of couples and a lot of successful couples in the sport or athletes is that they do it with their spouse or with their significant other. They’re doing it as a pair.

From Shane and Tia, Matt and Sammy, me and Genasee, you’re just starting to see that more and more. Noah and Joanne, it’s becoming a common thing. I think it’s because they’re a secret weapon. [laughs] When you no longer have resistance from the person who’s closest to you, you don’t have that extra stress.

Instead, they’re a wind at your back. That’s been one of the biggest things that I am just the most thankful for is that Genasee has really, from the beginning, stood by my side and said, “Yes, let’s go this road, and let’s go it together.” That has, if anything, it has just made it the most fulfilling journey that it could possibly be.

I’m doing it with my spouse. I’m doing it with the person I love the most. In large, in part, it’s part of my Marriage Monday posts that I do on Instagram. I’ve stemmed from that. Just feeling the love and the beauty behind our relationship. The way that she’s supported me has really inspired a lot of those posts.

From that aspect, I think you’re starting to see in a lot of athletes’ lives significant others or people who are really close to them be wind at their back.

Then, there’s other things that require a coach. That is something that is becoming very common, which has changed from back in the OG CrossFit days back in ’11, ’12, and ’13. A lot of people were like, “Yeah, I do my own program, and I go off of feel. I do my thing, or I do one hour a day workouts. Then I ramp it up.”

It was a little bit more paired down. Now, the way we’re seeing training for CrossFit is we’re starting to get cycles and mesocycles. A lot of things are changing in the way that we approach training for the games. In order to stay current with that, we need the most brilliant minds.

We need people who understand exercise science, athletics, and the sport as a whole, so that they can drive us and help us with that. From the training aspect, you’re starting to see that a lot. I lean heavily on my coach. Not only just for coaching and programming but for mindset and understanding — trying to gain insight and glean insight from him.

Then there’s the other side of it is now that we are becoming professionals in it, our sport is beginning to get in the limelight. We’re getting a lot of attention from the outside world and the outside fitness community and public.

With that comes sponsor relationships, bigger Instagram accounts, large followings, all that stuff that comes with it. Now you’re also getting athletes who have managers and agents.

I was one that was so lucky and so blessed early on to have Matt O’Keefe reach out to me back in 2014 and say, “Hey man, I see where this sport is going. I just want to come stand alongside you and help you however I can.”

Now you see Matt O’Keefe with the company Loud and Live just doing a lot of great things in the sport and really helping the sport grow. Having a manager in this space is really something that has helped a lot because it takes a lot of the stressors that lands in your mind and puts it on them.

They can manage it and they can handle it. It allows us to go into the garage or go into the gym and focus on just having the best effort at the highest intensity that we can possibly get out of the training session.

David TaoDavid Tao

 As the sport grows, it seems like athletes like yourself, at the top level, professional athletes, have been able to reduce the number of variables and reduce the level of unpredictability for a lot of aspects of their life.

Will I have enough time to train? Will I have the support system to train? Will I have the sponsorships, the money, the wherewithal, the entire system? Ultimately though, at the core of CrossFit as a competition, it is unpredictable.

Cole SagerCole Sager

Oh yeah.

David TaoDavid Tao

It is unpredictable. I say that for the official CrossFit Games and I also mean for the Sanctionals and for the competitions that a lot of athletes like yourself are competing in throughout the year that might not be the CrossFit Games, but are functional fitness, CrossFit style competitions.

There’s a lot of unpredictability and we really saw that in 2019. Tell us a little bit, and the cliff notes version is totally fine, tell us a little bit about your experience at the 2019 games. We’re recording this about a month and a half after the Games.

How your thoughts and perspectives on the changes for 2019 have developed in that time?

Cole SagerCole Sager

It’s interesting. You talk about the unpredictability of the sport and I think that being wrapped up in the sport, in the moment, it seems a little bit unpredictable.

At the same, if we take a 30,000-foot view and we take a step back, and we look at the sport as a whole, it’s easy when you change your perspective, to see that the changes weren’t really that surprising.

When you look at the sport as a whole, we’re very young. We’re in a growing process. To think that we’re not is kind of foolish. We’re still young, we’re still growing, we’re still changing. To see and know that a lot of these changes had to come.

I think that at the end of the day if we want to grow the sport and want grow as a community, we have to be more inclusive, even more inclusive than we already are. We’re a very inclusive community.

We’re a very inclusive sport. I was happy with the 2019 changes. I also like change. I’m a guy, I don’t want to stay the same. I personally want to change and want to grow all the time. When change happens, I’m like, “Yeah, let’s go. Let’s make the most of this.”

I have a very positive outlook on a lot of things. I think that the changes in the 2019 season — though there were some letdowns, absolutely I’m not taking that away — there were some kind of things that were just like “Oh, that’s kind of a bummer. Like ugh, but we’ll work through it.” That’s my mindset.

Ugh, that sucks but we’re going to work through it and we’re going to make the most of it. 2019 is just giving and opening the opportunity to become a more worldwide, world-renowned, sport. As the people in the sport, it may not feel the best right now.

If we’re the ones that have to wear that so that our sport can grow and become better known, then that’s our responsibility to hold the wear. At the 2019 CrossFit Games, there’s this new system of being cut. [laughs] That wasn’t that fun. That was interesting because I’ve had some amazing experiences at the CrossFit Games, been to quite a few of them now. It didn’t quite have the same feel that the CrossFit Games has. It just felt a little bit different.

Going through and having that extra stressor, and the weight, and the cloud of the cut coming or the potential for the cut to come was something that weighed a little bit heavier than I expected and most people expected. I, myself, for people who don’t know, I was cut. I was cut from the CrossFit Games Saturday morning.

I was in 11th place at the time. The top 10 moved on. I was four points out from being in 10th place. The last event, had I finished one more spot, I would have gained five points. I was one spot off, if you want to look at it that way. With that being said, I’m a competitor. I’ve been doing athletics for a very long time. I’ve been competing my tail off for a very long time.

I know what sports entail. At the end of the day, I know that one football game is not won or lost on the final play. It was accumulation of 120 plays that came before it. That’s the same thing at the CrossFit Games. There were moments that I could’ve capitalized on. There was moments that I could have executed on better that ultimately led to me being cut.

That’s unfortunate. It sucks, but it is what it is. We all had the same opportunity to execute, to compete, to make the most of the experience. At the end of the day, I’m going to wear it. I’m going to move on. I’m going to be happy about it and be grateful for this opportunity, this journey, and use it as fuel for the next season.

David TaoDavid Tao

This is a question…This is a sneaky way of asking a big question. What is your favorite CrossFit Games memory? It could be from any iteration of the games you’ve competed in. The only stipulation is that it has to have happened during the games.

Cole SagerCole Sager

My favorite moment at the CrossFit is what you asked? It would probably land back in 2016 as far as my favorite…Well, no, I got to take that back. My first time my favorite moments at the CrossFit Games, it was winning the Spirit of the Games Award in 2017. That has been the highlight of my career, being honored in that way. It’s like winning an award for character.

That meant a lot. They meant a lot more than people might ever realize. As far as competing at the Games, 2016 was super special. We got to go to the ranch that year, where we flew up to San Jose and drove out to the ranch and had a whole day, Wednesday, was all…All the competition was done at the ranch.

That was really cool. I got into the sport in 2013. That was coming off the OG tail. That’s the guys that I learned from, that I gleaned from, and I watched all of the videos out. It had this special feeling to it. That was a really cool year.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

You are a veteran of the sport at this point. I say that, and I think when a lot of people say veteran, it’s a veiled way of saying past your prime. It’s not what I mean here. You’re someone who has perspective. You’re someone who has experience.

Who are some up-and-coming athletes who might not have that same level or pedigree of competition experiencing CrossFit who you maybe work with, talk with, or are just excited to see how they develop over the next few years?

Cole SagerCole Sager

That’s a really interesting question. I don’t have a direct answer for you. This is a conversation that I was just having recently with a buddy of mine. Actually, it was Jacob Heppner. I don’t want to think about it. It’s interesting to see where our sport is currently, because there was a wave of athletes back in 2014 that came in.

If you look back at 2014, there are a lot of us that came in in that 13, 14 range, me, Heppner, Fraser, Ohlsen, Richard Bohlken came back then There was a wave. There’s a wave of athletes that came in all of a sudden. We haven’t seen a new wave like that yet.

We’re now those veterans who, when we came in 2014, it was Josh, Rich, Dan Bailey, all those guys who were the veterans in the sport, who are still doing amazing things, by the way. Actually, it’s just something that gives me hope that I can continue to take my career further and further.

It was interesting to see that transition. Now we’re to the point where we’re that old, the upperclassmen? I’m still curious. I’m excited to see what kind of new wave and lowerclassmen come into the sport and where they take the sport.

David TaoDavid Tao

Who in strength athletics…? It doesn’t have to be in CrossFit. It can be. It doesn’t have to be though. It could be from the world of powerlifting, weightlifting, Strongman, you name it. Who in strength athletics do you most admire?

Cole SagerCole Sager

That’s a tough question.

David TaoDavid Tao

It also doesn’t have to be definitive. It could be just someone you really admire. You don’t have to rate them a 10, and everyone else is a nine and a half.

Cole SagerCole Sager

 In the strength portion of it, I think it’s because I have a personal relationship with him, but Chad Vaughn, just learning from him early on. Again, going back to when I got into the sport. It was all about watching YouTube videos, and learning, and gleaning as much from YouTube as I could.

I didn’t have a gym. When I first started getting into CrossFit, I didn’t go to a gym. I started in Globo gyms and in parks. That’s how I started training for CrossFit. Everything that I learned was from YouTube. I watched so many of his videos to understand how to move better, how to execute the movements that were needed in the Olympic lifts.

Just seeing him continuing to do what he’s doing and having the influence, and being a positive force in the space has been something that I really admire, not to mention that he was such a phenomenal athlete in his peak and still is proving to be a phenomenal athlete. That’s something I have a lot of respect for. The longevity of an athlete is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

David TaoDavid Tao

Chad Vaughn, for those who don’t know, finished second at USA weightlifting nationals this year. I was doing commentary on that session. I’m very fortunate. Chad’s an old friend.

I do a lot of color commentary at weightlifting events with Chad, which is just fantastic for me, because same thing, when I was first getting into the sport of weightlifting, I was watching Chad Vaughn videos. I was watching Cheryl Haworth videos. Now I get to work with both of them regularly. They both been on this podcast.

Chad, at 39 years old, was one little step, one just-barely-missed-that-jerk away from being a national champion yet again this year.

Cole SagerCole Sager

Wow, that’s phenomenal. Again, it just goes back to the longevity of an athlete and how impressive that is. It takes commitment, consistency and determination year after year after year. That is hard to keep because a lot of people fizzle out. He hasn’t and it’s really cool to see.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s a good segue to one of my final questions for you, Cole. How long do you want to compete in the sport of CrossFit? Versus — because it could be two different answers — how long do you think you’ll be able to maintain your competitive fitness at this top level, in the open division?

Cole SagerCole Sager

This is such an interesting thing because I am learning so much year after year. It’s incredible to know where I’ve gotten to now. I feel the healthiest and the fittest that I’ve ever felt. I feel the most capable now and it’s because I’ve changed my body. I’ve become more well-rounded. I’ve become more balanced.

Having that balance is something that has really opened up my eyes to wow, I think I have a lot more to my career than I realize. There’s the subtle 10-year mark. It would be cool to have 10 years in the sport. Go to 10 CrossFit games. There’s that. That sounds really cool, but where I’m at now in my life is I might be selling myself short there.

Why am I going to put some fake esoteric limitation on myself when…I’m going to take this year after year and I’m just going to continue to do my best. Right now I feel I have the calling on my life that this is…I have a long career ahead of me and I’m excited about that, but I also know that I will take that year after year and know that priorities in life does change and that’s OK.

I’m not one of those people who’re so caught up in needing to compete, and I need to be the [indecipherable 37:57] . This is about how do we make the most of life? How do we impact the most lives? That’s really where my focus is, but I feel like being called to athletics as being at the top of the sport.

I genuinely want to win the CrossFit Games. I’m not doing this just to go to the CrossFit Games. I’m doing this to win the CrossFit Games. If you keep me on that trail, I get fired up. That’s why I’m in the sport. I feel like I have a long time left. I’m excited about that.

David TaoDavid Tao

Cole, where can people keep up to date with…We talked about a little earlier in the episode, but where can people keep up to date with what you’re doing, the content you’re pushing out, and you and your wife’s journey as you keep competing year after year and spreading your message?

Cole SagerCole Sager

You can find me on YouTube. We currently started a YouTube channel over the last year. You can find me on YouTube Cole Sager. Also @colesager35 on Instagram. Most of our happenings and journeys, you can follow on YouTube. Subscribe to that. Follow us along on our journey. It’s a lot of fun.

I also have a website called colesager.com. If you ever have any questions for me, there’s a contact form on there. Feel free to reach out. I’m having a lot of fun. Appreciate people on the journey.

David TaoDavid Tao

Awesome. Cole, thanks so much for taking the time to join us today. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with you.

Cole SagerCole Sager

You bet. Thank you.

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