Matt O’Keefe: A CrossFit Community Playmaker (Podcast)

Matt O’Keefe is President of Loud & Live Sports, the event organizers behind major CrossFit Sanctionals including Wodapalooza and The Granite Games. He’s also agent to CrossFit superstars including Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey, Brent Fikowski, Patrick Vellner, Katrin Davidsdottir, and more. We sit down to talk about his unlikely origins in the space, the challenges of moving the fitness events space forward, and why so much of what he does is built on close personal friendships. 

Learn more about the work Matt is doing to help the CrossFit community during COVID-19 at United in Movement.

In this episode of the BarBend Podcast, BarBend’s David Thomas Tao talks to Matt O’Keefe about:

  • The origins of Loud & Live Sports(1:57)
    • Managing top athletes and major CrossFit Sanctionals events
  • How Matt became one of the lead organizers behind Wodapalooza (5:19)
  • The unique atmosphere surrounding Wodapalooza and how it’s become a Miami institution (9:30)
  • Is there anything missing from the CrossFit community events space? (12:30)
  • “You have to be a level of delusional” (15:50)
  • Matt’s early involvement in athlete management with Mat Fraser and beyond (19:05)
  • Word of mouth marketing for athlete management (21:50)
  • The “Jerry Maguire” school of athlete management (26:00)
  • “It’s one person, one conversation at a time” (28:35)
  • Where competitive CrossFit can and will still grow (30:30)

Relevant links and further reading:

 

Transcription

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

I can run through the people that we work with. I stay at their house, they stay at mine. They see my kids grow up. Then, those that have come in later, they’re immediately friends, we travel together, we stay in hotel rooms together, it’s personal.

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast,” where we talk to the smartest athletes 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 Matt O’Keefe, the president of Loud And Live Sports. Matt wears a lot of different hats within the fitness industry. That’s particularly true when it comes to the CrossFit space.

 

He’s the agent to top athletes including, Mat Fraser and Tia-Claire Toomey. That’s seven CrossFit Games championships between the two of them.

 

He’s also an event organizer. Loud Live Sports run Sanctional competitions, including Wodapalooza and the Granite Games. I’m excited to dive in with Matt on a lot of different topics, including blending the personal and professional sides of the fitness industry as well as how event organizers have been impacted by cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19.

 

Also, I do want to say this podcast sounds a little bit different than some of our others. We recorded it with a slightly different audio setup then we’re used to. A lot of that was because we had to record remotely due to social distancing. If it sounds a little bit different audio-wise than some of our other podcasts, you know the reason why. Now, let’s get to it.

 

Matt O’Keefe, it’s fantastic to see your face and hear your voice again. I wish it was in person under different circumstances, but we’re both stuck inside. You’ve certainly been staying busy with Loud And Live.

 

If you don’t mind giving people a little bit of background. Loud And Live, what is it? How did it come about? What is the full spectrum of what you all cover because I haven’t been able to narrow it down to an elevator pitch? Maybe you can help me out there.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

I might take longer than that…

 

 …but I’ll say first thanks for having me, David. We have a lot of history. It’s great to see your face. Now, we’ve done a lot of work in the past. I’m proud of what you’re doing…

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Thank you.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

…and I’m excited to talk to you today. Loud And Live is an entertainment marketing and sports agency. I run the sports division to Loud And Live sports. We encompass events across all funnels. On the marketing side, we run events for brands. In retail, in the general market, for instance, Walmart. We’re an agency on record for Walmart. We do all the brand activations inside Walmart’s walls.

 

We’re one of five agencies that if you’re a brand and if you sell something in Walmart, you have to use us, one of us, one of the five agencies. We’re big for work. We do that on the retail shoppers’ side. Entertainment, we were in concerts. We probably have 500 concerts we produce a year.

 

We own some festival-style stuff. We have a country music festival, the entertainment team. We do a lot of Latin music. We have a joint venture in South America with a company that’s general market South America. We’re very wide in North America. We do like the Ed Sheeran, the YouTubers of the world in South America. We do have a lot tying in North America.

 

On the sports side, we emulate those similar barcades. We have sporting events. What we are right now are very fitness CrossFit-focused. We have five CrossFit Sanctionals that we own and operate. We manage talent, which we also do on the entertainment side, by the way. I missed that.

 

We manage talent. We do marketing work with brands in specifically that health wellness vertical at this point. What I’m doing now…I met you years ago.

David TaoDavid Tao

Years and years.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

 

Years ago, doing a lot of different stuff, but that’s…

That’s Loud And Live and Loud and Live Sports now, which is out of Miami. I live in Boston. I merged my business into it about a little over two years ago now. I commute to my area weekly. I’m down there usually Tuesday or Thursday.

David TaoDavid Tao

When it comes to these events on the sports side, you all are very big in the CrossFit community. A lot of people in the CrossFit community think that Loud And Live Sports is Loud And Live. They think all you do is CrossFit Sanctionals and things like that.

 

Obviously, the company is much bigger. I appreciate that explanation. As far as the Sanctionals you all run, some of these are pretty darn established competitions, including what I would argue is the second-biggest event in the calendar every year for the CrossFit community. That’s Wodapalooza. I know you all didn’t start Wodapalooza, right?

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

Right.

David TaoDavid Tao

But it’s now your baby. It’s now what you’re all running. It’s called the gold star on the calendar. How did that come about, that you all started getting involved with that event, eventually took it over from the organizational standpoint?

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

That’s how I ended up with the guys, was their progression was first that they bought an interest in Wodapalooza. My partner is Nelson and Marco, who are the founders of Loud And Live, are experiential people. That’s their nature. They build experiences around brands and build events.

 

We own them, one of the largest Halloween properties in the world. They just like, good eyeballs, and build good quality human experiences. They stumbled on this event in Bayfront Park in Miami because of a mutual friend, and with the then owners Keto and Steve, and Nelson and Marco, now my partners.

 

They stumbled on and we’re like, “This is amazing.” It’s Miami as heck and it’s well done and look at these people having so much fun and expressing fitness. They bought in. The quick transition there is their event people actually sucks, a little different weird people. We’re all weird that are in CrossFit and they were trying to figure it out.

 

They looked at it a little too cookie cutter, and they’re immediately on the lookout, like, “Alright, who in the space can help us with sponsorship and athletes?” Steven Ghido introduced me to Nelson and Marco, and we work together on a consulting basis. They exercised buying the rest of the business. They had an option to do that, they did it, we moved on.

 

They came to me and said, “Hey, we’re going to do this and we’re going to be all in. We’d actually like to be all in the business. Not just own this singular fitness event in Miami. You want to come over and do what you do with us and link it all together, there’s a lot of symmetry with athletes and brands and events.” That was a short story on how that all came together.

 

Wodapalooza is, that’s a freight train that a lot of people have had a lot of things to do with over time. Certainly, I had nothing to do with starting that. I am so proud to be someone that helps facilitate it now. That’s a culture, that’s a movement, that’s a community in its own right. 45,000 people started through that park this year.

 

Hundreds of brands and it’s become like NBA All-Star weekend of our space. It’s not the CrossFit game, but it has a very cool elite competition for a lot of money. We gave away over 400 grand this year. That’s a badass event. I’ve been a part of that in so many different forms as have you.

 

I went to it as a brand, when I had my small brand. I went to it as a manager with athletes. I, even had a coaching band, your Captain Dave’s one-on-one year and I was on our coaching band. I’ve seen it from so many different scopes. I’ve never competed…Oh, I competed this year actually, they made me do something this year.

 

I’ve seen it. That’s been a big piece of my life. Honestly, I really always look forward to going down to it. I’m super proud to be a part of it.

David TaoDavid Tao

You mentioned that it is so Miami. The CrossFit Games, I could never imagine being in Miami, because it’s just so different. It’s such a different vibe. It’s the kind of thing where it’s…I don’t know. I don’t know anything to compare it to. If you get the chance to go to Wodapalooza…

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

he CrossFit Games is very Madison. It’s clean, lines and proper…that city is perfect for the CrossFit Games. It accepts it, it owns it. It promotes the hell out of it. It’s really proud of it, just like Miami’s proud of what we do.

 

It’s very on-brand for Wisconsin in my mind. I just think it really works here. It’s the official, it’s the proper competition, not that we’re not running a big competition. People are wearing purple and pink and lights are flashing in your face, it’s just a different thing. The Games is like a world championship. It’s serious shit, right?

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s also Miami. It’s one atmosphere where if you are in Miami, you’re used to people not wearing as many clothes anyway.

 

It just makes a lot of sense. It fits in with the waterfront, you stumble across it, you’re like, “Yeah, this is how people normally dress in Miami. They just have more abs than the average beach goer.”

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

We have obviously a massive team at Loud And Live. I get to see this cross-culture, these clashes of culture.

 

The payment team comes in, and they’re like, “What is going on here?” Some of the artists that we work with are starting to do it. They know what it is and they know who Mat Fraser is because he’s now become more than just a CrossFitter to the globe and influencer.

 

I see some funny stuff, for sure, because if you walked into that thing and you were just a person that lived in one of those buildings in downtown Miami, you’d be like, “Is everybody OK here? What’s going on?”

David TaoDavid Tao

[laughs] Well, it is Miami. I feel like if you live in downtown Miami, you aren’t phased by this stuff anymore. If you walk through Brickell or South Beach every day, at a certain point you get desensitized. You’re like, “Yeah. All right. Cool.”

 

I see a hundred fitness influencers, Instagram influencers every day. This is just, this is just a convention. It’s no big deal.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

 

I keep my shirt on at that event. I promise you.

Mat Fraser comes down in the last couple years to support us and be there, and me, and run around, but he’s got the Army cargo pants on, no shirt. He embraces it. There’s all these photos of Matt that came out at the event. It’s like him standing at the side of the stage having a blast, joking around, no shirt on, huge tattoos. He became Miami, “Miami Matt.”

David TaoDavid Tao

I like Miami Matt because you’ve known Matt for years and years, well before he was a CrossFit Games athlete. Matt is a guy who, you wouldn’t necessarily expect it. He’ll work out without a shirt on, but just walking around town. That’s just not his style. He’s going to be clothed, right?

 

I like the idea of Miami Matt. In Miami, I think cargo shorts and no shirt is technically business casual.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

 

[laughs] A hundred percent. My suit is a pair of shorts and some sneakers and shirt’s optional. Mostly, if you’re wearing a button-down, you can only button to here, right about the mid-chest.

David TaoDavid Tao

[laughs] Back to, as far as your involvement with Wodapalooza and with the Sanctional’s competitions in general, Loud And Live brings a perspective of major events management from a lot of different spheres — music, entertainment, retail.

 

What do you think was missing from the CrossFit event space that Loud And Live brought, or that you all were trying to bring, from the more general space. Was it a level of professionalism? Is it a bit of polish? What do you think wasn’t quite there that you all were trying to do a little bit differently in the CrossFit event space.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

It’s a really good question. It’s a really easy answer. It’s just the overall experience. By the way, CrossFit does a phenomenal job with what they do and they’re very focused on the competition side of things.

 

The complete experience, I think, is where we focus. We have 1,000 volunteers we have, and they do too, we have 2,700 athletes competing. We have 150 brands that want us. We have 45,000 people running through the property. We take all that into consideration and look at it from a quality perspective.

 

A fan’s experience has to be as significantly approached as athlete-on-the-floor’s experience. From an events perspective you could say, “Well, OK, the result of that fan’s experience is what goes on on the floor.” We would just disagree with that a little. I think that we’re building festivals, is my point here. We’re not building competitions.

 

That piece of property is a canvas that we try to paint completely and it’s not just about the floor. Not to say anyone else looks at it any differently. I just know that from when we got into Wodapalooza specifically and now the other four events that we’re operating…I think what we’ve enhanced at Wodapalooza is that overall experience.

 

It’s a fan interaction, opportunity, brand engagement, volunteer experience which is…I’ve learned a lot of this from CrossFit and guides at CrossFit. That’s probably one of the more important niche how they’re fed, how they’re treated throughout the week because you’re dealing with 1,000 people that aren’t paid, that come down.

 

It cost them money, and they work 16 hours a day. They get dehydrated and they don’t eat enough. It’s an onslaught on them. How they get to interact with the whole, overall event, not just on the floor. There’s so much that goes into it and I think we’re committed to every year enhancing that.

 

If you’ve been to the event, seen what we did this year, comparatively to the year before, I want that to be what’s associated with our events is constant evolution and improvement. We added thousands of seat, we doubled seat capacity this year and still ended up having a seating issue because more people are coming.

 

I want them to see that and know we’re going to address it and we will and we’re going to add and evolve and increase that experience, that level of experience.

David TaoDavid Tao

Visually you want to have…it sounds weird but I guess the good side of having too few seats is that it keeps this vibe going. Wodapalooza has a vibe that it’s, like, you don’t want it to be too overcapacity from a safety issue but, at the same time, you don’t want empty bleachers. That’s not the vibe you want in Miami at all, right?

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

No. It’s become this thing where it’s, that’s always on our mind. You have to dream big and be a level of delusional on how hard and far you want to run with things. We also want to be realistic and continue to be mindful. We’re running a business, for one, and two, we want that piece of the experience.

 

I don’t want people to go to Bayside and be like, “Ah, it’s cool. Half the seats are full,” because we just over-thought that. We’ve got to do a better job next year, doing a little more thinking ahead with growth.

 

The amount of growth we wanted through the last two years now is 100 percent from our capacity perspective, so 45 to 50 percent each year over growth in the last two years. When we did that in ’19 we were like, “That’s…” It was an 80-year-old property. It’s like, “No way this happens again.”

 

Yeah, we’ll grow because we’re good at what we’re doing. We had a badass year and people will come and more will. To think we would have that many more people, we were literally just laughing about the amount of people that were there. Then, quickly, trying to say to people…we communicated probably and said like, “Hey, if it’s a general admission ticket you’re not guaranteed a seat.”

 

We made sure, better this year, that every VIP always had a seat. That wasn’t even the case a year ago. We didn’t even have the capacity for it.

 

Yeah, it’s a balance. That stage flag, whatever, which is the main one where you walk in the gate. Used to be people standing around barricades and then it was two sides of stands. Now, this year, it’s four-sided stands and we put VIP decks and there were still people all over the place around it. We’re going to build a bigger boat. [laughs]

 

It’s all we can do and it’s such a cool problem to have though, man, but you hit the nail on the head. That experience which is always on top of our mind can’t change. I just don’t ever want it to be that aerial shot that we do every year is a 10,000-seat facility that there’s 8,000 people in which would be awesome but look weird because it’s not packed.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Yeah, it’s like looking at a Major League Baseball stadium when they’re in garbage time. They’re not making the playoff. They’ve got 2,000 people in an 80,000-seat arena. You’re like, “Eh.” That’s not going to fill the seats for next year.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

 

You mean the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium all the time.

David TaoDavid Tao

I didn’t want to name names, but maybe a little too close to home when we’re talking about Wodapalooza. They’ve had some butts-in-seats problems over the years. Let’s be honest here.

 

I want to talk a little bit more about the athlete-management side of what you do specifically. We can talk about what Loud And Live does, but I’m interested in the Matt O’Keefe’s story here. When I met you, it was 2014 probably.

 

In many ways, those were the early days of top CrossFitters actually having managers and having people that they work with to represent them, to connect them with brands, to help do that work, and to build brands around those people.

 

It’s obviously evolved since then to become the norm. If you are a top CrossFit athlete, of course you have an agent or you are very likely to have an agent these days, whereas six years ago it was the exception to the rule. I think that your work has been a driving force behind that honestly. Tell us a little bit about how that has evolved and why you were basically interested in doing that in the first place.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

It started as this and I think this is really when you and I met was in that passion phase. Sort of being a friend to a viable business and a career. I’ve always been attracted to sports and sports business. I’ve always tried to consume as much as I could on that side, but it was always a passion piece for me. It was my interest and it was never my career or anything I did entrepreneurial. It was always on the sale side of things.

 

My family owned a car dealership, then I evolved into selling insurance. I took a chance on myself when I walked through a CrossFit [indecipherable 20:10] door and then the chance I took was starting a clothing business.

 

That just quickly evolved into meeting Mat Fraser and then it’s so funny the first thing I ever did with Mat, you probably were somewhat indirectly involved with, which was NFS Sports, NutriForce at the time. He had gotten an offer from them. He’s like, “Hey, can you look at this?”

 

That’s how I started being an agent. It literally was like, “Hey, my wife’s a lawyer. If I can ever do anything to help. I love you dearly, so I just want to protect you.” I have a business mind, like sales and sales. In a lot of ways it’s like, “You got a value. Try to hold it. Whatever.”

 

The relationship I had with Mat was the platform that allowed this to become what it is. In a unique time where nobody really had agents, I had a unique opportunity from what I was doing to be able to do things and not look at it from a business perspective, truly was doing it because I cared.

 

Mat was a unique opportunity in that perspective. Mat just trusted me as a human and had no interest in having an agent in his life because his family were professional. His mom and dad were professional ice skaters.

 

They had a poor experience with an agent, so it was like, “Hey, I don’t want an agent. I want a friend. Can you just watch out for me?” Fast forward today, he’s a massive business unit that has a ton going on. I’m so proud of the evolution, not only from a business perspective but him and how he’s become a businessman.

 

That was how it started. From there, people took notice too how he was accepting and then doing some business that I was a part of. He’s been a huge salesman. The nice part — Pat, Mat, and Brent, and I talked about this last night — is there’s a uniqueness in our business climate from an influencer perspective where they’re all buying into this rising tide scenario. They help each other out.

 

Quite frankly, no matter what anybody says, ground zero. I’m not in Brent. They’re not only competitive on the floor, they are off in a lot of ways from a business perspective. If you want clothing in a shoe deal, there’s a few options. They don’t sign everybody in the free world. That’s a very elite thing that happens for an endorsement perspective.

 

Mat basically just told anybody that asked him, “Hey, how do you handle your business? You should just start there, O’Keeffe.” That’s how a lot of clients came my way.

 

One thing I’m proud of is that a lot of the evolution of our business, mine on the athlete management side, was truly just by his trust in me and then those other people then accepting that and trusting me, not me running around selling people and doing business with me. That is really the evolution of it. It’s a cool, really awesome piece of what we now do at Loud And Live sports and it’s evolving.

 

We’re looking at opportunities to be in other places doing it, maybe other sports down the line, but now we got our hands full with what we do with these kids now. They become like really cool business units like brands. Man, I’m so proud because I look at you and you give me this flash of like…

 

I remember sitting in the swamp with you doing the contract signing with Mat with the rhinos. Just a piece of history with Mat and the evolution. It’s come so far, it’s been such a cool ride.

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s funny. I was at a wedding a little under a year ago in Maine, and it was an old weightlifting buddy of mine was getting married. He and Mat had the same weightlifting coach growing up, Chris Polakowski. They sit me next to Chris at this wedding and he’s like, “Hey, you do something in the CrossFit space or your barbell thing?”

 

I was like, “Oh, you know, BarBend.” He was like, “Yeah, yeah. Do you know Mat Fraser? I was like, “Yeah, everyone knows who that is.” He had all these stories about Mat training when he was…He started training weightlifting when he was like 12, or 13, as a youth athlete, and an accomplished junior athlete on the international stage.

 

That was my flashback moment. Just to think of these people at this wedding knew Mat, were like training alongside him when they were kids and weightlifting. It’s interesting how these sports communities really…They look after their own in the strength world. Mat is one of the top CrossFitters in history.

 

At the same time, these people still viewed him as a weightlifter. He was still a weightlifter first and foremost, and they had that affection for him in that regard. Growing up in Vermont, a kid just lifted barbells. It was a really, really cool thing to see. I think that that authenticity and that personal connection is really important in the space.

 

One thing I think a lot of athletes get turned off by is when they get the hard sells. When someone’s approaching them and saying, “Hey, I can be your agent, here’s what I can do for you,” blah, blah, blah. You having those athletes approach, you through the work, an example you had with Mat Fraser, I think has set a very different tone.

 

What are some misconceptions you think a lot of people in the space — could be athletes could be fans — might have about the relationship that agents and athletes have to build?

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

Yeah, I think it’s probably very different sport to sport. Because I have a lot of friends. I have a mentor that was an NBA agent and that represented a lot of PGA Tour and Women’s PGA Tour players as well. I’ve gotten some more general market figure Fox sport perspective. Everybody will go back to Jerry Maguire, right?

 

That’s who I wanted to be. Why? Because not…It’s a really cool movie site. Who cares about that part, but that’s what the met the guy that I’ve tried to emulate and been mentored by. That’s how he went about it. He represented people, he had like the no-hassle rule, which our guy you probably read. He adopted that early on. It made a lot of sense to me.

 

The people that he was representing, he was the best man in their wedding. There was a big, deep-rooted personal relationship. For me, that’s how every one of those…Sorry, I’m choking. I’m not crying yet, but…

Everyone I can…I just can run through the people that I work with. I stay at their house, they stay at mine, they see my kids grow. Then now those that have come in later, they’re immediately friends. We travel together, we stay in hotel rooms together, it’s personal.

That is the one thing I’ve said, and I will always consistently say. We started with Tia about…I’ve been friends with Tia for two years. Tia would never take the leap with us because we were such good friends and that’s genuine. She’s like, “Ah, I don’t want to ruin this.” I would always tell her, “Business is personal to you.”

She’s like, “Hmm, that’s not what I’ve heard and I don’t want to take the chance.” She’s come on and we work together for now almost a year and she gets it now too. Because it is. That isn’t I personal I’m on social media defending every time somebody says something shitty about a client of mine.

It’s personal in that I take it very personally their growth and their success. I have an opportunity to impact their life and their kids’ life and their kid’s kid’s life, if I do my job properly. I really look after them as people and brands sort of way. That’s how I approach it. That’s the most Jerry Maguire thing you’ve ever heard but it’s true, man.

I don’t want to work on a transactional basis with anything I do. It’s all about relationships. It’s one person, one conversation at a time whether it’s a brand, an athlete, or an event, anything like a volunteer or a staff. Doesn’t matter. For me, I want to do good things for the right reason with good people, all the time. That’s very, very important obviously in that piece of the business.

David TaoDavid Tao

What do you think is the next phase of the CrossFit community? We’ve seen a ton of changes over the past two years. We’ve seen more changes in two years in the CrossFit space for Games, Games qualification, the structure, Sanctionals being a thing, the way the Games are streamed, the way media is put out.

 

We’ve seen more changes in the past two years than we saw in the preceding six years, it felt like. What do you think CrossFit competition could be at the Games level, it could be at the Sanctionals level, could just be at the community level on the competitive side? How do you think that’s going to evolve over the next few years?

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

It’s evolving. There’s a lot of really extreme public change, which is what the market is seeing. The evolution has been just abrupt over the last 18 months. The way CrossFit does things a lot of ways it’s like, “Make a decision and do it.” Not necessarily communicate thought process before it or even after.

 

Which is how they’ve always done things and it’s fine. There’s just more people involved now so it’s a little noisier and crazier than when they did it with Sectionals and Regionals. You were around for some of that stuff. Those were as crazy a change as [indecipherable 30:22] now.

 

I think that what you’re going to see is…Competition Corner’s a good reference. There’s 3,000 events on his platform. That’s not Sanctionals or big competitions. Those are gym throw-downs. The market’s thriving, it’s just doing it in different areas from a competitor perspective.

 

You’re seeing a lot of growth in Europe, in South America. You remember the days when you were at 5th Ave and everybody was competing as much as possible six years ago.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Oh, yeah. It was like, “It’s a weekend, I have a competition. It’s a weekend, I have a competition.”

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

[laughs] You want to throw-down and do eight workouts in a day? Sure. [laughs] That’s not reasonable. I think what we’re seeing here is a little more of an evolution towards where runners have evolved to the New York City Marathon, the bigger 10K and 5K opportunity. The Falmouth Road Race is such a big deal in New York.

 

Maybe there’s less of these everyday 5Ks. It’s the same here. What you’re seeing is Wodapalooza’s becoming like this New York City Marathon. West Coast Classic, the Boston, if you’re trying to relate it to another area. That’s where you’re seeing our evolution is. There’ll just be less people competing overall because people are starting to become a little more older, like myself.

 

I can’t do it. I also want to enjoy what I’m doing with fitness. I genuinely now enjoy breathing heavy and going a little dark. To me, it’s like I get to sharpen my axe. I don’t want to go do 50 muscle ups in a workout or on a floor in front of people. A lot of people are getting there.

 

There’s an extreme crowd just like there is in marathoning and triathloning. It’s evolving here. On the sport side — the Games — we all have supported it and will continue. Want it to grow and it’s globalizing. It’s really cool what came here last year with so many people from different countries.

 

You’ll see more athletes being relevant to the sport from other countries and parts of the world now that they can achieve some world status and go to a world games.

 

You’ll probably see some emerging markets in countries that have some athletes that pop up. I’m interested to see how that plays out from the Chinas and South Koreas and Japans of the world that have better lifting cultures, that strength sports cultures.

 

You’ve seen it with Iceland, for instance. There was super strong people. History is very strong, look how it translated to CrossFit. I’m interested to see how that happens from regions of the world like that. That are now on the start of it.

 

Who knows? Will we see this thing now move to another country and become more of a global Olympic-type platform? I tell people when I get asked about growth and evolution, “Things are great in general.” It’s just been a little crazy. Obviously right now things are wild and it’s a hard time for an event organizer, I’ll tell you that.

 

I believe it’s a resilient community. I believe everything from this will shake out OK. We’ll see how we deal with this season. I know how our athletes are still training and it’s hard for the CrossFit Games. When you have a people chasing that prize like Mat for the fifth time, Tia for the fourth. It’s literally all they think about.

 

Eat, drink, and sleep it every day. Every moment is attributed to that. They’re global stars and recognized across all sports. You’re still going in the right direction.

David TaoDavid Tao

Matt, where is the best place for folks to keep up to date with the work you’re doing? Could be through Loud And Live Sports or just you personally. Maybe not right now, you’re not traveling quite as much right now given the COVID situation. You’re normally all over the place at pretty much every event, guesting on podcasts, and developing your own community.

 

Where’s the best place for people to follow along with that?

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

I don’t do a good job on social. I do have a handle, a personal, it’s O-K-E-E-F-M-R. That’s my Instagram. It’s generally what I use but Loud And Live Sports is really a great place to follow us. It’s @loudlivesports is the handle for Instagram.

 

We have a YouTube as well. We’ve been doing some podcasting on our own. It’s a little bit of a — same as anything we’ve started — passion project which has been super fun. We have cool people to talk to so we’re enjoying it.

 

Any of our events, Wodapalooza, West Coast Classic, Granite Games, Madrid CrossFit Championship, Mayan CrossFit Championship. Those social platforms are a good place to see what we’re doing. I’m around, I’m not hard to find. You can DM me and catch up. I’m happy to hop on. I’ll talk to anybody.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Once events start up again, Matt O’Keefe is the tall guy wearing the Loud And Live Sports hat at events. You can pick him out of a crowd pretty easy. Don’t be afraid to give him a jab.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

 

Sometimes I have a lot of grey in my beard. Although I’ve been advised by Mat Fraser to start shaving because I look like shit.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

All right. Matt O’Keefe, thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate your time.

Matt O'KeefeMatt O'Keefe

 

David, thanks. It’s been a pleasure, man. Great to catch up with you.