Rich Froning is the World’s Fittest Man. Some say he is the fittest man in history. The title of World’s Fittest Man is given to the man who wins the World Crossfit Games each year. Crossfit is a community within the fitness world in which participants engage in many different fitness activities across a wide range of disciplines.  Competitors need to be able to run, lift weights, climb ropes, move heavy objects, flip tires and much more.

Froning won the World Crossfit Games, not one time, but 5 consecutive years between 2010 and 2014.  Froning was born 28 years ago, and was not a particularly impressive baby or kid.  In high school he was average at football and decent at baseball.  He received a scholarship to play baseball at Walters State Community College, but decided he wasn’t good enough to pursue a career in baseball and became a fire fighter.  He discovered Crossfit shortly thereafter and began to excel. Within three years he won his first world championship and has subsequently earned over a million dollars in competition prize money, procured endorsement deals and has become the face of the Crossfit community.

So how did a guy with average athletic ability become the World’s Fittest Man in just a few years?

I believe Froning has developed three habits that have led him to become a great athlete.  These habits can be developed by any person in any environment and the result will lead to greatness.

3 Habits that Lead to Greatness:

  • Run Toward Pain
  • Run with Great People
  • Run Focused on Jesus Christ

Habit 1: Run Toward Pain

All forms of exercise involve pushing oneself to the point of pain and muscle failure.  It is at the point of muscle failure that the body actually breaks down and rebuilds itself stronger.  Great athletes like Froning, run towards this pain, not away from it.  “He reports working out multiple times a day and prefers not to take days off from training, unlike many other athletes.” (source: Wikipedia, “Rich Froning: Day at the Office” see the YouTube video below).  In the book Freeway, by Mike Foster, we read that the choice to run towards pain applies to pursuing a great life as well, In order to be free, we must run toward the pain, not away from it…” Greatness in life, leadership or any other endeavor comes from engaging pain and pushing through it.

Habit 2: Run With Great People

In his biography First: What it takes to Win, Froning talk about how he finds strength working with other great athletes. In his Wikipedia profile, this is summarized as follows, “Froning does not have a coach nor programmer who writes his workouts. Instead, Froning often finds an exceptional athlete to be his training partner, such as Games athletes Dan Bailey and James Hobart.” Without other great people around us, we will inevitably become weary of running towards the pain and find short cuts or stop altogether.  We need the accountability of other great people push us towards the pain when we are weak, walk with us through difficulty and celebrate with us in victory.  The Apostle Luke, one of the first followers of Jesus, wrote of the need to have other great people in his life. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials” Luke 22:28. Who are the people in your life that are helping you chase down greatness?

Habit 3: Run Focused on Jesus

Reebok recently collaborated with Froning to develop the ultimate Crossfit shoe. Priced at just under $200 and made of ultra tough kevlar fabric, it is the premium shoe for Crossfit training.  The name of the shoe is the Reebok Crossfit Compete 614. It is named after a verse in the Bible from the book of Galations which Froning has tattooed on the side of his torso. It reads, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” Galatians 6:14.



In spite of all his success, Froning understands that the true source of power and ability comes not from the created but the Creator.  As leaders we must run towards the pain with other great people. However we must always recognize that the ultimate source of leadership ability comes from understanding and engaging in a relationship with the creator of the universe, and the author or our lives. Only when we have this perspective can we truly be free and empowered to live and lead to our fullest potential. Mike Foster writes in Freeway that “Jesus is the only Freedom giver.” If we want to achieve true greatness we must ensure that we focus not only on leadership, but also on the spiritual side of our lives and remained constantly focused on Jesus in whatever situation we find ourselves each moment of every day.

Reflection: Consider these 3 questions as you pursue greatness today.

  • Habit 1 – What pain do you need to run towards today in order to pursue greatness?
  • Habit 2 – Who do you need to run with in order to pursue greatness?
  • Habit 3 – How can you focus on your relationship with Jesus today in order to pursue the greatness He has in mind for you?

Honestly reflecting on those three questions and making each of these three choices will ensure we are One Grip Higher today!




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