‘Fittest Man on Earth’ Rich Froning celebrates new Cookeville facility
COOKEVILLE – In recent years, the phrase “CrossFit” has become more than a topic of conversation in Cookeville. It’s a way of life for many locals, and thanks to four-time “Fittest Man on Earth” Rich Froning, it’s also a destination for CrossFitters from around the world.
To accommodate the ever-growing popularity of the sport and demand of CrossFit-inspired guests to Tennessee, Froning has expanded his facility, CrossFit Mayhem, providing a sports destination like no other. An official grand opening was held this past weekend.
In 2012, after winning the Reebok CrossFit Games’ title for a second year, Froning opened his original facility downtown, next door to the famous Ralph’s Donuts. As the gym, or “box,” began drawing thousands of athletes locally, nationally and internationally, Froning realized he’d soon outgrow the space. After considering several new locations in the area, a former warehouse was found to be a natural fit. With ample space and ease of access both from Highway 111 and Interstate 40, construction began at 601 Rich Froning Way, formally Design Drive.
CrossFit Mayhem 3.0, as its called, is fully furnished with superior CrossFit equipment and accessories; boasts 18,000 square feet of workout space; a full wellness center with chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy, and nutrition resources; an education and mobility/yoga space; a spectator viewing area; locker rooms; a wifi/work lounge for business professionals; a retail storefront; and an online retail fulfillment center.
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett toured the facility for a “hardhat” tour in October.
“The impact Rich, his team and the CrossFit Mayhem facility have on Cookeville elevates it to a globally-recognized sports destination,” Triplett said. “With remarkable facilities like CrossFit Mayhem, we have the opportunity to welcome athletes from around the world, not only as they enjoy their sport, but showcase the activities, outdoor recreations and attractions in the community and surrounding area as well.”
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Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development for the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau, agreed. The visitors bureau is working closely with CrossFit Mayhem staff to provide tourist information to CrossFit travelers.
“CrossFit Mayhem 3.0 is an outstanding asset for our community and region to drive visitor development as we encourage our guests to enjoy their fitcations in Cookeville,” Ledbetter said.
With a book deal and significant sponsorships from brands like Reebok, Oakley and Rogue, Froning retired from individual competition after his fourth first place finish in 2014. He led the way in team competitions with his CrossFit Mayhem Freedom team winning first place in 2015 and 2016. “Fittest Man in History,” a documentary on Froning’s success, was recently released worldwide on Netflix and Hulu.
Froning offers a humble reaction to response and admiration of his feats, shining a light on his faith and his ability to encourage and uplift others in their journeys. “Rich Froning’s Mayhem for Mustard Seed Ranch,” an international CrossFit competition of 300 competitors and thousands of spectators, raises more than $100,000 each year. All proceeds are provided to build homes for Mustard Seed Ranch, a Cookeville nonprofit taking children out of unsafe environments and into loving, nurturing homes. The 2017 event will take place April 29 at Tennessee Tech’s Hyder-Burks Pavilion.
A formal ribbon cutting took place last Friday with several dignitaries, including Congressman Diane Black and Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Division Manager Sara Beth Urban. A tour of the state-of-the-art facility followed.
An official grand opening Saturday included a day of competition with 150 athletes and nearly 500 spectators. Due to initial response following Froning’s announcement of the opening, the event required ticketing for crowd-control purposes, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting the local Disabled Veterans Association.
“Almost five years ago, one of our main goals was to provide a quality place for people in the Upper Cumberland to do CrossFit, which I think we have accomplished,” Froning said. “Moving forward, one of our main goals is to provide a quality place for all types of fitness and fitness levels, which is why our sign now says ‘Forging Lifelong Fitness.’”