By: Ali Johnson

It’s no secret that there are A LOT of big names in CrossFit- from Games athletes to box owners and programming founders, it’s hard to keep them all straight! That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 7 people who’ve made a name for themselves in CrossFit that we think you should be following in the hopes that you can learn from their successes and failures in order to become a better athlete.


1. Jason Khalipa

In addition to being the master behind CF3P’s new programming, NCFitCollective, Jason Khalipa is a father, businessman, and CrossFit games competitor. He’s competed in the games on 8 separate occasions (and won in 2008), and he’s also the owner of NC Fit, a multi-location affiliate in California. In 2016 his daughter, Ava, was diagnosed with leukemia, and after she recovered Jason and his wife Ashley went on to found the annual event “Ava’s Kitchen”- the largest non-affiliated blood drive on the west coast.


2. Samantha Briggs

Sam Briggs is known as “The Engine”, and she’s definitely earned her nickname. She’s “truly passionate about pushing [my] limits and seeing what is actually possible!” Briggs won the CrossFit games in 2013, and has gone on to be part of The Progenex Team, an extremely successful line of protein powders and supplements. The English native has overcome multiple injuries, including a broken foot prior to the regionals in 2015, but she doesn’t let anything slow her down!


3. Mat Fraser

Matt Fraser is both a mechanical engineer and the 2016 CrossFit Games Champion. But did you know he’s also the son of two Canadian Olympic figure skaters? No wonder he’s been interested in fitness his whole life! Fraser won the silver medal in the Games on both 2014 and 2015, and he used what he considered “losses” to motivate him to change his routine in order to come back faster and stronger in 2016. He changed his diet, his training, and his lifestyle, but his discipline and sacrifices were all worth it when he was awarded “fittest man on Earth”. 


4. Annie Thorisdottir

Hailing from Iceland, Annie Thorisdottir is no stranger to the CrossFit Games. The 28 year old won the fittest woman award in both 2011 AND 2012, and is a 7-time Games veteran. She co-owns CrossFit Reykjavik, and she has a background in gymnastics, pole vaulting, and even ballet. “Iceland Annie” is known for her positive attitude as well as her strength and perseverance. She successfully completed her first muscle-up in the middle of the Games in 2009, and she’s been breaking down barriers ever since.


5. Kara (Webb) Saunders

This Australian native has been into fitness since she was a toddler. Her mom remembers her as an “active toddler” who “started walking at 8 months old” and wanted to climb on everything (so there’s hope for us moms with crazy kids!) She started out swimming, and got into CrossFit when she was 19. She struggled in the 2014 Games when a nerve issue forced her to drop out, and she was a victim of severe heat exhaustion in the 2015 Games. But she came back in 2016, stronger than ever, and won the “Spirit of the Games” award! She came in second by just 2 points behind Tia-Clair Toomey in 2017, but says she was “genuinely happy for Tia. Part of her growth included also being able to celebrate other people’s success.”


6. Tia-Clair Toomey

Tia-Clair Toomey got everyone’s attention when she managed to take second in the 2015 CrossFit Games after only participating in CrossFit for 2 years prior. She won “Rookie of the Year” that year, and then came back to finish second again in 2016. Her background in track and field certainly helps her to succeed in endurance events, but she’s no stranger to strength training either. She won the Games in both 2017 AND 2018, and she currently owns a CrossFit box with her husband, Shane. Additionally, Tia-Clair is the founder of Jade’s Legacy, an Australian foundation geared towards better equipping drivers to face challenges and hazards on the roads in order to reduce unnecessary fatalities.  


7. Rich Froning

Rich Froning considers himself to be a Christian CrossFit athlete, and he’s also the founder of CrossFit Mayhem. His strength, conditioning, and gymnastics programming has helped thousands of athletes meet and exceed their fitness goals. Froning won the CrossFit Games from 2011-2014 (and was the first male competitor to win the title back to back), and as such has been dubbed the Fittest Man in History. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Tennessee Tech University and is a husband and father of 3 children. His background is in baseball, and he even turned down multiple college baseball scholarships in order to work as a fireman while attending TTU. Did you know that CrossFit can significantly help athletes improve their performance in sports? Check out our post here!


Do any of these CrossFit influencers inspire you to persevere and become a better athlete? Is there anyone you think we should add to the list? Comment in the section below!