In recent years, the term “CrossFit” has become more than a topic of conversation in Cookeville, Tenn., it has become a way of life for many locals. The city serving as home to four-time “Fittest on Earth” Rich Froning, has also become a destination for CrossFitters from around the globe. To accommodate the ever-growing popularity of the sport and demand of CrossFit-inspired guests to Tennessee, Froning has now expanded his facility, CrossFit Mayhem 3.0, providing a sports destination like no other.
A formal ribbon cutting took place last Friday at 601 Rich Froning Way with several dignitaries joining Froning and the CrossFit Mayhem team, including Congressman Diane Black and Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Division Manager Sara Beth Urban. A personal tour followed, offering an overview of the capabilities of the state-of-the-art facility.
The official grand opening on Saturday was one characterized in true Froning fashion with 150 competitors and nearly 500 spectators with most traveling nationally or internationally to Cookeville for a chance to be a part of CrossFit history. 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.
CrossFit Mayhem 3.0 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.
In 2012, after winning the Reebok CrossFit Games’ title for a second year, Froning opened the original facility in the heart of Cookeville’s downtown, next door to the famous Ralph’s Donuts. As the gym, or “box” as CrossFitters call it, began drawing thousands of athletes locally, nationally and internationally, Froning realized, he would soon outgrow the space. After consideration of 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.
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett toured the facility for a “hardhat” tour in October. In addition to viewing blueprints, Triplett realized the need for expansion after hearing visitation numbers of the former location for class drop-ins, trainings, or to merely purchase CrossFit Mayhem merchandise.
“The impact Rich, his team and the CrossFit Mayhem facility have on Cookeville, Tennessee elevates it to a globally-recognized sports destination,” said Triplett. “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.”
Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development for the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau, agrees and notes that the visitors bureau is working closely with the staff at CrossFit Mayhem to provide tourist information to CrossFit travelers.
“For years Cookeville has been known as the hub city of the Upper Cumberland region,” said Ledbetter. “With success in hosting countless sporting events and welcoming athletes, their fans and families from around the world, we have become known as a hub for athletic hospitality as well.”
“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,” added Ledbetter.
With a book deal and significant sponsorships from brands like Reebok, Oakley, and Rogue, Froning retired from individual competition after a fourth first place finish in 2014. He then 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 University’s Hyder-Burks Pavilion.
“Almost 5 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,” said Froning. “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.”
For more information about the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau, call 931-526-2211 or go to visitcookevilletn.com.
For more information about CrossFit Mayhem, go to crossfitmayhem.com.