Documentary Review—Froning: The Fittest Man in History

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Damect Dominguez

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“In sports, legends appear once in a generation. They are athletes who not only change the way a game is played, but also, regarded entirely. Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretzky. Pele. Babe Ruth. In CrossFit, that man is Rich Froning.”
-“Froning: The Fittest Man in History”

For the past several years, CrossFit HQ has released documentaries highlighting crowning moments in the sport of fitness. This year, we had the mini-series, “Story in the [insert Regional]”. Last year, there was “Team of Champions: The Story of the CrossFit Invitational” and “2014 Games”. One of the most iconic films about CrossFit and the Games is “Every Second Counts”, which followed the paths of several competitors leading up to the 2008 Games. But in 2015, CrossFIt’s newest film may set the standard for years to come.

“Froning: The Fittest Man in History”, (directed by Heber Canon, produced by Sevan Mattosian and Tyson Oldroyd) recounts the journey of Rich Froning as he seeks to claim his 4th straight championship at the CrossFit Games and cement his legacy as the greatest CrossFitter of all time. As you’d expect, a lot of the movie centers on Froning competing at the 2014 Regionals and Games, as well as his insane training schedule. To give you an example, here’s what Froning and James Hobart (Froning’s training partner and fellow Games competitor) tackled just three days prior to traveling to L.A. for the Games:

10:05 a.m.
10 Rounds:
Row 250m
Rest 2:1 Work Ratio

11:30 a.m.
5  Rounds:
10 Deadlifts  225lbs
20 Wall Balls

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1:05 p.m.
For Time:
21 Weighted Pistols 65lbs
15 Clean and Jerks 185lbs
9 Muscle-Ups

1:25 p.m.
21 Parallette Handstand Push-ups
15 Snatches
9 Muscle-Ups

3:00 p.m.
6×3 Snatch Work

7:30 p.m.
‘Frantasy Land’
Thruster 95lbs
Thruster 115lbs
Chest-to-Bar Pull-up
Thruster 135lbs
Bar Muscle-Up

And that’s just what we see in the documentary! As Pat Sherwood aptly notes, “It’s not normal.” We’re shown how Froning’s competitive fire can be traced back to his days as a youngster, where his parent’s instilled a rigorous work ethic in him from an early age that extended into sports. His High School baseball coach recalls Froning diving for ground balls on the pavement during a practice that had to be moved due to a wet field.

We also travel through time to see Froning evolve from the early CrossFit Sectionals (a precursor to the Open), past those infamous rope climbs at the 2010 Games before stringing three titles together from 2011 to 2013. There’s plenty of humor in the movie too. We get to see a home movie of a young Froning wrestling a friend as ‘the Urban Cowboy’, as well as an epic Marvel-esque scene complete with fighter jets, huge explosions and Froning holding a shotgun with the American flag billowing in the wind behind him (you’ll have to watch to find out what that’s all about).

But aside from the training, competing and jokes, the documentary reveals another side of the great champion. Froning breaks down on several occasions as he openly speaks about the process he and his wife Hilary went through to adopt their daughter Lakelyn, his love for his wife as well as the tragic death of his best friend. We get a behind the scenes look of the rollercoaster ride that Froning went through during the ups and downs of the 2014 Games, one that might give you comfort to realize that after all, the man is human.

“Froning: The Fittest Man in History” tells a great story of CrossFit’s most recognizable face in a way that most of us have never seen before. In fact, one could argue that the tale of Froning’s rise is a microcosm of the rise of CrossFit itself. After all, the two will always be linked together in history. We will probably never see an athlete like him again. For that reason alone, it’s worth watching. But if you also want to see a bunch of insanely fit people work out in a sport that you love, you can’t go wrong here. A note of caution though: you’re going to want to pick up a barbell as soon as the movie is over.

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

1 thought on “Documentary Review—Froning: The Fittest Man in History”

  1. I felt like this documentary was poorly made. There was too much time spent on Rich as a child (1-12yrs old) which as it turns out was very ordinary. Then they talk a little about him as a teenager through his baseball coach and then skip to the crossfit games. The only interesting part of the documentary was to see the day of training. But at this point he has enough sponsors that he can spend all his time working out. I want to know how he got to that point. Did he go to college? Did he play sports in college? Does he have a background in Olympic lifting? Did he work before he started crossfit? What did he do? Did he have any trouble finding time to train while working? At what point was he able to train full time? Did he belong to an affiliate? Does he still go to an affiliate or does he just train at home? Was he always ripped out and strong? If not what did he do to become like that? They mentioned he and his wife’s inability to have kids, but don’t say why they can’t have kids. Is it him or her? If its him they should have addressed that along with steroid use in crossfit to dissuade any thoughts of a connection between the two. I was incredibly basic and poorly constructed.


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