March 16, 2012
The Thinking CrossFitter: Jason Hoggan
By Eddie Malone

Jason Hoggan juggles law school and single parenthood. But his goal in 2012 is to compete in Carson. 

Photo by: Nicole Bedard

Photo by: Nicole Bedard

Photo by: Nicole Bedard

Jason Hoggan is the thinking man’s CrossFitter.

Hoggan, who led the South Central Region after Open Workout 12.3, is a third-year law student at Southern Methodist University and a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. He once worked in counterintelligence.

A cerebral approach to life follows him into the gym. 

With his coach, Rudy Nielsen (owner of Outlaw CrossFit in Alexandria, Va.), Hoggan talked burpees and strategy for an hour before hitting Workout 12.1. The following week, he prepped for 12.2 by studying a number of videos.

“I watched a lot of videos before this one: Rudy’s pacing strategy, the Mobility WOD and Gymnastics WOD prep, Rich [Froning’s] and Dan’s [Bailey’s] video,” he says. “I wanted at least 85 [reps], but came up short (82) because of pacing problems.”

Hoggan stuck to a strategy devised by Nielsen the next week, doing the box jumps and push presses unbroken, but breaking the toes-to-bar into chunks of 5 and 4 early on to save his kip. The strategy allowed him to reach his goal of 12-plus rounds. 

He may be atop the South Central Region’s Leaderboard for now, but don’t expect Hoggan to get carried away. A seasoned competitor, he faced the gauntlet as soon as he walked into Outlaw CrossFit in 2009. 

“We happened to do Fran the day I first showed up to Outlaw CrossFit, followed by heavy deadlifts the following day,” he says. “I guess I did pretty well on both, and after I finished deadlifting, Rudy casually informed me that I was going to compete at the 2009 CrossFit Sectionals a few months later.”

He’s done pretty well since then, finishing 12th at the Mid Atlantic Regional last year and 13th at the Central East Regional in 2010. This will be his first year competing in the South Central Region after transferring from Georgetown to SMU for his final year of law school.   

“I can’t wait to meet everyone [at Regionals] and lay it on the line,” he says. “If my past experience is any indication, I’ll come out of it with another huge group of like-minded friends. It’s easy to feel at home in that environment.”

Hoggan says he would love to go that extra step and go to Carson, Calif., in 2012, but it’s also true that he’s got a lot on his plate. He graduates in May and takes the bar exam just two weeks after the Games. A job at a large law firm awaits him. Last but certainly not least, he has a 4-and-a-half year old daughter to take care of.

Camryn, who starts kindergarten in the fall, is pretty supportive of her dad’s athletic endeavors. “Just like any kid, she normalizes everything, so CrossFit, good nutrition and the enjoyment of fitness kind of comes naturally to her now,” Hoggan says. “She comes to almost all of my competitions and is my biggest fan. She also races me everywhere, and insists that she say ‘go’ before we do almost anything – brushing teeth, for example. Everything is more fun with a 4-year-old around and watching her makes me feel hopeful about the future.”

That future includes a lot of time at CrossFit Heath in Rockwall, Texas, where he follows Nielsen’s “Outlaw Doctrine” in terms of programming. The Open hasn’t interfered with a Hatch squat cycle – low-bar on Mondays, high-bar on Fridays, which he’s been on for the last couple of months. On the other days, Hoggan works on the Olympic lifts followed by a heavy met-con. 

Once a Division 1 athlete at the Air Force Academy, Hoggan credits Nielsen and the Outlaw way for transforming him from a competitive tennis player to an elite CrossFitter. 

“Rudy’s helped me a ton in terms of my technical proficiency and confidence, and his programming is harder and more interesting than most,” he says. “In a competitive environment, he can get more out of you than even he probably thought was possible, because he acts like he expects it … and when you accomplish whatever it is, he gets more excited than anyone, typically letting out a riotous “fuck yeah,” for which he’s pretty well-known. He’s a good friend, and it’s fun having him as a coach.”

Hoggan also believes it’s fun when he steps onto that competitive stage. With all of his experience and ability, he’ll be one to watch in San Antonio. Regardless of the final standings, this cerebral dad will be sure to keep things in perspective. Life is good right now after a hectic 2011 in which he juggled law school, full-time work as an Air Force Special Agent and raising his daughter as a single dad. 

“Obviously, my biggest priority in life is to make sure my daughter is happy and healthy, and I want to be the best example I can be for her,” he says. “CrossFit helps me get there, but it’s only a piece of the puzzle. As tough as it has been the last year, things feel much more balanced right now, and my daughter and I are both happier as a result.”