February 23, 2012
At Ease: Jason Khalipa

By Austin Einhorn

Will the CrossFit Games see the first repeat champion this year in Jason Khalipa? At a recent local throwdown, Khalipa's team was nearly finished with a police car tow when a teammate’s rope got caught under the tire of the car and she was slammed into the fender. The event was immediately stopped and the team given the choice of towing the car again or receiving a "Did Not Finish."  Khalipa refused to DNF and, in a test of mental and physical strength, he and teammate Patrick "Manimal" Barber decided that they alone would tow the car again. Afterward, exhausted and on the ground, Khalipa quipped, "At least it was a good experience." Khalipa, the ’08 Games champ and 2009 ‘Spirit of the Games’ winner could be on top of the podium again.

Where do you see CrossFit going in the next 15 years and where do you place yourself in it?

As CrossFit becomes more popular, and conventional gyms more willing to take a risk on it, I see CrossFit gyms starting go from the minority to more of the majority. Also, CrossFit gyms will start taking over conventional gyms, for instance our new facility took over an old Club One. What I'm hoping for is that people switch up their training methodologies from the conventional globo-gym stuff, to more of a CrossFit base. As for me, I have three gyms now, and I hope to open up more and offer the best possible training in the world.

As CrossFit gains popularity, do you see any issues with gyms like 24-Hour Fitness, Gold's Gym, etc. trying to incorporate CrossFit or high intensity class options?

Yeah, I think they will, and I think they are going to bastardize it. They won't know what they are doing. They will try to offer "high intensity classes," but they will be more watered down, like a P90X. That's definitely not anything, but it's certainly not CrossFit.  More importantly, there is no community aspect to it. At a 24-Hour Fitness, or any other globo-gym, everyone has his or her headphones in and it's all a bunch of bullshit. With CrossFit, it's not just about the lifting and the coaching, but also about the camaraderie.

What was it in your life that pushed you to be one of the fittest people alive?

My lifestyle is just a way to push my own abilities; it's just my own nature. I'm not OK with being mediocre. It's always how I have been about everything I do. I want to put in as much work as I can, and do the best I can. If that means I'm the best in the world, hell yeah! If not, that's fine too, but at least I put in the best effort.

I guess the reason why I like CrossFit is because it enables me to do things that a lot of people wouldn't do. If you can get through a really gnarly CrossFit workout with all the mental and physical pain, I'd say there is a direct correlation to real life. It makes everything else seem easier.

Has anyone ever told you, you can't do this or that? What was your response, how did you feel?

Yeah, of course. When I graduated from Santa Clara University, the expectations were to pay $50,000 in tuition and, in return, leave with a business/finance job or something like that. But I wanted to open up a garage and do CrossFit. Everyone doubted me, and, well, here we are today. You just have to follow your passion and go from there. All the haters can hate as much as they want, but it doesn't really matter to me.

You had your best finish in 2008 and haven't finished in the top three since. Competition gets tougher and tougher. Why do you keep going?

I've finished well in the last four years, and I'm right there. What motivates me is to keep pushing myself to see where I stand at the end of the year. Just depends on how the cards fall and how the events come out.

Do you program for yourself or do you have someone do it for you?

Austin Begiebing from CrossFit Milpitas helps me, and then in addition to that I work with Neal Maddox and Pat Barber, so we all compare experiences and discuss workouts.

This year could be your fifth Games. Which is more important than winning the CrossFit Games – physical fitness or mental toughness?

This year, I'm mentally ready. Last year, I wasn't. I think the mental side is there. I've put a lot of work in on the psychological side of things. Now it's just preparing my body to win the CrossFit Games.

Are you worried swimming might be part of the Games' programming again this year?

If it is, it is. If it's not, it's not. It's not in my control. I'll prepare the best I can and we'll see how it goes. I can only prepare so much. CrossFit is very unique in that anything is fair game. I could spend one day each week doing something not normally seen in CrossFit, such as rock climbing tomorrow, mountain biking the next day. But I'm just going to do CrossFit, and hope that it's a good enough foundation for anything that comes up. Even though anything can come up in the Games, I'll just do what I can and hope for the best.

Has there been someone who has influenced you to compete the way you do?

Well, obviously my family and friends. In particular, Austin Begiebing at CrossFit Milpitas has been there since day one, and has really been an unwavering source of inspiration and encouragement.

Lastly, if you could have done anything different in your life, would you have?

No, I've followed my passion and there's nothing I would have changed.