Fame and fortune aren’t what it’s about for Jason Khalipa. It’s about being fully committed to family, business and being the best athlete he can be.
Now that Regionals have wrapped up and the Games rapidly approach, The Box Magazine is excited to partner with QALO, makers of the silicone wedding ring for the active lifestyle, to bring you a snapshot of Jason’s busy life. QALO’s creative team caught up with Jason at The Ranch, the site of the original CrossFit Games, his Box, NorCal CrossFit, and his home in Santa Cruz, CA.
QALO spent more time with Jason than they could show here. Read on for more of his thoughts on family, commitment and purpose.
QALO: Tell us a little about what CrossFit was like back when it was at The Ranch.
Jason: In 2007, the CrossFit Games were very organic—it was just a community coming together to work out. It was just 100 competitors, a couple hundred people here. It was very low key. The following year, in 2008, there were about 300 competitors. It was open to anybody—sign up online, let’s make this happen. Super community based.
From there it’s just grown tremendously. It went from 100 competitors to 300 competitors to now, recently, in the 2015 CrossFit Games open, had close to 300,000 people register for it. So you’re figuring, when I won the CrossFit Games, there were 300 competitors. Now, there’s 300,000.
For me it’s kind of cool to know that I’ve been a part of it for a long time and actually been able to stay at the top. So I won when there were 300 and I’ve placed on the podium when there were 250,000. So it’s kind of cool to watch that transformation as it’s grown, and yet I’m still able to perform and be up at the top.
QALO: That’s awesome. What’s it like competing in front of that huge crowd now?
Jason: You know, competing in front of big crowds is very unique. It’s very surreal. Before you get out there, you’re a little nervous—you get your own game plan going.
You know, in the beginning I’ve had some pitfalls where I’ve allowed those nerves to take me over. Actually, here at The Ranch, I’ve passed out back here because the nerves got to me. My first event at the Stub Hub Center, you know, jets fly over, fireworks are going off, and I’m just like, “Oh my God!” And then, boom, I let my emotions take over and I didn’t perform as well because I was too amped up.
You have to learn how to control yourself and not allow the crowd to get you too amped up and just stay nice and calm. Because you know naturally when you step out there, it’s going to get you jacked. So if you kind of prepare yourself and get all amped up—you get overly amped. So it’s learning how to stay nice and calm and composed, then allowing the crowd to push you when you need the push.
QALO: Can you talk about why you’re competing in the team competition instead of the individual this time?
Jason: I mean, I think the reason why I went from individual to team competition is because of the other things I have going on in my life. I told myself a long time ago when I first got into CrossFit—I never got into it for money or fame, ever. I told myself that I would never compete for money or fame because that’s not why I started.
When I got into this sport there was zero money, zero fame. When I won the CrossFit games I got $1,500. If you win the CrossFit Games now, you get half a million dollars. When I got into it, it was for the love of training, the love of what I do.
If that ever went away, then I would sell my soul for what? For money? That’s not the way I am. So when I started to realize that—if it started to take away from other things in my life, then it just wasn’t worth it anymore. And I mean, the business is booming. The family is growing. And competing? That’s a lot of things to do.
So this year, Ashley and I talked about it, and it was really important to her that I switched gears, and it was really important to me. And so that was the choice we made and I couldn’t be happier about it. I have not been happier competing through the season than I am this year.
QALO: What came first: Khalipa the Champion, or Khalipa the Businessman?
Jason: Oh man…I think since high school I’ve been trying to hustle—selling gym memberships, doing different types of things. I’ve always been motivated to try to improve myself. So I think Khalipa the Businessman came before the Athlete. But I found a sport that I loved and happened to be good at, so the two combined real well.
QALO: Does it ever get challenging balancing work and home life and training?
Jason:Yeah, of course it gets challenging. All the time, right? I travel a lot for work and I’m gone a lot, but when I am at home I try to be present, and my family knows that I’m doing things not only because I’m passionate about them but because I’m providing for the future for them. All in all, life is good—I’m a happy guy!
QALO: How does that impact you being a father and a husband, having that passionate, committed approach to life?
Jason: I’m committed to whatever I’m doing. I’m fully committed to my wife. I have been forever. I met her as a freshman in high school, and we’ve been together ever since. High school, college, after college, we’ve been married for six years, and I’m fully committed to her. Never strayed. Never thought of straying. I’m committed to her. I made a commitment, and that commitment is going to stay for the rest of my life. Period.
And that same thing applies to everything else I’m doing. You know, my kids are my commitment. They’re a very valuable part of my life. And business and training is the same thing.
I look at everything—and this is an analogy I use often—is an AMRAP. And AMRAP in CrossFit means “As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible.” And what that means is that when you’re in an AMRAP, you’re focused on it. As soon as you’re done completing it, you can move on to the next task.
And I use that in my life a lot because if I’m training, I’m training. That’s all I’m focused on. Let me get better in my training, let me go in there with a purpose, and let me leave. Then, if I’m with my family, let me focus on my family time, have fun, and then move on to the next step. Maybe it’s taking my wife out to dinner. But I’m going to focus on each individual segment and then move on to the next thing.
I think sometimes people—and I’ve been at fault in this, too—blend too many things. You’re trying to spend quality time with your kids, yet you’re on the phone taking business calls. Now you’re one foot in, one foot out. And I’ve really tried over the span of my life to try to just really make commitments to those things and have good, quality time.
QALO: It seems like you have so much going on in your life, but you’re really good with balance. You go hard in a few different aspects of your life, but it seems really balanced. Where does that come from? You have a lot of commitments, but you uphold them all.
Jason: Yeah, I don’t know how that works actually. A lot of people ask me: How do you compete in CrossFit, run a multi-million dollar business, and have a family? And I don’t know, it just comes naturally. It just feels organic. I don’t know how to describe that.
Essentially in my life, I want to be successful in business to provide for my family for the future, but also because I’m just a driven individual. And I think because I’m so driven, I’m constantly just thinking about, “How can I improve everywhere?”
That means, how can I be a better father? How can I spend better quality time and do what I can with my family? How can I grow my business and help more people do what they love for living? And how can I contribute to my team, my competitive CrossFit team, the best I can, by having my fitness the best? Every minute of every day I’m trying to approach it with, like, What can I do to better myself or better the people around me?
Maybe that’s the approach you’re talking about…I think sometimes people are missing pursuing things for a purpose. Pursuing things for the why. Like, what is your “why”? Why do I get up early to train? Why do I work hard at the business? Why do I want to spend time with the family? Because these are things that I’m passionate about. This is what builds who I am.
I’m not a CrossFit athlete. I’m not a business owner. I’m not just a family man. I’m all of these things. And why do I pursue them? Because I love each and every one of them, and I want to be the best at all of them. And that’s what drives me every day to continue to be the best that I can and to continue to do what I’m doing.