In 2015, The Natural Grip made the trek from Louisville, KY out to Carson, CA for the Reebok CrossFit Games. Being a vendor at any event demands a lot of time and effort behind the scenes, especially if you plan to do it right. To get a behind the scenes look into what the first year was like and what is in the works for this years event, we tossed some questions out at the owners of The Natural Grip, Ashley and Justin, to get a first hand look at being a vendor at the CrossFit Games.
Last year was your first time as a vendor at the CrossFit Games, but not your first time at the event. How many years now have you been at the Games?
Justin and I have been attending The CrossFit Games since 2013.
What was your first year at the Games as a vendor like?
Being at the CrossFit Games as a vendor is not as relaxing as when we were able to attend as a spectator, that is for sure. We start preparing as a company for the games in January. Selecting the staff, coordinating the travel requirements, making booth improvements, and increasing production so we have enough grips on hand to meet the demand at the games. During the week of the Games we work at least 18 hour days. To say it is a lot of work is an understatement, but we enjoy it so much. The CrossFit Games is the "super bowl" of our sport and the energy is like none other.
The Natural Grip is coming back to the CrossFit Games this year. Have anything exciting up your sleeve for fans this year?
2016 has been our biggest year yet. We were selected to be the Preferred Hand Protection of the Reebok CrossFit Games. As part of our partnership with CrossFit, every athlete competing will be receiving a custom hand care kit full of hand care products. We have teamed up with Goat Tape and WOD Repair Lotion to provide the athletes with a superior case that is going to leave people speechless. I was able to find and work with a local custom case making company and they have delivered a one of a kind case that fits the needs of every CrossFit enthusiast. The case will be unveiled the week of the games and we can't wait to hand deliver such an amazing product to the athletes.
Last year part of your team, lead by your husband Justin, drove from Kentucky out to California. Will you be doing the same this year?
The Games Bound trip will be in full swing starting July 8th this year, headed up by the COO, Justin. Natural Grip HQ is in Louisville, Kentucky and we have to transport our entire set up out to Carson every year. It is a long trip and takes a lot of preparation but it is just one of the necessary steps in our Games appearance. Justin will be travailing solo this year, so if any NG Fans see him out and about be sure to wave and say Hi!
What is one thing you would like Games fans to know about The Natural Grip that they might not already know?
Here at The Natural Grip we are an open book. I feel like the fans have been on this journey with us from day one. There isn't much that I haven't spoken about on TV, during podcasts, or in interviews. We are so thankful to have the support and backing form the community that we do. The Natural Grip was originally started to solve my own problem of ripping and tearing my hands and now in a matter of 3 years we have grown a brand and a product to be the most dominate in the hand protection industry. Growth like this doesn't happen over night and it doesn't happen alone so I guess I would want the fans to know how thankful we are to THEM for allowing us to continue to serve and protect them during their fitness journey.
We all know that being a vendor is super easy. It is just a few minutes of setup, a couple hours of work during the day, and basically a vacation right? How much time and planning have you and your team put into preparing for the Games this year?
I wish! Being at the CrossFit Games as a vendor is not as relaxing as people might think. Like I said, we start preparing as a company for the games in January. Selecting the staff, coordinating the travel requirements, making booth improvements, and increasing production so we have enough grips on hand to meet the demand at the games. There is a lot of details that we start to plan months out. During the week of the games we work at least 18 hour days. To say it is a lot of work is an understatement, but we enjoy it so much. We have booth responsibilities, athlete responsibilities, meetings, and millions of hours on our feet during that week. The CrossFit Games is the "Super Bowl" of our sport and the energy is like none other. I wouldn't ever call it a vacation, but it is just as eventful as one for sure.
Any funny story you have to share about your experience last year that people might not know about?
Being at the Games with our staff is like traveling with a bunch of class clowns. There wasn't an hour that went by that we were not cracking up about something. I remember one time in particular when one of our employees John realized that he could text Justin and it would come through the loud speakers of his truck while he was driving. Lets just say there were some hilarious text messages sent to Justin during his daily travels.
At the very core, you guys are die hard fans of CrossFit. With that said, care to share your podium predictions?
I am 100% a super fan of the sport. I follow every past, present, and future elite athlete and I know more about their fitness journey than I probably should. My husband makes fun of me all of the time because he says I can't be a "casual fan" of anything. If I am interested in a sport I am all in! In regards to the podium that is such a hard call to make. The truth is that every athlete at the games has the same chance on day 1 to stand on the podium come the end of the week. They have ALL put in the hours of work, developed their skills, and improved their weaknesses. At this point in the year I honestly believe that what makes some of the athletes rise to the challenge of the Games better than others is their mental response to the week and their support team at the Games (coach, family, and friends). It is extremely easy to get down on yourself, feel like you are not good enough, let the soreness beat you mentally. The athletes that can push through that to get back on track and continue to perform to their best abilities are the "consistent" performers that rise to the top of the leaderboard. When the coaches, family, and friends allow the athlete to blame others, worry about judging errors or dwell on a bad performance they are allowing the athlete to sink further down the black hole of competition and it will not get them anywhere good! So I am not going to make a by name 1st - 3rd prediction list, but I will say that I expect our 5 Natural Grip Athletes to do pretty dang well! But.... I might be a little bias ;)