Brendan Schaub Comedian, Podcast Host & Former Professional Athlete
Noah Ohlsen Professional Athlete
Hunter McIntyre Professional Athlete
Jacob Heppner Professional Athlete
Bethany Shadburne Professional Athlete
Kenzie Riley Professional Athlete
Megan Anderson Professional Athlete
Brooke Ence Professional Athlete & Entrepreneur
Christmas Abbott Professional Athlete
Jen Smith Professional Athlete
Emily Bridgers Professional Athlete
Chiara D'Agostino BLOGGER
Laura Sanko PUBLIC FIGURE
Avril Mathie Professional Athlete
Comedian, Podcast Host & Former Professional AthleteBrendan Schaub told us that he got his work ethic from his father, and whatever he’s tried his hand at, it shows. After a standout high school football career, he played fullback and on special teams for the University of Colorado, playing in every game during his senior season, including the Champs Sports Bowl. The Buffalo Bills signed Brendan to their practice squad and he played for the Utah Blaze in the Arena Football League. After retiring from football in 2007, Brendan diverted his energy into boxing and jiu-jitsu, and won the Colorado novice-division Golden Gloves heavyweight title. Switching to MMA, he claimed the heavyweight belt in Ring of Fire and made it to the final of The Ultimate Fighter. He then won four UFC fights in a row, before stepping away from the sport in 2015 to focus on stand-up comedy and hosting The Fighter and The Kid, Below the Belt, and King and the Sting podcasts. Brendan recently filmed one of the most successful Showtime specials to date, You’d Be Surprised, which garnered three million views in the first week of release.
Professional AthleteNoah Ohlsen made a splash on the CrossFit scene as soon as he took up the sport. In his first two seasons, he made it to the South East Regional and his win there in 2014 earned his debut at the CrossFit Games, where he placed 8th. Noah replicated this finish after repeating as regional champion the following year, and in 2016 was ranked number one worldwide in the CrossFit Open. The next year, he came in 2nd in the Open and vaulted all the way up to 4th in the standings in the Games. Noah continued to progress in the 2018 season, claiming his fourth title at the South East Regional. In the 2019 CrossFit Games, Noah pushed defending champion Mat Fraser hard all the way to the final event, finishing just 35 points behind him to claim 2nd place overall. Such results haven’t been an accident. As Noah puts it, “I’ve trained about six hours a day, five days a week for the past 10 years.
Professional AthleteOver the past few years, Hunter McIntyre has not only become the most decorated male obstacle course racer (OCR) in history, but also one of the most charismatic and recognizable figures in all of sports. With his distinctive mop of red hair flowing behind him as he scales walls, tiptoes along beams, and crawls under barbed wire, Hunter has overcome everything in his path – literally – to claim six world championships and four national titles in OCR. He also beat the strongest OCR field ever assembled to become the Tough Mudder X Undefeated Champion for 2017-2018. In 2017, Sports Illustrated named Hunter one of the top 50 fittest athletes. For three years, he has been the undefeated champion of the reality TV show Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge on CMT. In 2019, Hunter became the first athlete to receive a wild card entry to the CrossFit Games. As well as competing at events around the world, Hunter offers a unique training plan via the Openfit platform.
Professional AthleteRelocating from California to Kansas as a high school junior would be a difficult transition for some people, but not Jacob Heppner. He picked up right where he’d left off on the football field and his strong play in his senior year earned him a scholarship to Central Methodist University. After playing halfback for the Eagles for four years, Jacob hung up his helmet and looked for a new fitness challenge, which he found in CrossFit. Applying the same determination that got him through two-a-day practices in college and the strength he’d developed in the weight room, Jacob cracked the top 20 at the 2013 North Central Regional. Making a giant performance leap, he then reeled off three straight 2nd place finishes, and placed 18th, 10th, and 7th, at the CrossFit Games. In the 2019 Games in Madison, Wisconsin, Jacob went one better, claiming 6th place. Recently, he and coach Andrew Kuechler launched Midwest Made (MWM) to offer tailored programming for athletes and affiliates.
Professional AthleteBethany Shadburne’s athletic résumé couldn’t be any more versatile: eight years of gymnastics, three years of bodybuilding, four triathlons, and several half marathons. And that’s before she became a standout on the CrossFit circuit. Starting by joining the WODs at her hometown box and then entering local contests, Bethany had soon upped her game to the point that she qualified for the 2017 South Regional. A strong 4th place finish earned her a berth in the CrossFit Games, where she came in 22nd overall. The next year, Bethany again finished in the top five at Regionals, won the RX division at Wodapalooza, and improved her placing at the Games to 16th. In 2019, Bethany’s performance at the Dubai CrossFit Championship was good enough to earn a spot at her third-straight Games. In Madison, Bethany posted her strongest showing yet, claiming two top-three finishes and ending the grueling weekend in 8th place.
Professional AthleteKenzie Riley doesn’t just have the body of an elite athlete, but the brains as well. She earned a BS and MS in Dietetics from Eastern Illinois University and then was certified as a Registered Dietician. She took up CrossFit six years ago and in 2016, made it to the CrossFit Games with her team OC3, which finished 5th overall. At the end of that season, Kenzie decided to set her sights on the women’s individual division, and made the podium at the Atlantic Regional the following spring. Competing in the first CrossFit Games two months later, she toughed out the event in 23rd place. After finishing 3rd again at Regionals in 2018, Kenzie leapt up into the top 20 at the Games. In 2019, a powerful performance at the Brazil CrossFit Championship gave Kenzie her fourth Games appearance in a row and she again had a strong showing, placing 26th on the final leaderboard. Kenzie lives with her husband in North Carolina and when not training or competing, helps people overcome disordered eating and improve their diet as a coach for M2 Performance Nutrition.
Professional AthleteHailing from Australia’s Gold Coast, Megan Anderson has been a revelation in the UFC women’s lightweight division. But that isn’t the only kind of fighting she’s used to. After graduating from high school, Megan enlisted in the Australian Army. Once she had finished serving her country, Megan started boxing and then took up jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing. Upon relocating to Kansas City, Missouri, Megan amassed a 4-1 fight record that earned her a roster spot in the Invicta Fighting Championships, and she soon won the featherweight belt. She then moved on to the UFC, losing to superstar Holly Holm before beating Cat Zingano in UFC 232 in December 2018. As dynamic outside the Octagon as she is in it, Megan has shown her talent for incisive and witty commentary during fight breakdowns with ESPN correspondent and fellow Pure Spectrum ambassador Laura Sanko that have garnered a huge audience on YouTube. As she looks forward to her next fight, Megan continues training hard at Glory MMA & Fitness in Kansas City.
Professional Athlete & EntrepreneurGrowing up in Utah, Brooke Ence swam, played softball, and did gymnastics with her three older siblings. But it soon became clear that dancing was her first love, and she did it competitively all the way through college at the University of Utah where – you guessed it – she majored in modern dance. After graduation, Brooke walked into her first CrossFit WOD and found that the agility and poise she’d developed over many years in the studio transferred well. Brooke quickly added strength, power, and endurance to her athletic repertoire and burst onto the competitive CrossFit scene with a bang. After winning the California Regional, she placed 14th at the 2015 CrossFit Games, claiming wins in two events along the way. In 2016, she finished 6th at Regionals, before suffering a serious back injury that required spinal surgery the following year. While on the comeback trail physically, Brooke flexed her entrepreneurial muscles, launching her own apparel brand, Ence Wear, and Athia Skin Care. She also appeared as an Amazonian in Wonder Woman and in several other Justice League films, and co-hosts the Between the Reps podcast.
Professional AthleteWhile working as a civilian contractor at a US Army base in Afghanistan in 2006, Christmas Abbott discovered CrossFit and was immediately hooked. Four years later, she opened CrossFit Invoke in North Carolina, and was part of its co-ed team that made it to the 2012 and 2013 Mid Atlantic Regional. Christmas also began teaching Level I seminar courses for CrossFit HQ, and used her experience as a USAW-certified coach to qualify for Olympic lifting nationals twice. Christmas was also the first woman invited to join the pit crew by NASCAR. In 2017, she was a cast member in the 19th season of Big Brother, and will appear in the upcoming The Operator: Warfare and Overtown. Christmas also authored a bestselling book, The Badass Body Diet. She continues to coach at CrossFit Invoke, is an active member of Raleigh Group Fitness, and is in demand as a public speaker and brand ambassador.
Professional AthleteCrossFit co-founder and CEO Greg Glassman once said that athletes need to build up the capacity to “move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly.” This phrase certainly applies to Jen Smith, who scorched the track in high school and earned a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where she ran the 800 and pole vaulted. Bored of running by herself after college, Jen joined CrossFit as a way to recapture the comradery that she missed from no longer being part of a team. Just a couple of months later, CrossFit Maximus needed another woman to round out their roster and before she knew it, Jen was going against the best in the CrossFit Games. The team made it back in 2012, and after watching the individual women do their thing, Jen was inspired to go solo. This proved to be a wise decision, as she won the North East Regional to get into the Games. After a three-year hiatus, Jen returned to the Games in 2016 and finished 36th, which she replicated the next year. In 2019, she went back to group competition after her team, Don’t Stop, prevailed at the Mid Atlantic CrossFit Championship, and they finished 6th.
Professional AthleteWhile four-time champion Mat Fraser has the best known back injury comeback story in CrossFit, Emily Bridgers’s one might come a close second. A standout gymnast in high school, Emily had her pick of Division I college teams, and decided to take her talents to the University of Georgia. As a freshman, she helped the Bulldogs go undefeated, on their way to a seventh-straight national championships. But the victory was soured when Emily’s chronic back injury worsened, to the point that her doctor told her she may never be able to run again. Though her gymnastics career was over, Emily earned a degree in exercise science, and then looked for a way to continue being active after rehabbing her back. She found an outlet in CrossFit, reeled off two top-five finishes in the South East Regional in 2012 and 2013, and opened CrossFit Terminus with her future husband Ben Benson. The next year saw Emily vault all the way to 6th place overall at the CrossFit Games in the first of five consecutive appearances on the sport’s biggest stage. She retired after the 2018 Games to focus on her business and family.
BLOGGERMetastatic breast cancer tried to defeat Chiara D'Agostino, but she fought back every bit as hard as one of our MMA ambassadors, and forced it to tap out. Chiara taught Italian to various high school grades for many years, and at age 43 was diagnosed with breast cancer. She harnessed the same love of learning that she inspired in her students to dive deep into the research and found that hemp oil is a potent, natural immune system-booster. Chiara fought bravely through chemotherapy, two mastectomies, and reconstructive surgery, before learning that her disease had spread to stage 4. Undeterred, she has become a leading voice in the flat movement, and is inspiring thousands of women through her courage and tireless campaigning. In October 2018, we donated 30 percent of our weekly revenue to METAvivor, which aims to increase the percentage of breast cancer funds devoted to studying metastasis, thanks to Chiara selecting the organization.
PUBLIC FIGUREAnother Pure Spectrum ambassador who trains at Kansas City’s Glory MMA & Fitness (along with owner James Krause and Megan Anderson), Laura Sanko had a promising start to her professional mixed martial arts career when she submitted Cassie Robb with a rear naked choke hold in Invicta FC 4. Laura, who’d earned the nickname “Fancy” for her elegant footwork in the Octagon, was raring to go for her next bout, until she found out that she was pregnant. With Joe Rogan moving on to other projects, there was a vacancy to fill his role as anchor for Invicta FC, and a friend recommended Laura. She got the gig and the rest is history. Since that stint, Laura has continued her commentary, interviewing, and hosting career for UFC FIGHT PASS, FS1, and ESPN. She has also been a presenter on Dana White’s Contender Series for two seasons. Laura co-hosts the immensely popular Aussie & Fancy Breakdown, in which she and Megan Anderson take a humorous look at the latest MMA action.
Professional AthleteAussie-born Avril Mathie took up boxing in 2012 and proved to be a quick learner in the ring, winning several state titles in her first couple of years in the sport. While continuing to train for upcoming fights, Avril also lit up the beauty pageant scene, finishing in the top five in the Miss Fashion TV International Diamond Model awards in Cyprus 2012 and winning Miss Swimsuit USA International in 2014. She won the Las Vegas International Model Search the following year. Relocating to Miami provided a new level of competition in boxing, and Avril fought in the USA Golden Gloves and the Ringside Boxing World Championships. Not only focused on her own fighting, Avril also trains clients out of Miami’s legendary 5th Street Gym – once home to Muhammad Ali – and travels across the country conducting workshops and bootcamps. She offers customized digital fitness and nutrition guidance via several unique online programs.