If you happened to be watching the Today show while sipping your morning coffee on the morning of September 19, you may have seen a few familiar faces. Our very own Tammyli Gonzalez, Tina DeGraff, and Chris Hopkins took their skills to Rockefeller Plaza where they assisted Mat Fraser, the 2019 CrossFit Games champ, during a segment on functional fitness.
How did such an opportunity come about? And what was it like to burpees with the whole country watching? To get the scoop, we caught up with the newly famous trio.
First of all, how did this happen?
Tina: The truth of the matter is I simply just wanted to meet Mat and Sammy, so I didn’t volunteer myself—my coworker did. (Editor’s note: Tina works at the Today show.) The producers reached out and asked if I would do the segment and then asked if I could find two other people who would be interested in helping out.
Tammy: Tina, one of my old training partners, hit me up with cool news about doing some CrossFit stuff on the Today show. I jumped at the opportunity. The bonus was doing CrossFit with Mat Fraser on TV.
Chris: I was lucky enough to be asked by Tina a few days before the taping and was immediately blown away by the opportunity. Despite being a 6AMer I did have a “Do I really want to wake up this early?” thought or two go through my head. I’ve never been on live TV, and who knows if the opportunity would ever come about again, so I figured why not.
What was it like to be backstage at the Today show?
Tammy: Holy cool! It was super awesome. We got there at 6:15 a.m. for a rehearsal WOD with the champ. We also had the chance to get our hair and makeup done for the show. That was silly but a fun experience… I literally had eyeliner on to do burpees.
Tina, was there any added pressure with this particular segment? Or was it just another day at the office?
Tina: There was no pressure because I knew I would just be rowing and doing what I was told. So, yes, just another day at work. We don’t often have CrossFitters on the show, so when we do I definitely like to take advantage and introduce myself. Also, I know Sammy, his fiancé, is super into food, so I wanted to give her the tour and show her around, introduce her to our team, and show her what our day is like in the studio.
Did you have a chance to chat with the champ?
Tammy: Chris and I had a chance to sit down for two hours and watch the news with Mat and his lady Sammy. We talked about everything from politics to CrossFit to our shirts on/off policy. I was nervous at first, but he was just a nice, regular guy, so that went away fast. Pro tip: if you ever meet Mat, he likes to geek out on his performance history at the games. He would say, “Oh yeah, I remember that was 2014.” I wish I remembered to ask him about his crappy judge at the games this year.
He also said that we were considered to be an “old school” box because we have an area code as a name. HQ apparently doesn’t allow that anymore. He also said that he liked the new format of the Games, but there wasn’t really much to gain by making the cuts so early and so drastically. We agreed.
Chris: We got our hair done together (his didn’t take as long). We didn’t really chat about CrossFit all that much, but I just asked him where he and his family are from (Canada), how he likes living in Vermont and Cooksville, and what he was building (his Instagram has posts about a 100-year-old barn he is restoring with a neighbor).
What was it like being Fraser’s on-air assistants?
Chris: The crew had everything set up for us (rowers, dumbells, mats) so we just had to stay warm on a chilly morning. I was assigned the DB Snatches—they had 35lb and 50lb DBs. Mat insisted that we use 35s (despite me wanting to use the 50s…).
Tammy: We were his burpee groupies. That’s was funny. The champ insisted we had full extensions on our burpees.