Zero F*cks: An Interview with wild/STRONG Founder Seth Waggener

Seth Waggener lives in Denver, Colorado where he runs the CrossFit Lifestyle brand “wild/STRONG.” You may have already heard about him, from his trolling of Gold’s Gym’s kettlebell challenge, or telling you that “Progenex sucks.” He has built a following for his brand through his blog and other writings that can only be described as equal parts savagely motivating and wildly offensive.  I had read about 15 different articles of his over the last year or so and decided to get him on the S-C FitLife show and find out what makes him tick.

He recently released his first published work, "Gladius", a nutrition eBook designed to introduce readers to logging their food and counting macros.

Add To Cart

When he showed up this morning to record the episode – we spent about an hour talking before we started recording – and it was refreshing to meet someone who is actually exactly what you expect from reading his work. The guy is basically "on one" 24-7. Within the first 15 minutes, he had said at least 10 things that most people would find mildly to extremely offensive. He is one of the few people I can honestly say doesn’t care one bit what anyone else thinks about him. I hope you enjoy our chat – the audio version of our talk will be available next week.

 Waggener during one of his many CrossFit drop-in trips. Sittner Garage Gym - Billings, MT

Waggener during one of his many CrossFit drop-in trips. Sittner Garage Gym - Billings, MT

Transcript from audio recording:

Before we get started – you are really outspoken – even just in the conversation we had off-air, I don’t think I could get away with saying half the shit you just said.

Well, that’s why I said it off air – because I probably couldn’t get away with it either. I am who I am – and I usually say what most, or at least some people are thinking but are too afraid to say…and I am ok with that. I don’t have much of a filter – filters are boring. I really don't care what other people think, except for my family and my girl - that's about it.

Ok well let’s get started. Your site and most of your writing is very CrossFit oriented – so tell us a little about how you got into CrossFit?

I had done Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for years – and after I moved to North Carolina, my older brother who is a CrossFit coach in Colorado, told me he thought I would enjoy it. He was right – and from the first day I walked into CrossFit Sua Sponte and talked to John Dill the owner – I was hooked. Now I am training at CrossFit Barkada in Aurora, Colorado. It’s a pretty amazing facility and the coaches and community there are some of the best I have encountered.

 Waggener with older brother Joshua. CrossFit Helix - Greeley, CO

Waggener with older brother Joshua. CrossFit Helix - Greeley, CO

You mentioned your brother, there are 4 of you total and your other brothers are like the head of a biker gang or something out in Virginia? Like an outlaw gang, The Wolves of Vinland?

Next question

Haha, ok, fair enough. You have really built a reputation in the CrossFit community, especially out in your area in the Rocky Mountains – what do you attribute that to when I tell you that practically every box owner I spoke with out there – and a lot of them across the country, know you or at least know who you are?

Well first and foremost, I travel around as much as I can. When I was living in Wyoming, I would come down to Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs almost every weekend and drop in at different boxes, just to get my brand name more out there. I also create a lot of content – I write a lot and some of those articles have been picked up by bigger social media channels, all the way up to CrossFit HQ – and that sort of made me a household name in some circles.

Most notably the Kettlebell article that CrossFit shared on Facebook?

*laughs* Well yeah, that one certainly hit big. Once CrossFit shared that article I became either the most hated or most loved person in CrossFit for about 72 hours – depending on who you asked. But even before that, I wrote an article calling Progenex out for being what I saw as an overpriced garbage product – and I had Russell Berger from HQ and some other bigger name folks commenting on it. I still get about 100-200 people on that article every single day.

You seem to get a lot of hate out there, not just from that article but people you’ve trained with, and some others I spoke with or read comments on social media from. Why do you think that is?

I know exactly why that is. I am self-aware enough to know that I am not for everybody. I am brash, very outspoken, confident – and that can rub some people who aren’t that way, the wrong way. I am never gonna change though – this is who I am – this is who my brand is for, who my content is for. But those people that say shit online? Come on – I am creating content every day, articles, books, videos – what are they doing? Commenting on someone else’s creation? That’s their contribution to society – hate filled criticism on the internet? Why would I give a fuck what someone like that has to say? Someone wants to run their dicksucker on the internet about me – that’s just noise.

That seems like a valid point. So how many boxes have you visited? Someone told me it’s over 50?

If you only count actual affiliates, I am standing at 78 boxes – so I’m no Dave Castro, and I am sure there are plenty of people out there who have visited more than that -  but it is certainly something I enjoy doing. If I am traveling that’s always gonna be something I seek out as part of my vacation or trip. I have hit some awesome PR’s at gyms across the country – I think most recently I got a clean PR at Black Hills CrossFit in South Dakota when my woman and I went up to see Mount Rushmore. I just love creating those friendships and contacts – so yeah, my closet is pretty full of different gym shirts.

 Waggener during one of 17 competitions he participated in last year. CrossFit Decimate - Colorado Springs, CO

Waggener during one of 17 competitions he participated in last year. CrossFit Decimate - Colorado Springs, CO

When you started wild/STRONG, it was exclusively apparel, but it seems to have changed direction a little bit now, why is that?

Honestly, I got so busy with a lot of stuff going on in my life, that fulfilling orders became a real hassle. I have seen so many businesses go belly-up the second some of these folks encounter adversity, that I chose to adapt rather than quit. I had built up a solid following around a lot of the nutrition articles I had written about macro logging – so I started selling services rather than physical products. I have introduced about 60 clients to flexible nutrition through coaching and now I also have an eBook out that guides people through how to get started. These allow me to continue building my brand, with less back-end work like order fulfillment. I also host the wild/STRONG Liftoff series at gyms around the Front Range – a one rep max weightlifting session where we invite the entire community to take part. This is not a for profit event – we don’t charge, but it helps get the brand name out there and I think creates real value for the gyms that host the event as well.

I’ve watched a lot of videos you put out from those events – the atmosphere seems pretty incredible. When I was asking around about you someone told me your girlfriend cleaned 245lbs at one of those liftoffs? Is that true?

*laughs* She doesn’t like when I brag about her, but I can’t help it – yeah, she can clean 245 – but that actually happened at a partner competition we did where I had to snatch and she had to clean. I missed a few of my snatches and got rushed at the end trying to pull one more – and didn’t realize she was trying to go again – so if you ever hear her tell the story, she always says she would have hit 250 if I hadn’t pulled for another snatch, which I missed. I don't doubt her either, she was in the zone. She does hold the female record for clean and jerk at our Liftoff events. I believe she hit 220 at the Liftoff at CrossFit Battle Ready in Greeley, Colorado.

That is insane – she can outlift me, thanks for making me feel like shit.

She can outlift a lot of guys bro, no shame in that.

So obviously wild/STRONG is sort of changing up a bit – what’s next for the company and for you?

Yeah, some minor changes, but a lot of the same too. I am all about trying to create value for anyone who takes time out of there day to follow our social media accounts, visit our website etc. I try to stay busy writing motivational content, covering CrossFit news in the area and putting out products that I think can help people in their journey. For me, I have a startup business with two partners where we are launching some exciting products for aspiring entrepreneurs. We have a subscription based website we are launching later this year that will have some weightlifting, kettlebell, yoga and other fitness aspects to it as well as the business and mental side of things – so it’s a crazy busy time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way honestly. I thrive in this kind of environment.

 Waggener with younger brothers Matthias (far left) Paul (one in from left) and Iron and Blood Strength and Conditioning owner Kyle Helsper. Vengeance Strength Kvlt - Nashville, TN

Waggener with younger brothers Matthias (far left) Paul (one in from left) and Iron and Blood Strength and Conditioning owner Kyle Helsper. Vengeance Strength Kvlt - Nashville, TN

That sounds like enough work to put someone in the grave.

One of my favorite lines from the movie The Departed is when Jack Nicholson asks a man in a bar how his mother is doing and the man replies, “she’s on her way out” and Nicholson says, “We all are. Act accordingly.” So I’d rather go out going hard and chasing every dream I’ve ever had, then sitting back and letting someone else do it while I enjoy my “free time.”

What does that look like? Your free time? I mean, no matter how busy you are writing books, articles, launching businesses – you have to have down time that isn’t spent in the gym.

Right now, not a lot. My schedule is pretty much work from 6:30 in the morning until about 5:30 at night, train for two hours and then work through my dinner until about 2 in the morning. But that is not the norm – I really enjoy snowboarding and skateboarding – so I’m pretty stoked about winter arriving and this being my first year living in Colorado and being so much closer to a lot of mountains. That’s pretty much most of my weekends in the winter, on the slopes.

You have two kids as well right? Did I hear right that one of them is like a senior in high school?

Almost, yeah I have two sons. My oldest is actually a junior in high school. I had him when I was still a teenager and then I have a 13 year old as well. I am pretty private about that part of my life – and I only really mention them on the site if I write an article that is related to parenting in some way.

Yes I read the one about not telling your kids it’s ok to lose, that was great.

Yeah that article got a really big response from a lot of folks both good and bad. Parenting is one of those things that if people even feel like you are telling them they are doing something wrong, they have a very personal and sometimes visceral reaction to it. I don't write about that topic often - but considering the traffic I saw on my website that day - maybe I should start a parenting blog *laughs*

 Waggener (center in tan jacket) during annual snowboard trip with friends from Alabama. Brighton Resort - Salt Lake City, UT

Waggener (center in tan jacket) during annual snowboard trip with friends from Alabama. Brighton Resort - Salt Lake City, UT

Last year I read a couple articles you wrote about the benefits of competing - whether in CrossFit or any other areas in life. You did a ton of competitions last year - why is that something that seems so important to you?

I think people who don't compete are weak. I think deep down they are afraid to put themselves out there to be judged. I also know from personal experience the sort of growth, both as a person and as an athlete, that comes from competing. So yeah, I did 17 events last year - because I was writing about it so much I knew I had to go live it too. This year I started out strong, I did 5 in the first three months of the year - but then I have only done one since then just because I've been so busy on the business end of things, I moved from Wyoming to Colorado a couple months ago - plus my girl lives in another state, so a lot of free weekends I try to fly out there as well.

Well it sounds like you have a full plate for sure. Thank you for coming on the show today and I wish you a lot of luck in the future and all these business endeavors.

Thanks for having me in, I enjoyed it.

You can read Seth's writing, get a copy of his new book "Gladius" or shop for his nutritional services at www.wildstrong.net