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How this Forsyth County teen became a CrossFit world champion
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Kaiden Hogan deadlifts weights at the 2022 International Functional Fitness Federation World Championship where he won first place in his age division. Photo for the FCN.

Kaiden Hogan started CrossFit several years ago and instantly fell in love with the mix of workouts that make up what is now a popular fitness regimen across the world.

He enjoyed simply working out every day with his dad and sister as they went to classes together, but Kaiden soon discovered a variety of CrossFit competitions in which he could push himself even further.

Now a sophomore at South Forsyth High School, the 16-year-old athlete won his first international competition, placing first at the 2022 International Functional Fitness Federation World Championships held at the end of December in Hermosillo, Mexico.

“This past competition, I was just so amazed,” said Kaiden’s mom, Dr. Keshma Saujani.

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Kaiden Hogan stands on the far left with other competitors from the U.S., holding up an American flag at the International Functional Fitness Federation World Championship. Photo for the FCN.

Keshma wasn’t able to make it to Mexico to watch Kaiden compete last month, but as she watched a video of him taking away the win, she couldn’t help but be proud.

The Forsyth teen had trained every day alongside Dr. Hank Hogan, his dad and coach, to prepare for and then qualify for the competition, which he did by submitting a video of him performing workouts posted online by the International Function Fitness Federation.

After qualifying, Kaiden traveled to Mexico with hundreds of other athletes from 19 different countries to compete in his age division, 15-16-year-old boys. Together, they had to perform in six different events: endurance, strength, bodyweight, skill, mixed and power.

These events included many different races and workouts including swims, runs, rope climbs, handstand walks and burpees. Although Kaiden had struggled with strength exercises in the past, he ended up winning in most categories, walking away as the overall world champion for the first time.

Kaiden said winning an international competition felt amazing, and it reaffirmed his passion for CrossFit.

“It’s really rewarding to feel like your hard work paid off,” Kaiden said. “Still, I just like to train. It’s fun for me. My dad made sure I wasn’t just doing it for competition. … He wanted to make sure I actually liked going to the gym and actually working out. Regardless of the competitions, I have fun working out every day.”

But as he has exercised his passion, Kaiden took part in many competitions before his win in Mexico last month. He took third place this past year at Wodapalooza, an annual CrossFit festival, and first at the Elite Pit Fitness Throwdown. He also qualified and placed eighth at the CrossFit Games in 2021, the largest worldwide CrossFit competition.

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Kaiden Hogan stands holding up a weight during training. Photo for the FCN.
Kaiden said he trained for three years preparing for the CrossFit Games before he qualified to compete in his age division. There are three different qualifying rounds that are five workouts each, the first being the Open, an online worldwide competition.

Ranking in the top 10% of athletes, Kaiden then went on to the quarterfinals and semifinals before being chosen as one of the top 20 kids in his division. Going into the Games, Kaiden felt confident he could rank high, but the week before, he suffered a back injury.

Between his injury and his struggles in weightlifting, Kaiden dropped a little in the rankings and ended up taking eighth place overall.

Following his win in Mexico, however, he feels confident he can qualify and climb up the rankings in this year’s Games, which begin with the CrossFit Open less than a month from now.

“That last competition was a boost of motivation and confidence going into the Open,” Kaiden said. “It’s like, ‘All right, you’re up there and you’ve got this skill. You’ve got to make it to the Games now.’ I have my doubts sometimes that I’m not good enough, but that competition showed me I’m where I need to be.”

Kaiden explained he has been training in the gym every day for the competition, but in the next few weeks, it will become more and more intense as he prepares.

“I have a coach from Training Think Tank, which is a pretty big gym for the CrossFit world,” Kaiden said. “They have a few other very good Games athletes. He programs me daily, and right now, my training is mainly strength stuff. This last year I went to the Games, that was a big weakness for me.”

Going forward, Kaiden plans to train for about five hours a day while keeping up with his schoolwork, which Keshma said has never been a problem. He works hard in school every day to make sure he keeps up straight A’s so he can spend more time in the gym after school.

Over the summer when his classes are over, Kaiden plans to start spending full days in the gym.

Both Keshma and Mark are proud to see the amount of work and dedication their son shows to CrossFit and working out, serving as an inspiration and role model to other teenagers and his siblings.

For Keshma, that inspiration is even more far reaching considering Kaiden’s size.

“If you meet him, he’s not tall,” Keshma said. “He’s not this big, muscular man that you would imagine CrossFit to be like, so he’s the underdog everytime he goes in. When he was at the CrossFit Games, he was truly the underdog, but that’s what motivates other people. They think, ‘I can do this if I work hard. I can do this if I focus and eat healthy and sleep well.’

“That, to me, is very impressive,” she continued.

Kaiden said he hopes to continue hopefully being an inspiration for others while simply following his passion and meeting his competition and personal goals.

To keep up with Kaiden and his future competitions, follow him on Instagram @crossfitgoals.