How Heber Cannon Became the Ultimate CrossFit Storyteller
The 2009 Reebok CrossFit Games took place in Aromas, Calif. The Sport of Fitness was not yet as widely regarded as it is now, but make no mistake, the 2009 CrossFit community was just as passionate as today’s fans.
Cannon’s road trip buddy: Tommy Hackenbruck.
“I was going with a bunch of my friends from Salt Lake City and I was totally geeking out on the way down there,” says Cannon.
“I was riding down with Tommy Hackenbruck. We didn’t really know him. He had just asked for a ride. Then half way to California, he admitted that he would be competing. We had no idea.”
Cut to the end of the weekend: Hackenbruck finished the competition in second place. Cannon, an aspiring videographer, ended up following him around with a small camera the whole time.
Little did Cannon realize, but that weekend at ‘the ranch’ kicked off his professional career.
Will Work for Workouts
It was earlier that same year that Cannon took his first CrossFit class.
“A friend showed me some pictures of his old gym CrossFit 801. It looked dark,” he remembers, referencing a few famous movie montages that reminded him of the place.
As a movie buff, Cannon needed no further convincing.
“The next morning I went to the workout and fell in love with it. I immediately started to do it by myself until I could afford to pay for the gym membership and start CrossFit full time.”
“I paid for my membership by making a video a month for the gym.”
I paid for my membership by making a video a month for the gym.
“After doing that a few times I was encouraged to send the videos into CrossFit HQ to see if they needed any extra work,” Cannon continues.
“When I sent in the videos, I got an email back within five minutes that turned into a five-hour phone call with the Media Director.”
Within three weeks, CrossFit had booked out Cannon for the next six months.
From there, it was only a matter of time before Cannon became a full-time CrossFit employee. It was a job so exciting that it eventually lured him and his wife to leave their families in Utah and move to California.
Cannon was the third official member of CrossFit’s media team.
Filming the Fittest
That team has since grown, as has their body of work. CrossFit’s YouTube channel now boasts over 1 million subscribers, and the CrossFit Journal has published upwards of 4,500 articles. New content is added to both platforms on a daily basis.
Cannon has been able to grow as a producer in tandem.
He was there for CrossFit’s first Update Show, the first time CrossFit streamed live, and the first time the Games aired on ESPN.
“After I felt like those kind of got established, I wanted to take on something newer and bigger,” says Cannon.
“Coming in, the biggest thing I wanted to work on forever was my first feature film,” he reveals. So that became the new endeavor. “I’ve got that done.”
The biggest thing I wanted to work on forever was my first feature film. I’ve got that done.
While Cannon says he’s proud of each of his (now) three feature films, he admits that the documentary following CrossFit celebrity Rich Froning’s path to winning the 2014 Games may be the film he’s most proud of to date.
“It’s a standout story of a standout guy and his family,” says Cannon who spent weeks in Cookville, Tenn., following Froning, both in and out of the gym, to create the film.
“I worked really hard to make sure it turned out to be as good as possible for them.”
Froning is quick to commend Cannon, his cameraman-turned-friend.
“Heber is a really good friend of mine now,” says the four-time Fittest Man on Earth. “From doing filming like that, Heber’s one of us now.”
“He’s very passionate about what he does and you see that in his work but also in working out with him.”
“Heber’s nuts,” adds Froning with a smile. “He’ll work all day holding a camera and then tries to make up every workout we did whenever he’s done filming.”
Heber’s nuts. He’ll work all day holding a camera and then tries to make up every workout we did whenever he’s done filming.
For Cannon, it was working on this particular documentary and spending this time with the Froning family that reinforced which projects and which stories he enjoys creating the most.
“It’s really about what it’s like going to these people’s homes and having these intimate moments with them,” says Cannon. “That’s what I look forward to.”
“The sport will continue to evolve. People will continue to develop, but I’m interested in the human moments. The moments where we see the emotional struggle, we see that they’re just like everyday people because that’s what they are.”
I’m interested in the human moments. The moments where we see the emotional struggle, we see that they’re just like everyday people because that’s what they are.
“These people are my heroes and I really do look up to them, but they’re also just regular dudes that have other jobs and have families, have wives and kids and go under the radar if you didn’t shine a light on them.”
Capturing His Own Story
At last summer’s Games, athlete Brent Fikowski had a conversation with Cannon that sparked an idea for a new project.
“Fikowski said he can’t wait until he’s able to show his kids and grandkids these really cool moments that happened during the Games,” Cannon recalls,
“I was like, 'I should do that for me as well',” says Cannon, who is the proud father to a one-year-old and a three-year-old.
“Since then, I’ve been taking a weekly vlog of me and my kids hanging out. A few years from now they’ll have these cool little videos and little memories of activities that we’ve done.”
Filming at athletes’ homes means being away from his own home for periods of time.
“It’s a bit tough being on the road,” says Cannon. “Any time that I go out of town I try to take a couple days off before and after each trip to spend ample time with my wife and my kids.”
He is hopeful that these vlogs will remind his sons of that time, while also validating that it’s possible to turn their passions into a career.
I’ve been taking a weekly vlog of me and my kids hanging out. A few years from now they’ll have these cool little videos and little memories of activities that we’ve done.