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WZA Miami

Who Gets Invites to WZA Miami?

By Online Challenge, WZA Miami

Top athletes will be able to bypass the Wodapalooza Online Challenge & Qualifier to compete at Wodapalooza Miami in January. This is based on past Sanctional and CrossFit Games finishes.

Individual Elite

CrossFit Games

  • CrossFit Games 21 – All Individual Elite Athletes 
  • Individual CrossFit Games Top 3 – 2015-2020
  • CrossFit Games 21 Quarterfinals – Top 30 Men & Women Worldwide

Additional Events

  • Individual Top 3 at WZA, DCC, & Granite Games 21: Top 3 Men & Women
  • Individual Winners at WZA, DCC, or Granite Games the last five years: 1st Place Men & Women
  • Individual Winners at 21 CFG Semi-final

Age Group

  • 1st place 2020 Wodapalooza and/or 2021 CrossFit Games

Please note: 20 spots will be earned via the WZA Indy Online Challenge & Qualifier. If all the above invites have been granted and spots are still available, they will be awarded to the next finishers in line via the WZAOC leaderboard. Additionally, athletes who receive invites are still responsible for their registration cost, lodging, travel, etc.

Elite Team of 3

CrossFit Games

  • CrossFit Games 21 – Top 10 Team | May put together 1 male & 1 female team of 3 consisting of both CrossFit Games teams
  • Any individually Elite Invited athletes may put together an Elite Team of 3, as long as a minimum of two of the three athletes are part of the invite criteria

WZA Stories: Natalia Volya

By News, WZA Miami

“I have learned so much about myself, my abilities and what my body can do. A year ago, I fully recommitted myself to it and could not be happier. My trainers are the best and believe in me so much. You need that.” Russian athlete Natalia suffered an accident by electrocution at just 13 years old, which resulted in the loss of her legs. Yet, she chose to stay active, and found CrossFit 4-5 years ago.

“At first, my mom was skeptical, but she now sees how much CrossFit has done for me. I remember that she said something about being nervous about me getting bulky and becoming too muscular.” In Russia, women often battle the perception that they should dedicate themselves to more feminine pursuits. “It is definitely not as progressive [in Russia] as here. But now, my mom sees that’s not the case, that I’ll get bulky. Now, my husband does it, my son, my mother-in-law. It’s a family affair.”

Natalia can jump rope, walk on her hands. There seem to be more things she CAN do than she can’t. How does she take on something new and get this good at it? “I just try things, and figure out a way that I can do them. In my gym, I have my own set-ups; I don’t require help, no one looks at me differently. For example, my weights are my problem. If I need to grab plates or put them away, I do it myself, I like that. Someone gifted me a jump rope, I brought it to my coach laughing and said what are we going to do with that. She said, we are going to jump. And here we are!”

Asked about her Wodapalooza experience, Natalia reflects, “I can’t even describe it. I had no idea I would have this kind of support from complete strangers. The workout on The Deck got me through it and kept me moving. I thought I should have signed up for scaled, at that moment I was reminded why I didn’t. I never expected so many photos, so many people talking to me, messaging me. I am so humbled and grateful.

“It was so amazing to meet other adaptive athletes, to learn from them and see how they adapt to certain workouts, the equipment they used. I definitely need to get one of those cushions for my lap. It’s just been a great experience and I am overwhelmed with kindness, unexpected attention, and other athletes.”

Natalia’s advice for other adaptive athletes looking to start? “Find a gym, find a good trainer, and then you just do it. That’s what my trainers did for me, I said, ‘I will work if you will work.’ And here we are.”

WZA Stories: Emma Cary

By News, WZA Miami

Emma Cary is a 2019 CrossFit Games Champ in the 14-15 age groups. Without a doubt, teens are the future of the sport, so we asked Emma what she’s hoping to show the youth who look up to her.

Emma: I hope to show the youth we shouldn’t limit ourselves. I mean, even in this year’s Open, I didn’t want to look at the leaderboard cause I felt like I wasn’t going to do very well in the adult division. Just because it didn’t seem like I could. And that was a limit I placed on myself. And once I took that limit off myself, I did some really cool things.

You can surprise yourself when you’re not worried about failing. And I’ve learned that failing teaches you and that you shouldn’t be afraid of it because if you don’t fail, you’re really not going to learn. And if you don’t learn, you can’t get better.

And as for where Emma hopes to see the sport go?

Emma: I love competing. I love the community of competition and I hope to see the sport have more people competing and not even just competing at the high level, but competing even at local competition shows you where you can go.”

To compete at this level, Emma has to dedicate herself to hours of training, recovery and specific nutrition intake. We asked where she finds the drive to pursue her goals with such laser focus at only 14.

Emma: I like to be a better version of myself. That’s what I ask myself, ‘Is this making me better?’ Whenever there’s a day when I might not want to train, I ask myself, ‘Will just sitting here make me better?’ And then it’s like, no, so I need to get better, because everybody else is getting better. And I want to win. Winning isn’t my only goal, but I know if I’m not the very best version of myself, I won’t win. And if I am the best version of myself, I’m going to try really hard. And if I don’t, I still can’t complain cause I did everything I could.

Wondering what a typical day looks like for an athlete like Emma? Same. So we asked her.

Emma: I usually wake up around five to hit an hour and a half-ish of conditioning work before school and then I go to school, come home, have a quick snack and then train from about four to seven, do some homework real quick and go to bed. I try to get all my homework done that I can at school by managing my time well. So if I finish something else early, instead of playing a game or looking at Instagram, I look at what I can do now that I will be happy I did later.

Is it possible for her to squeeze anything else into her busy days?

Emma: I coach a kids class at our gym. I love working with kids, I want to be a pediatrician. We have about 14 8-12 year olds. I just love helping people, whether that’s inspiring them or coaching them or just encouraging them. That is what I like to do.

So, what is Emma most proud of in her young career as an athlete?

Emma: I am most proud of being dedicated to improvement. I don’t chase being perfect. I used to, but I know that I’m not going to be perfect, so instead of quitting because I’m not perfect, I relentlessly chase improving. I’m just going to believe I can do it. And if I believe with everything I have, I’m going to work with everything I have and then I’m going to do it.

WZA Stories: Josie Portell

By News, WZA Miami

Josie Portell is a 2x WZA Champion vying for her 3rd title this weekend. Watching her on the competition floor, her intensity is unmistakable. We asked her about the phrase, “Never whine, never complain, never make excuses,” stitched on her chair.

“There’s going to be no point in doing that [whining]. So why do it? It’s just going to hurt you in the long run. Like, if something doesn’t go my way in a workout or the weight’s heavier than I thought or something, let it go and don’t complain or anything. Because it’s just going to hurt you.

Josie and her father, Bob, started Bar X adaptive, a program for athletes of all ages and ability levels. Bob explains, “We started with Josie as basically our first athlete and that was I guess almost two years ago. Now we’re probably at 15 athletes and we’ve got a bunch of new kids coming in now, but the main thing about our program is it’s inclusive. The athletes come in and do the same classes as everybody else. We just adapt the workouts. They’re in with all the other athletes and everybody else, so it’s not a separate adaptive class, it’s inclusive.” The future of Bar X Adaptive is also looking bright. When asked if Bob and Josie would ever take Bar X Adaptive on the road to reach more athletes, they said, “If the opportunity presented itself, we would obviously entertain, but right now, we’re trying to be the best we can with the athletes we have.”

Bob was also the inspiring force that sparked Josie’s CrossFit journey. Bob began CrossFit first, and Josie said she wanted to do it, as well. “She wanted to come to the gym and I started doing research. The gym owner was nice enough for her to come in and that’s kind of where it all started. I just started finding out how to adapt the movements and such, which is where we are today.”


Josie and Bob originally viewed CrossFit as a great way for Josie to condition for her basketball season. Being a natural athlete, Josie excelled and added CrossFit to her schedule which, at one point, also included school, basketball, track, and cheer. Now, as she begins to look at colleges, she now “just want[s] to keep growing, doing sports and just fine-tuning.”

Josie is hoping to take her talents to the University of Illinois and play Women’s Wheelchair Basketball for the Fighting Illini, and Bob will continue to grow their gym and adaptive program.

WZA Stories: John Glaude on Weight loss, Crossfit & inspiring others

By Featured, WZA Miami

Some of the best stories can be found in the crowd at Wodapalooza. Like John Glaude, better known to many as @obese_to_beast. John is a source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands looking to improve their own health. John shed 180 lbs through a mixture of diet, exercise and hard work.

We asked him what that point was in his life when he was like, this is the day when he knew he was going to make a change. “For me it was actually more fear of … It sounds morbid, but it’s just the truth, it was fear of dying. I started losing weight when I was 20 years old. I’m 27 now. 27, geez. I’m getting up there. At 20 years old though, I remember literally being afraid to be home alone, because I was like, if I have a heart attack, no one will be here. At 20 years old. That’s not a normal thing for a 20-year-old to be worried about, but I was very worried about it. I don’t know what it was, but I had literally gotten to a point where I was okay with dying because of my size. It was just kind of, it’s going to happen, it’s more when than if.”

Asked whether his weight gain was hereditary, John reflects, “I gained it as I was growing up. I thought that gaining weight is hereditary, and I think that’s the wrong way to look at it, because it’s the victim mindset, of you feel like you can’t do anything about it. I think there are definitely factors that go into it. Because I grew up very very poor, and so that was a big factor. I didn’t have much money. There was a lot of trauma growing up, I was taken away from my mom when I was really young, but I was put back with her.

“I was actually talking to a friend about this, they’re like, ‘What do you think it was growing up?’ It was because my mom couldn’t provide much. But food was something she could provide. So she didn’t like to say no to me. It was something she could do that would make me happy. Because she couldn’t get presents for Christmas, she couldn’t do other things she wanted to do for me. So if she could get me food, fine, that’s the one thing that she could say yes to.”

So when did John decide enough was enough? “At 20 years old, I remember I was invited to a wedding and I had to find clothes. That was horrible. I wore a size five XL shirt and had a 56-inch waist. So finding clothes when you’re that big is really rough, but I ended up finding stuff, and I remember I was actually really happy with the clothes that I got. I was like, ‘These are sweet, I love this.’ I was really happy, I thought it looked really good. We go to the wedding. We drove there, it was a 13-hour drive. And as we got there I went to step out of the car, and I almost fell back into the car. And like I said, I had that fear of dying. I was terrified, I was like, there’s definitely something going on here. And I was really really scared the whole time I was there. Luckily it wasn’t anything serious, but it freaked me out. We got home, and I saw the photos of the wedding, and I was like, ’Oh my …’ I thought I looked great; I was wrong. And it’s crazy, because I was wearing a five XL shirt, and this shirt, when I’d sit down, the buttons would unbutton. It was pretty tight.

“So that all happened, but that wasn’t my click moment. It was actually a couple weeks later, I was watching Miami Ink, which is a show about tattoos, and there were people getting all these really cool tattoos everywhere, and I had two on my forearms when I was heavier. I wanted more, but I was like “I’m not going to get any more,” cuz I feel like I’m never going to show them off. But then a guy came on the show, I don’t even remember exactly what he said, but basically in my head I finally realized, this is my fault. These are my choices, I can’t blame anyone else for the size I am now. I’m 20 years old, no one is making me eat anything I don’t want to eat. So I finally realized, I’m making choices that are bringing me to this point, I just need to make different choices. That was the starting point.”

Now that John has shed the weight, we wanted to know how he feels about that shift in identity. From the guy losing the weight to a success story. And more importantly, how he deals with knowing when enough is enough in terms of weight loss.

“When losing weight, for a lot of people, their goal is to lose as much weight as possible. And I always say, your goal should be to be healthy. For a lot of people, that will mean you lose a lot of weight if you’re very overweight, of course. But if your goal is, “I want to be as skinny as possible,’ it’s dangerous. Because eventually, like I said, you’re going to get to a point where you’re done losing weight. Because you can’t lose weight forever, you’ll die. So a lot of people, when they get to that point, they don’t know what to do. They get freaked out, they get scared. So for me, the lowest weight that I hit was 180 pounds, down from 360. That’s when I did a men’s physique show. So I dieted down for a men’s physique show.

“When I did that show, I got really really lean, but it was too lean. I lost too much weight. It wasn’t healthy what I had to do to get that thin. What really helped actually was finding CrossFit. Because I was doing bodybuilding stuff before that, cardio, but I never felt like I was athletic. Because in bodybuilding, the only thing that matters is how you look, that’s all. And I just stopped caring, really. So with CrossFit, I got into it and I was like, ‘How can I jump on this box?’ Or, ‘Can I walk on my hands?’ Obviously, walking on my hands came a lot later. But I remember my first box jump, I was terrified. Because I’d never been athletic my whole life. So finding something that made me focus on not just how I look, but how I performed, it made it so much easier to be able to gain a little bit of weight and not freak out.”

John dedicates his platform to advocating for healthier living. We wondered if he feels a responsibility of sorts to help others reach the other end of their fitness journey, as he’s done.

“I think that for me, losing the weight and then seeing the followers I’ve gained, it’s made me feel like yeah, you have a responsibility to help people. I think losing the weight was a big thing for me that I had to do, but now, seeing that people are inspired by that makes me want to help people as much as I can.

“Almost everyone who comes up to me has some sort of weight loss story that they tell me about. But one really cool story is about this guy I met who actually comes to my gym now. I met this guy at a different gym, he would do powerlifting stuff. He would always do squatting and stuff. He had a lot of weight to lose, and he ended up coming up to me one day and he was like, ‘Hey man, I actually watch your videos and I just wanted to say hi.’ I was like, ‘Oh cool man, it’s good to meet you.’ Then at that point, I had been doing CrossFit for a little bit, so I was like, ‘You should check out CrossFit, if you ever want to try it out.’ So since coming to my gym, my CrossFit gym, he’s lost an extra 100 pounds, and he’s really really doing well.

“That’s just one story out of literally thousands. It’s crazy because I always say I’m not special, there’s nothing special about me as far as losing the weight. What I did, literally anybody can do. That’s my mission that I’m trying to get out there. People see I have a lot of followers and they think, ‘He must be special.’ But it’s like, I’m literally not special. And I think that’s why people follow, is because they realize, ‘He’s just a normal dude.’

After Party | Veza Sur

By News, WZA Miami

The party never stops in Miami! Let’s keep the celebration going at the official 2020 WZA After Party on Sunday night! We’ve got the details on the place to be, so join us to raise a glass (or two) to all your hard work this weekend.

I’m so in, where are we going? Wodapalooza has rented out the entirety of Veza Sur Brewing Co. from 9 PM – 2 AM, we expect you to pack this place to the brim! Veza Sur is one of the hottest new breweries in town. The hot spot, which opened its doors in 2018, is a Miami-born brewery with Latin and American roots.

Who’s invited? Everyone! Spectators, volunteers and of course, athletes! Flash your wristband at the door and then dance the night away with us. We’ll have a DJ dropping beats and bartenders slinging craft brews and cocktails all night.

The VIP Experience at WZA Miami 2020

By News, WZA Miami

Now is your chance to see Wodapalooza like never before! Join us for an unforgettable VIP experience with exclusive access to unique events and special access.

VIP Ticket Perks:

  • Access to the VIP Beach Daily – Includes VIP Lounge, Dedicated restrooms & Exclusive Bar Access
  • Dedicated seating at Bayside Stage (map to follow)
  • Dedicated seating at Flagler with access to VIP decks (map to follow)
  • Dedicated entry lines at check in
  • VIP Exclusive Workout led by Sam Dancer. Saturday at 7 am at the Deck

VIP tickets are selling out, get yours now!

The WZA Strong Experience

By News, WZA Miami

The WZA Strong Experience:
Friends, Competitors, and Business Partners Dominick Maurici and Rafael Paredes

Last year, Wodapalooza introduced WZA Strong, a brand new competition. It was inspired, petitioned for, and run by a CrossFit legend, Rob Orlando. He has been wanting to do something like this for a long time and was absolutely ecstatic about being able to do so this year in Miami. Rob programmed the events and tested them all himself. We asked him if he would have won the competition and he smiled saying he wouldn’t have won, but maybe top five or ten.

As the competition got underway,a variety of shapes and sizes of athletes came in. There were big guys who looked like they could handle heavy farmer’s walks and stones all day, but when it came to large sets of double unders or an AMRAP of muscle ups, might struggle. Then there were smaller guys, no doubt strong, but you still had to wonder how they would cope with a 250 lb atlas stone or an 800 lb yoke.

We picked out an athlete early on who was recognizable from the CrossFit scene, and he was gracious enough to talk with us between events and tell us a bit of his story.

Dominick Maurici was a 6 times regional athlete in the southeast, he finished as high as 5th in 2012. His last Regional competition was in 2016. He has three kids now and primarily does the one hour class workouts at his gym these days. He also works with Rob Orlando for, coordinating strongman seminars in the southeastern United States. When he heard about WZA Strong coming to Miami he called up his business partner and friend, Rafael Paredes,and suggested they sign up.

Maurici owns Caution CrossFit in Hialeah,FL just outside of Miami. Paredes, is the owner and head coach at GMA Crossfit in Pembroke Pines, FL. They co-own Caution Strong which is an online programming platform, which offers programming for athletes in CrossFit, Strongman, or a combination of both.

In events 1-3 Dominick looked like the regional athlete we used to know him as. He repped out 54 reps on a Tabata style, increasing weight, deadlift event, including 9 reps at the final bar which weighed 405 lbs. Then he turned around and ripped out 16 muscle ups in a two minute window to put himself in first place overall after the first round of events. Paredes also did great in the morning events, accumulating 53, 9, and 7 reps respectively on that triplet of workouts.

Watching these two men on the deadlift portion of the event was awe-inspiring, because they both fall into the category of athletes whom you would have thought could crush the muscle ups, but might struggle with the heaviest deadlift bar. Maurici is 5’7” and told us he only weighs 175 lbs these days. Paredes is one inch taller and weighs 5 lbs more. When we asked Dominick about the event mid-way through the day he couldn’t stress enough how great it was to be back on the competition floor, especially here at Wodapalooza, and even more so to be competing alongside his good friend.

As the event went on Dom and Raf continued to do really well even when the weights were heavy. In the double under portion of the event 5 and 6 combo Maurici placed second. In the same combination of events Paredes was incredibly impressive with the atlas stone, which as previously mentioned got as heavy as 250 lbs; he took a 3rd place in that portion of the event.

Heading into the final event, which was an ascending weight yoke carry race, both men were solidly in the top ten, and Maurici had an outside chance to podium. The weights started off light, but eventually got very heavy, building from 260 up to 800 lbs. Both Maurici and Paredes held their own against some much larger men, they finished tied for 6th on that event.

Minutes later the podium was announced and it turned out Maurici had done enough to stand on the podium in 3rd place. Paredes finish 6th overall in the competition. Both men punched well above their weight classes if you ask me.

Maurici said being able to get out there and compete again in this less stressful setting was more than just fun, but also reinvigorating for him. He said he’s going to try and find a way to get more competitions in going forward seeming to have rediscovered his passion for them.

Dominick and Rafael are an example, of which there are countless at Wodapalooza. Thousands of athletes competed in either the Gauntlet, Weightlifting Faceoff, or WZA Strong last year; or in one of the 34 divisions that competed over the subsequent three days of competition. Every athlete has a story, every athlete has a life outside of competition. But the joy, thrill, and the fulfillment that comes with being up there on that stage, that’s the celebration of the hard work we’ve put in, and a validation of that fact that we are all Strong.


Written By Brian Friend


2019-2020 Wodapalooza Season

By News, Online Challenge, Transformation Challenge, WZA Miami

2019-2020 Wodapalooza Season

What’s coming up for Wodapalooza this season?

We truly believe in celebrating fitness, community and life in a variety of ways and bringing an elite experience to each and every member of the WZA Community. From athletes to volunteers, spectators and partners, we’ve got something for everyone!

Stay up to date – WZA Athlete Community

In an effort to continue celebrating fitness, community and life (and keep everyone in the loop!) we started the WZA Community Facebook group as a space to celebrate PRs, get information on the upcoming season, important dates and information and so much more! Make sure you’ve joined our Facebook group to stay up to date on all of the latest and greatest!

Join the Group!



WZA Online Challenge & Qualifier
Indy – August 21st
Team – December 6th

The WZA Online Challenge and Qualifier (WZAOC) is a two-part online workout challenge where athletes from all over the world come together to test their fitness. Choose to compete as an individual or on a team!

Each week, during the Individual Challenge of the WZA Online Challenge and Qualifier, WZA will release workout(s) on Wednesdays at 8pm ET. The WZA Community will have until the following Monday at 8pm ET to complete the workouts and submit their score. For those choosing the Team Challenge, WZA will release 10 workouts, with all workouts and scores due the last day of the challenge.

Athletes looking to compete at WZA Miami should visit the How to Compete page for more information.

Registration Opens July 1st!


WZA Miami
February 20-23rd, 2020

What began as a grassroots 1-day fitness competition with 145 athletes and 500 spectators in 2012, Wodapalooza (WZA) has since established itself as the world’s premier Functional Fitness Festival. The Wodapalooza descends on Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park for 4-days and brings together 3,000+ of athletes and 45,000+ spectators and fitness fanatics to celebrate fitness, community and life.

Tickets available September 23rd

WZA Transformation Challenge
April 27th, 2020

The Wodapalooza Transformation Challenge (WZATC) is an 8-week self-improvement challenge to improve your fitness & health, with guidance in the form of nutritional, exercise and motivational content and support. In the process, participants will have the opportunity to win prizes ranging from cash to trips, to gear, and more! Those attempting to win will be judged based on their progress over the course of the WZATC, established via the “before” & “after” pictures, and their journey. This year, we’re awarding four total winners: one male and one female Overall Winner, and a male and female “People’s Choice Winner.”

Registration opens early 2020!

Introducing… the WZA Demo Team

By News, Online Challenge, WZA Miami

Wanna Join the WZA Demo Team?!

Wodapalooza is amped about the changes to their 2019 Season, and now you can be part of creating the magic of competition behind the scenes.



Last Week, WZA announced changes to this year’s competition, which include the addition of divisions, expansion of others, and minor qualification changes, all in an effort to ensure a fair, safe, competitive and inclusive event. In the spirit of ensuring WZA provides all of the above to competitors, they’re pumped to announce an application process for those who want to be a part of the Testing & Demo Team for the 2019-2020 Season!

What does this mean?

WZA is giving athletes the opportunity to apply to be part of a true team that will commit and be relied upon to help test potential events. Through their results and feedback, they’ll mold what the competition looks like from the online qualification, all the way through the festival in Miami.

Interested in applying?

Click here.

Other Important Details

Athletes should have experience competing (preferably during the WZA Season) but will not be competing during any phase of the WZA 2019-20 season.  Applicants will be selected based on their consistency and performance in certain divisions of competition. We will consider Open placement, previous WZA (Online Challenge and Miami) performances, event experience, etc.  

We are asking for a several month commitment from the testing team.  These athletes will receive tests/workouts directly from our Competition Director and they are expected to leave video, written feedback, etc.

Selected athletes will be considered for our on-site demo team, social media activation, special gifts & discounts from our brand partners, VIP tickets, discounted tickets for their affiliates, compensation for on-site athletes & more.


What are you waiting for?! Apply now!