He is vengeance. He is the night. Andrew Hiller is the Batman of CrossFit. While there’s no Commissioner Gordon and no Joker, his vigilantism is policing the sport with Batarangs in the form of YouTube videos (his channel flaunts a robust 29,000 subscribers) and social media posts. Though he aims to “keep athletes and judges in the right through fear of being shown the truth,” Hiller himself is a citizen of the Gotham City he serves: an athlete, a previous affiliate owner, and a Registered Judge of ten years. Despite being easily villainized by the community he serves, Andrew Hiller’s work is rooted in two things: his love for the sport, and his desire to grow it.
You may have stumbled across one of Andrew Hiller’s comments on a CrossFit-related Instagram post riddled with bat emojis (his own personal Bat signal). You may have noticed him when he made a strong statement about one of your favorite athletes. You may have simply come across one of his irresistibly-titled click-bait YouTube videos, or even entered the CrossFit NOPEN, the worldwide competition Hiller ran “on accident” from his garage. No matter how he first entered your radar, he probably managed to open your eyes to the undeniable inconsistencies in the sport, and as Plato described in his Allegory of the Cave, once you see the light, you can never go back.
Much like in Plato’s allegory, the enlightened often face scrutiny from those who do not care to know the truth. He’s been described in CrossFit Subreddits as an “angry, bitter shock jock” who exists to rag on “new CrossFit,” but according to Hiller himself, he’s working to make CrossFit stronger than before. “Between 2018 and 2021, the house of cards was collapsing,” he says. “Affiliates everywhere were struggling and closing, largely due to the pandemic, and the Games season had become an echo chamber. I’m not saying I have altered that in any way, but I have sure as hell tried. To this day, I believe that my YouTube channel has played a role in CrossFit bringing back Dave Castro; and I have spoken to too many affiliate owners to not believe I have had a positive effect for them as well.”
But why him? Why now? Why YouTube?
“I have only found myself in this role because no one else was doing it,” said Hiller.
Hiller goes on to compare the issues he sees in the sport of CrossFit to things that everyday athletes see regularly at their home affiliate.
“There are three truths in every situation where there is an issue: either someone doesn’t know they did something wrong or the task was unclear and they need an explanation; someone did something wrong and they choose not to fix the problem or are too stubborn to seek help; or someone is aware that they are actively choosing to do something the incorrect way. The majority of my videos are the result of seeing these three things.”
But it’s not just athletes and judges that he wants accountability for. Hiller reports on inconsistencies in movement standards, scorecards, programming and anything which discredits the professionalism of the sport.
And Hiller isn’t just reporting from the sidelines. Before becoming the Dark Knight of CrossFit’s Gotham City, Hiller was an athlete himself whose team “missed the Games by two places” in 2018. “We were penalized on the deadlift and the clean and jerk for where we were in the lane, not even for the movement itself. Later that night, we noticed other teams not being held to the same standard.” For him, this is his superhero origin story. “When you are being told that you are doing something wrong, it’s usually a good thing. That is, until others are being rewarded for it.”
Despite being one the most polarizing figures in modern CrossFit, one thing Hiller prides himself on is his ability to remain objective. “Whenever I make a video, I imagine that those involved are sitting right next to me. If I would not be willing to say it to their face, I would not say it at all.” To Hiller, this is what keeps him “fair.”
“When people do not think I am being fair, I refer to the [aforementioned] three truths, and on many occasions I will take another look into what I said to assess if I had misspoken.”
But he’s happy with his track record. “Usually, those who do not think I was being ‘fair’ are only argumentative because they sit on the other side of a computer screen.”
And though there are many keyboard warriors and trolls in the comments who wish to depict him as a villain, don’t let them fool you. “Do you really think I would still be doing this and be this comfortable at major events if, more often than not, the top athletes in the sport haven’t been the ones directing me toward many of the videos I make?”
As for his idea of a more perfect CrossFit, Hiller believes in one necessary change: “make the Open matter again.” An idea that reads more like a battle cry than a suggestion, he goes on to say “if eight billion people signed up (and why wouldn’t that be the goal?), imagine what you could do with the knowledge that you are in the top half of the population in terms of health and fitness. Don’t even get me started on ‘being able to compare to the elites.’ In 2021, 2022, and 2023, that just went out the window. The less emphasis put on the Open, the less the elites put into it. This idea of ‘just make the top 10%’ is right up there with the worst decisions CrossFit has ever made.”
Through his YouTube channel and on his social media, Andrew Hiller has made a name for himself as CrossFit’s own Batman, dedicated to an endless crusade against all inadequacies, unprofessionalism and those who knowingly capitalize on them in the name of a more professional CrossFit.
While not everyone loves his approach, one thing is for sure: when it’s you who fails to qualify because of unclear standards, varied judging or other athletes who skirt the rules, you’ll be thankful there’s a bat signal to use, and a Dark Knight to answer the call.