HybridAF Gym Owner
Christina Mazzullo Wins
2023 CrossFit Games Title

Christina Mazzullo was born with both Syndactyly and Symbrachydactyly.

In layman’s terms, Mazzullo was born with a webbed hand on her left arm—which is shorter than her right arm—and has three partial fingers. As a young child, she underwent surgery to remove the webbing and a finger that had no bone.

Today, at 42, Mazzullo is not only the owner of two gyms, but also a recently crowned CrossFit Games champion. She won the Upper Extremity division at the recent 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games in Madison, WI by 95 points over her closest competitor.

She credits both CrossFit, who she said has “given us the platform to show the world what is possible,” and her husband with helping her get to where she is today.

“Justin was the first person to push me past my comfort zone. He is always asking me,

‘Why can’t you?’ If I say I cannot do something. I would not be where I am today without him, she said.

Standing on the top spot on the podium, after finishing second last season, provided Mazzullo with “a level of accomplishment I had never felt before,” she said.

Beyond the CrossFit Games

More important than the Games for Mazzullo—who owns Tarheel CrossFit in Spring Lake, NC and Tarheel CrossFit South in Fayetteville, NC—with her husband, is to spread their message to as many people as possible, a message about CrossFit’s ability to change lives.

“CrossFIt changed my life. It’s all inclusive and, if done correctly, life changing,” she said, adding that it helped her not only become more physically capable, but it also helped her change her nutrition.

Most importantly, however, is that it gave her confidence she never had.

“As an adaptive athlete, confidence is not something I ever had growing up. CrossFit gave me confidence and that confidence took me to the next level,” she said.

Confidence, not only in her body, but confidence in whatever else she pursues in life, including owning a gym.

To be a successful gym owner, she has learned doesn’t mean you have to be able “to do.” You have to be able to teach and lead, she explained.

“If you cannot perform a muscle-up or some other cool movements, chances are most athletes in your gym can’t either,” she said.

She added: “You do not have to be a Games athlete to own a gym. You just need to be good at running a business and have a passion for CrossFit.”

The Dream Job

As a result, Mazzullo feels like she is living her dream job, calling it the “single most rewarding job in the world because you are healing people of disease.”

“Whether that is a psychological (or) emotional distress, a physical disease, or a chemical dependency, you are playing a huge role in healing people,” she continued. “It hasn’t been easy, it is the most rewarding job because once you see someone through their darkest times, they are forever grateful to you.”

While Mazzullo admitted gym ownership is challenging, becoming a HybridAF gym and offering 24/7 access to the members of both of their gyms, has made it a lot easier.

“HybridAF makes our life easier because we have the freedom to give our staff time off for holidays and not have to close the gym down. We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and we believe our members appreciate the freedom and flexibility that comes with that,” she said. 

Mazullo’s Next Step

As an adaptive athlete, Mazullo would love to reach more people with physical disabilities, one of her goals being to begin speaking in schools to catch them when they’re young.

“My message to adaptive athletes is start doing what you think you cannot do early, and don’t be scared to fail or look a little silly. It’s part of the process and you will become more resilient and stronger for it,” she said. 

The proof is in the pudding: Adopting this attitude helped Mazullo become the Fittest Upper Extremity athlete in the world.