DJ Hillier

home gym:
Mi5 Fitness & CrossFit Lakeville

favorite food on event days:
I actually hardly eat solid foods on game days. I find that drinking most of my caloric intake is better on my stomach at competitions

favorite cheat meal:
I don’t really have “cheat meals” but my favorite not so healthy food is Buffalo Wings!

competitive CrossFit career highlight:
Competing at the 2016 CrossFit Games in Carson, California

DJ competed with us at the original Mayhem in Mankato in 2014, taking 4th of 18 Men’s Rx athletes. He’s had quite a journey since our first event on the basketball court at Bethany Lutheran College

-DJ, could you start by recapping some highlights from your last 12 months of training and competing?
I was fortunate enough to be a part of an awesome team at the 2017 Central Regionals where we finished one spot away from qualifying to the CrossFit Games. Most recently, I teamed up with Nate Dietzenbach and my coach, Kyle Spears, to compete in the Elite Division at Wodapalooza in Miami.

-What’s in store for you in the rest of 2019?

Right now is a pretty unique time in the sport of CrossFit. I think there are a lot of athletes who are kind of waiting to see how things unfold and where they see themselves in the equation. I would like to compete at one of the sanctioned events if given the opportunity, but right now I’m just focusing on being a better coach, athlete, and person every single day. If the opportunity presents itself to compete at one of these sanctioned events, I would love to do so.

-What’s your favorite competition you’ve ever done and why?

That’s a super tough question. I have honestly enjoyed every single competition I’ve ever done from my first Game Day competition in 2014 to my most recent Wodapalooza experience in January of 2019. But if I had to choose my top favorite, I would say competing on a team CrossFit Games in California was super surreal experience.


Right now is a pretty unique time in the sport of CrossFit. I think there are a lot of athletes who are kind of waiting to see how things unfold and where they see themselves in the equation.

-Outside of coaching and training, how else do you like to spend your time?
A lot of my life is revolved around fitness. I am very passionate about coaching, helping others achieve their goals, and growing the community at our affiliate. Outside of the gym I enjoy catching up with buddies, listening to podcasts, and further developing myself as a person, coach, and an athlete!
-With the changes in regionals and the games, what do you think that means for competitive fitness in the next few years?
That’s a great question. Like I alluded to earlier, I think CrossFit, as a sport, is in a very unique position right now. They are trying to figure out their niche in the fitness realm and we as athletes and fitness enthusiasts are in pursuit to see how we fit into the sport moving forward. Creatively, CrossFit HQ continues to raise the bar for what it means to be the fittest on earth, and certainly athletes do rise to the occasion. But with this constant influx of change it makes it much harder to compete at high levels. I think a major thing to remember as athletes and even non-athletes is that there are always things you can control and always things you can’t control. I think at the end of the day athletes need to realize that we signed up for this sport and it’s OUR choice to be a part it. Also, the athletes that are extremely passionate about competing aren’t going to be the ones that complain about the new format. I think if you really love competing then it shouldn’t matter what the new changes are. Additionally, having the awareness that we can’t control how CrossFit changes over the years is a good mindset to have. Having this mentality has helped me a lot when dealing with the changes that came out this past year.

While the competitive requirements and format may change over the years, I believe CrossFit is here to stay. I believe these changes give a great opportunity to not only Sanctionals, but also more local competitions like Game Day. I think what Game Day competitions provide is a great opportunity for different leveled athletes to compete, whether that be a beginner, seasoned vet, masters athlete, team athlete, etc.

...every competition is a chance to learn and grow.

-You’ve become quite a seasoned veteran over the past 4 1/2 years.  Do you have any advice for new competitors?

I’m still learning and growing every single day. But if I could give advice to specifically NEW competitors, I would say a few things. First, make sure you know WHY you are competing. I think it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in workouts that aren’t good for you, other people’s successes, and overall placing.  I think it’s very healthy for athletes to determine their “why” BEFORE they get on the competition floor, so that way when you start to hit adversity, you can lean back on your “why.” Often times remembering the “why” will bring clarity to the situation. And the interesting about this sport is that everybody may have a different “why”. That “why” could be anything from wanting to get out of your comfort zone, try a team format, gain confidence, prove to yourself you could do a competition, or finish on the podium. I think the next thing I would tell new competitors is that every competition is a chance to learn and grow. I’ve done several competitions the past 4.5 years and I think one of the best parts about competing is that I learn something about myself after every event. There are athletes that go out to compete just to compete. But I think it takes a special kind of athlete to finish a competition, reflect on it, learn from the mistakes that were made, and then grow and evolve to be better. The last piece of advice I would give, as cliche as it sounds, is just to have fun. Trust me, I know that sounds simple, but at the end we are all exercising as fast as we can hoping we are faster than the person next to us. I’ve seen people get burnt out and not enjoy CrossFit anymore because they took it too seriously. So make training sessions fun, train with other people who not only help you improve, but also make it enjoyable, and celebrate any and all PR’s, and find joy in the journey.

-Will we see you in the crowd at GameDay Mankato this year?  

Funny you should ask. I’m leaning towards coming down to Mankato this year, but I don’t think I’ll be in the crowd 😉