Box. Wod. EMOM. AMRAP. Toes to bar. Always been confused about what this language is?  Ever looked into a crossfit gym and wondered what could be so appealing about writhing on the floor in pain that anyone would want to do this for fun?  Chances are you’ve been stuck in a room of fanatics with nothing else to talk about but how much weight they can lift and thought am I missing something here?  What you may not be aware of is the sport’s growing attraction to not only the exceptionally fit but to the everyday person who are reporting phenomenal results.

Crossfit was born from the idea of Greg Glassman in 2000 for a physical sport that incorporates various elements to compete in daily workouts known as “workout of the day” or WOD.

The movement was quickly branded and affiliates moved to opening ‘boxes’ with the first opening in Santa Cruz.  The sport has seen a significant increase in popularity in the last nine years growing from 13 boxes to over 13,000 worldwide and has seen a consistent 50/50 split between male and female participation.   Forbes magazine recently valued the brand at over $4bn.


In his foundation document Glassman said that “crossfit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains”.  They are cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.

Wods can last anywhere from six minutes to a full hour and what that breaks down to is a huge range of movements in a very short amount of time. Keeping wods raw yet effective was the mission Glassman set out to achieve.

Crossfit Whangarei coach Pou Manukau came from a rugby background and said from the first time he tried the sport he was hooked and only wished he had started earlier.

“What I first loved about crossfit was that I could get it in and done in an hour and know that I had done a really good workout,” Manukau said.

The regime prides itself on its ‘functional strength’ approach comparing gym strength to crossfit strength as a totally different kettle of fish. Gym strength may require you to bench press twice your weight but can you engage your core and put your whole body into pushing a fridge up a flight of stairs if you needed to?  Could you sprint down the road in a hurry should the moment arise?  Can you pull your body weight onto a platform or up a rope?  These are all elements of functional strength in everyday situations where those hours in the gym could actually serve as a tangible measure of use.

Member at Crossfit6100 Perth Chante Vili spent the last ten years playing touch rugby, league, netball and joined a gym but said she got bored with the same routine.

“I’ve got faster results in the six months I’ve been going to crossfit. Back muscles I’ve never really activated.

It’s challenging everyday and there’s lots of inspiring people, not only within my crossfit gym but the worldwide crossfit community and I now have the fire in me to push myself harder,” Vili said.

The holy grail for crossfitters every year is the Reebok crossfit games and what sets this competition apart from other athlete competitions is that anyone can compete, from all around the world against each other in 5 weekly WOD’s.  It’s just another element of inclusiveness the sport encourages where all walks of life can compete at their own level doing the exact same workout.

The games labelled “the fittest on earth” began on a San Jose family farm in 2007 with around 60 athletes competing in fairly basic wods.  Fast forward to 2017 and over 380,000 people signed up to compete in the world open reflective of just how big the sport has grown in a very short space of time.

So what is it about the sport that creates such a compulsive addiction in people?

Photo credit:  GoBro

What seemingly helps in driving a crossfit participant to continue to exceed expectations is the  motivational outlets  facilities provide which include daily leader-boards, personal best charts, local events to the crossfit games.

All these targets consistently enable crossfitters to set goals and push outside of their comfort zones.

In a study conducted by the Journal for strength and conditioning on the motivational variables in crossfit they found crossfit athletes were generally split into two thought process categories.  One being related to goals of self improvement and two being performance goals in  comparison to others.

Of the 144 members questioned men generally were more focused on performance concepts whereas women were motivated by a failure avoidance strategy. This means that women were driven harder not to fail in the mastery or skill of a workout.

Photo Credit: Shannon Pitman



The movement is also seen to be changing the face of what femininity looks like with Icelandic superstars the Dottir girls consistently taking out podium positions with physics outside the ‘norm’.

Multiple crossfit games winner Annie Thorisdottir made the switch from a career in pole vaulting after deciding it was “too much of the same thing over and over”. In an interview with Vogue magazine she said that attitudes towards women’s bodies has changed and she wants women to focus more on what their bodies can do rather than how they look.

“Instead of the skinny look, it’s the healthy look for women now,” she said.

I’m not preaching that everyone should become a crossfit champion but I want to show them that training can give more confidence – and that being strong is beautiful.”

Photo Credit: Internet

Written by Shannon Pitman


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