The Magic Is In The Community (Most Of The Time)

November 4, 2016


A nice chronicle of how CrossFit was and is changing in the Manchester region (First wrote 26/01/2012 on my original website)


CrossFit differentiates itself from many other fitness cultures because of the apparent closer ties both within its boxes and its wider universe. You pretty quickly know who everyone is at a box and any anti-social use of globo gym style earphones is quickly rinsed into submission. Members become friends, they share information and knowledge via social media and forums. They go out together, they attend competitions, they celebrate successes, they bond (aww bless), and they become aware of the wider network that is the CrossFit community. We know the score…right?


As the community grows though and CrossFit potentially makes the jump from cocky little pretender to fully fledged star of the team in the fitness world, we need to be aware that the things we loved about Crossfit may change. This may not always be for the better depending on where you’re at on these things.


Reebok’s involvement has always caused a stir and plenty of post Wod chat as we guzzle our Boditronics, BCAA’s, discuss injuries; swap paleo brownie recipes, and debate whether to start on steroids to make all this shizz a bit easier to deal with. What I know some of us WON’T be doing is their mobz. Jowsey sex cage… NOW!!!! Don’t come out of there until you can move like Shakira in that video ‘She Wolf’!




Sorry..went off on a tangent there.. back to the high brow stuff! Will Reebok ultimately care about the community or will it just be seen as an audience reach in the end? It’s inadvertently changed a few existing friendships I know of in the community already. Only the future will tell and we’ve just all got to ride it out and see.


On the flip side of a close knit box community, it can have its own subcultures too. As in all walks of life people gravitate towards those they feel they have most in common with, or are in line with their values and interests. Cliques are inevitable in most social communities and shiiiiiiiiiit I guess CrossFit itself is the biggest clique of all while we are on the subject. People watching is a big guilty pleasure of mine and I pick up on social dynamics pretty well I like to think. I notice the people who make an effort with everyone, and those who don’t so much. There was a great comment on the CrossFit affiliates page relating to the healthy nature of cliques:


A core ‘group’ or clique that presents a non-exclusive non-alienating feel, can help create a cohesive motivating family environment = Good!


An ego driven group or clique that presents an exclusive alienating feel that is cold and stand-off-ish can do just the opposite = Bad!


Maybe we should ask ourselves when was the last time we walked up to a new member and chatted to them about their Crossfit experiences or just got to know them? We should all be mindful that this doesn’t happen in UK boxes. 


As CrossFit evolves at boxes and with wider competition being ever more accessible, is it creating a two tier CrossFit some may ask? The competitive tier for those who love to pit their wits against other Crossfitters, take it on to another level, or see where they lie in a larger scale hierarchy. Then there are those that are happy with just using the regime to improve their life, get mobile and fitter and take it one PB at a time.




I guess this touches on some of the worries about the new CrossFit Advance prospect being divisive at 3D. The reality is people have different goals and are at different stages of their CrossFit experience. General programming cannot always cover all the bases for everyone in their own set timelines of achievement. You only have to look at how the programming at 3D is a world away from what a lot of us were doing at Stockport nearly two years ago. Yet, we have new starters coming in at a higher standard because that’s just the way it is. The game has changed my friends….it’s inevitable. More is achieved by of the average CrossFitter both at 3D and I’m sure, boxes across the world. Look at the rapid progress of our new breed; Ollie, Franny, Ed, Omar, Rach Crossley and Danny. Their linear progression across skills, loads and volume has been far steeper than probably anyone who was at Stockport because they viewed a standard at 3D where they wanted to be and don’t know any different. They still want to be even better. They are doing in months what we have taken years to develop. THEY MAKE ME SICK!! This is the catch net effect of competition from the top level down in CrossFit. It pulls everyones development along at a quicker rate. So if people want an accelerated development, whatever ability, the Advance prospect is an option, nothing more.


To me that two tier has always been there, its just more evident now the chance to compete outside your box is more frequent and accessible and the abilities of your boxes ‘firebreathers’ (top tier athletes) move further on from your general population. That should be celebrated and it is up to everyone to ensure those two elements aren’t at loggerheads. It’s up to firebreathers to stay grounded and inclusive, and its up to others not to feel lesser or envious.


CrossFit in the UK is changing. It is moving out of its innocent, ‘yay lets all be friends’ stage into something else. Sometimes the rose tinted glasses of the community need to come off. On the most part it is awesome and primarily down to a number of high profile individuals who look to ensure that is the case (Dicko, Matthew Evans, Karlos, Briggsy and the London Throwdown name a few). I can’t speak for the whole UK but in our corner of the world there’s not as much inter-affiliate interaction going on, as in the past…which is something Ed and Rach Crossley are looking to remedy.. right???. This could be driven by watching the pennies, as well as boxes having their own pressures and priorities of course. Life is busy and often people wait to be led on such missions. One thing that kinda disappointed me a little at Divided We Fall Games this year was the mass exodus after the final event finished. A large sway didn’t bother to even see the podium presentations. I know some had long journeys to make but hey what’s 30 minutes in the grand scheme of things to cheer on those who had given their all across increasingly gruelling workouts. After surviving two days of leg numbing standing to watch I didn’t really get people doing that. Bit like those that leave football matches before the final whistle to beat the rush! It was a bit more symptomatic of “I’m just here for the win” or “I’m only here to watch my box”, not the community spirit I’d expected. The community is different things to people I guess and we all have different levels as to how much we immerse ourselves in it. Will it diminish with a potential mainstream popularity of CrossFit?


Manchester will be one of the first UK cities to have to manage a higher than average concentration of CrossFit boxes. Three are close to the city centre, one in Ashton (had to mention our often forgotten CF Tameside homies) two in Stockport and QDos to follow in South Manchester. The lines between friends and competitors are getting blurred for sure and not just in a throwdown wod! Things are becoming a lot more professional and business like (e.g. see the growth of cross sell products within gyms) and rightly so I guess.


As this concentration increases a couple of things maybe need to happen. Either the general public moves away from the Fitness Firsts of this world and see the CrossFit light. (This could be the MAHOOSIVE gain from Reebok’s marketing work and create demand and an upturn of interest) Or, individual boxes are going to have to raise their game and shine like hell to attract and keep members in a heavily contested market. This is where the issues of U.S. boxes that we have only read about could come home to roost! Members switching for cheaper memberships, specialisations, location, or, f**k, just to change up. Don’t be surprised in the future if it turns into a car insurance situation with some, where loyalty has no place. I’m sure this will be a small section of the CrossFit membership but a headache nonetheless for box owners trying to keep a steady revenue. A group membership idea for multiple boxes is something that has been adopted in the US for high concentration areas. A noble idea! As to whether that could work in the UK with the numbers doing CrossFit, the logisitics of creating it and the reward for the individual boxes…hmmm toughie!!


Whatever happens… for every great new development in the community there is always a new problem. It’s just how we choose to manage it to ensure the magic STAYS in the community.



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