CrossFit’s rapid-fire growth in NYC

The founder of New York City’s first CrossFit box and one of the newest CrossFit entrepreneurs on the fitness craze’s growth.

When Josh Newman founded CrossFit NYC ten years ago, he says he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep the lights on.

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“When we moved into a space of our own, we had 20 members and we needed 30 to break even. And I wasn’t sure there were 30 people in New York City who wanted to do CrossFit,” says Newman. A tech entrepreneur and mixed martial arts competitor, he says he came across the competitive fitness regimen of CrossFit online, getting hooked before deciding to open his own gym.

Luckily, it turns out there were plenty of New Yorkers looking to “get the crap kicked out of them,” as Newman says. CrossFit NYC doubled in size in one year, and continued to grow quickly from there. Today, the gym boasts more than 2,000 members.

Newman says there are a few secrets to CrossFit NYC’s success – some more obvious than others. Here are the tips he’s passing on to other CrossFit fanatics-turned-entrepreneurs in the Big Apple:

No. 1: Focus on the core business offering.

Newman says CrossFit NYC never really engaged in any traditional marketing.

“Instead, we try to focus on the quality of the training that we provide and the results that people get. I think that people join a gym because they want to get in shape and they want to look better naked … the degree to which you’re delivering that is the degree to which they’ll keep coming back and tell their friends,” says Newman.

No. 2: Study your data.

Having built and sold tech companies Sharkbyte and Powerdime.com in the early days of dotcom, Newman is no stranger to running a business. And while running a gym and building a technology startup seem quite different on the surface, Newman says there are more similarities than one might think.

“It’s an iterative process. You have to look at the data and you have to look at your customers, and you have to each day be a little bit better and a little bit savvier in the way you run stuff. So, I think that the management of a good CrossFit box and the management of a technology startup are almost identical,” says Newman.

No. 3: Remember that no detail is too small.

One of the best lessons Newman passes along comes straight from the founder of CrossFit himself, Greg Glassman.

“ said early on when he visited a CrossFit box, he’d go look in the bathroom and see if it was clean. And I think that’s absolutely right. If you can get the bathrooms clean, it probably means that all of the processes and all of the workflow in your business is working – and you’re getting it down to those last details that really matter,” says Newman.


  • Top 5 NYC CrossFit Gyms for the Fitness Buffs

    CrossFit is a brand of fitness regimen developed by fitness guru, Greg Glassman. The said program is a popular CrossFit, Inc. trademark. Since its launch in the fitness arena, CrossFit has become famous for being a physical exercise belief, as well as a competitive sport.

    Additionally, CrossFit exercises integrate various components coming from Olympics, weightlifting, high-intensity interval training, gymnastics, and powerlifting, among others. Over 12,000 affiliated gyms are practicing CrossFit. About half of this number operate in the United States, specifically in New York City.

    If you are new to NYC or about to go there be it for a short trip, long vacation or for good, you don’t have to search for the thousands of gyms where you can enrol for CrossFit training. We already trimmed down the 12,000-plus NYC CrossFit gyms to five, for you.

    These are the Top five places we consider you’ll convenient and comfortable working out at. The price, programs offered and other things these gyms offer vary. Read on and pick your choice. You’ll definitely find the one that suits your fitness needs.

    #1: Reebok CrossFit Fifth Ave.

    Reebok CrossFit Fifth Ave. is known for being the No.1 CrossFit gym in America. It may be relatively new in the CrossFit World. However, it has gained too much popularity for the great range of programs it offers considering the reasonable membership fee and price for the training programs.

    The newest NYC CrossFit gym that opened in the city, Reebok CrossFit Fifth Ave. is trendy and spacious. It is actually bigger than the most NYC Crossfit centers today featuring rings, pull-up rigs, medicine balls, and weights. These features are all on top of the gym’s battling ropes, sleds, and logs for a more effective physical training.

    Among the programs this CrossFit center offers is include the Daily WOD which gives one both physical and mental challenge; Beginner’s CrossFit requiring the first-timers to take, particularly its three fundamental sessions; and the Free Introductory Session which encourages the non-members to try the gym’s effective workouts.

    Additionally, Reebok CrossFit offers various packages that suit different goals and lifestyles. Even the membership and program fees vary to fit the members’ needs. For instance, there are the so-called drop-in fees of $30 for members from the other CrossFit affiliates, and $40 for the members of the non-affiliates.

    #2: EVF Performance

    EVF also stands for Eric Von Frohlich, the name of its founder who is also an acclaimed fitness coach in New York City. It is an NYC CrossFit gym that specializes in CrossFit, strength, conditioning and row-based sessions for all athletes from any level such as the CrossFit Workout of the Day (WOD) headed by expert and certified trainers in the CrossFit world.

    EVF also offers a CrossFit On-Ramp course, an organized on-boarding for CrossFit competitors who are new to the program. There is also a program called the EV360 program offered in EVF NYC CrossFit gym. This is akin to the bootcamp course where EV360 integrates an energetic warm-up,cardio, weight, strength, and full-body conditioning, diverse in high-intensity order such as sports drills and plyometics, among others.

    EVF offers a reasonable price range. So, whether one is a first-timer in New York, or intends to stay and sign-up for a long-term membership, he can definitely afford to enroll at the EVF NYC CrossFit gym. CrossFit program costs $35. First-time visitors pay less with only $20 for the EVF 360.

    For the monthly membership at this gym for both the EVF 360 and CrossFit, unlimited membership costs $225 including access to the Upper East Side. For the non-unlimited sessions, 10 classes cost $320 and 25 classes cost $750. The reasonable price tag secures EVF firmly on our list of Top 5 NYC CrossFit Gyms.

    #3: CrossFit Queens

    CrossFit Queens is the most popular and oldest CrossFit gym along Astoria Blvd. As the longest-running NYC CrossFit gym today, the third in the Top 5 NYC CrossFit gyms offers not just conditioning and strength but nutrition education, as well.

    Like the Reebok CrossFit gym, CrossFit Queens has also incorporated gymnastics, plyometrics, weightlifting, powerlifting, dumbbell training and medicine ball training, and rowing, among others, into one functional exercise. Additionally, this NYC CrossFit gym has various exercise essentials. It has kettle bells, pull-up bars, gymnastic rings, tires, sandbags and an ample space for easy moving during the entire CrossFit training.

    We picked the CrossFit Queens and ranked it third in the Top 5 NYC CrossFit gyms for its fair membership fee and program prices. The gym has the new Intro 10 Pack for a reasonable $400. This is definitely worth the price as the program features ten workout sessions and two fitness evaluations which cost just $59. It doesn’t matter if a member is new to CrossFit or to this gym.

    What matters most is that, he gets the same impressive trial experience from the Intro 10 Pack that all members who avail of the program, get. On top of the ten sessions included in this pack, are over 40 classes one can choose from for him to find the sessions that best work for him.

    #4: CrossFit NYC

    CrossFit NYC is popularly known as the world’s most spacious CrossFit gym. They are also the 16th oldest of the over 7,000 NYC CrossFit affiliates. More so, our fourth in the list is also part of the Men’s Fitness’ 10 Best CrossFit Gyms in the U.S.

    Being the world’s biggest CrossFit gym, CrossFit NYC conducts nearly 400 classes every week. They help a range of people from professional dancers and athletes, to homemakers, celebrities, and even grandparents, among others. Whoever they are, this gym helps them achieve their best shape regardless of their age, profession and lifestyle. Through the years, this NYC CrossFit gym has dozens of coaches and a very big space for a more effective CrossFit workout.

    Membership fee at CrossFit NYC is $275 monthly. New members are treated to a reduced $149 on their first month as members. Membership at this CrossFit gym lets individuals attend workout sessions anytime at the UWS area. During off-peak season, membership fee costs $175 monthly. Students who are into CrossFit can afford to be members of this gym, too.

    During off-peak season, their monthly fee costs just $149. For prepaid memberships that are long-term, members get pay lower prices. One may opt for a one-time payment of $750 for three months which is also equivalent to $250 per month. For those who prefer to pay for annual membership fee, the price is $2700, which is equivalent to $225.

    #5: Brick New York

    Rounding out our list of Top 5 NYC CrossFit Gyms is Brick. Brick’s training programs vary. They differ according to specific fitness needs. One thing that impressed us and eventually included Brick in our Top 5 NYC CrossFit Gyms is its pool of skilled coaches who have created a new strategy in fitness, developing an athletic course that’s complete and challenging.

    Additionally, the gym promises its members safety in their every workout. Among the programs Brick offers include CrossFit: The Academy, Yoga and mobility, B/X, the Brick Barbell Club, and Performance. Programs may vary but our last in the list assures each joining member fun and excitement in CrossFit workout. Brick offers impressive amenities for the members to have always something to look forward to.

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    Anne Calderson

    Anne is a blog writer from New York, who realized that all of the time she spent sitting in front of her computer was not good for her health. As a blogger for a fitness site she was already familiar with some of the CrossFit exercises. After noticing a difference in her level of energy, and toning some muscles that had become flabby, Anne’s decided to use her love of writing to tell her readers about the benefits of CrossFit. Follow Me =”https:>

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      • CrossFit in China: how the world’s biggest fitness trend is conquering the world’s most populous country

        China’s unrivalled population, estimated at 1.41 billion, offers tough challenges for the country, and a swathe of opportunities for companies looking to tap into the world’s second largest economy.

        One of the brands quietly making substantial headway is workout regime CrossFit. China has an estimated 120 affiliate gyms, or “boxes” as they are known, and is adding about one a week.

        China is also saddled with the world’s biggest diabetes problem, which has the potential to bring the country to its economic knees, according to reports. About 109 million Chinese have some form of diabetes, a number that has risen sharply since the 1980s.

        President Xi Jinping has made health and fitness one of the Communist Party’s top priorities, largely due to scary economic numbers facing the country’s livelihood.

        A National Bureau of Economic Research paper found the cost of China’s overall chronic disease problem could cost them US$16 trillion by 2030.

        Russ Greene, the director of government relations and research for CrossFit, said they have no specific tailored plan for continuing the company’s expansion in China, but have installed a number of measures specific to the country.

        CrossFit has an app on WeChat, there is a CrossFit.cn website in Mandarin, and this year they will host two CrossFit Sanctionals – one in Shanghai in late April and one in Chengdu after the 2019 CrossFit Games in August.

        Love and CrossFit: the romantic marriage proposal behind the first Chinese ‘sanctional’

        Greene said they are also hosting sessions across China to train coaches in their native dialects.

        CrossFit boxes operate as much as fitness centres as they do tiny communities, where members train together and share health and wellness advice. Each affiliate is also independently owned and locally operated, while a licensing fee is paid to CrossFit in terms of branding.

        No, CrossFit isn’t a ‘religion’ or a ‘cult’, and it’s not ‘dangerous’ – so why does the media still hate it?

        “We’re definitely aware that their political system is quite different than ours, but that doesn’t really affect the way we conduct our business,” Greene said.

        Chances are CrossFit has flown under the radar, but that may change in the next few years given CrossFit’s rise in the US and emerging nations rapidly developing middle classes.

        Liang Kong, who is the head of CrossFit in China and also runs a box in Hangzhou, said there is a lucky alignment between Xi’s public health efforts and CrossFit’s overall value structure of promoting well-being, diet and fitness, which also happens to be quite similar to proponents of Taoism.

        “The signal from the central government has been very clear,” said Liang. “Xi Jinping is very supportive of this industry and also the health industry.”

        Greene also recently blew the lid off two pre-eminent public health officials in China who were also promoting Coca-Cola’s “propaganda and lobbying efforts” in the country. The issue was also covered by The New York Times and exposed the cosy relationship between big soda and high-ranking Chinese government officials in a bid to steer the public health debate away from soft drinks.

        “The main point of this is it’s a massive conflict of interest,” said Greene. “China is really at the forefront right now of how it is going to respond to this health crisis. And one option would be for it to continue going down this path of letting these Coke and Pepsi companies continue diverting and manipulating public health efforts to address chronic disease.”

        CrossFit has been at war with big soda for years, as founder Greg Glassman has been campaigning against the corporations’ efforts and working to expose the industry’s willingness to spend millions of dollars protecting its profit margins.

        Greene said aside from suing CrossFit, lobbying for government regulations against them, and running smear campaigns, big soda companies are also waging a war of misinformation.

        “Mainly that looks like blaming chronic disease on a lack of exercise. Versus, what they don’t want to talk so much about, research into the nutritional side, which is significantly more important. Because that’s what’s detrimental to their future profits.”

        CrossFit, which is seen as a high-intensity form of working out, does have its share of detractors, having been called “dangerous” by various media outlets including The New York Times, and was recently the target of scorn by US fitness celebrity Jillian Michaels due to the sport’s apparent lack of variance in workout moves.

        Regardless, cities like Shanghai and Beijing have exploded in terms of CrossFit affiliates. Shanghai has 24 boxes, according to CrossFit’s official country map, and Max Ma, who runs the One Nation box in the city, and is also one of the managers of the Asia CrossFit Championship, said local denizens have taken to the sport for a number of reasons.

        “I know why CrossFit is booming in Shanghai, it’s because pretty much everything is booming in Shanghai. The economy is just doing well here. And Chinese people have a taste for things that are a bit more high-end and expensive, and CrossFit kind of costs a bit more than your regular gym membership.”

        ABOUT AFFILIATION

        From the beginning, the CrossFit movement has provided an alternative to the prevailing commercial gym establishment and its signature “big-box,” machine-based, bodybuilding approach to fitness.

        We promoted the ethic and aesthetic of the garage gym in large part to provide a home and refuge for our more athletic programming, which couldn’t find quarter in the commercial gyms. CrossFit is not a franchising organization and never will be. Our affiliates constitute a confederation of legitimate fitness practitioners united around constantly varied, intense, functional exercise and pooling reliable resources under the CrossFit name.

        Today, with over 15,000 affiliates worldwide, we see ourselves as part of a larger war between the methods, outcomes, and principles of big-box franchisors such as the Gold’s, Bally’s, and 24-Hour Fitnesses versus those of our small-box facilities.

        CrossFit affiliation is an Internet-based, grassroots movement started by CrossFitters who wanted their own local CrossFit-equipped gyms, trainers, and communities. It has become a call to all who really care about fitness to get the car out of the garage, pick up some dumbbells, a barbell, a few plates, a pull-up bar, and some rings, and try the Workout of the Day. Inviting a friend to participate compounds the experience. Keep it up and before long you’ll need a bigger space. Write us an essay (application), license a name, set up a website, send us photos, and you become part of the growing community of CrossFit affiliates.

        For more specific information on the affiliation process, see How to Affiliate.

        CrossFit Near Me

        Here is what our customers had to say about crossfit on Groupon:

        ★★★★★ 2017-08-24

        “A nice little crossfit studio. I am doing crossfit after a 4 year break – so needed some place where I could ease in. Jab is perfect. Annie is awesome – takes time to work with you and explain movements. Also doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, which I care less about – so much cheaper than other places. All in all exactly what I was looking for..”-Vishal G.

        ★★★★★ 2018-01-10

        “My son wanted to try something new and challenge himself a little while having fun. These classes offer all of that! He loves it and gets in a great work out while making new friends. The instructors are fun and makes sure the kids understand the proper movements for their level. Great class, great instructors, awesome owners..”-Jessica W.

        ★★★★★ 2019-01-18

        “I have never done Crossfit before and was a bit intimidated. I signed up for a free class for beginners. The workout was great and challenging. The instructors made me feel welcome and were encouraging. They stopped to explain the exercises when needed and I was able to taylor the more difficult ones to my needs. The other people in class were all different ages and physical abilities..”-Emily B.

        ★★★★★ 2018-10-06

        “There are lots of gyms in NYC, but none of them have built such an amazing community and family. Such a welcoming and supportive crew here. That being said, they will make you work so hard that you will be unable to think of anything but the next rest time..”-Manuel C.

        ★★★★★ 2017-08-30

        “Great place! Both Coach Patrick and Coach Charyl take the intimidation factor out. They are so knowledgeable and patient to break down every move. They have certainly motivated and inspired me. Renata, who I have not met, has been extremely helpful with getting me set up with my classes. Enjoyed my Fundamentals class. Thank you Team Monarch Crossfit. Wish you the best!.”-Rajesh

        ★★★★★ 2019-01-31

        “I went in trying out CrossFit for the 1st time but I’ve been a member for 6 months now. The coaches are very knowledgeable and the super friendly. They don’t push you to do another rep or more weight but they do encourage you but always at your own pace. That was important to me because i was intimidated by some of the workouts at first. I’ve seen more change in 6 months than a yr in the gym..”-Ab R.

        Reviews
        • First time doing CrossFit and I love it! Awesome coaches and amazing facility. My only regret is waiting this long to start!

          Ben Dickerson

        • I’ve been to a good number of boxes during my time as a CrossFitter the past year and a half. But I’ve never met more welcoming and helpful coaches and athletes than I have at CrossFit Liberate. They are extremely uplifting and I would already consider them all family. Couldn’t have asked for anything better to happen to me this year than this box opening!!

          Taylor Samuels

        • Can I add more stars? Because I love it. I’ve never met more welcoming and helpful coaches and athletes than I have at CrossFit Liberate. I started CrossFit two months ago and going to CrossFit is already so addictive (even at 6am). Why? Because coaches and people are definitively amazing!! I am learning, challenged, getting fitter and stronger everyday! The CrossFit Liberate experience is also really complete with yoga, gymnastic classes etc… everything in the same facility. What else? Just join the CrossFit Liberate community!! Couldn’t have asked for anything better: learning CrossFit directly in the US with wonderful, but also really competent people, ready to share experiences, tips and advices.

          Elodie Terwagne

        Crossfit Team Names You’ll Want To Talk About

        Crossfit team names can make the difference between just a group of people acting independently and a motivated team performing in a unified fashion.

        When you’re waiting between reps at your local cross-fit gym or box, consider some of the choices below for your squad. Your workout plans might feel more unified with the right naming idea for your group.

        Best Crossfit Team Names

        We run better than the government.

        In WOD we trust.

        Rowing Pains.

        Once you started, it doesn’t get any easier.

        Pace Cadets.

        Good Crossfit Names

        Bros and Barbells.

        Waist Management.

        Cirque de Sore Legs.

        2 FIT 2 QUIT.

        French Toast Mafia.

        Legs Miserable.

        Some Assembly Required.

        Jacked In The Box.

        Just Results.

        Till Failure.

        2Fit2Quit.

        Slimpossible.

        Fitness Puns

        Burpees Outbreak.

        Weights before Dates.

        The Squatting Dead.

        Clean Jerks.

        WOD did we get into?

        Straight outta on-ramp.

        Twister Blisters.

        The Weight List.

        The WOD Squad.

        Broseph Stalin.

        Just two more.

        Like Fun only Different.

        You might like Best Walking Team Names.

        What is Crossfit?

        A high-intensity fitness workout that incorporates the use of speed, strength, and endurance. It is a core strength and conditioning program.

        Funny Crossfit Team Names

        It only hurts the first time.

        Slow Burn.

        The Couch Sweet Potatoes.

        Amino Disrespect.

        Flying Space Monkeys.

        The Scream Team.

        The Stud Muffins.

        Run like the Winded.

        How I met your Mudder.

        Neander-Gals.

        Check out: 27 High Protein Foods

        Team Names and How To Choose One Video

        What is a WOD?

        A CrossFit WOD is the “Workout of the Day.” Typically, CrossFit workout plans are very taxing testing your endurance, strength, and speed.

        Some common workout includes the “Filthy 50” where you’re challenged to complete 50 reps in 10 different exercises. You need to complete them as quickly as possible. The “Murph” challenges you to run one mile, and then complete 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and then run another mile. And, perhaps the best-named workout ever “Fight Gone Bad.” In this routine, you complete three rounds at five stations executing things like box jumps and deadlifts. Sound like fun?

        Clever Designations

        Misters, Blisters and Soul Sisters.

        We Can Do This in Our Sleep.

        Shooting Star Syndicate.

        The Young and Breathless.

        Keep Calm and Squat On.

        Girls Just Want to Have Run.

        Zombie Jamboree.

        Meaty Divas.

        Fueled by Hops.

        Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.

        Rinse and Repeat.

        The Slim Pack.

        Pain Killers.

        Baby Got Track.

        Get Er’ Run.

        Competition Naming Ideas

        Rock Solid.

        The Sandbaggers.

        Drop It Like A Squat.

        My So Called Legs.

        Nerd Herd.

        Crossfit Collective.

        Gym Class Gypsies.

        Dashing Divas.

        Fitness Rules

        Suns Out, Guns Out.

        Victorious Secret.

        Buns On The Run.

        Stop, Drop, And Squat.

        Sole Train.

        Just Here for the Bacon.

        High-Intensity Options

        Amish Assasins.

        Buff and Stuff.

        Buns and Guns.

        Beast Mode Babes.

        82Much.

        Temporary Pain.

        The Cool

        Lunging Ninja.

        Band of Mudders.

        Mudder of All.

        The Mudstaches.

        Flex Appeal.

        Fem Fitales.

        Dirty Deadlifters.

        Blood, Sweat and Beers.

        Lean on Me.

        Vicious and Delicious.

        Between A Walk and A Hard Place.

        Team Spanks.

        Bringing Up The Rear.

        Name Ideas for Fitness Teams

        Hustle and Muscle.

        Fat Bottom Girls.

        Arms and Hammered.

        Small but Mighty.

        Less Talk’n, More Squat’n.

        Calvary Air Bounce.

        The Flip Force.

        Salute the Glutes.

        Booty and the Beast.

        Will WOD for Donuts.

        Aggressively Average.

        Oh Kale Yeah.

        Creatine so much Fear.

        Flexual Healing.

        WOD now, Wine later.

        We’re here for the free shirt.

        First Rule of Crossfit: Always talk about Crossfit.

        Mom Jeans and Power Cleans.

        Two Peas in a WOD.

        Trouble Unders.

        Learn about Crossfit’s history.

        — Mike O’Halloran

        Mike is an author and the founder of Sports Feel Good Stories.

        Overtime

        You’re on Crossfit Team Names.

        You might like:

        Funny Team Monikers

        Creative Naming Ideas

        Cool Naming Choices

        Gym Quotes

        Please help us spread the word…

        Here are 40 Very Cool Name Suggestions for Your Gym Business

        Posted in Uncategorized

        Like it? Share it!

        Thinking of setting up a new fitness center? You’ll need a good name to begin with. Ideally, the name should be a maximum of three words long and should be easy to pronounce and remember.

        Tips to Design Your Name

        ~ Use creative fonts (for instance, if your gym name would be ‘Fat 2 Fit’, use a thick font for fat and a thin one for fit).
        ~ Try including attention-seeking colors like red, blue, green, pink, and orange.

        Would you like to write for us? Well, we’re looking for good writers who want to spread the word. Get in touch with us and we’ll talk…

        Let’s Work Together!

        To name your gym business, it’s very important to analyze your target customers and the sole purpose of your gym business. Firstly, decide the services you would like to offer to your customers, which could include yoga, pilates, CrossFit training, martial arts, kickboxing, and the like. Secondly, try to think over these questions. Whom do you expect to attract towards your fitness club? (Oldies, men, women, youngsters, etc). Is the name of the gym relevant? For instance, it would seem rather inappropriate if the name of the gym is ‘Exercise 24/7’, but it is open only 6 days a week. Also, check if the name is short and catchy.

        It’s essential to think on the above mentioned questions before choosing a suitable name. Also, choose or design a logo or trademark which would accompany the name on all your brochures and advertising media.

        To help you with a name, we have some name suggestions which would give you ideas on creating a unique and cool name for your gym business. Take a look!

        ~ Refuel Fitness Club ~ Six Packed Belly
        ~ Workout Works Gym ~ Greek God Gym
        ~ Ultimate Fitness Gym ~ Muscle Up
        ~ Fit. Fitter. Fittest ~ Reps and Sets
        ~ Healthy Apples Gym ~ Pro Carbs
        ~ Fit to the Core Fitness Club
        ~ Lean Wolves Fitness Club
        ~ Xpose Fitness Studio

        ~ Muscular Mastiffs ~ Squeezed 2 Fit
        ~ Unbloated Sausages ~ EVOLVE
        ~ Seekingly Fit! ~ Vibrant You!
        ~ The Wild Mustang ~ Optimum Fitness
        ~ Sailor Popeye ~ ‘Actively Fit’ Gym
        ~ Kick Start Fitness Club
        ~ Manufacturing Muscle
        ~ The Macho Man Gym
        ~ Brawny Brute Fitness Club

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        The first rule of CrossFit is that you have to talk about CrossFit.

        When I described to my roommate what happens during a CrossFit session, I’d just come home at 6:30 in the morning, scarlet-faced and drenched in sweat, feeling like I had grown a second, reptilian skin. Since starting CrossFit four months ago, I generally don’t like to talk about it, because I don’t want to be branded one of “those people,” but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take a shower without some explanation.

        “Well, today our workout of the day was a 500-meter run, followed by 30 burpees, 20 deadlifts, and 10 squats,” I started.

        She quickly interjected, “This early? That sounds awful.”

        “I’m not finished,” I insisted. “We had to do that three times. And that was only a third of the daily workout.”

        After a long, ponderous pause, she asked incredulously, “Wow, those people must really hate their bodies. Why would anyone ever do that to themselves?”

        That’s a great question.

        I joined a CrossFit gym four months ago as a way to investigate CrossFit culture from the inside; so much had been written about the practice from either sensationalist or defensive lenses, from those who were already so deeply invested in the program that objectivity can be difficult, that I thought the program could use an outsider’s perspective.

        I’m 26, and I’m neither out of shape nor a potential extra in the 300 franchise. After years of only being intermittently active, I started training for the Chicago Marathon last year before an unexpected leg injury made it difficult to run; for a solid two months, I hobbled like James Caan in Misery.

        Because I could barely work up a jog without feeling the tension of future pain, I got a trainer to explore the sides of the gym I’d always been reticent to habituate, where guys who grunt to show you how intense their workouts are linger in front of the mirror to take a #gymselfie. I view physical fitness as a solitary activity, akin to a zen meditation; the extroversion of bro-exercise culture — the idea that working out was less important than making sure everyone knew you were working out — never appealed to me.

        And as a gay man who has struggled with disordered eating for the greater part of my life (an affliction I like to call “a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B”), my biggest “workout goal” was developing healthy habits and a relationship with my body that didn’t entail entirely avoiding it in the mirror.

        Having a trainer helped me to spot myself when it came to eating right and to develop good form when it came to self-expectations, but it didn’t help me understand the culture around me any better, what it means to be a member of the gang. This was a component I thought was important. There’s a common conception that joining a gym is like entering a cult, especially some of the more specialized programs, and I wondered what so many were getting out of the experience. Just what were we doing to ourselves, anyway? And what exactly were we buying into?

        (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

        ***

        In his seminal 1995 essay, Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital, Robert Putnam describes what he later called the collapse of American community, how a decrease in social capital led to less buy-in from modern Americans in terms of civil society and civic engagement. Writing in the throes of the first Clinton term, Putnam uses the example of bowling to show that while the number of people who bowl has grown, there’s been a sharp decrease in bowling league memberships since the 1970s.

        According to Putnam, this means that bowlers are less likely to be socially engaged or feel part of a community, a phenomenon that can be tied to larger civil dropout rates in the culture at large. Although Gallup polls suggest that 40 percent of Americans regularly attend church, that’s based only on reported figures; studies on actual attendance rates cut that number in half.

        This isn’t because Americans are leaving religion, as Pew surveys indicate that only 16.1 percent of the population describe themselves as “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “unaffiliated.” It’s because our trust in public institutions is declining. According to Gallup and Christianity Today, Americans’ trust in organized religion has “reached an all-time low, with only 47 percent of Americans rating clergy highly on honesty and ethics.”

        The polls are even worse for government, which recently scored its worst trust rating in Gallup’s history. Since 2002, that figure has been on a steep decline, down all the way to 19 percent from a high of 60 percent. If its any consolation to lawmakers, this was a cultural blip on the radar, inflated by wartime spirit; trust in government has been historically low, just never this bad.

        What has long boggled critics’ minds about CrossFit (and other programs like it) is that the practice has become absurdly popular at a time when all other forms of social engagement are seemingly eroding (in favor of staying at home and watching Netflix). According to The Daily Beast’s William O’Connor, CrossFit has spread like an ebola virus of fitness, starting as one Santa Cruz-based gym in 2000 and growing to over 10,000 worldwide, powered in part by its popularity online, with 10 to 15 more springing up each day.

        If you guesstimate that each of these gyms caters to 100 members at any given time, that means that we can’t get people to vote in midterm elections, but we can get a million people (and counting) to pay $200 a month to flagellate themselves every day.

        That idea of experiencing a zen-like pain isn’t an exaggeration; it’s deeply embedded into the subconscious of the CrossFit philosophy. If CrossFit can be called a movement, its leader is Greg Glassman, a former gymnast who designed CrossFit in search of “That Feeling.” O’Connor describes it as “a nirvana state of gasping, near-vomiting exhaustion.” For marathon runners, that’s akin to your second wind, a point you might reach well into your 16th mile, when you’re so tired that you fall into a trance state, like highway hypnosis.

        The doctrine that Grossman developed entails CrossFit’s now trademark mix of “gymnastics, Olympic powerlifting, calisthenics,” one distilled into short, intense bursts of exercise like the WOD described above. First tested on firemen and first responders, the CrossFit regimen intends to prepare you for every possible situation. During my orientation, the young man giving me the CrossFit hard sell described feats like being able to lift heavy objects or save people from burning buildings. Usually we attribute such random acts of fitness to mothers whose children are trapped under a car, but for CrossFit, the miracle is an ideal.

        Before enrolling in CrossFit, I met up with a friend who had recently pulled out of the AA program to discuss his experiences, and during our discussions, he argued that one of the most disconcerting aspects of the Alcoholics Anonymous lifestyle is defining that ideal. The AA’s “New Man” wasn’t just defined by not drinking but by leading an almost devout, abstinent lifestyle, one he felt was largely defined by the program’s religious basis. In order to buy into AA’s version of sobriety, he had to become someone he wasn’t.

        Who is CrossFit’s “New Man?” For starters, the CrossFit man doesn’t drink — or drinks sparingly. Alcohol is said to slow down the system, like dairy, grains, and other foods not espoused by the Paleo diet. Also known as the “Caveman diet,” the basis of the diet is that “if our ancestors didn’t eat it, we shouldn’t either.”

        I was given this piece of information by Tony, a bespectacled Italian guy with an accent that suggested Woody Allen by way of King of Queens. The Paleo diet isn’t mandatory, but it’s so strongly recommended that CrossFit gyms hold a Paleo challenge to get members on board with the diet. Like most everything at CrossFit, the program asks you to buy in on your own through the power of suggestion. You don’t have to lift a 70-pound kettlebell, but when you’re competing against everyone around you, it can be hard to say no.

        The appeal of a cult is in the act of saying yes — to a new you, a new body, a new god, a new community, or a new life — but the most important lesson you need to learn, should you plan to do CrossFit, is the art of saying no. Each workout allows you “modifiers” to adjust the routine to your own body or exhaustion level. If you feel yourself wearing down, you can ease the pain of another set of pullups by adding a workout band for stability or grabbing a lighter kettlebell. I can stop the pain before it happens just by speaking up.

        That doesn’t mean that people always exercise that option, and as such, CrossFit has gained a reputation for injuries, the medical industry’s new best friend. A month ago I injured my arm doing a heavier deadlift than I was ready for, and I could barely move my arm for a week, making it difficult to sleep or write (which I do for a living). When I saw a massage therapist to get rid of the persistent ache, which felt like having a golf ball wedged in my arm, we revisited that question kicked off my inquiry: Why would I do this to myself?

        Growing up, I was never really a joiner (outside of academic clubs or volunteering programs), and I didn’t share the same interest in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as my mother, a Catholic who treated Nazareth’s favorite son like a member of the family. (When I was small, Jesus even got a birthday cake on Christmas.) In high school, I rebelled by becoming a Baptist, which being 15 and vaguely angry about something or other, I hoped would upset my mother. This obviously didn’t work, as she was happy I found a religion — any religion.

        I kept going to my Baptist church for three years, despite not even believing in God; this was partially because many of my friends went and partially because I was searching for “That Feeling.” For many, it was seeking a higher power, but for me, it was the act of being a part of something greater than myself, even if I knew it was just a sales pitch.

        (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

        For its members, CrossFit stands in for a daily mass, and at my gym, the service is presided over by a couple with a pair of Christian names (we’ll call them Mary and Joseph), both of whom I describe as “evangelical blond.” As a couple, they look more like the type of folks who might show up at your door holding a copy of the New Testament, rather than people responsible for your personal and emotional fitness. When you sign onto a boot camp-style program, you expect Full Metal Jacket’s R. Lee Ermey, not the Bradys.

        Call it “drinking the Kool-Aid,” but there’s something deeply intimate about sharing your sweat and your pain with a room full of relative strangers that breeds communal bonding, which is largely why CrossFit is thought to attract Painiacs. They’re people who live for the burn, the Dauntless faction types who are career thrill-seekers. But more than that, CrossFit pulls in just about everyone, from jocks with sports injuries to girls who want to lose a couple pounds and people who have never worked out before. It turns out that everyone’s equally susceptible to the pleasures of being in a cult.

        But here’s the thing about buying in, whether it’s a CrossFit gym or a bowling league: You’re always bowling alone, whether you’re stopping by the local lanes to grab a beer after a long day of work or proving yourself the biggest kingpin of your tri-state area. It’s a lot easier to demonize the cult than to take a look at your own behavior, taking ownership and responsibility for being whatever kind of man or woman you want. The only person staring down that lane is you.

        Whenever someone had asked me about CrossFit, I would always lead with its downsides: the high risk of injury, the fetishizing of pain, and a diet that sounds vaguely horrifying. Tony informed me that going on the Paleo diet helped some tennis player I’ve never heard of step up his game; after years of trying to get to the next level, he switched to the Paleo diet and became the number-one tennis player in the world. It sounded just like the kind of riches-to-riches story I would expect to hear from someone who’s only here to sell me a product, ready to make me into a New Man.

        Working with Mary, a trainer who is patient about my limits and infinitely willing to let me modify, I’ve gotten so good at saying no and asserting my boundaries that I didn’t realize how much the program was getting under my skin. A month ago, my best friend died from an enlarged heart — just four weeks before I was set to finally finish graduate school. Between her many funerals (because the dead don’t just die once) and graduation, I was so wrapped up in the rest of my life that I decided to put CrossFit off until I could regain my focus. One thing at time.

        This morning, I went back to my gym for the first time in what felt like weeks, and Mary asked us to start off with a 500-meter run around the block. As we ran, I fell into place in fourth, finding a pace that felt comfortable. When I started working out, I always thought I had stay ahead, but I felt at home in the middle of the pack. (I call it “giving myself permission to lose.”) As I felt the morning mist, my thoughts fell away as I stared at the runners in front of me, all of whom were chasing that feeling, even if they didn’t know it.

        In that line, bowing alone didn’t feel so lonely.

        From our friends at The Daily Dot, by Nico Lang.

        More from The Daily Dot…

        • Is CrossFit using copyright to censor its critics?
        • BitGym aims to trim your figure by turning exercise into a game
        • Why I don’t do CrossFit

        So you are opening up your own fitness center. Congratulations! I am sure your head is spinning with how to implement your business plan and to start your build out. On top of everything else, you also start thinking about all the necessities that you believe your members will want and that will set your fitness business apart from the rest of the overwhelming competition out there. Finding your niche is the hard part, but that is not what this particular post is about. Sorry 🙁 However, what I want to help with is the consideration of a disguised accessory that is a necessity.

        The masked necessity I am alluding to is the shower. As a current gym owner who has experience with consulting and mentoring other gym entrepreneurs, I cannot count how many times I have been asked the following questions:
        Should my gym have a shower?
        Should I spend the money now and build out a shower?
        Or should I wait to see if my members want showers in the future and build it out later?
        Does having a shower really even affect the bottom line, retention?

        Well, if you are unsure of the answer to any of these questions, now is the time to find out more about it from another gym owner’s perspective.

        Should My Gym Have a Shower?

        We all know what showers are and the purpose of them. Conceptually, one uses a shower to get clean after getting dirty. Hopefully, everyone that will be using your fitness facility will be getting dirty because of the sweat that usually accompanies a good solid workout. Most likely everyone that has broken a sweat in a public place will want to shower. Some prefer to do in the comfort of their own abode and others will prefer to do so immediately at the facility. Even if the majority of your gym members do not fall into the latter category, those that prefer to shower at home may run into a situation where they do not have a choice but to shower at the gym.

        Think about it, people have a tendency to play on their own unknowns. Even if they have never ever used a public shower before, they will wonder if they will ever need it. Given a choice, they will take the known ( a gym with a shower) over the unknown (never actually using a public shower but what if…I need to.).

        Take for example the wireless phone plan. Even though year after year I have never used more than 700 minutes, I am terrified of going over and paying that outrageous cost per extra minute. So what do I do? I am extreme and go for the unlimited plan, but most people would go for the very next plan up because of the dreaded “what if” thought that consistently pops into their minds. It secures peoples minds to pay an extra $20 a month for that plan with more minutes and rest assured that in case of an emergency that the extra cushion is there. Although that extra $20 will add up over the 2 year contract to way more than that one time emergency call is going to be.

        Where am I going with all this?

        The answer to “should my gym have a shower?” is YES!

        Shower Time

        Now that you know that you should have a shower, when should you build one? Of course the answer to this is strictly based on your own business’ budget constraints. However, I would do everything in my power to budget for, at the very least, one shower right off the bat ~ especially if you are building out a shell. I have gone through numerous constructions of my own facilities (they were all shells) at the very least one shower was a must for me during the first build out phase. If you are currently working with a shell, it will behoove you to place the shower in immediately. If you decide to budget for a bigger and more elaborate project later or want to see if it is a feature that your members will prominently request, restructuring the plumbing later can be a big pain and really expensive after the build out is complete.

        So here is the answer to the next 2 questions:
        Should I spend the money now and build out a shower? YES, but gym showers do not have to be huge and elaborate, just functional.

        Or should I wait to see if my members want showers in the future and build it out later? NO. Not if you can help it. It could cost you comparatively, a significant amount later, and not just for the re-construction but also for the loss of potential customers that consider showers at the gym a requirement and retention factor.

        Bottom Line

        Let’s face it, large-scaled gyms and the majority the smaller prominent fitness chains have showers and may include other features such as stem and sauna rooms. The big gym chains have large spaces allocated for shower and spa facilities, and the investment is also big when it comes those types of gyms providing state-of-the-art facilities.

        While large chains provide such facilities, smaller gyms and fitness studios might find it difficult to compete with them in this aspect. Having a large shower facility does not necessarily mean that it will be the deciding factor for a member to choose that competitor over yours. Similarly, a small fitness studio having just one shower could not hurt. Having said that, a shower which is unusably small and lacks the basics of cleanliness may hamper your business profits and set you up for a lawsuit.

        By just having the ability to say that your facility has a shower, this will enable you to stay afloat next to your competitors. When talking about advantages and disadvantages of a shower in a small gym or a fitness studio, one should not forget the fact that irrespective of the shower’s size, providing access to one will do no harm to your overall bottom line.When a prospective member inquires about the gym or if the gym is planning to come up with promotional material for marketing purposes, the mention of shower facilities can be an important factor.

        Does having a shower really even affect the bottom line, retention? YES. Although I cannot back my answer up with a study on this particular question or provide you with statistics (I could not find any), I can at least back up my answer with simple logic. If you if you provide your members access to a shower, you will never have to ask yourself the question “what if…?”.

        Topic for Discussion:

        In your opinion, is at least one shower necessary at a fitness facility?

        The Oldest CrossFit Games Athlete: Jacinto Bonilla

        CrossFit boxes around the world are doing the “Jacinto Storm” WOD this week in honor of Jacinto Bonilla, the oldest athlete to compete in the CrossFit Games.

        Jacinto Bonilla turned 78 on July 3rd. After a lifelong passion for sports and bodybuilding, he first walked into a CrossFit gym in 2006 at the age of 67. While he knew some of the techniques, Jacinto quickly learned how rigorous the training was and soon fell in love with the regimen.

        Defeating Cancer

        His work attitude inspired everyone around him. Then in 2008 he came down with prostate cancer. Despite eating healthy and training most of his life, he was sent a curve ball. Luckily after unfailing optimism, an operation, and two months of recovery, Jacinto was back in the gym.

        Doctors cautioned him about starting CrossFit again. His first lift – he felt a tug in his abdomen and discovered he had a hernia that put him back on the operating table. Nevertheless, he persevered.

        Jacinto healed up and competed in the July 2008 CrossFit Games only 3 months after defeating cancer and a hernia. He hasn’t looked back since.

        The ‘Jacinto Storm’ WOD

        On his 69th birthday, he created the “Jacinto Storm” WOD, modeling it after “Filthy Fifty”. Each year, he has added another rep. And each year, more CrossFit athletes have joined him in celebration of his remarkable fitness achievement.

        Jacinto Storm 78 Double Unders 78 Squats 78 Push-Ups 78 Pull-Ups 78 Wall Balls 78 Kettlebell Swings 78 Deadlifts 78 Double Unders

        CrossFit 1939

        Jacinto is now owner and head coach at CrossFit 1939 (named after his birthday). His highlight of the day is still beating ‘kids’ 50 years younger than him. Happy birthday and happy WODing, Jacinto!

        Check out Jacinto’s most recent interview with CBS.

        You can find out more about Jacinto Bonilla at his website, CrossFit 1939.

        Motivation. Information. Preparation.

        We want to make every WOD your best WOD.

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        The Morning Chalkup

        When you think of Masters CrossFit athletes, one man stands head-and-shoulders above the rest: Dave Hippensteel. At sixty-three-years-old, Hippensteel is a husband, father, and dentist, and a staunch competitor in CrossFit, his name usually found at the top of the leaderboard. His strength, endurance and gymnastic abilities are unparalleled.

        Hippensteel has notched three consecutive CrossFit Games championships (2016 – 2018) in seven total appearances. He was also the oldest athlete at the 2019 CrossFit Games. Throughout his career, he’s won the third most Open WODs of a masters athlete (10) and tied for third-most AGOQ event wins with six.

        He started young.

        Hippensteel has always been active, though he didn’t always want to play sports. As a teen, his father encouraged him to pursue sports as a way to burn off his childish energy. But in high school, Hippensteel ran track and played football, catching that competitive bug that still hasn’t let go.

        He left home for Cal State University Fresno, where he did decathlon and diving, then on to Graduate School at Temple University to study dentistry, as well as discover his love for triathlons.

        In his forties, Hippensteel raced motocross competitively for five years before returning to triathlons. He admits that the call to ride again is ever prevalent, though, saying that the track calls to him, even now.

        But in 2012, at age 56, Hippensteel was introduced to CrossFit by his daughter, Heather, who would go on to join him at the CrossFit Games.

        “I found it first, and I was like oh my gosh my dad would love this. So when I was first doing it, I told him about it and obviously he tried it and it really just lit a fire,” Heather told Morning Chalk Up. “So it was really cool because even when we both first started, I had just graduated college and was living at home in Tennessee for the summer, and so he and I did CrossFit together all summer.”

        Heather Hippensteel is a former four-time Games team athlete with CrossFit Invictus, including their 2014 Games Championship Team.

        “When I was competing he was always there. That’s been the same my entire life. He was always at every practice and every competition. If he wasn’t competing he was always there on the floor to watch me at the Games. I could always see him with his crazy hair,” Heather said.

        “It’s super fun to watch him because when he’s out there he’s just totally in his element. He lives and breathes CrossFit and he loves competition so when he’s out there I know he’s in his element, doing what God created him to do and loving it, despite the fact that it looks super painful,” she said.

        View this post on Instagram

        A little bit of Crossfit and ninja warrior training in the living room! Isn’t this what sofas are made for! #fitnessmotivation #fit #fitnessanywhere #fitlifestyle #ninjawarrior @faithrxd @crossfitgames @whoop @revive_rx @insidetracker

        A post shared by David Hippensteel (@davehipp) on May 17, 2019 at 8:52pm PDT

        The competitor mindset.

        Hippensteel’s training is rigorous, to say the least. As a full-time dentist with two practices and a full-time family man, finding time to train can be difficult.

        “My mom is just a saint for putting up with my dad. When he’s not working in one of his two practices, he’s training. He’s got a gym in the basement and in the garage, and he has rings hanging from the ceiling of the house and a pull-up bar in the living room. I don’t know how mom deals with all that but she does,” Heather said.

        Health, healing and herniations.

        After the first event of the 2019 CrossFit Games, Two Ropes where he took first place, he found it difficult to recover after the event. Something was not right and he was in trouble. What would turn out to be a herniated disk would only be exacerbated by the next event, the infamous Ruck event. The strain of the added weight on the already aching back would add another level of fight for Hippensteel, who took 9th in that event.

        “It was hard for us to watch him struggle because we knew he was injured, but he still got after it, just being Dad,” said Heather.

        Hippensteel would go on to complete all seven of the CrossFit Games WODs for the 60+ Masters division, earning sixth place overall. After the CrossFit Games, he headed back home to recuperate. He would learn, after returning home, that he had sustained several herniated disks in his back.

        The man, the myth, the father.

        This soft-spoken, though energetic, husband and father of four is nothing short of amazing. He is truly grounded in his faith, his family, and his craft.

        He shared with me that his greatest accomplishments were not found on the competition floor, but rather in his own backyard.

        “My great accomplishments are my children. I am so proud of the people that that have become. I am grateful for such a strong partner in life. Carol and I have been married for over 30 years and I could not imagine a better person to spend those years with than her.” He is exceptionally proud of his children; Heather, Jonathon, Joelle and Troy.

        What’s next?

        Hippensteel shared that there just may be a book in the works. As a remarkable athlete and inspiration, you can bet that his guidance and insight will be coveted by many.

        Though still recovering, Dave is excited about the Open and 2020 Sanctional events ahead. He hopes that the masters athletes will be allowed to showcase their skills on the competition floor.

        “I feel like there is a lot left for the masters athletes to show. Each of us is capable of so much. There are a lot of movements that we cannot perform and should be careful of at our age. An injury, now, could be detrimental. I feel like we are missing out on performing greater feats of strength and, especially, gymnastics that could challenge us better. Allow us to complete more movements or scaled versions of Elite WODs would provide a more complete test of the fittest Masters athletes on Earth.”

        There is much that these men and women still have to share with the CrossFit community and Dave hopes that he, and all of the masters athletes, have that opportunity for many years to come. He’s excited about what lies ahead.

        Dave Hippensteel, Heather Hippensteel, Invictus

        CrossFit Games

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        For the 2018 CrossFit Games, Rogue Fitness shipped 45 tractor trailers of gear, including:

        • 50,000 lbs of barbells
        • 150,000 lbs of bumper plates
        • 300,000 lbs of rig components

        1) Youngest individual male athlete is Saxon Panchik (22)

        2) Youngest individual female athlete is Laura Horvarth (21)

        Yesterday was so much FUN & I cannot wait to do it again tomorrow💥💕😈🔥🦁 #ItsOn #LessGo #CrossfitGames @crossfitgames @dekacomp @crossfitbbros @progenexeurope @blachprofil2

        A post shared by Laura Horvath (@laurahorvaht) on Aug 2, 2018 at 2:09pm PDT

        3) Oldest Individual male athlete is Josh Bridges (35)

        4) Oldest Individual female athlete is Rebecca Voigt (37)

        5) Average age of male individual athletes: 27.1

        6) Average age of female individual athletes: 28.3

        7) Tallest individual male athlete: Brent Fikowski (6’2″)

        8) Tallest individual female athlete: Rebecca Voigt (5’9″)

        9) Shortest individual male athlete: Josh Bridges (5’5″)

        10) Shortest individual female athlete: Emily Bridges (5’1″)

        11) Average height of all individual males: 5’10”

        12) Average height of all individual females: 5’5″

        13) Heaviest individual male: Royce Dunn: 225 lbs

        Australia’s @roycey_boy likes to bend bars. He totaled at 1255, win the #CrossFit Total. #CrossFitGames 📷 @flsportsguy @cftorian

        A post shared by The CrossFit Games (@crossfitgames) on Aug 1, 2018 at 1:35pm PDT

        14) Heaviest individual female: Whitney Gelin 165 lbs

        15) Lightest individual male: Cody Anderson 170 lbs

        16) Lightest individual female: Kristi Eramo and Oddrun Eik Gylfadottir 128 lbs

        17) Average weight of all individual males: 194.7 lbs

        18) Average weight of all individual females: 144.4 lbs

        19) The average weight of all individual Games females in 2018 is higher than in any other CrossFit Games.

        20) The average weight of all 2018 individual Games males is the second highest of any CrossFit Games.

        21) Number of first time male individual Games Athletes: 13 (lowest number in history)

        22) Number of first time female individual Games Athletes: 13

        23) Games Athletes with 10 total Games appearances: Ben Smith, Adam Neiffer

        24) Total countries represented by Individuals: 14

        25) Total countries represented by across all divisions: 32

        Crossfit nyc black box

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