IT BEGINS as a whisper. Four simple words.
The words are most powerful when spoken in your own voice, but more often than not they are spoken by someone else, still to great effect.
Four simple words: “you can do this”.
Succinct and powerful words that when spoken by CrossFitters the world over it can open the door to an endless realm of possibility.
They are a signal of intent, self-belief and strength.
A pure distilled version of Greg Glassman’s CrossFit vision.
As children, our minds are open to possibility – nothing is out of reach. Trees are there to be climbed, races to be run and won. Cartwheels and handstands offered a new perspective on life. But as time rolls on walls are built. Walls that begin to channel and ultimately block our vision and dreams.
Suddenly not everything is possible and we accept that certain dreams are beyond achievable; we favour the mundane over the exceptional. We start to accept the mundane reality of safety and what-is over the beautiful and powerful potential of what could be.
But in Santa Cruz, California, just over two decades ago, a revolution was afoot. A revolution that would reshape the fitness industry and give new hope to generations of people.
It was a revolution that would ultimately give thousands of people around the world a metaphorical hammer – a tool along with skills to break down their personal walls, allowing them to dream of greater things again.
At its core, CrossFit is building better dreamers – dreamers who will one day step outside of their comfort zones and make their dreams a reality.
In 1995 Greg Glassman was operating a gym in Santa Cruz, California, it was here that his dream began.
At the time Glassman had an abundance of personal clients, including members of the Santa Cruz Police Department. Before long, he had adapted his programming to introduce group-based classes while still ensuring effective personalised training and the safety of his clients.
As time progressed, Glassman dreamt less and planned more. He had a vision of a fitness regime that developed and targeted ten key areas of health:
1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
It was a model that broke all the conventional fitness moulds, combining high-intensity interval training with Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, kettlebell movements, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises.
By 2000, Glassman’s CrossFit vision was a concrete reality when the first affiliated box, CrossFit North, was opened in Seattle, Washington.
“CrossFit was never meant to last.”
The ‘traditional fitness powerbrokers’ of the time thought CrossFit’s focus on constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement would not appeal to the masses. Some even considered it a danger to the health and safety of its participants.
They were wrong.
In 2005 there were 13 affiliates, now there are more than 10,000 world-wide.
But how and why has CrossFit thrived?
Why are the likes of Rich Froning, Annie Thorisdottir, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Jason Khalipa becoming household names?
Why are more and more Australians recognising, talking about and admiring the feats of Kara Webb, Tia-Clair Toomey, Rob Forte and Chad Mackay?
Why are two sporting apparel giants in Reebok and Nike battling for dominance in the elusive CrossFit shoe market?
Why do 1000s of passionate crossfitters flock to California’s Stubhub centre to watch the sport’s elite compete in the CrossFit Games every year?
The answer is there in Glassman’s vision for CrossFit.
CrossFit wasn’t meant to be just another form of fitness. It’s about helping people build better versions of themselves – training and preparing them for the unknown and the unknowable. CrossFit is designed to cultivate strength and self-belief.
When the average CrossFitter tunes into ‘The Games’, they see the ultimate reality of a dream they have every day. They see athletes, at the peak of their ability, performing amazing things.
Handstand walks, pistol squats, muscle-ups and heavy Olympic lifts – performed with a sense of grace and power that is almost mesmerising, and WODs finished at a blistering pace.
But they do not despair because while they may never reach those heights, that weight, or that speed, one day they will tick similar goals off their lists.
Handstand push-ups, ring dips and heavy lifts can be achieved by ‘mere mortals’.
They will kick into a handstand and experience what it’s like to walk upside down. They will grip that bar and pull with such ferocity they are able to perform their first unassisted pull-up. The clean and jerk will not just be for that bloke at the gym with the fancy lifting shoes and impressive weightlifting belt.
In short if they can dream it, they can achieve it. And CrossFitters are a determined bunch.
With the help of strong community and an experienced coach anything is possible.
A strong community will support your every move and rep, and an experienced coach will dissect, break down and analyse your goal to create a path of transition as you strive to make your dream a reality.
Before long homework is assigned and specialised training is undertaken, the foggy hues of a dream are replaced by the sharpened colours of reality.
Reality and achievement.
And it all begins with four words, four words – a sense of belief and a bevy of dreams so sweet you can’t help but want to make them a reality.
Jason has a passion for writing in all its forms.
His career as a journalist has bought him into contact with some unique, inspiring and powerful people and sharing their stories is a true joy for him. The career also brought him in contact with CrossFit. After winning a free 3-month trial at a new local CrossFit Box, Jason's first true sporting passion (soccer) soon made way for CrossFit.
While work got in the way of his soccer – Jason could more easily attend regular CrossFit sessions. He's been lifting barbells, swinging kettlebells and mastering all kinds of crazy awesome gymnastic moves for nearly three years now and he loves it. CrossFit has also brought him into contact with a new community - everyday people changing their lives through sweat and determination.
As a husband and father Jason loves to share these stories in the hope that they will inspire others to make a change.