CrossFit in the Middle East

CrossFit! An activity that is now been termed “The Sport of Fitness” fueled by marketing dollars injected into this relatively young sport seems to be sweeping our region. We have seen TV advertising campaigns, CrossFit Gyms (or “BOXES” to their users) and masses of internet content popping up about CrossFit in the last year. But what is it all about? Who is it for? What is it for? And can it help our nation and the region in our fight to live fitter and healthier lives?CrossFit was founded by a gentleman called Greg Glassman in 2000. Today there are estimated to be over 3,500 CrossFit gyms around the world with the large percentage based in the USA. CrossFit is described as “Constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement” and they measure fitness as “Increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains”. Does that make much sense to anyone? Well maybe, maybe not. Quite possibly why the recent involvement of Reebok and increased marketing spend has clearly defined CrossFit as the “Sport of Fitness”. So in simple terms its fitness that is regarded a sport, they have workouts involving various pieces of gym equipment that may or may not be familiar to some or all and these workouts are normally done over a specified time period with a specified weight which in turn delivers so head to head competition,hence the sport element! 


Lets back pedal a bit though……
3,500 CrossFit gyms. 65,000 people officially participating in their annual “CrossFit Open” in 2012 and this sport only arrived in 2000. Wow that’s some growth. So what is so great about this type of fitness / sport? In a nutshell what Glassman has done is taken what he perceives to be the best parts of a number of sports / physical activities such as: Olympic weight lifting, gymnastics, run of the mill exercises and nutritional programs, combined them all together and delivered it in a way that’s different, that people are intrigued about and that is carried out in a no frills environment. The result? Addiction, re births, community and a small % of the worlds population changing their lives for the better. 


I want to elaborate on the community factor above and congratulate CrossFit for delivering a program that when a family sit down at the end of a day for dinner they can all discuss because they have all been to the “box” and all done the same workout, no matter the gender and no matter the age! This is what is quite unique about CrossFit, it really is for everyone.


But why should we take part in what may be seen by many as a fad or trend and in something with such a short life that no one really knows the longer term effects? Well CrossFit say that CrossFit is for “general physical preparedness” being ready for the unplanned and unexpected things in life, to be able to take them on and handle them. Also quite attractive for those trying to dig deeper in to the benefits of CrossFit and why they should subject themselves to the suffering they may have seen in various you tube videos on the sport.


Wow! “Where do I sign up?” you may be asking. A sport that brings communities together, allows one to develop across a broad range of skills and prepares me for anything life is going to throw at us. Could there be a finer solution for anyone in search of improved life on the whole? 


Naturally for a concept / sport to grow at the rate that CrossFit has, some i’s appear with missing dots and some t’s are not crossed. You may be surprised to hear that to become a CrossFit instructor you do not require any previous physical fitness qualifications nor have to meet any physical test standards. Its far simpler than that, you just have to attend a 2 day course, achieve an 80% pass rate in a 50 question multiple answer test and you are set to teach the masses. What is of greater concern on attending the 2 day course and passing the exam you have the rights to apply to CrossFit to open a “box” and with the rapid rate of expansion that we are seeing it would appear that the biggest decision from CrossFit is to verify they like the name you are going to call your “box”! Is anyone frightened yet? Lets turn our attention to what workouts are delivered in these “boxes” well that varies from “box” to “box” but the choice is literally down to the “box” owner, there is no standard, no play book and aside from the CrossFit forum / journal and their main site there is little support offered up in return for opening a CrossFit “box”, paying the annual fees and spreading what is often refereed to as “the CrossFit Cult”. An array of concerns related to consistency, safety and results may arise upon further thought on these points.


On a local level there are CrossFit “boxes” popping up in Dubai of varying standards which given the points above is hardly surprising. What is for sure is that each “box” works to deliver what they believe to be the best consumer experience, create their own unique sense of community and seek to positively impact peoples lives through CrossFit which really is fantastic. We haven’t really felt any impact from the title sponsor of CrossFit, Reebok,  in the region yet aside from a TV campaign. Sad in many ways that they have not delivered to the market place the range of footwear and apparel that we see available in the US. Nor have they really gone after the regions top and influential athletes to leverage this new sport to the max.


Personally I think CrossFit is an awesome sport, it provides many things to many people, it has helped me in a multitude of ways and I really would advise people to give it a go. I use bits of CrossFit in my training and InnerFight programs but do not stick to it 100%. As CrossFit have done in taking various aspects of various sports and disciplines I also believe in the same theory, we should not be blinkered to the vast amount of sports and information that can aid us in being the best we can be and getting the most out of life, CrossFit is just another one of these components.

2 responses to “CrossFit in the Middle East

  1. Good one champ! I had no idea that it's so easy to become a crossfit instructor and to open a “box”. I also agree in using some of the cross fit protocol in training while combining it with other protocols.

  2. I might open up a box…..along with the other 50 boxes that have opened/are opening up shortly… cream floats to the top, so only a few of the best will survive these next couple of years. Evolve will be one of them.

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