I agree wholeheartedly. Greg changed the map with Crossfit. He has been a huge influence in my life . I still remember my first workout. It was 300. Tom and I did it at the Pickering Rec Centre. Man, did we get funny looks from everyone. We both felt it for days and were instantly in love. We incorporated the workouts from mainsite into our gym regime. This was April 2007. That October we did our Level 1 Certification in Flagstaff Arizona. Glassman, Starrett, Nicole and Annie were our Level 1 coaches, with Glassman as the main coach. I think he was training the others to become Level 1 coaches, as he had most of his staff there. It was an amazing experience and we have never looked back.
We became affiliated in April of 2008 with our Garage gym in our home on Amberlea. We quickly outgrew the space and moved to Bayly. It was very scary moving to a 3300 square foot location, paying rent and trying to survive. Rob, Alex and Erika were my first coaches there. At first I coached most of the time, with help from Tom, then from Rob. I was doing most of the 6 am bootcamps and while pregnant I realized I could not do that long term with a baby on the way. People did not know what Crossfit was back then, I had to work my ass off to get people through the door and to educate them on the benefits of this crazy workout. We wore running shoes and shorts. There were not grips, specialty shoes, knee sleeves or wraps. It was grass roots. We were building a community. After almost 12 years of owning CrossFit Pickering, we are now a strong family. XOXO Marta
(The Pictures below are from the 10 year affiliate gathering)
In an interview with CNBC, Greg Glassman, the 63-year-old founder of CrossFit, said that CrossFit’s success happened without a business plan, without any marketing. Dave Werner, the founder of CrossFit North, the first affiliate. Talking to Box Pro Magazine, Werner recalled how Glassman’s first reaction to his using CrossFit as a name for his gym was, “No, no, no, I’m not taking any money from you.” From accidental beginnings, CrossFit grew to become the most influential force in strength and conditioning, and fitness training over the course of the last decade.
This is why, in the early days of CrossFit, it was touted as an open-source model for fitness training. Many of the first CrossFit affiliates began as garage gyms that evolved into the “boxes” that we see today all around the world. That is why, even to this day, the word community is often used as a way of referring to the followers and members of a CrossFit gym.
Breaking Muscle started around the time CrossFit was a handful of affiliates, before the rapid growth in CrossFit gyms that occurred in the early part of this decade. To be a little cliché about it, CrossFit was a breath of fresh air in a fitness industry that was moribund with almost no true innovation in training methodologies fluctuating between bodybuilding and aerobics with nothing much in between.
Greg Glassman should be recognized for taking a seemingly ragtag mix of ideas and putting them into a format that has ended up becoming the de facto standard group training in strength and conditioning. If it wasn’t for CrossFit, would we have seen the same interest in Olympic weightlifting, kettlebells, and now, gymnastics? Everything that went into a CrossFit training routine was already there before Glassman came along. However, he managed to do a number of things simultaneously that helped define a generation of coaches and trainers and changed the face of gym-going forever.
First, Glassman popularized a level of intensity and training that did not shy away from its intentions: to leave you utterly spent, as if you had been in the fight of your life, at the end of a short, intense session. The high-intensity interval training of CrossFit appealed to first responders, the military, fighters, and varsity athletes, all with a vested interest and desire to perform under enormous pressure.
Secondly, Glassman’s personality and presentation were a template for coaches and trainers who, up until he came along, couldn’t really point to as charismatic a guru, and one who managed to avoid creating a dogma for training routines while at the same time managing to stamp them with his brand. Because, at the end of the day, Glassman never told his coaches and trainers what they should do. He provided a framework, and he did provide example workouts every day on CrossFit’s website, but every affiliate was freestyling their own training programs.
Thirdly, Glassman was ruthless is protecting his brand, and promoting CrossFit without ever having to own anything other than the trademarks and licenses of his business. There was no liability, no actual product, no uniforms, no property or anything of substance that could drag the company down. There was only the CrossFit way and the myth of CrossFit, ending with the ultimate accolade of, Fittest on Earth, at the CrossFit Games.
CrossFit doesn’t have the same luster and appeal as it did at the beginning of the decade. It is growing internationally, but it has had its fair share of criticism in the US, and many affiliates have come and gone, never to be replaced. CrossFit has probably only ever managed to penetrate 10% of the gym going public. The average affiliate membership is over $100 a month compared to the average gym membership of $20 a month. It more resembles the martial arts studio model than a gym franchise business and as such demands a devoted, motivated coach/trainer/owner to work. But, all these things don’t matter when you consider how CrossFit’s vernacular has found its way into popular culture.
You look on social media these days and the influence of CrossFit cannot be underestimated in the number of people doing weightlifting, kettlebells, and handstand walks. Was there a burpee or a wall ball underground before CrossFit came along? Today, you can find functional fitness areas in increasingly more mainstream gyms, a direct result of the influence of CrossFit. Lifting platforms, pull up bars, and box jumps, and kettlebells, and barbells, lots of barbells.
Glassman and CrossFit redefined strength and conditioning. You are more likely to see people purse CrossFit-like exercise programs than bodybuilding. You will find local gyms that focus on weightlifting, and even when a small, box-type gym is not a CrossFit affiliate, you will find someone who started in CrossFit or was influenced by it.
Greg Glassman has defined fitness, strength and conditioning, and the way people go to the gym in the last decade. Whatever you may think about the organization that is CrossFit, or the man that Glassman is, you can never deny the influence both have had in this last decade. It has been unequaled since the seventies when Arnold shaped the growth of bodybuilding around the world.