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Harnessing the power of an underground movement: CrossFit

March 17, 2009

cf-logo-main1Word-of-mouth today is much more than it used to be, thanks to the Internet. Today, getting just a few good recommendations based on word-of-mouth can result in thousands of responses if those recommendations are put on the Internet in the right place, at the right time, and by the right people. Word-of-mouth can result in underground movements that spread like wildfire once the word gets out. I largely see CrossFit as fitting into that category.

I only really learned about CrossFit about a year ago, but it was a couple of years before that when my husband started telling me that many of his co-workers were trying to get him to start doing CrossFit. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program, that, at that time, was mostly known as being used by military special ops units, elite athletes, and police academies.

A lot of his buddies at his work were doing it, and liked it because it is an extremely intense and effective workout that constantly challenges your body by varying the exercises (lifting and aerobic) on a daily basis, and generally does not take a lot of time to do (most of his workouts can be done in 30 minutes or less).

crossfitctHe looked into it at the time, but didn’t really get serious about it until maybe a year or so later, after he had heard even more about it, taken the time to research it on the Internet, and finally coordinated his workout time with one of the guys who had been doing CrossFit the longest. He loved it so much that within two months we had almost a complete CrossFit gym in our garage.

In that span of a year or so my husband had continued to hear about the benefits of CrossFit as well as personally see the results in his co-workers. He also had time to really start looking at the breakdown of exercises, the core elements of the program, as well as the philosophy.

The main place he got information was the official CrossFit Web site, which has hundreds of videos on the different exercises, and instructions on proper technique and form. There are discussion boards and every day the new workout of the day (or WOD) is posted. To the WOD post, people respond with their personal results, and it isn’t unusual to see 700 or more posts to one single workout.

There are CrossFit gyms all across the country, hundreds of which each have their own Web sites with even more content available to the CrossFit athlete. I can singlehandedly attest to the fact that there are literally hundreds of hours of free video available to anyone who is interested in CrossFit.

crossfit-gamesMy point in all of this is that you don’t see CrossFit advertisements on TV, in the newspaper, in magazines, or online. It is largely an underground movement that has really spread by word-of-mouth amongst those in the CrossFit community and as a result, has rapidly risen in popularity within the past few years.

CrossFit has a strong presence on Twitter, thanks to avid CrossFit athletes, and has one of the more in-depth group sites I have seen on Facebook. There is a high level of participation by the more than 12,000 members of the Facebook group, and CrossFit does a good job of keeping an open forum that creates a sense of community for discussions, comparing workout notes and results, videos, and even suggested play lists.

I really believe that the sense of community is what keeps CrossFit athletes loyal, and attracts people to the program. The workouts are grueling, as I can personally attest to, but they are for people who are serious about executing a well-rounded fitness routine as part of living a healthy lifestyle. In many of the videos you will see a crowd of fellow athletes cheering one of their own on as they attempt to record a personal best, a sentiment that appears over and over again in videos posted from the gyms all across the country.

In the ever far-reaching span of the Internet, people are still looking for a sense of community and common ground from which they can build relationships. The CrossFit community, in so many ways from their Web sites to their seminars, fosters that feeling for many, and as the community spreads the word, CrossFit will only continue to grow.

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