Everyone does CrossFit for different reasons. They want to get in better shape. They want to be able to pick up their grandkids when they’re 80. They want to be crowned the Fittest on Earth. The execution varies only by degree, not kind — Elite athletes can do weighted push-ups and squat with a heavy barbell; 91-year-old Joanne can do push-ups from an elevated bar and squat to a bench. But what doesn’t vary is the spirit of competition — an ethos that values courage and effort.
CrossFit has been called “The Sport of Fitness,” and the phrase might make you think of athletes such as Tia-Clair Toomey or Mat Fraser. But the Sport of Fitness isn’t just expressed on the CrossFit Games floor. It’s practiced every day in ordinary workouts performed in CrossFit affiliates around the world. And just like the Games, it’s practiced by those who always seek to improve themselves.
There are 30 seconds on the clock, and with five more overhead squats to go, you begin to pick up the pace. If you can finish the five reps, you’ll beat your score from last year. Your heart rate accelerates; your legs are shaking. Can you do it?
You look to your right, and the member next to you is fighting till the end. Yes, you can do it. You hear the coach shout, “3, 2, 1—” and with everything you’ve got, you descend into the final squat and stand the bar back up just as the clock runs out.
This is sport.
Humans are competitive by nature. Life is the “survival of the fittest,” favoring those who best adapt. And as CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman, once said, people “will die for points.”
CrossFit’s results are measurable, observable, and repeatable, so members can record their workout scores, develop a baseline for their work capacity, and track which direction their fitness is going. We make note of our times, weights, and reps, so when a workout or lift is retested, we can see how much fitter we’ve become over time.
We write our scores on the whiteboard for all to see — but the accountability that matters most is accountability to self. Every time we add more weight to the bar or do one more rep when our mind tells us to quit, we’re in competition with ourselves to see just how fit we can get. How much better we can be today than we were yesterday.
Everyone starts CrossFit by first learning mechanics, which is described as “the method to success for completion of a movement.” Starting with mechanics allows us to develop a strong foundation as an athlete. Once that foundation is established, we test our ability to maintain our mechanics consistently. And once we can consistently execute the mechanics correctly, we add intensity. This trajectory — mechanics, consistency, and then intensity — is what allows us to continually advance our fitness safely, effectively, and efficiently over the long term.
Without intensity — relative intensity based on our individual physical and psychological tolerances — CrossFit just wouldn’t work. But let’s face it, intensity hurts. So where do we get the motivation to consistently do something that is hard? That is where the community — and competition — comes in.
“We’ve learned that harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition, and fun of sport or game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means,” Glassman said.
Competition within a group setting increases effort. What if we challenged you to do a CrossFit workout alone in your garage, then repeat it surrounded by a class of 12 athletes racing against the same clock? Would you fight to get one more pull-up in the final two seconds when you’re alone? Would you push yourself to pick up the wall ball and throw it once more when you’re so out of breath you can barely stand? Glassman also said, “We give more of ourselves in the presence of others,” and for most, it takes a community to push ourselves to our limits.
“Within competition … it’s common for an athlete to discover they can jump back on the bar sooner, finish a set without taking a break, or speed up in the final lap.” “Each time this happens, it unlocks a new level of training, which equates to better results over time.”
It is easy to let your fitness fall flat without a motivator. But when your coach is counting on you to show up for class, when you are counting on yourself to beat your previous score, when the community is cheering for your final 10 reps, it’s hard to quit. Competition is what drives us to persevere.
Some of the best expressions of sport in CrossFit are celebrated once a year during the CrossFit Games Open. This three-week worldwide competition is a way to test your fitness against your previous scores, the members at your affiliate, or against athletes from around the world. Most importantly, the Open provides a sporting event for athletes 14 and up to participate in every year for the rest of their lives.
For athletes who strive to compete against other CrossFit athletes, the CrossFit Games are world-renowned as the definitive test of fitness and are known as the ultimate proving grounds for the Fittest on Earth™.
Men and women, adaptive athletes, and peer groups that range from 14 to 65+ have the opportunity to formally compete in the Sport of Fitness. The Open is the first stage of the CrossFit Games. Afterward, the pool of athletes is whittled down through the Quarterfinals and Semifinals before ultimately being tested at the CrossFit Games, where we determine the Fittest on Earth.
But competition in CrossFit isn’t limited to the competition floor. We compete against ourselves and each other in the gym, in our garages, wherever there is a clock and room to move every day. And it’s all in the interest of improving and maintaining fitness over a lifetime.
Because CrossFit isn’t just the Sport of Fitness. It’s your Sport for Life.