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CrossFit Games: A Link to the Past

Looking back at CrossFit's beginnings to move forward.

Photo courtesy of The CrossFit Games


We have all been given a gift: perspective. Over the past month, the CrossFit Games website and CrossFit via YouTube have been providing us with some treasures by posting all the video coverage from the 2009 through 2013 CrossFit Games broadcasts. These have been fascinating and educational.

Not everyone reading this (even me) even knew what CrossFit was during these early forays into the Games. I started CrossFit in 2010, so while I had seen a clip here or there and I had watched the famed Every Second Counts, I had really never seen the early versions of the Games we know today.

The Ranch in Aromas, California, was an incredible space. If you’ve only been exposed to the high production value of the modern Games through viewing it on ESPN, the Ranch might as well have been located on a different planet. These competitions were about the grit and the dirt of open-air competing and learning things as they were thrown your way. You didn’t see athletes out there reppin’ their sponsors. You didn’t see men and women who had focused a majority of their days training specific lifts and tailoring their diets with micronutrient and macronutrient balances. In those days, you just did the workouts and maybe dabbled in some local programming.

I’d venture to say that if there were local events, they were nothing like the local fitness comps you’d see today.

There are some familiar faces in these videos: Chris Spealler, Annie Thorisdottir, Tommy Hackenbruck, Stacie Tovar, Kyle Kasperbauer, Rich Froning, Graham Holmberg, Jason Khalipa and others. But to watch footage of the “snatch” event and hear Hackenbruck talk about a 20-pound PR … at 155 pounds is insane by today’s standards.

Even in some of the later videos, like the ones in which they moved things to Home Depot Center (as it was known at the time), you could see the female athletes struggling with a 65-pound overhead squat and the male competitors having to break up low rep sets of toes-to-bar and step back to regroup while doing power snatches at 95 pounds. These weights and movements could be seen at any local event, any weekend of the year … in the scaled division.

But at that time, what they did was something to behold. And it still is.

I’m sure in those days, thinking that a CrossFit Games athlete could clean-and-jerk 400 pounds or snatch 315 pounds or deadlift 600 pounds would have gotten you laughed off the gravel parking lot of the Ranch. But today, these eye-popping numbers are again becoming commonplace.

Where the Games goes from here, only time will tell. My advice would be, instead of always wondering what’s next, spend some time appreciating what has been.

Have you taken time to watch the archived footage? What did you think? What was surprising? Let us know in the comments.

Stay on the Grind.