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CrossFit in Pop Culture

As CrossFit’s popularity grows, its impact on our culture also grows. Is this a good thing or not?

When I started CrossFit training in 2010, it was not yet woven into the fabric of our pop culture. In the past five years, it now seems like elements of CrossFit are everywhere.

I’m so ingrained into the community that I didn’t immediately recognize how big of an impact CrossFit has made in pop culture. As someone who writes about CrossFit each week, trains and coaches at an affiliate, interviews CrossFit Games athletes, and studies results and statistics of their performances, I find it difficult to discern what I’m seeing all the time for my work life and what aspects of it have seeped into people’s daily lives.

Last week I saw an ad for a globo gym, and in it, the people were training in a group doing kettlebell swings. Obviously, CrossFit did not invent kettlebell swings, but you didn’t often see them in a regular gym. That’s when it struck me that advertising in 2010 would be very unlikely to feature this type of movement, especially showing a group of people doing it. Back then, globo gyms did everything they could to beat down the concepts of CrossFit-like classes. Now it seems like they are embracing it as a way to draw people into their facility.

Likewise, I was at a mall this weekend and one of the major shoe stores had posters up, featuring athletes jumping rope, running outside in groups and flipping tires. Another store had pictures and displays of people doing box jumps and squatting. These movements didn’t just appear one day when coach Greg Glassman waved a magic wand and made it so, but they weren’t exactly commonplace in gyms.

In recent years, they’ve started to permeate the fitness culture and pop culture. Television shows like The Biggest Loser feature it. Bob Harper, one of the show’s trainers, is not only a big advocate for CrossFit, but he’s also a CFL-1 trainer.


While many think this is a great development, there’s a debate over CrossFit’s growing appeal to the masses. The old-school crowd leans toward the belief that CrossFit should still be an underground movement that only a select few are privy to, done in dark garages surrounded by a handful of other like-minded disciples. The new school of thought is simply, the more the merrier.

I’d have to say that I enjoy seeing CrossFit changing the lives of people more than I worry about it becoming too commercial and, therefore, watered down in some way. I can remember how cool I thought it was the first time I saw a CrossFit-specific commercial and when I saw pairs of inov-8 shoes and Reebok Nanos sold in a store in my town. I think that impact of CrossFit is at a place now where it spreads well beyond the borders of community, and for me, that’s a huge positive.

As we see CrossFit portrayed in both good and bad lights more often in our culture and media, it’s important to remember that growth is a big part of CrossFit continuing to spread the message of fitness.

What are your thoughts about CrossFit as a blooming segment of our popular culture?

Stay on the Grind.