Ladies First - The Box

Ladies First

Not even Rich Froning Jr.’s shirtless magazine covers or back-to-back CrossFit Games victories can contend with what’s happening in CrossFit and the women’s field.
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CrossFit Camille Leblanc-Bazinet

Not even Rich Froning Jr.’s shirtless magazine covers or back-to-back CrossFit Games victories can contend with what’s happening in CrossFit and the women’s field. This “ladies first” phenomenon isn’t just about the “Sport of Fitness,” either. Gyms all over the world, including mine, have women’s-only programs. Entire brands, websites and blogs are devoted to women and their journey into strength and conditioning. And, most fans can name more female Games competitors than males.

Heck, ESPN’s continual coverage of past CrossFit Games includes three times the number of women’s events than men’s. Sure, there’s room for an entire debate on sexism and mainstream media here, but conversely, the ladies in this sport are blazing a trail that has much more of strong a foundation than to shrug it off as an exercise-flavored “sex sells” scenario. These ladies are flipping the script on gender roles and empowering a population.

My two cents? Bring it! Open the floodgates.

This type of movement can do the whole country a bit of good. At the end of the day, men and women can watch Lindsey Valenzuela throw 200 pounds over her head and walk away inspired. It’s more difficult for someone like Neal Maddox or Rich Froning to carry the flag of inspiration for the female population. Recognizing this dynamic as anything other than opportunity is a mistake, in my opinion.

If you look at all the different areas in which CrossFit has been a catalyst, this movement for women is right up there with the best of them, if you ask me. Sure, millions of new people are injecting the sport of weightlifting with new life. Of course, this subculture of nutrition skeptics may be the early beginnings of big change — or at least big resistance — to corporate food and drug influence. However, every time a young girl is inspired to be strong, independent and confident because of this community, the impact is just as significant.

No one knows what the future holds for CrossFit and this community. I can say with conviction, though, that I’d love to have a daughter one day who wanted to grow up and “lift like Lindsey.”

 — Logan Gelbrich