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t has been accused of being CrossFit is the new fitness craze tha it, and surviving rather well ing do le op pe the ets me ort Sp er. kill a

Christopher Nolan, © CrossFit, Inc. 2013


ich Froning and Samantha Briggs are officially the fittest man and woman on earth. They won the right to such lofty titles at the CrossFit Games in California this summer – an annual event best described as the Olympic Games of exercising. More than 25,000 spectators flocked to the University of California’s StubHub Center in July, to watch 47 men and 45 women lift, press, sprint, swim, row and burpee their way through four days of challenges – including one with the intriguing title of Naughty Nancy. The ultimate aim? To find ’the Fittest on Earth’. “It’s obviously a nice title to have,” says Yorkshire-born Briggs (pictured, right), who took a break from a career as a firefighter to train for the Games. “And we have proved we’re the fittest CrossFitters. But whether you can say we’re the fittest on earth, I don’t know.” Froning is more comfortable with the ’fittest on earth’ label, having won his third title in a row this year – an achievement that in the CrossFit world marks him out as something of a legend. He has amassed more than

100,000 followers on Twitter, and one of his main competitors famously has “What’s Rich doing?” scrawled across the wall of his garage gym to keep himself motivated. He might be thought of as some kind of superhuman, but Froning insists he rarely feels like one. “I’m sore every single day of my life,” he says with a wry smile. “If I get up in the middle of the night to pee or something like that, literally everything hurts and it’s like: ’Oh man, how’s tomorrow gonna feel?’”

BuRpee Boom

CrossFit has exploded in popularity across the US since its founder, ’Coach’ Greg Glassman started uploading his notoriously tough interval workouts to the website,, in 2001. And now the rest of the world is following, with more than 7,400 official CrossFit affiliates popping up worldwide, including 259 in the UK. Officially described as “constantly varied, functional movements performed at relatively high intensity”, in plain English CrossFit can be explained as a mishmash of Olympic

lifting, gymnastics and bodyweight exercises designed to create a versatile athlete. “You can outlift a runner and you can outrun a lifter,” is how Froning defines a typical CrossFit follower. “Instead of being the best at something and the worst at something else, you’re good across all domains at a bunch of skills. As long as its multijoint and you’re moving your body through space, it’s CrossFit.” CrossFit’s rapid explosion in popularity (and profits – the company’s reported revenue in 2012 was $50m) has led to an inevitable backlash. “Can CrossFit Kill You?” asked the New York Post last month, while The Huffington Post published an article titled “CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret”. In the latter, Eric Robertson, assistant professor of physical therapy at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, accuses the regime of pushing people so hard that many end up with rhabdomyolysis. ‘Rhabdo’ is a condition that occurs when muscle cells break down, leaking all sorts of nasties into the bloodstream – including the protein myoglobin, which can cause kidney failure. >

Saturday CrossFit invitational 2013: team Usa v team World | tempelhoF airport, Berlin | British eUrosport 1 6pm

| October 18 2013 | 27

Sport magazine 327  
Sport magazine 327  

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