Why women are choosing CrossFit as the perfect lifestyle to achieve their goals
Burpees, Box Jumps, Wall Balls, chalk up, no rep, AMRAP, WOD, Thrusters. And isn't a BOX something you put stuff in?
Welcome to the world of CrossFit - a fresh, authentic lifestyle that's adored by women worldwide and underpinned by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition.
Around the world, women are finding CrossFit to be an incredibly effective way to build their strength, fitness and confidence. And when it comes to equality, women CrossFitters certainly expect an equal world. Mastering physical and mental excellence is a non gender-specific arena. Personal bests, elite performance, pushing beyond limits - women are certainly striving forward at an incredible pace.
So let's consider some of the women CrossFit stars from around the world - and hear from further female CrossFitters about their motivations, experiences of inequality, and how their passion and perception drive them on.
From newbies and novices - to champions and the elite
Tia-Clair Toomey, Sara Sigmundsdóttir, Kristin Holte, Tasia Percevecz, Jamie Simmonds, Kara Pearce - there are a lot of big names in the sport, yet CrossFit is just as welcoming to the sheer beginners - and that's part of its beauty.
Aspiring to the elite performance of the CrossFit champions sets a high bar - and the CrossFit Open that sees sheer stamina and ultimate strength is an incredibly major competitive sporting event followed by sell-out audiences and massive Instagram fans.
Image: Tia-Clair Toomey, Sara Sigmundsdóttir, Katelin Van Zyl at Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival, Miami USA, 2020
Equally welcoming is the strong, collegial CrossFit culture that values team work, commitment and tenacity. Cross Fitters seem to have an inherent ability to remain incredibly supportive and motivating for each other. And the varied workouts mean everyone can find their forte.
Plus, CrossFit welcomes great diversity in its membership - from university students to grandmothers, from career break moms to busy professionals - participants are truly a wide mix.
Combining motherhood, business and CrossFit
It is always inspiring to see women achieving on many fronts and Australia's Katelin Van Zyl is one such woman. An ambitious athlete, her journey through motherhood and business is impressive.
Not only has Katelin previously been ranked second Fittest Woman in Australia - behind Tia-Clair Toomey - in 2019 and 31st worldwide, all while raising her toddler and running two gyms with her husband and business partners in sunny Queensland.
Image: Katelin Van Zyl with her toddler son in one of her gyms, CrossFit Urban
Katelin was a former Australian Hockeyroo, a sport she played for 22 years, so enjoying competitive sport is very familiar to her.
"Never ever give up with whatever dream you've got, whether it's fitness or any kind of sport don't give up, ever," says Katelin.
Image: Australian CrossFit Championship
Female Cross Fitters told they're 'too muscular' for a woman
Performance tracking app, BoxMate, surveyed over 500 women regularly taking part in CrossFit and Weight Training to find out their views on how muscular women are perceived.
94% of the women surveyed said CrossFit and lifting made them feel empowered, strong and more body confident. 77% of the women felt that when training in their gym/box, they can be competitive with males without judgement. The equal feeling from inside a CrossFit box where everyone can train on a level playing field is key.
BoxMate believes there needs to be a societal shift in perception around ‘femininity’ equating with being petite and instead, simultaneously, being feminine should also refer to being strong, muscular and powerful.
To counter stereotypes and bias around muscle not being 'feminine' or ‘attractive’ on a woman, BoxMate developed a video featuring women who have been told that their features and body shape are too muscular. The video forms part of BoxMate's International Women's Day #EachforEqual campaign and reinforces that strong is beautiful.
"Why would you not want to have big muscles"
99% of the women surveyed felt there is a need for more education from an early age about the positive impact weight training has for our bodies. They also cited a need for more positive female role models showing muscle and strength as desirable qualities. CrossFit women appreciate that it is good for women to pursue competitive sport without fear of their body image becoming ‘too much’ of anything. Their bodies allow and power them to do what they enjoy - and that’s their goal.
Strength comes in all shapes and sizes
Founder of BoxMate, Danny Redfern, said: "Fitness and strength is something to be celebrated and being strong is beautiful. Strength comes in all shapes and sizes - health, fitness, and feeling good about yourself should be the goal for all of us ... Let’s stop it being OK to tell a woman that she is ‘too muscly’ and instead, celebrate everyone equally for wanting to push and challenge themselves. Let’s ditch the stereotypes that ‘muscles are just for men’ and celebrate women for what they can do, and not what they look like.’
With over 15,000 facilities across more than 160 countries worlwide, Cross Fit communities continue to attract women of all backgrounds. Many stories, common goals.