Inspired by Blair Morrison’s AnywhereFit, five English CrossFitters recently started an affiliate focusing on outdoor workouts.
CrossFit OTB, or Outside the Box, has embraced training outdoors since opening in Manchester, England in July.
The five founders — Oli Barnes, Kyle Fyffe, Nick Jeffs, Craig Massey and Paul Ramage — have taken CrossFit outside since Massey and Morrison met at Reebok CrossFit 3D in April 2010.
“After meeting Blair and training with him, I checked out his Anywherefit blog and found it inspiring,” Massey says. “It made me think about how we could adapt some of our own CrossFit training to be done outside. And from then, Oli Barnes and I started training outside in different environments once or twice a week, and soon after, the rest of the OTB team started to join us.”
The five take training seriously. Massey used to be a semi-professional soccer player and Ramage plays rugby. Through sports, their love of fitness developed. Their initial interest in CrossFit was prompted by the hope of improving their fitness for sport-specific reasons. Now, CrossFit is their main focus.
What makes training outside exciting is there are no boundaries, Massey says.
“The outdoors throws up so many options and so many challenges,” he continues. “Even revisiting the same venue will be different each time with constantly varied weather, seasons and other conditions.”
Combining CrossFit, the outdoors and creativity, CrossFit OTB offers three workouts per week. On Monday and Wednesday they hold classes at the North Cestrian Grammar School playground in Cheshire. Each Saturday, the class is at a different location and the workout is dependent on the setting. So far, the venues have been varied: tree-filled woodlands, flat parks and the rugged terrain of the Snowdonia National Park.
“We are always on the lookout for new venues and generally we scout the venues the week before, assess what is available to us courtesy of nature and what other equipment we might need: ropes for tree climbs, rings, kettlebells, etc., and then plan the WOD accordingly,” Jeffs says. “We always ensure we have permission of the land owners or local authorities, and so far, we have had a great response.”
Each Saturday, the team arrives at the chosen location, pitches its OTB canopy, unloads the equipment and works out. Still in its infancy, the affiliate is increasing in members, who include people who have literally stumbled across workouts while jogging through the park.
Taking it one stage further, OTB is planning to hit the road every few months to take their members out for a full day of outdoor workouts.
“The first will be taking place along the north west of England coastline on the August Bank Holiday, where we will do WODs on beaches, through sand dunes and in coastal woodland,” Barnes says.
Despite the temperamental British weather, the OTB team is hopeful at least 90 percent of its workouts will be outside.
“The first trial OTB WOD took place in December,” Barnes says. “It was a crisp winter morning and 12 people turned up to be put through their paces in an idyllic woodland setting.”
The workout included running over foot bridges and up and down hills, jumping over park benches, muscle-ups on rings hanging from trees and press-ups atop inches of fallen leaves.
“It was truly invigorating and sealed our desire and commitment to continue,” Barnes adds.
Training outside isn’t a new concept. Much boot camp training takes place outdoors, but the OTB team believes it offers a better experience.
“We are a CrossFit affiliate and offer our clients the varied training that CrossFit offers,” Jeffs says. “It is always scalable and we ensure that newbies are given the important training they need before they join in the WODs.”