Equal Opportunity Fitness

April 5, 2013

Russ Greene

CrossFit's rapid growth in performance and participation. 

"The 'CrossFit for the masses' approach will continue to forge unprecedented human performance. Keep watching."




At the 2008 CrossFit Games, the overall winner, Jason Khalipa, completed chest-to-bar Fran in 3:56 — just under four minutes.

2008's female champ, Caity Matter, finished the 90 reps of thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups in 6:58.

Not a single woman in 2008 completed the workout in less than five minutes, let alone four. Linda Leipper won the event with a time of 5:06.

Let's compare those performances to what we've already seen on 13.5.

On Wednesday night at the Open Live Announcement in Santa Cruz, Calif., Khalipa completed the equivalent of chest-to-bar Fran — with five more pounds on the thrusters — in less than four minutes, then kept going to accumulate 169 total reps of 100-lb. thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups.

Two-time Games champion, Rich Froning, met the four-minute time cap for a chest-to-bar Fran equivalent, then met it again at eight minutes, and kept going to rack up 226 total reps. 2012's fourth-place finisher, Scott Panchik, has already bested Froning with 233 total reps.

On the women's side, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet completed the equivalent of two chest-to-bar Frans in eight minutes, and kept going to complete 244 total reps of 65-lb. thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups. She not only went roughly 30 percent faster than every woman at the 2008 CrossFit Games, but she also completed the equivalent of two chest-to-bar Frans faster than a four-minute Fran pace overall.

One performance from 2008 compares favorably with today's elite. Chris Spealler completed chest-to-bar Fran in 3:01, 59 seconds below today's four-minute cutoff, and 28 seconds faster than the next closest competitor, Josh Everett. Spealler will surely attempt 13.5.

How will 2008's best compare to the new generation of CrossFit Games competitors?

One thing is clear: the CrossFit community has rapidly grown, in both performance and participation. In 2008, the CrossFit Games asked 287 of the world's fittest men and women to complete chest-to-bar Fran once — for time.

Just five years later, the CrossFit Games Open is asking nearly 138,000 registered competitors to complete the work equivalent of chest-to-bar Fran not once, but for an indefinite number of rounds.

Before the CrossFit Games existed, CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman once compared his open door model with the closed door model of another fitness program:

“The ... eliteness gimmick has produced a culture seriously handicapped in its ability to produce top tier performance, and their revealed data irrefutably supports that point. (Their best male performance is not a match for our best females in Santa Cruz alone.) The elitist attitude is directly and perfectly to blame. We've forged our best performers from a large pool of people given equal and ample opportunity to develop their fitness. Forged or screened by performance, not decided by authority. This egalitarian, merit based, model of performance development has economic advantage and manifests across all human activity ... The ‘wait on the front porch’ model is destined to yield CrossFit Lite while the ‘CrossFit for the masses’ approach will continue to forge unprecedented human performance. Keep watching.”

Six years later, the Open has dramatically broadened CrossFit's “large pool of people given equal and ample opportunity to develop their fitness,” even while it has raised the levels of performance to unprecedented heights.