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What's special about the CrossFit community? Not only does it foster authenticity, humility, respect, belonging, and camaraderie within each member of the CrossFit affiliate, but these attributes are spread in boxes across the globe.
Three gyms in Spain have exemplified the true essence of the CrossFit community.
Full CrossFit, Wezone CrossFit, and CrossFit Coraje are powerhouses in their communities. Their beginnings were developed with the goal of changing lives, and they have been instrumental in spreading CrossFit throughout the country.
In 2022, these three affiliates had the most Open registrations in Spain. This year, they will help kick off the first week of the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Open.
The Evolution of CrossFit in Spain
CrossFit has grown enormously over the last five to six years in Spain. While the United States saw a boom 10 years ago, Spain is about five years behind.
"It's still in that early, romantic phase," Wezone CrossFit head coach Jennifer Lopez (CF-L3) said. "The settling will come soon."
In its early stages, not many knew about CrossFit in Spain. Full CrossFit, Wezone CrossFit, and CrossFit Coraje set out to change that.
Uwe Henningsmeyer found something special in the CrossFit methodology. He loved the variations of the workouts and how they challenged him every day.
After two years, he decided to dive deeper into CrossFit at the Level 1 Certificate Course in March 2014. Upon the completion of his course, Henningsmeyer decided to open an affiliate with his friend-turned-business partner that same year to spread the new-found passion he discovered for CrossFit.
Full CrossFit opened in the small town of Benimaclet in Valencia, Spain. At the time, no one knew of CrossFit in Benimaclet, and the team made it their mission to introduce it to the community.
According to the Full CrossFit website, they were "convinced in the idea that opening a box means contributing a grain of sand that will make more people know about it every day."
Since then, the community at Full CrossFit began to grow rapidly, convincing Henningsmeyer to open a second facility just so they could hold all of their members in one space during the CrossFit Games Open, an important time of year for the affiliate. This new location was named "La Patacona" and is located by the beach in Alboraya, Valencia.
Recently, Full CrossFit has added a third affiliate in Madrid.
La Patacona | Photo courtesy of Full CrossFit
In late 2019, a group of investors who all had a passion for CrossFit pooled their "fun money" together to open two locations of Wezone CrossFit. Since then, the affiliate has grown into six locations across Madrid.
Although the Wezone community is divided into six smaller boxes, they are all part of one large Wezone community.
"A lot of people find their home here," Lopez said.
As the head coach, Lopez found the special opportunity to see people changing their lives and helping them see their true potential. The members at Wezone have exemplified how influential the CrossFit community can be when overcoming challenges.
"So often we don't see it (our potential) until someone shows us," Lopez said.
In Spanish, "coraje" means "courage." That is what CrossFit Coraje fosters within their affiliate. Each member who walks into their doors overcomes their fears and shows strength in the face of pain.
Affiliate owners Sandra Hernández and Francisco Ruiz were both involved in the fitness industry before CrossFit. Ruiz had experience as a fitness trainer, and Hernández was a part of the commercial and management side.
As CrossFit began to develop in Spain, they fell in love with the methodology. They believed the community it attracted helped them take bigger leaps in the fitness world.
So the duo decided they wanted to create their "perfect" CrossFit gym. CrossFit Coraje opened in 2018 in the south of Madrid, Spain, with 40 initial members. In five years, the affiliate has maxed out its members and tripled the size of its space.
Photo courtesy of CrossFit Coraje
"It has given us the opportunity to open our doors to the area around us — for anyone. It doesn't matter their age. It doesn't matter their ability," Hernández said.
As an affiliate owner, Hernández knows how important CrossFit is to its members and therefore understands the responsibility of the job, whether it's interacting with a member or monitoring a team of coaches. It also became her responsibility to share CrossFit with the entire community of Madrid.
"You have people's health in your hands," Hernández said. "And that's a very important responsibility."
CrossFit Coraje Staff | Photo courtesy of CrossFit Coraje
The CrossFit Games Open — A Special Time of Year
Last year, Full CrossFit had the most members sign up for the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games Open out of all CrossFit affiliates in the world. They had 383 members register.
Coming from a love for sports, Henningsmeyer finds value in the CrossFit Open and convinces his members to join every year. But this isn't a gym filled with competitive CrossFit Games athletes. What Henningsmeyer finds special about Full CrossFit is how it's filled with "normal people."
"It's really incredible to me that normal people participate in the Open at Full CrossFit," Henningsmeyer said. "They think initially they can't do it, but then they realize the Open can be for anyone."
For Henningsmeyer, convincing his members to join in on the fun is like a domino effect. If he can get the members with the lowest probability to sign up, the rest of the gym will follow suit.
"We create a microclimate of, 'If I'm doing it, you have to do it too,'" he said.
CrossFit Wezone PAC, one of the six Wezone affiliates, came in a close second to Full CrossFit, having 372 members sign up for the 2022 Open.
In the five months leading up to the Open, the affiliate begins to round up its members and get them excited about the online competition. They do head-to-head workouts every Friday between coaches and athletes, as well as hold weekly Open workouts from past years so members can get a taste of what it would be like to compete in the Open.
"The magic of the Open never goes away because of those first moments that you see people achieve something," Lopez said.
She recalls one member who could barely hold on to the pull-up bar. When the Open came, the coaches spent five minutes trying to get her to do her first pull-up. She then proceeded to do three. Now, she is doing bar muscle-ups.
CrossFit Coraje had the sixth-most members signed up for the 2022 Open worldwide at 247.
For CrossFit Coraje, the Open is incorporated into their community year-round. They prepare their members, so they are ready for the feeling of the Open by holding different Open-style events throughout the year.
In the weeks leading up, the affiliate will hold simulations so it feels like just another day to them when it arrives.
"The Open is one of the major parts of the box, and it's the party of the year," Hernández said.
The 23.1 Live Announcement
Alongside CrossFit Games athletes Laura Horvath, Gabriela Migala, Lazar Đukić, and Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson, one athlete from each of these affiliates will be some of the first to throw down in Open Test 23.1 during the community showdown.
These athletes will have the opportunity to represent their affiliates and the country of Spain on the big stage at the Caja Mágica Stadium 3.
Full CrossFit: Luis Fernandez
Luis Fernandez is a CrossFit Seminar Staff trainer, Full CrossFit's head coach, and the affiliate owner's "right-hand man."
Wezone CrossFit: Carlos Del Arco Troncoso
Carlos Del Arco Troncoso is in charge of the business side of the Wezone affiliates. He qualified and competed in his first Individual Quarterfinal in 2021.
CrossFit Coraje: Antonio Sanchez Carrascosa
Antonio Sanchez Carrascosa is well-known in the CrossFit space in Spain. Hernández described him as a person who embodies courage and will be a great representation of CrossFit Coraje on the competition floor.
Get ready for the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Open. Don't miss the live announcement of Open Test 23.1 in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 16.
Have you registered yet? There's still time to join in on the fun.
REGISTER FOR THE 2023 OPEN
HOW TO WATCH THE OPEN
FIND AN AFFILIATE NEAR YOU
Cover photo designed by Lindsey Arellano
Article translated into Spanish by Daisy Lennox