crossFit athlete dripping sweat after a hard workout training WOD
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What is CrossFit? The sport explained in 10 powerful photos

CrossFit is becoming more and more well known. Some of you might wonder, ‘what is this discipline exactly?’ Jump into my world as I share my top 10 photos to explain the sport of fitness!


As the founder, Greg Glassman wrote: “The CrossFit prescription is constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements [ … that are] supported only by measurable, observable and repeatable facts.”

Specializing in not specializing

In CrossFit, your overall fitness is not determined by your muscles, your physical aspect or how much weight you can lift (although these are two aspects that naturally tend to develop when you do this type of training). It’s measured by how efficient you are not only at one or two … but 10 general physical skills (endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy). The more proficient you are in those competencies, the fitter you are considered. A CrossFitter does basically an equal part of gymnastics, Olympic Weightlifting and cardio (yeah, just that!).

As a photographer who often photographs CrossFit, these 10 skills are at the core of what I try to capture, as they help to define the essence of the sport.

1. Endurance

Is the ability of body systems to gather, process and deliver oxygen. Workout examples: Running/rowing/biking.

CrossFit athlete Stephane Cossette training running in the grass
ENDURANCE. CrossFit athlete Stephane Cossette running during a run-swim-run endurance type of workout. I made this shot — and this amazing stormy sky — in the summer of 2018.

2. Stamina

Is the ability of the body’s systems to process, deliver, store and utilize energy. Exercise example: A high-repetition movement (like pushups).

CrossFit Games athlete Alex Vigneault dripping sweat doing a push up during Murph workout
STAMINA. Three times Canadian CrossFit Games athlete Alex Vigneault dripping sweat during a WOD (Workout Of The Day) called “Murph.” Murph is the perfect example of stamina efficiency with a very high repetition workout that has to be completed as fast as possible. The WOD is a 1-mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1-mile. Oh, and everything is completed with a weighted vest.

3. Strength

Is the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force. Exercise example: A heavy dead lift.

2018 CrissFit Games athlete Alexandre Caron does a heavy deadlift dripping sweat
STRENGTH. CrossFit Games athlete Alexandre Caron does a set of heavy dead lifts during the 2018 Open qualifications.


4. Flexibility

Is the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint. Exercise example: A squat below parallel.

Olympic weightlifter Maxim Lebrun does a heavy squat ass to the grass.
FLEXIBILITY. Olympic Weightlifting and former CrossFit — athlete Maxim Lebrun is doing a very low squat. (He had to work very hard on his mobility to be able to reach this rage of motion!)

5. Power

Is the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time. Exercise example: Olympic Weightlifting movements like the Snatch and Clean & Jerk.

CrossFit athlete Jessica Cote-Beaudoin does a heavy clean and jerk in front of a crowd.
POWER. CrossFit athlete Jessica Côté-Beaudoin does a 1RM (one rep max) Clean & Jerk (an Olympic Weightlifting movement).

6. Speed

Is the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement. Exercise example: The sprint.

Four-time CrossFit Games athete Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault does assault bike intervals
SPEED. Four-time CrossFit Games athlete Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault doing some intense Assault Bike intervals.

7. Coordination

Is the ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement. Exercise example: Jump rope and double under.

COORDINATION. CrossFit athlete Philippe Boulanger doing Double Unders with a jump rope.

8. Agility

Is the ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another. Exercise example: Box jump and rope climb.

CrossFit athlete does a rope climb
AGILITY. CrossFit athlete Keven Morin doing a rope climb.

9. Balance

Is the ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base. Exercise example: Overhead squat and handstand walk.

CrossFit athlete Alice Guerin does handstand walk abs
BALANCE. CrossFit athlete and former gymnast Alice Guerin doing handstand walk.

10. Accuracy

Is the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity. Exercise example: Wallball.

ACCURACY. Once again, CrossFit Games athlete Alex Vigneault, this time doing a wall ball.

Some examples of the fittest athletes on earth over the past years are multiple time CrossFit Games champs Mathew Fraser and Rich Froning (on the gents side) and Tia-Clair Toomey and Katrin Davidsdottir on the ladies side.

If you’d like to witness the high-intensity action of the CrossFit Games, click here to access the live webcast of the event from Aug. 1-4, 2019. If you’d like to learn how to take great CrossFit pictures, head to this article to get my top tips!

CrossFit portfolio

All examples in this article are performance athletes with a highly committed training regimen. I wanted to illustrate the sport in that way because it shows well the high-intensity level that can be achieved at an elite level. Of course, CrossFit is scalable and accessible to everyone, from children to teenagers to men and women of all backgrounds. And as a final and friendly recommendation, you should really give it a try if you haven’t yet. Fun guaranteed!

Photography: ©Michèle Grenier

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