When Ari Hurst first found CrossFit in 2011 after a friend encouraged her to try, she was resistant. “It was so different from the elliptical regimen I was used to,” explained Hurst, a former Division 1 cheerleader at the University of Houston.
What drew her in was the camaraderie and community as much as the workouts that challenged her both physically and mentally. It quickly “strengthened my meaning of health,” Hurst explained and greatly influenced the trajectory of her career.
And what started as just a WOD quickly turned into a passion for fitness and a budding sports career that led her to become one of the most influential CrossFit insiders you’ve probably never heard of.
Before joining CrossFit five months ago as their new partnerships manager, Hurst completed stints at Tough Mudder and Reebok as their Global Brand Marketing Manager, where she spent nearly four years managing marquee Reebok athletes like Annie Thorisdottir, Patrick Vellner, Rich Froning and Brent Fikowski, and helped the company recruit a new wave of faces to represent the global brand.
Back in 2019, she spearheaded production of the live Open 20.5 announcement, featuring Thorisdottir vs Vellner. She also led Reebok’s CrossFit community-wide activations like the famous fit barge at the CrossFit Games, community giveaways, gatherings and on-site events like at the Mayhem Sanctional.
She is also outspoken about her Type-1 Diabetes, regularly sharing her journey and offering a hopeful perspective that inspires other diabetics to thrive and not be defeated by the disease.
“At times I wonder what life would be like without diabetes, but at the same time I wouldn’t be me without it,” Hurst wrote last year on Reebok’s fitness blog. “At times it can be overwhelming but avoiding informed decisions about your health and having a fixed mindset won’t get you anywhere. Having a growth mindset means adapting to change, being resilient and learning from failure. These are the exact tools I use every day.”
Q&A with Hurst:
How do you take your coffee?
Hurst: “Always iced. With oat milk.”
Tell us about your career journey to get where you are now:
Hurst: “It wasn’t always glamorous. I hated my first job out of college, but (it helped me realize) I wouldn’t work for brands I didn’t believe in. As I was looking for direction, I knew I was passionate about two things: fitness and marketing, which is what led me to work for Tough Mudder and then Reebok. At Reebok, I managed the global roster of CrossFit athletes, supported the marketing effort for the Nano footwear franchise and planned activations for CrossFit events, such as Semifinals. These brands became part of my identity, which is why it never felt like work. I’m grateful to bring this same energy into my role at CrossFit, which is the lifestyle that transformed my life personally and professionally.”
What is the best and most challenging part of your job?
Hurst: “Building strong relationships is key when it comes to partnerships. Understanding priorities, being proactive and establishing trust is challenging, but rewarding when powerful forces come together to achieve a common goal.”
What’s your advice for up-and-coming women looking to pursue a career in the fitness space?
Hurst: “If you’re in a job, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out new projects or opportunities that will help you grow. If you’re looking for a job, follow your passion, know your strengths and use your network.”