Fun and Fitness in the Sun, Wodapalooza Draws Big Crowds
Wodapalooza Miami started in 2012, as a 1-day competition with 145 athletes, and has now become the world’s premier functional fitness festival. Spectators and competitors now travel from around the world for the four-day event every February. It’s the most highly-attended Sanctional of the CrossFit season and offers elite athletes a rich prize purse.
Being on the ground in Bayfront Park, the site of the event, it feels like more than that though. Here’s how a few of the spectators described the draw of Wodapalooza on Thursday:
- Katie Hanger, Affiliate Owner, CrossFit Parable: “WZA feels more like a destination, where, just like with training, there is a sense of arriving at the goal. With the scenery being beach, sun, friends, and barbells, it adds to the pure joy of making it to the exhale. All these elements become a sweet combination of pleasure and pain.
- Amanda Agostinelli, CrossFit Falls Church: “Everyone loves Miami — near the beach, night life, shopping…Most of us are suffering through winter during this time of year, so it’s a nice break.”
- Allie Updike, CrossFit Parable: “It is such a well-known event in the CrossFit community which gives everyone competing those butterflies of being on the big stage. We get to compete in the same arena as our favorite CrossFit athletes. It doesn’t get much better than competing, sunshine, and the ocean all in one.”
Fan favorites, the Buttery Bros. premiered their newest documentary “The Fittest” on Wednesday evening before the start of the competition at a Miami theatre packed with CrossFit enthusiasts. They have a big presence at the event and here’s how they described it:
- Heber Cannon: “WZA has gotten so popular, first because their elite, top-level competition, but then their attention to detail for the average person, scaled and adaptive athletes, as well as even the general spectator who can come and participate in the Gauntlet [a series of 4 workouts that spectators can sign up to complete on the competition floor]. It’s incredible during the day with the sun and when it drops, the bass drops and it turns into a nightclub where people are doing thrusters.”
- Marston Sawyers: “It’s the best environment [for a competition] because you’re in Miami Beach and you’re poppin’ the top, gettin’ hot, havin’ fun in the sun. It’s like a vacation.”
By the numbers: There’s no doubt that Wodapalooza has grown in popularity and participation. It’s the flagship event for Loud And Live, who will host five Sanctionals in total this season. According to Loud And Live media director, Kristen Chandler Toth, there are 2700 athletes competing in the event this year across all divisions, an increase of 750 from 2019. And Matthew O’Keefe, President of Loud And Live Sports, estimates that there will be approximately 40-45,000 spectators across all four days, an increase of as many as 10,000 from last year.
- Matthew O’Keefe: “The success and growth of WZA really has nothing to do with us, we’ve just provided a platform for the community to express themselves and they’re the real drivers. Whether it’s a judge, athlete, volunteer, or fan, this has become an event that they want to come to because of the energy and atmosphere they’ve cultivated over the years.”
The words of CrossFit Lorton affiliate owner, Hanna Hawkins, who is making her second trip the event, but first as a competitor, encapsulate O’Keefe’s sentiments perfectly:
- Hawkins: “When you step into the WZA park, you are in the presence of something so much greater than just strength. You are in the presence of thousands of others who have put in blood, sweat and tears to prove they are worthy of being on this stage. And when they are up there, it doesn’t matter if they are elite, intermediate or scaled. Everyone is out there showing there best, their dedication and their hard work. And although there are hundreds of gyms represented, suddenly we all stand as one community. The community of fitness.”