The 2020 Games Bring Affiliate Communities Back Together

October 28, 2020 by
Photo courtesy of CrossFit LLC.
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Earlier this year, COVID mandates in states across the US closed down gyms and consequently put a moratorium on the community events that make being a part of the CrossFit community such a unique experience. And then, as if the separation from our gym communities wasn’t enough, the number one community event of the year, The CrossFit Games, was moved online and spectators prohibited from attending in person.

One big thing: Despite the mandates that separated the community, and as COVID restrictions eased up just in time for the Games to take place, the CrossFit community came back together in a way like never before. Over the course of the finals, this past weekend, over 11 million viewers tuned in to watch the Fittest on Earth compete. Many gathered at affiliates across the country to celebrate fitness and gym members long separated by COVID joined back together.

  • CrossFit Gambit Head Coach and former Games athlete, Kelley Jackson, put together a full watch party complete with a cookout and basketball in her 20,000 square foot facility.
  • “We prepared by making sure we had multiple areas to hang out and watch the Games and still stay distanced. We also had a plan B ready in case more people showed up than expected,” she said. 
  • “But with a few folks just stopping by to say hello and everyone else doing a great job of staying masked and distanced we didn’t have anything to worry about,” added Jackson.
  • Further across the country, Britney Thompson of CrossFit ReFuel in Enid, Oklahoma gathered members to watch the Games in a fashion that only CrossFitters could consider fun.
  • “We gathered at someone‘s shop and loaded up our rowers and completed a Marathon Row as a collective team…Nothing fancy, just a bunch of athletes hanging out!”

Gearing up for the Open: It was officially announced over the weekend that the Open would return to February in 2021 and many affiliate owners saw the Games as the perfect time to introduce newer members to the sport of fitness and get them excited about what was to come in February.

  • “We realized that after COVID, we had an influx of members that really didn’t even know what the CrossFit Games were!” said Thompson on her decision to host her gym’s Open watch party.
  • “We were happy to hear that the Open went back to its original spot and we had time to introduce it to our members and get hyped about it,” she added.
  • “The number of new members we have in the gym since reopening in June is pretty unbelievable. It was cool to get a few new faces out to show them the culmination of our sport, as they may not have watched it on their own,” said Jackson.

Beyond the screen: Some gym owners took spectating to the next level, giving members the opportunity to experience first hand what it’s like to compete in some of the workouts, giving them a better idea of what the athletes go through.

  • As a former Games athlete, this was the perfect opportunity for Kelley Jackson to introduce her members to the sport she loved so much and get them involved beyond watching it on a screen.
  • “We have already programmed several variations of the events [this week following the Games] so members can feel firsthand how devastating they can be and compare their scores and loads to the fittest on earth. Seeing the best of the best and knowing firsthand how difficult it can be while getting the community together socially is a great way to express all of what makes CrossFit great,” said Jackson.
  • Mike Corcoran of CrossFit Mill Street, decided to give his members a taste of the Games before they even happened.
  • “The week leading up to The Games, and through the weekend, we programmed variations of past Games & Open workouts,” said Corcoran.
  • “We wanted to get our athletes excited for the week as well as give them a taste of how the pros were tested, he added, noting that after a brutal week of workouts, members were able to kick their feet up and watch the Games with a better appreciation for what the athletes were going through. “A perfect match,” he said.

The big picture: The Games have always brought the fitness community together. But after a difficult year, it was questionable as to whether the Games would even happen. Couple that with gyms struggling to keep their members engaged and together during this tough time, and it looked like the sport of fitness as we knew it might have been starting to die. But in a surprising twist, the 2020 CrossFit Games brought affiliates back together. Members both new and old gathered to celebrate and enjoy the sport of fitness at its highest level and once again, find the excitement and community that makes CrossFit so special. 

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