Facebook Group Empowers the Women of CrossFit

November 25, 2020 by
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“I don’t know what I expected.”

Shawna Norton says this referring to the Facebook group that she started in 2017, The Women of CrossFit. In three years, the community has garnered over 9,000 members and is growing fast — around 6,000 of those members joined in the last year.

The big picture: The Women of CrossFit serves as a safe space for female athletes across the globe. It’s one of many social media communities dedicated to giving women a place to celebrate their successes, ask questions, and receive support. 

  • “I love the boys, female athletes are who I resonate with,” Norton says, explaining why she created the group. “We have specific conversations that we want to be able to have without men being present.”
  • “I wanted an opportunity to have a safe space just for women who all participated in this sport that, for the most part, changes our life,” she continues. 

A member of the group echoes this, relating the importance of a female-only space to the Instagram account You Look Like A Man. The account takes the inappropriate comments made by men to strong women — for example, “you look like a man” — and places them on gorgeous nature shots to “highlight their absurdity.” 

  • “I just need a space where I don’t have to brace myself for weird comments from dudes,” the member says. 

The community: Conversation covers everything from the best sports bra brands to hormones, cycles, and how to stop peeing during double unders. Members — who are from all walks of life and fitness levels — share workouts, advice on body care and nutrition, celebrate weight loss transformations, and give tips for mastering the toughest movements. 

The group has created what one member calls a “sisterhood.” 

  • “There’s something to be said about women sharing with women,” they continue. 
  • “You’ve never met a more inspiring group of women with one goal: create a space to foster and encourage strong, incredible CrossFit women from all walks of life,” another member writes. 

Overwhelmingly, the athletes comment on the sense of empowerment and support they’ve felt from the group. The group is full of like-minded women who don’t judge, don’t shame, and are supportive regardless of athletic ability. There’s a sense of validation and connection felt when a woman posts something relatable, that “so I’m not the only one,” feeling. 

During coronavirus shutdowns, Norton and her fellow group admin, Vianney Yamada, say they saw an uptick in posts of home workouts and discussions on consequences of the pandemic. Yamada says the pandemic brought two kinds of engagement to their community:

  • “Shawna and I started to offer Zoom class once a week, women from all over,” she says, referring to online workouts they hosted from April to May. “I remember one of the ladies from Europe, it had to be 11 p.m. her time, and she was up doing the workout with us.”
  • “That drove people to see that we’re just average people looking to be healthy and fit, we weren’t people to be intimidated by, and we could connect from anywhere,” she continues.

When the controversy with CrossFit founder and former CEO Greg Glassman sparked outrage in the CrossFit community, The Women of CrossFit were able to tackle those topics together. 

  • The things with CrossFit, things with Black Lives Matter drove engagement a different way —  it started to drive engagement to having tough conversations,” Yamada continues. “It was cool, you know. I think 99.9% of the people were super respectful, had conversations, and talked things out as women. It was really neat.”

One member says this even renewed her faith in the CrossFit community.

  • “This page reaffirmed my gut instincts of community being at the forefront of each box,” they wrote. “Women that lift each other up and want to see your progress!”

The bottom line: It seems like everything has gone virtual this year, and the CrossFit community is no different. But, even as some areas of the world return to normal, Norton doesn’t expect the growth of the group to slow down. 

  • Virtual communities, like The Women of CrossFit, create an opportunity for connection with like-minded people around the globe. It’s a chance to meet athletes who have similar experiences, new perspectives, and to celebrate PRs and successes with people who understand their importance.  

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