Germany’s “Slow and Steady” CrossFit Growth Now Stands as a Huge Accomplishment

June 20, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marcus McClain
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German Marcus McClain said CrossFit in his country is by no means a sexy matter, but it’s something he’s more than okay with.

“Progress has typically been slow and steady but always trending up,” said the 45-year-old country manager for Deutschland, who is also the owner and head coach of CrossFit KH (Bad Kreuznach), which is located a few hours northwest of Frankfurt. “The garage gym is still prevalent here but there is a shift at the moment and most are starting their affiliates with the intent of making a living from the affiliate, whereas before some or most were doing it as a side job or hobby.”

McClain said the market is changing in his country, where once owning a CrossFit gym was a pipe dream, now it can be seen as a potential reality.

“This is a good sign because we have and continue to see owners profiting from running an affiliate while living out their dreams as small business owners.”

According to McClain, the DACH region, which includes Germany, Austria and Switzerland, was one of only two regions to see CrossFit affiliate growth during the entire pandemic. He said CrossFit in Germany is now growing three to five times what it was before the pandemic

He also noted Germany has more than a “handful” of 10 year affiliates as well, with some notable names like CrossFit Lehman, CrossFit Basel, CrossFit Vienna, CrossFit Ansbach and CrossFit EO, which is located in Munich.

CrossFit’s growth in Europe during what many are now calling a “post pandemic phase” for most of the world is impressive to watch. France is now CrossFit’s biggest success story outside of the U.S., followed by the UK and Spain. This is in stark contrast to life before Covid where CrossFit had its eyes on emerging markets like China and Brazil.

McClain, who was in the military for 20 years, retiring in 2016, said “CrossFit saved my life” in 2012 after he was injured in Afghanistan. For McClain, he said he was amazed at how Germany’s CrossFit scene handled the lockdowns that came with COVID, as it showed a real sense of resilience and adaptability.

“I am very proud of how our affiliates handled the pandemic. The affiliates set the fitness scene on fire with Zoom trainings, loaning out equipment and much more. Whereas the normal fitness studios were reeling, on their heels, our affiliates here continued to provide services and fitness to their clients no matter the restraints or restrictions they faced. The creativity and innovations of the box owners here, continues to amaze me. Our biggest challenge is to get fitness recognized as an essential activity not a leisure activity, we faced some real obstacles and challenges during the pandemic because of this. Fitness is just not something we get to do, it’s something that everyone needs to do.”

CrossFit’s future most likely lies in Europe, and CrossFit HQhas already hinted as the general manager of Sport, Justin Bergh, alluded in a press conference that CrossFit was looking at some “non-U.S. offerings” for hosting the 2024 NOBULL CrossFit Games.  

McClain said he can see this vision becoming reality, and he said Germany, like the rest of Europe, has more than proven itself as a potential second home for the sport of functional fitness.

“I would say I am being a bit biased but the Regionals in Berlin (in 2018) were one of the best I have been to. I think it would be an amazing experience for fans and athletes alike, to have a CrossFit Games hosted at one of the Olympic parks here in Germany or elsewhere in Europe.  European athletes and box owners alike are giving the Americans a run for the money and I think it would be well received here and abroad as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

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