‘Spice Kings’ Documentary Explores Cultural Exchange, Food and CrossFit
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Portuguese Spice Route blossomed throughout Asia, and with the exchange of products and spices was, of course, the trade of culture.
But wait. . . this is the Morning Chalk Up. What does this have to do with CrossFit?
As filmmaker Amit Tripuraneni shows in his new documentary, Spice Kings, the two topics are incredibly intertwined. 500 years ago, the growth and cultural diaspora affected every person living along the trade route, and that experience still holds true today. As a lifelong history student, Tripuraneni set out to explore how people today are still affected by the trade route by dropping in at local CrossFit affiliates, and how each region’s vastly different culture can be seen through each gym.
- “It was a natural extension to to see if CrossFit had reached some of the places on the spice route and what impact it was having there. History is fascinating and gives a lot of context to what’s happening today,” Tripuraneni said. Of course, as a long time CrossFit athlete and fan, he said, “This was an opportunity to secretly tie all my favorite things together and sneak them into one documentary.”
Tripuraneni isn’t new to the CrossFit scene, nor the documentary space. He’s been doing CrossFit himself since 2013, and in 2018 directed ‘Out of the Box,’ a feature-length documentary in a similar vein to ‘Spice Kings’ which explored CrossFit throughout Asia. ‘Out of the Box’ started as a web series published on the CrossFit Journal. Even as experienced as he was, the pandemic put a wrench in some of Tripuraneni’s plans, and his original storyboard was largely thrown away.
Nevertheless, ‘Spice Kings’ brings an exclusive look into a region of the sport that’s often overlooked.
- Tripuraneni: “What stood out to me was that there were no stories being told from Asia (. . . ) and I wanted to be able to share those stories with the rest of the world.”
While the film shows that the Asian CrossFit community is largely built on the same foundations as the affiliates more often shown in the media, Tripuraneni says his appreciation never stops.
- “It’s been the same experience for me time and time again in most places in Asia, that the CrossFit community is as welcoming as anywhere else in the world,” Tripuraneni said. “On the flip-side, the brutal truth is that local affiliate owners are fighting the good fight themselves, to change perception of CrossFit amongst the wider public, so that they take it up for health and longevity.”
Throughout the documentary, which is available for rent or purchase as of July 14, 2022, the universal warmth of the CrossFit community can be heard loud and clear. This was completely intentional on Tripuraneni’s part.
- “I do want the community to experience the wider world and with it the challenges and triumphs that various CrossFit communities across the world face. Also at a deeper level, my hope is that the community starts appreciating history and how we’re all connected in some way or form.”