Who Got the Most Instagram Followers from the Dubai Fitness Championship?

December 6, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Dubai Fitness Championship
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Outside of the CrossFit Games season, three competitions stand out as major off-season opportunities for CrossFit athletes to gain experience, exposure, and prize money—October’s Rogue Invitational, December’s Dubai Fitness Championship, and January’s TYR Wodapalooza. This past Sunday, December 4, competition wrapped up at the Dubai Fitness Championship, hosted in the largest city in the United Arab Emirates.

Two weeks prior to the competition, we logged the follower count of each of the 40 athletes competing. On Monday, December 5, we logged again. Here is a summary of the results.

Nine athletes went into the competition with over 40,000 followers on Instagram.

Instagram Followers Pre-DFC:

  1. Brent Fikowski topped the field with 654,687 Instagram followers
  2. Jamie Simmonds – 226,507
  3. Khan Porter – 193,836
  4. Aimee Cringle – 183,269
  5. Ella Wunger – 100,546
  6. Jonne Koski – 75,379
  7. Tayla Howe – 62,546
  8. Emily Rolfe – 54,787
  9. Matilde Garnes – 41,590

The average followers gained from pre-DFC to post-DFC were 235, but eight athletes gained more than double that:

  1. Fabian Beneito added 2,203 followers
  2. Guillaume Briant – 928
  3. Jamie Simmonds – 825
  4. Oihana Moya – 802
  5. Victor Hoffer – 705
  6. Aniol Ekai – 651
  7. Matilde Garnes – 574
  8. Karin Freyova – 526

Interestingly, the only male on this list that either finished on the podium or won an event (sometimes referred to as “earned media”) was Fabian Beneito, the overall champion.

Several athletes’ accounts skyrocketed in growth compared to their pre-DFC following. 

  • A healthy growth rate for Instagram accounts over 100k followers is around +2.5% followers per month. 
  • With smaller accounts, that number increases to around 5-6% per month. 

These athletes increased their following by more than 5% in only two weeks:

  1. Dana Paran – 13.5%
  2. Fabian Beneito – 8.1%
  3. Vladimir Sechin – 7.9%
  4. Victor Hoffer – 5.8%
  5. Karin Freyova – 5.6%
  6. Claudia Gluck – 5.3%

Experience and Exposure Go Hand in Hand

Brent Fikowski has, by far, the largest Instagram following in the field. 

  • With over 650,000 followers, he tops the rest of the men’s field combined (478,788) by nearly 200,000 followers.
  • This should come as no surprise, nor is it a dig on the other competitors, considering Fikowski has qualified as an individual for every CrossFit Games since 2016, and has won several competitions at the Regional/Sanctional/Semifinal level.

Jamie Simmonds was the outlier for the women with over 227,000 followers. 

  • Again, this is less than shocking as Simmonds won the CrossFit Open in 2016, putting her on the radar of fans across the globe. 
  • She has competed in five CrossFit Games since that year—four in the individual division, and one on team CrossFit Yas. 
  • Simmonds has been making her return to competition over the last year after a shoulder injury kept her out of the 2021 season.

Removing the outliers of Fikowski and Simmonds, the remaining 38 athletes have an average of 27,986 followers. 

  • As a complete field of 40, that average bumps up to 48,617. 
  • The average growth rate of all 40 accounts was 2.06% over the last two weeks.

Why It Matters

Professionalizing the sport of CrossFit is a hot topic in today’s landscape. Follower counts are nothing to live and die by, but it is notable to see how qualifying for and competing in these major off-season competitions can impact an athlete’s visibility.

As the sport becomes more professionalized, follower counts may not be as big of a factor. But for the time being, sponsorship deals remain the main pathway to earning a full-time income as a professional CrossFitter. In the eyes of a brand looking to sponsor a new athlete, more followers equates to more brand visibility, which increases the value of signing a particular athlete, and therefore gives an athlete more negotiating power and opportunity for better sponsorship deals.

Want to directly support your favorite athletes? Find their accounts and follow them.


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