What is the Florida GRID League?
Have you ever been scrolling on your phone and come across a clip of a person doing burpee pistols or maybe butterfly ring muscle ups?
If you have, that’s the Florida GRID League. A sport that takes athletes with a specific skill set and makes them into super specialists, not only is it a spectacle to watch, but a big attraction for CrossFitters alike.
Not too long ago, five-time Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser was on a GRID League team called the New York Rhinos. While the Pro GRID League has since ended, the Florida GRID League, often referred to as FGL, has come to play, with eight different teams of 14 athletes going head-to-head in matches testing strength, skill, and speed.
Remind me: The way the FGL works is two teams, co-ed, race head-to-head in a series of weightlifting, body-weight, and gymnastic tests. The teams are composed of an equal number of men and women players who specialize in either bodyweight, heavy weight, or general movements.
Chelsea Raineri, 28, is a former collegiate gymnast, a current PE teacher by day and a FGL bodyweight specialist by night (or day depending on her training schedule). Raineri was hesitant at first about joining the league, but was convinced after a friend who is also in the league touted her abilities and told her she’d be a great fit as a bodyweight specialist. She is also an avid CrossFit athlete and coach at CrossFit Mill Street in Vienna, VA.
- Upon entering her first match, Raineri said: “As soon as I got there I felt like a college athlete again, I didn’t even know half of these people and I was received with open arms and I haven’t looked back.”
- “It’s the best thing that’s happened to me as a team-focused athlete. It’s so team focused it’s not about the individual, but everything I do can affect the whole team.”
- “Honestly, I think it elevated my CrossFit because now when I’m out there I’ll be doing gymnastic movements, such as cycling butterfly muscle-ups, so now when I go to do a workout for CrossFit it ends up feeling easier.”
- “So I think what’s great is that it elevated my own expectations and my own standards. I tell myself ‘actually you can push harder, actually you can work harder’.”
Another CrossFit turned GRID athlete is Griffin Roelle, 31, who is a two-time CrossFit Games veteran, and nicknamed “CrossFit Thor.” He’s been active his whole life and after a football career didn’t pan out he turned to CrossFit in 2016. He went to the Games in 2018 as a team member and in 2020 as an individual. Finishing in 31st place and 25th place, respectively.
As a way to make some more money and just do more fitness, Roelle would sign up for GRID trials and he’d win and kept winning. Once he started to beat the pro GRID athletes, coaches started to take notice.
- “I’ve had a couple of matches and had a blast. I mean I don’t really have to change any training or anything. I just do my normal CrossFit training,” said Roelle who is a utility player or generalist.
- “The big difference between CrossFit and GRID is that you’re on a team, but it allows for specialists to shine. So if you’re a Games athlete and you’re a high level gymnast you could literally go to GRID and not have to change any of your training and just go have fun.”
- “I test out the workouts that I need to be prepared for GRID, but I’m still focused on CrossFit and that’s why I think it allows other athletes if they ever wanted to not switch, but add it to their agenda to get better at CrossFit it’s a good idea.”
- “There’s a massive fan base for GRID worldwide because it’s very eye-catching for fans and it’s very fast and entertaining and it keeps them engaged.”
So how does it work? The way FGL explains the competition is that it’s “very structured.” The match itself takes place on a “GRID” and it has two lanes; one for each team and split down the middle of the rig.
- “Each lane is broken into 4 quadrants (labeled 1,2,3,4) and a Start and Finish line. Between the Start and Finish line, the lanes and quadrants have hashmarks down the outside and a “hashbox” is considered the area between each of the hashmarks or quadrant lines,” according to the FGL website.
- “The Start line and Finish line also have “zones” (Start Zone and Finish Zone). Where Players are either required or inhibited to be at certain points of the race.”
The bottom line: The GRID league is a sport made for fans who want a fast-paced and very eye-catching experience. The sport itself highlights athletes true specialties and can be a supplemental fitness venture for CrossFit athletes looking for another revenue stream or opportunity to compete.
Raineri shares that “as a CrossFitter first I was really hesitant about GRID league and I wish I would have joined sooner and wish I had started watching sooner.”