Church and CrossFit: The Strange Connection

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Some combinations seem destined to go together: Peanut butter and jelly, kittens and social media, Miley Cyrus and bad choices. Yet other combos hardly seem like they fit, like CrossFit and churches.

Somehow, the CrossFit culture has wormed its way into the heart of some organized religions to the point where there are now houses of worship that offer onsite CrossFit WODs. While the facilities may not have boxes totally dedicated to CrossFit, they certainly aren’t shy about opening their doors to the multitudes of individuals who have embraced the fitness movement. It’s a brilliant approach from a marketing perspective on both sides, plus, the two entities might not be as different as they initially seem.

CrossFitters, Meet Religion; Religion, Meet CrossFit

It’s not a secret that CrossFitters are a breed unto themselves. Their chosen workout method has been referred to as a cult, called derogatory names, and treated as pariahs by some sports “elitists” who question the inherent value of CrossFit.

These are all experiences that have been shared by religions around the globe.

Similarly, religions tend to be made up of people who are passionate about their philosophy. They’re individuals who believe in their causes and will often go to great lengths to evangelize. They’re unabashedly firm in their dogmas and quick to open their arms to others who want to discover what they know. This should sound familiar to CrossFitters; they exhibit the same intensity and devotion.

How CrossFit and Religion Can Help One Another

As this unexpected bond between CrossFit and religions begins to take hold, we can only expect to see both sides looking for more opportunities to work together. For instance, some of the techniques that are already working around the nation include:

• Churches are being built with a CrossFit location in mind. Before the construction equipment breaks ground and creates a new house of worship, church planners are making sure the building design includes a CrossFit-friendly space. As soon as the doors open, services and workouts can begin in earnest.
• CrossFitters who are members of a church can essentially consider themselves as fitness evangelists by inviting other church members to special CrossFit WODs either later on Sunday or during another day of the week. This can happen in the reverse, too; CrossFitters can be evangelists in the box for their chosen religions and encourage other CrossFitters to attend services with them.
• Churches that are trying to help their members to lose weight and get healthy can move beyond just hosting Weight Watchers meetings and actually provide onsite CrossFit WODs. In fact, some churches are paying consultants to try to figure out how to make this kind of marriage of fitness and religion work. They know that true workout buffs aren’t going to be wooed by an organization that doesn’t sympathize with the desire to sweat and generally improve one’s earthly presence.

What Churches Can Still Learn from CrossFit

This article wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t admit that there is one thing churches generally don’t do as well as the CrossFit community does. It’s something obvious, but that can create distrust and arguments among some religious leaders. We’re talking about using social media to grow the flock. It’s a place that CrossFit feels at home.

Since its inception, CrossFit has utilized every form of social media and Internet possible to gain a following. Churches have been more hesitant to jump on board; however, some are finally starting to get the picture that being on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can attract younger members in a very positive way. The churches that are learning to accept CrossFit into their houses of worship would be wise to have a powwow and discuss Internet best practices.

In the end, there might be more to this combination than first meets the eye… for both sides.

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