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history of crossfit in the US

Unraveling the History of CrossFit in America: A Journey from Humble Beginnings to Global Phenomenon

CrossFit has become a global phenomenon, attracting millions of enthusiasts, transforming fitness landscapes, and impacting countless lives. But did you know that CrossFit’s story began in a small garage gym in California? 

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the history of CrossFit in America, tracing its humble beginnings to its current position as a worldwide fitness sensation. Join us as we embark on an exciting journey that explores the origins, growth, and development of one of the most popular fitness movements in recent memory.

Origins: The Birth of CrossFit in a Santa Cruz Garage Gym (1995-2000)

CrossFit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman, a former gymnast and personal trainer. However, its roots can be traced back to the mid-1990s when Glassman started training clients in his small garage gym in Santa Cruz, California. Dissatisfied with conventional fitness approaches, Glassman sought to develop a program that combined elements from various disciplines, including gymnastics, weightlifting, and aerobic exercises.

The goal was to create a high-intensity, constantly varied, functional fitness program that would improve overall health and fitness. The term “CrossFit” was coined to encapsulate the idea of “crossing” different fitness modalities to create a well-rounded workout regimen. Glassman’s innovative approach attracted a small, dedicated following in Santa Cruz, laying the foundation for the future of CrossFit.

A Vision of Community and Collaboration (2001-2005)

In 2001, CrossFit.com was launched, serving as the first online platform for sharing workouts, exercise tips, and fostering a sense of community among enthusiasts. This was a pivotal moment in the history of CrossFit, as it allowed the movement to reach a broader audience, transcending geographical boundaries and creating a network of like-minded individuals.

As the CrossFit community grew, Glassman began training other trainers in his methodology, which led to the establishment of the first CrossFit affiliate gyms. These early affiliates were instrumental in popularizing the CrossFit brand and spreading the word about this revolutionary new fitness approach.

Rapid Expansion: CrossFit Affiliate Boom (2006-2010)

By 2006, the CrossFit community was expanding at an unprecedented rate, with new affiliate gyms opening across the United States. A major catalyst for this growth was the introduction of the CrossFit Games in 2007. The annual competition was designed to test and celebrate the fitness of the athletes, crowning the “Fittest on Earth.”


The CrossFit Games rapidly gained attention and popularity, showcasing the incredible athleticism and dedication of CrossFit practitioners. This visibility fueled even more interest in CrossFit, as spectators and fitness enthusiasts alike were drawn to the unique blend of challenge, camaraderie, and accomplishment embodied by the sport.

Going Global: CrossFit Reaches International Shores (2011-2015)

The early 2010s marked a significant turning point in the history of CrossFit, as the movement expanded beyond American borders. By 2011, there were over 3,000 affiliate gyms worldwide, spanning six continents. CrossFit’s rapid international growth was driven in part by the increasing accessibility of online resources and the proliferation of social media platforms.

The global reach of CrossFit was further cemented in 2011 when Reebok became the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games, a partnership that lasted until 2020. This alliance brought mainstream attention to the CrossFit brand, further solidifying its reputation as a fitness powerhouse.

Controversy and Change: A Shift in Leadership (2016-2019)

Despite its meteoric rise in popularity, CrossFit was not without controversy. Criticisms around the risk of injury, the intensity of the workouts, and the cult-like nature of the community began to surface. However, the most significant controversy erupted in June 2020, when founder Greg Glassman faced backlash over insensitive tweets related to the Black Lives Matter movement. This led to his resignation as CEO and the eventual sale of CrossFit to Eric Roza, a tech entrepreneur and owner of a CrossFit gym in Colorado.


Roza’s leadership marked a new chapter in CrossFit’s history, as he focused on making the sport more inclusive, transparent, and safe. Under his direction, CrossFit implemented changes to the CrossFit Games, expanded diversity and inclusion initiatives, and fostered a more collaborative relationship with affiliate gyms.

Adapting to a New World: CrossFit and the COVID-19 Pandemic (2020-2021)

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the fitness industry, forcing gyms and fitness centers to shut down and adapt to new safety regulations. CrossFit was no exception. However, the pandemic also highlighted the versatility and resilience of the CrossFit community.

As gyms closed their doors, athletes and coaches turned to online platforms to continue their training. This digital shift led to the proliferation of virtual workouts, online coaching, and remote competitions. The CrossFit community rallied around its core values of camaraderie and adaptability, emerging stronger in the face of adversity.

The Future of CrossFit: Building a Healthier World

CrossFit Mafia: More Than a Gym

As we look ahead, CrossFit’s future appears brighter than ever. With a renewed focus on inclusion, safety, and collaboration, CrossFit continues to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of its global community. The sport’s emphasis on functional fitness, mental toughness, and social support make it a powerful force for positive change in the world of health and fitness.

New initiatives, such as CrossFit Health, aim to combat the growing global health crisis by promoting functional fitness and preventative medicine. As the CrossFit community grows and diversifies, it is poised to become a significant player in shaping the future of health and wellness across the globe.


The history of CrossFit in America is a story of innovation, determination, and community. From its humble beginnings in a Santa Cruz garage gym to its current status as a worldwide fitness sensation, CrossFit has left an indelible mark on the fitness industry. As we reflect on the past and look forward to the future, there’s no denying the power and potential of this groundbreaking fitness movement.

With millions of dedicated athletes, thousands of affiliate gyms, and a continually evolving approach to health and wellness, CrossFit is poised to continue its transformative journey. As we celebrate the history of CrossFit in America, we also look forward to the positive impact it will undoubtedly have on the lives of countless individuals for years to come.

PS, our events calendar has tons of CrossFit events all over the US that you can check out.

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