The CrossFit Games: Turning Spectator Sport On Its Head Since 2007

The 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games start tomorrow, Thursday 3rd August, and this year is set to be the biggest and most exciting year yet with a move from the Stub Hub Centre to the Alliant Energy Centre in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Eight weeks ago Regionals wrapped up and the final five men, women and teams from each region were crowned Games Athletes. I attended our local event, the Meridian Regional in Madrid, with Reebok and it was absolutely electric. I watched the Team competition for the first time and couldn’t believe I’d neglected to watch it previously, but despite the “JST… JST… JST” chants, by far the biggest crowd turned out to watch the individual women. Apparently a couple of years ago, people were actually leaving the stadium as the men took to the floor for the final heats. So why is the female race so much more exciting? And how is it that CrossFit has managed to turn the trends of spectator sport on its head?

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

Women in Sport

Look at any other sport – football, rugby, tennis, etc; the majority of excitement (and publicity) comes with the men. Perhaps the only exception is volleyball… for reasons that will remain unsaid! Generally speaking, women’s sport is barely even given the prime time slots or channels on TV. The men’s Wimbledon finals take precedence over the women’s, and journalists even fail to recognise female achievement in sports. And if you thought the gender pay gap was large in our ordinary day jobs, you just have to look at prize money for various sports to know there are bigger problems out there.

But in CrossFit, the prize money is the same, women and men compete in the same events with the same movement standards (only the weights are scaled according to the general rule of thumb that men have approximately 30% more muscle mass). In fact, the women’s competition is so much more exciting because it’s that much closer a battle. With a number of women all battling it out for the top spot, every second and every point counts.

More Than Just a Close Race

But is it just the closeness of the competition that makes the females that much more entertaining to watch? CrossFit often gets a bad rep, but one of the things that most people will agree on is that it is incredible to watch and the elite athletes are ridiculously strong, agile, fast, mobile… basically they are real-life T-800s. Seeing someone throw a weight over their head that the majority of people would struggle to even pick up off the floor, climb a rope using just their arms, run, swim, walk on their hands, push and pull extremely heavy and awkward objects – it’s fascinating. And then to see all of those things being done by a woman when women have been seen as weaker and less capable for so long? There’s something amazing in that.

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

Never Specialise

Another way that the Reebok CrossFit Games has challenged the norm is in the celebration of not specialising. You can’t win the games by having just one strong element – you need to be a jack of all trades. Looking at the previous winners, male and female, arguably the people who have won the most times have been the people you can’t pigeon-hole. The closest you see to that with your typical Olympic sports is the multi-event sports, like heptathlon, or perhaps where you get people switch sport (like Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero switching from cycling to rowing and vice versa), but it’s just not on the same level as with CrossFit.

Why Watch This Year

So how is this year’s competition hotting up? Personally I think there are lots of reasons why this year’s Games are more exciting than any other, but here are my top 5 reasons to watch the Games this year:

1. First all-British team finalists. 

We have our first all-Brit team competing at the Games, Team CrossFit JST. Watching them compete at Regionals (and topping the leaderboard overall) was phenomenal and I can’t wait to see how they get on in Madison. If you want to feel like part of the team you can even buy a CrossFit JST team t-shirt from Reebok UK!

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

2. Motivation x 1000.

Being at Regionals in person and hearing the crowd made the whole experience that much more exciting – the atmosphere is incredible as everyone cheers their favourites, but the camaraderie is also clear – it motivated me so much to work on my weaknesses and progress my own training and I want to get that feeling back by tuning in to the coverage online.

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

3. Rory McKernon.

My CrossFit Media Team crush… his handsome face will be presenting pretty much the entire weekend. Need I say more?!

4. The women’s competition.

There’s going to be a battle at the top, and it’s going to get emotional. There’s a fire inside the Icelandic ladies’ bellies and they are going to fight it out like never before, but there’s an Australian on their tails, plus our favourite Brit – Sam Briggs – and it’s going to be amazing to see who comes out on top.

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

5. The exciting events.

If you haven’t seen them yet, you need to get looking – this year the events look ACE. I mean: 1RM snatch, an obstacle course, cyclocross, a muscle up and clean ladder and a strongman/handstand walk pairing? I can’t wait to see the action.

Will you be tuning in to the Reebok Crossfit Games? What (or who?!) are you looking forward to seeing?

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

Thanks to Reebok for the use of the photos (including featured image) and for the amazing trip to Madrid in June. Make sure you’re following the Reebok UK and Sport Stylist social channels to get all the behind the scenes from Lucy Denver who’s gone to watch!

Initial Thoughts on the Nano 6.0 ¦ Plus How To Get to Regionals

With Regionals finished and the countdown to Carson well underway, Reebok launched its much anticipated Nano 6.0 today. I got the chance to put the new shoe to the test in a Nano 6.0 Throwdown, alongside other lucky CrossFitters from the London area, members of Team Reebok UK, and world-renowned CrossFit athlete, Tommy Hackenbruck. I also managed to grab Tommy for 5 minutes to talk Open Strategy, for those of you hoping to get to Regionals next year!

So grab a cup of bulletproof coffee and get comfy…

Initial Thoughts on the Nano 6.0





Bringing out a new shoe each year, Reebok have made continuous improvements evolving the Nano from one that’s good for lifting and light cardio, to one that’s a genuine aid to your CrossFit workouts. I’ve had every model of Nano except the very first one, and in my opinion there have only really been two releases that have broken the mould and made huge improvements in its performance while still keeping it comfortable to wear: the step from Nano 2.0 to Nano 3.0, and now this one, the step from Nano 5.0 to Nano 6.0.

Here are a few of the main differences (how I see them… not in tech-shoe speak!)

  • Softer fit – if you read my post on what trainers to wear for CrossFit, you’ll know that I found the Nano 5.0 quite stiff. While this did ease with wear, it still wasn’t as soft as previous models. But the Nano 6.0 addresses this with a much softer feel. The only downside is they seem to have stepped away from attaching the tongue to the sides of the shoe, which I liked about the Nano 5.0 because it stopped it creeping round. But all in all, these bad boys feel super comfortable straight out of the box.
  • Arch support – all of the Nanos have felt quite flat-footed, but the Nano 6.0 has a more moulded fit, including a much better arch support. This adds to the comfort of the shoe, and makes it better for those who are prone to knee valgus (where the knees roll inwards) when jumping, lunging or squatting.
  • Increased heel drop – the Nano 5.0 had a 3mm heel drop (the difference between the thickness of the heel and the forefoot), but Reebok have increased this by 1mm to 4mm for the Nano 6.0. 1mm may not sound like much, but when you’re lifting, every millimetre can help with your form.
  • Sandpaper-texture – the inner quarter of the shoe is covered with a sandpaper-textured Kevlar webbing, promising ultimate grip for rope climbs, along with the RopePro+ technology in the sole. I haven’t tried these for rope climbs yet, but I’m excited to see the difference in grip and durability.
  • Look and style – the Nano 6.0 is much more understated than the Nano 5.0, which I liked, but felt looked a little busy at times. There’s a little more branding, with the Reebok Delta logo on the outer side of the shoe, but I like the logo because of its association with a life of fitness. Each side represents the changes – physical, mental and social – that occur when people take on an active lifestyle. This is similar to the thought process behind my own logo!


The Nano 6.0 costs £90 and is currently available in 6 colourways (3 men’s, 3 women’s) from Reebok or Whatever It Takes. The launch of this shoe also comes with Reebok’s latest campaign, the #powertobemore, where they believe in the power of fitness to help you be a better you. You can even create your own graffiti photo using the Power Generator – just go to

And if your goal to “be more” is to get to Regionals, then I’ve got just the thing for you…

How to Get to Regionals

A man who knows all about what it takes to get to Regionals is Tommy Hackenbruck. Hackenbruck is a six-time consecutive CrossFit Games competitor. From 2009 through 2011 he competed as an individual before switching over to the team side to captain Hack’s Pack UTE. In 2012 and 2013 Hack’s Pack established their dominance by winning back to back Affiliate Cup championships. In 2014, Hack’s Pack disassembled and Hackenbruck returned to individual competition where he won the South West Regional. Hackenbruck took sixth place overall this year at the Games but his best finish remains second place in 2009. Prior to CrossFit, Hackenbruck played linebacker at the University of Utah.

This year, he missed out on Regionals by 5 places in the Open, with 16.4 knocking him out of the top 20. He had good reason to be distracted, having his third child with wife, Ally, that week! I caught up with Tommy at the launch of the Reebok CrossFit Nano 6.0 last night, and he gave me his top tips for reaching Regionals:

  • Know your competition – look at the top men or women in your region; what can they lift? What are their benchmark WOD times? Really delve into the numbers and become a stats geek! These are your minimum target times and numbers to hit – remember that these athletes in a year’s time will be stronger and faster themselves!
  • Know your strengths – but more importantly, know your weaknesses. What areas do you excel at, and what areas need more work? It’s no use having a massive snatch (no pun intended) but being terrible at gymnastics; to reach Regionals you need to be a good all-rounder.
  • Make it your job – you need to make training your primary focus if you’re going to hit Regionals. The men and women who progress are the elite, and elite athletes aren’t usually hobby CrossFitters. You can do it alongside a day job, but it helps if you can really commit to the training, and get enough rest at the same time.

If you want a way to help you map your goals and identify your strengths and weaknesses, keep an eye out for one of my next posts where I’ll be sharing a method of performance profiling!

What do you think of the new Nano 6.0? Are you going to invest in a pair? Are you hoping to get to Regionals one day? Comment below, or on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I’d love to hear from you!

Photos taken with my Olympus PEN E-PL7* and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens*.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary pair of Nano 6.0 trainers from Reebok. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by items or services gifted to me. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page. * Affiliate link. Affiliate links do not affect the price that you pay, but any commission earned helps me to pay the costs of running this site. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.

What Trainers Should I Wear for CrossFit?

The first time I ever tried CrossFit back in summer 2012 I just wore a pair of running shoes. I had no idea what to expect, and didn’t have trainers specific for lifting… all I did then was run and go to the gym. But by the time a box opened up near me and I started going more regularly I’d become the proud owner of a pair of Reebok CrossFit Nano 2 trainers through a Twitter competition. Since then, I’ve worn nothing but CrossFit-specific trainers, and I wouldn’t go back.

Most people think that the Nano was the first CrossFit-specific shoe to come out, but actually inov-8 beat Reebok to the mark with the first functional shoe designed for lifting, running, jumping and climbing. Reebok then struck up a partnership with CrossFit in 2011 and the first official CrossFit shoe was launched and dominated the scene right up until Nike came in to claim their piece of the pie in 2014.

Other functional footwear has entered the market, but these three remain to be the main stakeholders in the CrossFit world… and I’m going to compare them for you.

CrossFit Trainers – Compared

First up, I need to set some criteria to judge each of these shoes against. The criteria I’ve chosen are:

  • Stability (how the sole feels for lifting)
  • Comfort (how the shoe feels on my feet)
  • Grip (for rope climbs, running and jumping)
  • Durability (how they last against the elements)

I’ve chosen to leave style and price out of this. All of these shoes are in a similar price bracket and, let’s be honest… style is a pretty personal thing, and matters to people in varying degrees! Something to note on price, however, is that Reebok offer a pretty sweet 25% discount to fitness professionals through their Reebok One system – just sign up and you’ll get the discount online automatically. It can also be used in store by showing them your account info.

Inov-8 F-Lite 219

IMG_8530 (2)



I was lucky to win these in an Instagram competition through Active in Style back in 2013 and I wore them for the first time on a trip to Paris. I walked for more than three hours in them and my feet have honestly never felt more comfortable. The F-Lites are, by name, light weight and the fabric is so soft is barely feels like you’re wearing shoes.

Of the three, this shoe has the most minimal drop (the difference in height between the heel and the ball of the foot). In fact, it’s a 0mm drop, i.e. completely level. This is good for some things, like deadlifts for example, and not so good for others, i.e. squatting and the Olympic lifts, but it does make for a really “barefoot” feel.

The sole is flexible and fairly narrow, following the shape of your foot – a true minimal shoe. I personally find this great for almost everything about CrossFit, meaning my feet can move super-naturally, with the only exception being the heavy lifts. For these movements, I prefer to feel more stable with a more rigid sole. You can pick up an external heel for lifting, which you can strap on to the back of your inov-8 shoes, transforming them into pseudo lifters – I haven’t tested this myself, but for just over a tenner I’m willing to give it a shot.

The F-Lites have markings on the inner and outer foot for rope climbs, which are effective for grip, if a little narrow, and protect the shoe from damage. Bearing in mind these are the shoes I’ve owned for the longest*, I think they’ve lasted very well.

  • Stability: 3
  • Comfort: 5
  • Grip: 4
  • Durability: 4

Overall Score: 16

Where to buy: [KIT]BOX or Wiggle*

* It’s probably not wholly fair me reviewing an older model of the inov-8 functional range, but from what I’ve seen they’ve stuck to a similar style for their newer shoes.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0




On to the Nanos. These have been extremely popular over the years, and with good reason – they are a very good all-rounder for CrossFit. The difference between the 4.0 and the 5.0 is quite significant, with Reebok moving away from the wider base and rubber outsole to a more narrow toe-box and Kevlar (aka “bullet proof”) fabric.

The sole is super flat and fairly rigid and, combined with the Kevlar, makes the shoe feel a bit stiff at first. This does ease off though, and the shoes start to feel a little more comfortable with wear. The heel drop is 3mm; still a minimal feel, but giving a very slight lift in the heel to help you keep your back a bit more upright in squats, for example. Because of the flat and relatively wide sole, I quite like these shoes for lifting and, unless you have mobility problems like I do, they are perfectly reasonable for WODs even with fairly heavy lifts in.

Another big change that Reebok made for the Nano 5.0 was in the tongue – it’s now thinner and attached to the shoe upper at the sides, reducing the “tongue creep” you used to get with the 3.0s and 4.0s. This makes for an all-round more comfortable feel to the shoe.

Again, the Nanos have markings for rope climbs, which are pretty functional. Though I have to admit that I’ve found these shoes to shoe wear and tear more than I’d have expected for a shoe with Kevlar – I think my 4.0s still look newer than my 5.0s, I think because of the old cage structure on the 4.0.

  • Stability: 4.5
  • Comfort: 4
  • Grip: 4.5
  • Durability: 4

Overall Score: 17

Where to buy: Reebok or Whatever it Takes

Nike Metcon 2




These are the newest addition to my CrossFit shoe haul. I’d been meaning to get hold of a pair of the first Metcon since they were first announced, but for one reason or another, never bought a pair and actually, I’m glad I waited. From what I’ve heard the Metcon 2 is definitely new and improved!

What surprised me is just how sturdy the sole was, as I’d heard the Metcon 1 was a bit… “squishy”. But, Nike have listened to their buyers and hardened the sole, making for a really good stable base for lifting. I’ve even found them to be much more stable for movements like wall balls and lunges too. And even with this sturdy sole, the shoe itself is really comfortable! If you have high arches, like me, then the Nike is a much more comfortable trainer than the Nano, though still just pipped to the post by the inov8 (purely because of the minimal feel).

I’ve worn these for heavy front squats, as well as Olympic lifting WODs, and have found them to be ideal for the job, second only to my dedicated lifting shoes. The 4mm heel drop is the highest of the three shoes, so good for those who have reduced ankle mobility.

The fabric seems super-robust, I think with a plastic element to it, and the upper of the shoe, as well as the laces and tongue, sit nice and flat. Nike have even added a ridge to the back of the heel, helping to reduce drag for handstand push ups. Nice! The Metcons also have markings for rope climbs, though I haven’t tested these yet.

  • Stability: 5
  • Comfort: 4.5
  • Grip: 4.5
  • Durability: 4.5

Overall Score: 18.5

Where to buy: Nike or Whatever it Takes

CrossFit Shoes In Summary

I think overall It’s pretty clear which of the three shoes is my favourite – the Nike Metcon 2 surprised me with its superior design over CrossFit professionals, Reebok. Of course, comfort is a personal feel, and some may prefer the more flat-footed nature of the Nano, but for me the Metcon has too many advantages over the Nano and inov8 offerings and could well be a favourite in the boxes, even if not at the Games*!

Have you tried these or any other CrossFit trainers? What are your favourites? Are there any other criteria you would like to see included? Comment below!

* Reebok banned the Nike Metcon from appearing at the CrossFit Games, with even Nike sponsored athletes having to wear Reebok shoes to compete. Nike hit back with this billboard. Reebok 1 – 1 Nike.

All photos taken using my Olympus PEN E-PL7* and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens*

* Affiliate link. Affiliate links do not affect the price that you pay, but any commission earned helps me to pay the costs of running this site. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.

Les Mills Live: London, March 2016

Les Mills’s BODYPUMP was my first ever introduction to free weights back in my early days of exercise in 2008/9. Back then I’d wanted to “tone up” (hadn’t we all!) and knew that weights were supposed to be the thing to get me to where I wanted. On Saturdays I used to do an hour long spin class and then head straight into BODYPUMP before the walk home, by which point all my limbs would be trembling!

It wasn’t until I went on my first Fitness Fiesta weekend break (did anyone else used to go to those?!) that I branched out into other Les Mills classes, trying BODYATTACK and BODYCOMBAT along the way. After this I picked up BODYBALANCE as another regular class, this time with my mum in tow – it was fantastic for her back.

Sadly, I left Les Mills behind when I started running more regularly, and then moved into CrossFit. So when they invited me to attend Les Mills Live at the Excel centre last weekend I couldn’t have said “yes” quicker!

Les Mills Live

Les Mills started out in New Zealand, where they have dedicated Les Mills gyms. In the UK (and many other countries), classes are licensed out to gyms and leisure centres, with instructors learning the choreography from DVDs and seminars by Master Trainers.

The fitness event (formerly One Live), aimed at Les Mills instructors and fans alike, is designed to motivate and empower like-minded people through the celebration of group fitness. Ticket-holders are entitled to attend six classes throughout the day (and there are plenty to choose from!), with opportunities to re-fuel and shop at Les Mills’s best bud Reebok’s store in their down time.

I met up with Elle (Keep it SimpElle), Jess and Bex (Twins in Trainers), and Charlie (The Runner Beans), who joined us later, and, kitted out in Les Mills branded gear thanks to Reebok, we took the show by storm!

Fitness bloggers tackle @lesmillsUK Live! Find out which classes they loved... Click To Tweet



First up for us was a 60 minute BODYPUMP class, sweating it out in an auditorium packed with people. I took the not-so-conservative route of piling the weights on before remembering that oh-so-familiar BODYPUMP burn… the chest and lunge tracks left me weak! As we left the room after the class that feeling of post-workout exhilaration took over and we scoured the timetable for our next class, which was…



A 30 minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) class on the bikes, Sprint was set to give us a sweaty, leg-trembling workout. Jess, Bex and I did our best to keep up, but the instructors were phenomenal – I’ve never seen anyone’s legs go so fast! But don’t let that put you off – the great thing about Les Mills classes is that everyone can work at their own level, each getting the best out of the class.

The Athlete Village

After Sprint, we grabbed some lunch before exploring the Reebok shop and challenge area. The “athlete village” looked out over the main auditorium, where what must have been one of the World’s largest step classes was taking place. We stopped for a group photo (and obligatory blogger pyramid!) before the girls convinced me to take on the Reebok #gymiseverywhere challenge… flipping a 58kg tyre as many times as possible in 30 seconds.

I had two attempts, matching the current top spot on my first (check out my Instagram for a video!). But on my second attempt (to the cheering and counting of the girls)… I beat it by two reps! If my record stood to the end of the day I would win £100 voucher to spend at Reebok!

We then hopped into the Reebok #breakyourselfie booth before heading over to my last class of the day before heading home…


Recommended to me as being of a good intensity for CrossFitters, GRIT (another 30 minute class) was a class I was keen to try. The Plyo version was, as the name suggests, full of explosive jumping exercises. We had a step and a 5kg plate to work with, and launched into pyramids of exercises in a format I’ve never tried before. Short rests and lots of high intensity movements make this a really good blast of a class, though again it’s suitable for all as the moves can be scaled.

After finishing up, sweaty, hungry and ready for an evening with my feet up, I hit the car park to drive home.

And the winner was…

I had such a fun day at Les Mills Live with the girls. The classes I tried, as always with Les Mills classes, were pitched at the perfect combination of intensity and fun. I’m sad I missed out on trying CXWORX, as this looked like a great class for challenging movement in different planes – something which is often missed out of most people’s programmes – but hopefully I’ll be able to try that another time.

Oh, and when I got home I got a phone call to tell me I’d won the #gymiseverywhere challenge! What a brilliant day!

Keep an eye out for the next event… word on the street is it’ll be in Manchester! You can find classes on the Les Mills website – they are licensed out to gyms up and down the country! Also, check out Elle and Charlie’s posts about the event over on their blogs.

Les Mills Live was an absolute blast... but where will it be next? Find out here... #lesmillstribe Click To Tweet