Photo credit: Courtesy of Ollie Mansbridge
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Ollie Mansbridge, CrossFit’s regional director for Europe, noticed an interesting change this year when it comes to demographic trends.
Mansbridge is the co-founder of CrossFit Bath, located about two hours drive west of London. Bath as a city has less than 100,000 inhabitants and is near the coast, a sleepy city compared to the bustle of The Big Smoke.
But Mansbridge’s box is booming, part of a trend he’s seeing across Europe, and quite frankly, the world in what could be described as the early days of the post landscape -pandemic.
“I live in a town about two hours from London and we’ve seen a massive increase in people coming to the gym,” said Mansbridge, who has worked for CrossFit since 2019 when he started as a country. . director for the UK. “Because people were just tired of working out at home and in their living rooms, and so that was a huge positive from an affiliate perspective.”
However, this change has another aspect. As COVID has dramatically accelerated the work-from-home module, this means that busy office centers are no longer the hubs they used to be.
“Gyms in places like central London and the financial district have really suffered because people don’t need to be in the office five days a week,” Mansbridge added. “They only need to be in the office one or two days a week.”
Mansbridge, who oversees eight countries in Europe, stretching into Scandinavia, said there has been a push to get back into gyms and interact when it comes to fitness. However, he said the CrossFit community has remained resilient as trends change and force businesses to adapt on the fly due to the ramifications of a pandemic no one saw coming.
“Gyms in these major metro areas have found ways to pivot and adapt while still keeping it running, but to be honest, it’s a real mixed bag, depending on who you talk to.”
To no one’s surprise, Mansbridge said CrossFit is booming in Europe in 2022, thanks in large part to various countries shifting to an endemic approach to fighting the virus, which means people are getting their lives back. normal with a renewed sense of the physical. aptitude. During the boom, Mansbridge said it’s important that CrossFit continues to build on what it already has.
“Overall, one thing that I am very aware of is that we are growing and there are more gyms opening in Europe and the net growth is increasing, but it is really important that we continue also to focus on our existing affiliates.”
Mansbridge said Europe had added an impressive 200 net affiliates in the past six months alone (bringing the total to 4,100 in the region). The growth of the Open in Europe from 2021 to 2022 has seen a 50% increase in entries from 66,000 to over 99,000 athletes.
Daniel Chaffey, international director of CrossFit, said a number of factors have played into the rise of CrossFit in Europe. He acknowledged that the 21 member countries around the world play an important role in the growth of the sport outside of North America.
“CrossFit’s expansion across Europe has been driven by the same factors as our broader global growth, in particular the seminar staff’s unwavering commitment to training coaches, our efforts to translate key training materials into over a dozen languages, creating local language media and social media pages to galvanize non-English speaking communities.
Europe’s biggest success story is France, which has the most affiliates outside of the United States, and is approaching 700. Mansbridge said France’s success story is interesting because anyone who wants to open a room sports in the country must obtain a diploma to become a professional coach at first.
France has the most CrossFit affiliates outside the United States, approaching 700.
He said that at first glance this might seem like a high barrier to entry, but it creates strong, sustainable gyms that are filled with highly skilled and talented trainers, which is considered the core of CrossFit. Mansbridge said the national success of CrossFit in Europe comes down to national leaders knowing the industry, their affiliates and the specific needs of that nation.
“You have to start there, when I look at how you support CrossFit in this region, you have to have a strong team in the country who can be great leaders and show concern and care when they need it, it’s extremely important.”
Of course, there are challenges, especially in Europe where languages vary enormously and English is not the native language of the vast majority of the global population. He said one of the biggest initiatives he’s working on right now is just getting so much information about CrossFit, on his website, and what’s sent out to the community, translated into different languages for good digestion.
Mansbridge said he is watching a number of trends very closely, and he knows what is happening, needs to come down and this rapid expansion of CrossFit in Europe will surely slow down at some point.
“We’ve seen the growth of Peloton and Mirror during the pandemic and their share price growth is dropping now because people want that human experience and to be with other people. And that’s one thing that we’ve all been missing and craving during the pandemic is having that connection with other people, which has really played out in Crossfit.
Of course, that means the cost of living is rising in places like Bath, where Mansbridge is based, as more and more people leave the city, so there’s always a downside to changing demographics, which means the people have to make new decisions about how to spend their disposable income.
But the shift to working from home is something that Mansbridge benefits everyone in the long run, as people spend less time doing things they don’t want to do and more time doing things they don’t want to do. ‘they do.
“What benefits CrossFit is that there is less frantic running, people have more free time because they spend less time commuting. So where people would commute an hour or two hours a day is now time they can spend in the gym, so it definitely has a positive effect.