The principle of functional fitness is nothing new. The idea that we should design our workouts around natural movements that have a direct correlation in real life has been used as a training principle in sport, military and even rehabilitation for decades, if not centuries. But, in the early 2000’s, a workout program began to grow in California that branded itself on using functional fitness as a way to train individuals to be good at everything, but an expert in nothing. This program is known as CrossFit. In 2014, a spin off of CrossFit created a sports league utilizing functional fitness to race one team’s fitness against another. This program is known as the National Pro Grid League.
As CrossFit grew in popularity, a competition began to grow as more and more people wanted to test their fitness against others participating in CrossFit. CrossFit began to change from a “fitness” program to a sport. The more who participated, the more competition was formed. Eventually, CrossFit began to hold a yearly competition that crowned the fittest man, woman, and team in the world. The CrossFit Games is a multiple day competition in which the athletes are put through a number of different workouts, most of them unknown until right before the workout starts. Each athlete must be able to perform an entire workout and will strategize how much effort to put forth during the workout in order to maximize output without reaching burnout (redlining). By the end of the weekend, CrossFit believes that it has provided a test of true general physical preparedness. Those who win the Games are paid for that competition only. If a CrossFit athletes wants to be paid for training, he or she must find coaching jobs or sponsorships. CrossFit itself does not pay the athletes to train all year. The sport of fitness has grown incredibly, but still leaves a few gaps in order to be considered a “sport” by today’s league/season/team standards where teams are formed and compete against other teams.
National Pro Grid League
This takes us to 2014, the start of the National Pro Grid League. Started by an ex-employee of CrossFit, Inc., the Grid League is not a test of fitness. The Grid league is a functional fitness competition designed to determine which team is able to strategize and complete a set number of pre-determined workouts the fastest. Unlike CrossFit, the National Pro Grid League tells every team what workouts it will be performing well in advance of the actual competition. Furthermore, because the Grid League is an all team competition, each team is allowed to sub team members during each workout to keep fresh athletes on the floor working at all times. This allows an athlete to redline during a particular movement, then run off of the “grid” while another team member continues to work. Finally, the Grid League is set up with teams, leagues, and seasons. The National Pro Grid League holds a draft where athletes are picked up by different teams and paid as an athlete to train and compete for that team.
What remains to be seen at this point is how these two will live together and whether the Grid League will really make it as a new sport. Both require the use of functional fitness and general physical preparedness in order to excel. However, CrossFit and the National Pro Grid League are testing for different aspects of fitness. Does this mean they will be able to live together? Anyone who is familiar with CrossFit should be able to see that CrossFit-type training is the best training method for the Grid League teams. Additionally, the first season the Grid League is populated by well-known CrossFit competitors and CrossFit Box owners. Will this overlap and history cause some strife? We hope not. We love them both, equally.