By Rachel Grunwell

CrossFit has reached its 10th birthday in New Zealand and there are now 127 CrossFits nationwide.

In case you are not into the CrossFit craze yet, it's a style of group fitness that blends movements like weightlifting, kettlebell swinging, gymnastics, rowing and running.

CrossFit is held in a box — a warehouse full of weights, bars, bikes, wall-balls, kettlebells and row machines. The stats show Auckland has 50 CrossFit boxes, Hamilton six, Tauranga four, Wellington 11 and Christchurch eight.


Darren Ellis, owner of CrossFitNZ in St Johns, Auckland, opened the first CrossFit in New Zealand 10 years ago. He celebrated the milestone with his members recently.

I chatted to Ellis — and two other CrossFit owners — and all of them noted increasing female members.

They have women members aged up into their 50s and 60s.

Ellis says CrossFit started with a big following from people in the forces — ie police and fire services.

"Now it's full of mums and busy professionals."

Luke McGruer, owner of the Mount CrossFit in Tauranga, says when he opened eight years ago clients thought they had to be super-fit to join. His membership used to be aged in their 20s and 30s. Now it's increasingly females 35-55 years.

"Females find it really empowering."

Jason Sawyer, owner of CrossFit New Market in Auckland, says his membership is 46 per cent females, 54 per cent men.

Tauranga's Arumia Hayles in a recent Crossfit competition. Photo / Photofitt
Tauranga's Arumia Hayles in a recent Crossfit competition. Photo / Photofitt

"The gym is full of positive people living life, eating better, feeling better. They have more energy to play with their kids and do handstands with their daughters in parks. The energy they have from doing CrossFit is glorious," says Sawyer.

Meanwhile, this health writer been doing CrossFit for six months, mixing it with running and yoga.

It was scary starting something new and stepping into a new environment. But I've been welcomed by a supportive community.

I've learnt that building muscles and mastering the movements takes time. Learning all the complex lifts keeps my monkey mind interested.

I'm getting stronger, slowly. I can now rope-climb and deadlift 75kg, which is more than my body weight. Whoop! But there's still lots to learn.

Who's beside me in the box? They come from varied backgrounds including an orthodontist, radio host, physio, university lecturer, supermarket owner to mums.

I've enjoyed making new friends, while sweating hard and lifting stuff to loud music.

Even the slowest person through the WOD (workout of the day) — often me — still gets cheered on as much as the inspiring fit folk. It's fun. Help me now, I think I'm addicted ...

Rachel Grunwell is our weekly wellness columnist. She is an award-winning writer, wellness expert, PT and teaches yoga at CrossFitNZ. Watch her CrossFit stretch flow she did with Darren Ellis on her social media.