Tucked away on unassuming, charming Charonne boulevard a few blocks walk from the Avron metro station in the 20th arrondissement northeast of Paris, the official CrossFit Original Addicts box is currently under construction—slated to open in September 2012.
In the meantime, dedicated CrossFitters come together, literally, in the streets to WOD on: 3 times a day, 5 days a week. After nearby affiliate CrossFit France shut down in December of 2011, groups of athletes began meeting regularly to workout. Without structure, informal classes swelled to 40 athletes/WOD with as many as 100 different athletes participating in any given week.
“People were inviting their friends, their siblings, their coworkers,” CrossFit Original Addicts owner Joachim Marty recalled. “Pretty soon, it was just out of control. We needed to initiate some kind of structure, limit the number of athletes per WOD and affiliate.”
CrossFit Original Addicts was born.
Joachim Marty, a former classical musician, occasional runner, tennis player and swimmer, discovered CrossFit after a friend introduced him to a “whole new way” of training. Marty researched CrossFit online and, impressed with what he found, decided to give it a try.
A year and a half later, he’s eating, sleeping and breathing the CrossFit way of life, “I’m doing this because I believe in CrossFit and I believe it makes you better in so many ways.”
“I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t fun,” he adds.
Early on, Marty shelved aspirations of ever owning his own box, “I never thought it would be possible because space in Paris is just so expensive.” Fate intervened when 4 of Marty’s CrossFit athletes stepped forward to invest and help make his dream a reality.
With financial backers in place (and a little help from his parents), Marty scoured the Paris area for an ideal location. They snagged a perfect spot in Charonne, a classic fixer-upper. Marty is working full-time to transform the space into an official CrossFit box but it’s not without its own challenges, “I’m just impatient to get started. To have all the equipment and all the toys, to get going.”
Joachim and another trainer, Danielle, write the programming for CrossFit Original Addicts. With limited space and equipment, they improvise with creative WODs, mixing in plenty of outdoor body weight movements. Occasionally, they’ll head down the street to a track.
WOD (July 17th, 12:10pm):
5 Rounds for Time:
100 m sprint
10 mountain climbers
10 pistols (alternating)
10 jump squats
“We’re so friendly here,” Joachim gestured around the small space. “We’re extremely inclusive. You come in a stranger on day one, and you’re our good friend by the end of the week.”
A true testament to the community at CrossFit Original Addicts, “People even come on their rest days, to hang out, cheer on the others and get a drink after the WOD.” In the winter of 2012, Marty was inspired by the commitment from his athletes, “We had no lights, no water, it was -10°C (14°F), and people kept showing up. We’ve developed a really strong community here.”
Marty’s also proud that some of his athletes, who double as fitness instructors in other disciplines, come to him for their training, “I think we must be doing something right, if other fitness teachers are coming to do CrossFit here.”
“People around here look at you like you’re from outer space when you describe Paleo eating,” Marty laughed. “Meals in France are so centered on bread, cheese and wine, ” he explained. “But, we’ve converted some, about 4-5 people eat strict Paleo, and the others have noticed. They see those that are eating right and putting in the same amount of work are getting better results, faster.”
Marty adds a few primal foods (full-fat cheese, raw milk and quinoa) to his otherwise strict Paleo regimen. “No sugar, no starches, always,” he nodded, then added, “People are coming around though, I’m starting to see change.”
Global Sport Culture:
Marty describes his take on the French mentality towards fitness and health, “French people tend to think, ‘If I’m not obese, I’m okay,’ which is crazy. They say, ‘I’m not sick, not yet.’ They’re not concerned about cholesterol,” he observed.
“Sport is not a priority in France. In school, it’s 1 or 2 classes a week, that’s it. If you have time to practice, on your own, that’s great, but being good at a sport will not make your life any easier or better here.”
He continued, “The growth of CrossFit will help change that, I think. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do this.”