A short tram ride south of the city center, Reebok CrossFit Brussels lives in a spacious converted warehouse hidden away among the suburban neighborhood of Drogenbos.
Recently converted to Reebok-affiliated status, this box first rolled up its doors in September of 2010 and grew exponentially, now housing over 650 members including personal training clients and mixed martial arts athletes.
Yves Patte, a four-year veteran of the CrossFit World and one of 12 coaches at Reebok CrossFit Brussels also serves as nutritional consultant and community manager. Patte describes his role as, “Engaging people, taking pictures and writing about workouts, organizing events… essentially creating a community and maintaining a relationship with other boxes.”
Back in 2008, when Patte first started CrossFitting, “There was really nothing here in Belgium, so I started my website, Sport is Everywhere, to try and promote our box and get in touch with other CrossFitters, mainly French readers.” Patte regularly communicates with other athletes and coaches in the CrossFit community and was one of the first to respond with enthusiasm about the idea behind the Global WOD Project.
A former runner, basketball player, skateboarder, and strength trainer, Patte first saw a feature on CrossFit in a magazine with Andy Petranek doing the filthy fifty. Intrigued, he gave the filthy fifty a go (for time: 50 box jumps, 50 jumping pull-ups, 50 kb swings, 50 walking lunges, 50 knees to elbows, 50 push press, 50 back extensions, 50 wall ball shots, 50 burpees and 50 double unders)and afterwards—exhausted, laid out on his back on the floor, knew he had found something truly worthwhile.
Amanda Miller Memorial WOD, in honor of Amanda Miller, the 2009 CrossFit Games competitor who died of cancer in 2010:
9, 7 and 5 reps of:
Snatches (60 kg/43 kg)
*To modify, scale the muscle-ups to chest-to-bar pull-ups.
After the WOD, Yves organized a question & answer session with the Global WOD Project. Several athletes stuck around and contributed to an enlightening discussion of CrossFit culture, community, nutrition, and female athletes.
With almost 40 classes a week, Reebok CrossFit Brussels mixes CrossFit Football, CrossFit Kids, Strength and Olympic lifting with personal training and women’s only classes, as well as “free access” or open gym time.
Serving as the nutritional consultant and box role model, Patte follows a strict paleo diet, utilizing zone ratio/measurements and principles as a good introductory tool for those just transitioning. Of his experience with Paleo so far, Patte says, “Of course I’ve seen an improvement in my performance but also in my digestion. I have more energy throughout the day.”
He acknowledges it can be difficult to break the habits of long-term athletes who believe that rice, pasta, and bread are necessary for hard training, “For those that give up those carbohydrate staples and don’t supplement with enough vegetables, they get hungry. Zone is a good way to balance the portions without overdoing it.”
Despite Patte’s lead, the rest of the Reebok CrossFit Brussels athletes are slow to follow, “For the most part, the athletes here are aware of Paleo, and know that starch and gluten aren’t good for them, so they make an effort to eat less of those foods. But very few are eating completely strict Paleo.”
Global Sport Culture:
As one of the early CrossFit adopters in Europe (and first established boxes), the Reebok CrossFit Brussels team stresses the importance of community, “We’re really friendly and we’re really into the community. We communicate with the other boxes in Europe, especially in France and the Netherlands.”
Fútbol, like in Spain, still reigns as the dominant sport in Belgium. CrossFit’s growth, Patte believes, is evident in its development as a sport, “When I see the Reebok slogan, ‘The sport of Fitness has arrived,’ I think to myself—it really has become a sport. We have competitions all over Europe, there are ‘CrossFit Stars.’ We pull athletes from other sports; fútbol, American football, rugby.”
“Last year, we held a competition, but it was more for show,” Patte continued. “This year, athletes were showing up that already knew the rules. Now, athletes are preparing for the “seasons” of CrossFit. It’s continuing to develop.”
And for the future? Patte is optimistic. In the long run, he only has one wish, “That the community of CrossFit boxes stays united.”