Location: The first established box in South America (2006), CrossFit Santiago evolved like many other of the best CrossFit boxes—out of a small backyard set-up. Currently situated in an expansive warehouse in Central Santiago just east of the Toesca metro station on the orange line, CrossFit Santiago welcomes 140 members a month through its doors.
Ownership/Affiliation: Sole owner Pavel Saenz, a former MMA fighter, first discovered CrossFit on a quick trip up to Portland, Oregon in 2005 where he connected with CrossFit Portland owner Scotty Hagnas, and fell in love with the sport of fitness. “At this point in time, there were no Level 1 certifications,” Saenz explains. “First, we had to train. Then we had to learn to teach others. I got a lot of great advice from [then affiliate director] Tony Budding. The original blog I started back then is still up today.”
Saenz kept his day job as a documentary filmmaker but wasted no time setting up a small box in his backyard with the goal of training other MMA fighters, CrossFit-style. “We had one barbell and a big log for box jumps,” he laughs, recalling their cramped space. Quality training didn’t go unnoticed for long and other clients came calling after seeing about the results Saenz produced. He juggled his backyard box and day job for two years before getting fired and investing everything in CrossFit.
Saenz writes the entirety of CrossFit Santiago’s programming, splitting the WODs into three levels of training based on experience; those with 2 months or less, 4 months or less, and 6 months or more. Like many other boxes, Saenz creates special programming for an elite group of athletes with a focus on competition.
12 Minute AMRAP (Friday, September 7, 5pm):
First minute = 5 strict press (35kg)
Second minute = max rep pull-ups
Repeat sequence 6 times
CrossFit Santiago regularly introduces nutrition challenges and seminars for their clients. Currently, they’re in the midst of the The Best Shape of My Life Nutrition Challenge created by CrossFit Verve owner, Matt Chan. Saenz believes it’s just a matter of breaking bad habits, “They’re just used to a lot of bread and soda. But eating clean isn’t an economical issue here, we have lots of cheap fruit and vegetables available.”
“A lot of community, a lot of friends,” Saenz says about the CrossFit Santiago community. “We’re downtown, but people commute from all over just to be here.” On average, Saenz estimated that the average CrossFit Santiago client traveled over 35 minutes to get to the box for a WOD.
“Our community sets us apart. We have all types of clients from all over.” The CrossFit Santiago community regularly meets outside of the box for workshops, camps, hikes and “fondas” or parties. With the approaching Chilean “Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day)” on September 18th, CrossFit Santiago members will gather for a huge fonda complete with paleo food offerings, drinks and dancing.
Global Sport Culture:
Saenz is excited about the future of CrossFit, especially in Chile, “We have a greater potential, percentage-wise, for growth, than other countries. Besides futbol (and a little tennis), we don’t really participate in sports,” he laughs. “So when people tire of the traditional gym, CrossFit is a great alternative.”