Location: The first box established in Auckland, CrossFit New Zealand opened in 2008, making it one of the first 500 boxes in the world (at last count, total number of affiliates hovered around 4,400). In their second location, a sprawling garage in the eastern suburb of St. Johns, CFNZ serves a community of 150 diverse athletes.
Darren Ellis, sole CFNZ owner and former gymnast/martial artist, first found CrossFit on the internet. After reading through “Angie” (For time: 100 Pull-ups, 100 Push-ups, 100 Sit-ups, 100 Squats), Ellis thought to himself, “Who does 100 pull-ups? That’s just stupid.”
But after earning a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology, working in the fitness industry, and doing extensive research into his own health, fitness and performance, he felt his knowledge and experience weren’t reflected in the way that mattered most: progress. “CrossFit showed me how to enjoy exercise again, and how to push myself past preconceived limitations, both physical and mental,” Ellis said.
Ellis loves power cleans and hates handstand push-ups. His favorite aspect of coaching is simple, “I love undoing the damage done to people’s bodies and minds by poor advice from gyms, food companies, and government ‘experts’. Taking people who have lost all faith in the possibility of being health and fit, and showing them how to achieve it.”
Ellis writes all of the programming for CFNZ with a focus on strength and Olympic lifting. CFNZ offers a variety of classes in functional exercise; including kettlebell training, bodyweight calisthenics, Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics. According to their website their classes, “purposely avoid muscle isolating machines in favor of the real world movements of life and sport.”
WOD (Thursday, August 23rd, 4:30pm):
Back Squat 5×5
Hip Extension 5×10
5 rounds for time
“We’ve definitely got that community going. It’s good honest hard work in here. We have some of the best athletes in the country, but you won’t see anyone being cocky or arrogant,” Ellis says of the CFNZ members.
Ruth Sullman, a 4-year CFNZ veteran, acknowledges that the box has grown quite a bit in the last year but still retains its positive, friendly vibe. “The growth is a credit to Darren,” Sullman says. “He’s able to attract new clients while maintaining the strength of the original community.”
As we wrapped up our quick interview, Ellis added one last thought.
“We get shit done,” he said with a smile, hustling off to corral the next batch of incoming athletes.