Located among the industrial warehouses just west of Christchurch city proper, Reebok CrossFit Canterbury started out in a small warehouse on Moorhouse Avenue back in 2010. In August of 2011, they relocated to Montreal Street and added plenty of extra space, more equipment, a physio therapist and a sports masseuse.
A fixture within the rugby culture in New Zealand for their close family ties to the All Blacks, Reebok CrossFit Canterbury Director of Coaching, Ken Franks, and his two sons, Ben and Owen, opened this 250-member box with a second location already in the works.
Overseeing a staff of one full-time trainer and five part-time trainers, Franks implemented his own coaching program for aspiring trainers. New coaches must progress through five levels of instruction to teach at Reebok CrossFit Canterbury: trainee, trainer, coach in training, coach and head coach.
Always on the hunt for any programming that could give his sons a rugby edge, Franks stumbled upon CrossFit through google four years ago and introduced some of the principles into Ben and Owen’s training regimen. He cautions against those who see CrossFit as the be-all, end-all of sport specific fitness, “It’s important to remember that even though CrossFit makes you supremely fit and gives you the ability to do rugby skills longer and faster, it doesn’t make you a better rugby player.”
“To be a better rugby player,” he added. “You must train rugby specific skills.”
At Reebok CrossFit Canterbury, Franks discovered that a traditional two-week element course with six sessions wasn’t practical for kiwis. Instead, he put together a comprehensive one week element program (meeting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday) that covers the fundamentals.
When asked about the addition of any additional Olympic-lifting specialized courses, Franks explained, “Olympic lifting and CrossFit are two different beasts. Of course it’s important to get your Olympic lifting technique correct. In Oly lifting, though, you’re looking at sets of 3-5. In a CrossFit sense, it doesn’t really matter how great your form is, if you’re doing 30 clean and jerks for time, your form will deteriorate to some degree. So we try to balance the two here.”
WOD (Saturday, August 18th, 9am):
400m sprint for time (fastest+slowest finishers paired up by time:, ie: 1st and 10th place, 2nd and 9th, 3rd and 8th, etc)
10 minute partner AMRAP (one partner working at a time):
10 Thrusters (40/55kg)
10 hand release push ups
400m sprint for time (if you don’t beat your combined time from the first sprint, you owe a minute of burpees)
1k run cool-down
Though a massive aftershock in 2011 interrupted their last Paleo challenge, Franks says the majority of their members eat clean. He encourages his athletes to test out paleo and zone approaches to see what works best.
Franks is clear about his goals for Reebok CrossFit Canterbury, saying simply, “We want to be world class.”
He acknowledges that his sons’ high-profile reputation might affect how some see the box, “We’re not just a ‘meathead’ gym, we’re here for everyone. I don’t believe we’re world class if everyone can’t come in and participate. That’s what it’s all about.”
Gesturing out at the athletes gathering for the next WOD, Franks says,”We’ve got the greatest community here, and such a broad spectrum of athletes.”
The Reebok CrossFit Canterbury members are dedicated, too. Even after the quake hit in 2011, athletes barely skipped a beat, stopping for a few moments to look around outside the box after the shaking subsided and then coming back in to finish their WOD. They finally, reluctantly, headed home after a second aftershock hit.
Though he’s had the ability to train elite athletes in a variety of sport disciplines, Franks says he gets the biggest kick out of seeing new athletes accomplish something they never thought they could do.
Global Sport Culture:
Franks believes there is a place for CrossFit among the elite rugby athletes in New Zealand, especially with the introduction of offseason periodization, “If we get them in here during the offseason and really work hard on their strength… there’s just an unlimited future there.”
Still, Franks understands that it might take time for the naysayers to come around. For those who aren’t quite convinced, Franks imparts some simple advice, “Do what you’re doing, especially if you’re enjoying it. If you find it doesn’t work, come see us, we have an alternative.”