Cultural Probe – CrossFit, a new religion?

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For my probe I will be creating an audio / visual study of a Crossfit gym in Bushwick. I joined Crossfit by chance with a friend and quickly learnt that the gym functions much more as a pillar of community than a place for exercise. I have worked extensively in gyms on photo projects but there is something inherently unique about Crossfit.

One explanation for the fascination / infatuation people have with Crossfit is that it provides a shared experience of struggle and transformation. As religious institutions play a lesser role in 21st century life people still want a place to go were they can experience a shared belief system with others. The culture of Crossfit encourages members to not only support each other, but to also hold each other accountable for practising both the physical and moral value system Crossfit promotes.

Since I have joined the box (Crossfit speak for gym) there have been at least 2 social events per month. Members are actively encouraged to socialise with each other and those new to the gym are added to private Facebook groups that serve as another form of socialising.

I have also noticed the extensive number of ex military that use the gym. Much like a miliatary unit I have witnessed people closely bond over certain exercises and workouts. I believe that those who join not only wish to get a healthier lifestyle but to meet new people and feel a part of something. I hope that by mixing audio interviews with both pictures and possibly video I will be able to make sense of the value system within Crossfit and find reasons why so many people (myself included) become so  hooked to it. I also want to explore the subject of transformation and what that specifically means to individuals.

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