CrossFit has generated a sense of belonging that even cult brands would aspire to emulate. There is more to this group training programme than just getting healthy and strong. By working out together – doing deadlifts, snatches, bar muscle-ups, and more – people report feeling that they’ve found a place that they belong. We sat down with the protagonists of Umbro’s Pro Training campaign to talk about the power of community.

As coaches, Elise and Harrison found common ground in CrossFit. Elise, a junior doctor who competes at CrossFit events, finds that training gives her space and time to herself, yet the sense of community, friendship and play is the main attraction.

“I’ve found a place where I belong.”

Harrison, meanwhile, found the community in CrossFit that he’d found missing from rugby. “I’ve found a place where I belong,” he says.

So, what is it about CrossFit that builds such a distinctive sense of belonging?

Bonding through shared pain
Pain is known to be a powerful ingredient in producing bonding and co-operation between those who share painful experiences. “The fact that you’re doing that all together in a class, everyone’s suffering through that pain together,” says Elise. “And then you give each other a fist bump at the end and forget about it.”

Push yourself further
A study showed that people who exercised with someone they thought was better than them increased their workout time and intensity by 200%. “Personally, I love training with other people. It lets me push myself a little bit more,” says Harrison. “Everyone just loves getting a sweat on and doing something hard. And it’s kind of like a mental game,” confirms Elise.

Raising self-esteem
When our need to belong has been met, we have greater confidence in our own ability and value. “Training with other people makes me feel part of something,” says Harrison. “When I’m training with my friends, I feel good about myself.”

Freedom to play
Play is a great way to feel included, accepted, and supported by others. “In CrossFit, there is this aspect of play where you get to try new skills and build from what you’ve learned,” says Elise.


Having (a lot of) fun
There’s nothing better than working out with others. For many, hard workouts are even more fun. “People care about each other, their health, and they want to get better, but they also like having fun – because our workouts are brutal,” says Elise.

“We’re doing what we love together. And we’ll rinse each other afterwards as well,” added Harrison.