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Review: Fittest On Earth: A Decade of Fitness

It’s hard to believe that CrossFit has been around for a decade. It seems like only yesterday when naysayers dissed the sport and brushed it off as a fad. Well, ten years, thousands of affiliates, several Opens and CrossFit Games, later, it’s still going strong both locally and internationally. In fact, it was a 3-month program at a high school where I took up CrossFit! But I digress…

Fittest On Earth: A Decade of Fitness is a mix between an homage to the very first CrossFit Games (that was more of an informal meet up at the director’s family farm, as explained in the film) and the modern CrossFit Games which most of the documentary focuses on.

We’re given a crash course on the format of the Games and I thought the film succeeded in showing how tough the events were within this 5-day competition. They even point out how they keep the events a secret and how much the competitors were baffled and were guessing up until the final event of the Games. I mean, how do you prepare for the unknown?

Being a CrossFit Games athlete is basically a mental illness,”

— Rory McKernan, CrossFit Games Host

Fittest On Earth: A Decade of Fitness introduces us to the participants and explains how they are not your everyday CrossFit athlete. It doesn’t mention the Masters nor Teens divisions of the Games— the ones you may be able to relate to. Instead, the documentary focuses on the elite CrossFit athletes: the men and women who have dedicated years of their lives to this ultimate fitness competition, and rightly so.

We’re presented the 2015 winners, Ben Smith and Katrin Davidsdottir; the runners-up, Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey, along with the other notable elite CrossFit athletes— Sara Sigmundsdottir, Josh Bridges, Samanta Briggs, and so on. Side note: I was sad to find out Annie Thorisdottir, my fav, was mostly just a soundbite in this documentary.

We’re given a glimpse into some of the athletes’ lives and their seemingly approachable personalities through candid tidbits, interviews, and other random conversations. We see how the athletes interact with each other in-between the events (always jovial with a good amount of camaraderie) and then we watch how dedicated these elites train, what their motivations are (I loved Katrin’s tribute to her amma) and then see their drive to compete. There are certain athletes (e.g., Fraser, Davidsdottir, Bridges, Briggs, Sigmundsdottir) who were comfortable in front of the camera and then those that acknowledge its existence such as newcomer Fikowski & veteran Toomey who are OK in front of it, but in Toomey’s case, felt like there were other athletes to feature.

Ultimately, Fittest On Earth: A Decade of Fitness is not just a rehash of the 2016 CrossFit Games that one could watch on TV (although the recent Games’ footage is wonderfully peppered into the timeline) nor is it a 120-minute feature of the Games’ sponsors (there’s a lot of product placement, naturally). It’s a film that highlights the tough and special nature that is the CrossFit Games— both by showing the intense, almost unbelievable, physical challenges and the mental aspect (strength or weakness) attached to competing. Even if you knew the results of the 2016 Games before watching this, I thought that you could still feel the excitement of the build up as the film progressed. I found that it made a great effort of infusing drama through raw emotions of the athletes (I felt for you, Tia Toomey!) and it moved at a pace where you seldom had the chance to ponder why these athletes do what they do. Ok, maybe there were some slow parts. 😉

If you ever considered the Games, I think the director’s quote below sums up how unique the CrossFit Games’ athletes are:

Besides being extremely gifted and having a huge work ethic, and having years of CrossFit underneath your belt, you have to completely commit to changing your life [so] that [the CrossFit Games] is your sole existence and goal. And even then, you’re probably not going to make it.

— David Castro, CrossFit Games Director

 Still, one can still dream, right?

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