Photo Credit: Instagram @hyroxworld
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Christian Toetzke, the founder and CEO of HYROX – billed the world series of fitness racing – has big plans and even bigger dreams coming out of the pandemic.
“We want to have a race in every notable country out there,” said Toetzke, who has worked in sports for most of his career which included developing a number of world triathlon series. “This is the goal and the plan now in 2022 that the pandemic is over, knock on wood.”
HYROX began in 2017 when Toetzke got together with fellow German Mortiz Furste, a two-time Olympic gold medal hockey player, and they devised a fitness race that combines functional exercise with endurance. Toetzke has taken the company to incredible heights since then, despite the pandemic, as they have already had 28 races over eight countries for the 2021-22 season.
Flying in from Los Angeles and a competition that just wrapped, he spoke to the Morning Chalk Up about what he sees as the coming fitness boom the world is just now entering.
“There is an appetite for these kinds of things I am seeing now that I have never seen before in my life.”
Each HYROX race across the planet is exactly the same with athletes eight functional 1 kilometer runs and fitness workouts which include ski, sled push, sled pull, burpees, rowing, Farmer’s Carry, lunges and wall balls. Athletes can compete as individuals in the regular or pro category, or as a pair (mixed or same sex).
This weekend, the world championship will take place in Las Vegas, and Toetzke said he is just getting started with HYROX, which has a tonne of cross-pollination with CrossFit. A number of elite CrossFit athletes have competed in events and the biggest star, Hunter McIntyre, previously competed at the CrossFit Games.
“CrossFit is amazing in what it has done globally,” said Toetzke, “and we don’t want to take away from that at all. We have this vision that within each box there is a HYROX faction, where people talk about the next upcoming race that they are doing.”
Toetzke wants to key on what he calls mass participation events, which would have been scoffed at during the pandemic, but are now returning with a vengeance. Out of the pandemic has emerged a new type of regular person, one who prioritizes fitness more, and one who is looking to forgo traditional gyms and also couple activities with training augmentation.
“CrossFit is amazing in what it has done globally, and we don’t want to take away from that at all.”
Christian Toetzke, HYROX Founder and CEO
“People have a much deeper awareness of their fitness and health now,” he added, noting he has also seen an increased education level when it comes to nutrition and recovery as well. “And they want to stay in shape for their livelihood, and they also want to join or rejoin communities that are associated with fitness.”
The sport of fitness is fast becoming crowded. CrossFit has become a mainstay all over North American and a number of key European countries, and there has also been a rise in obstacle course racing (known as OCR), which includes everything from Spartan Race to GORUCK. The shift is that regular people are starting to plan vacations around activities, shunning traditional trips where they sit around all inclusive hotels and do nothing. Toetzke said this is exactly the type of person they are targeting.
“You see it already, people come to certain events with friends and family for the weekend, like here in Vegas, and they also create their own little circuits where they travel around to competitions. And the thing that differentiates us from CrossFit is anyone can do this workout, we are the marathon of functional fitness, some people might take an hour to do it, some maybe three or four, but they can all complete it.”
This Saturday in Las Vegas the elites will be competing for a total prize pot of $75,000, as Toetzke hopes to develop stars much like CrossFit has in Rich Froning, Tia-Clair Toomey and the now retired Mat Fraser. He has also built these weekend competitions around an all-inclusive style format where people can come compete, and then watch the elites compete right after them.
“The idea is to make everyone feel like they are a part of it. Regular people can’t compete at the CrossFit Games, but here, this weekend, everyone is competing together, the elites right down to the people who are just starting out.”