Founded 15 years ago in California by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenal, Crossfit is an exercise philosophy and a competitive sport. Its hardcore workout consists of high intensity interval training and includes plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics and calisthenics among a long and varied list of exercises. Athletes perform daily “WODs” (workouts of the day), which are designed to enhance overall physical strength and agility – making for a diverse and comprehensive training program.

A primary reason Crossfit appeals to the masses, however, is that it extends beyond a physical workout. When executed well, Crossfit incorporates an extremely intense fitness regimen — where physical results are pretty much a given — in a supportive, encouraging and connective environment. This relies heavily on the coaching staff, who must be knowledgeable, passionate, and hands-on in their approach. (Due to the varied nature and intensity of the sport, athletes must be extremely careful to keep good form, to prevent injury and receive the best workout possible.) With over 10,000 affiliated gyms worldwide, the movement continues to grow internationally.

Photo by Onde2Choc.

Natalie Rios in competition. Photo: Onde2Choc.

Crossfit in Paris. Since the first location in Paris opened in April 2012, Crossfit has grown steadily, with several locations now scattered throughout the city. Its most central location is on an idyllic corner in the heart of Opera. Upon entering the building, you are greeted by a Reebok store on your left, featuring an array of fitness apparel and shoes, and a short staircase leading you downstairs to the workout studio (referred to as ‘the box’).  Classes in Paris are taught solely in French thus far; however, as an American concept, the workout terms are referred to in English.

Class Experience.  This week we tried a Crossfit class with bright-eyed instructor Natalie Lahoussine-Rios at Crossfit Louvre.  Natalie is clearly passionate about Crossfit, as a competitor and coach, evident right away through her focused and thorough explanations of the WOD, and attentive coaching style.   (Natalie also happens to be half-French and half-American, making her an ideal trainer for those new to Paris or struggling with their French.) Each class is taught by one coach and one assistant, to ensure proper attention is given to all athletes. Our session, despite being a blend of newbies, semi-regulars and some very experienced Crossfit athletes, felt cohesive and inclusive.  Perhaps wearing a name tag sticker has something to do with that immediate connection.  Natalie immediately had us split into groups of 3, and after a 15-minute dynamic warm-up, the high intensity training began.

Natalie BW smile

Crossfit athlete & coach, Natalie Rios. photo by Angelina Moskalenko.

WOD.  For a total of 30 minutes, the 3 of us did 1-minute intervals – alternating between weighted squats, using the rowing machine and a rest period (for a total of 10 reps). Set to a soundtrack of motivating music, the challenging physical workout was made more effective by Natalie’s coaching.   Throughout the class, she walked from group to group giving instruction, correcting form and providing words of encouragement.  Our 3-person group was very warm and supportive; actually, the whole box was filled with an cool sense of ‘togetherness’. At the end of the WOD, it was a pleasant surprise to have people from other groups (with whom we’d never spoken) reach out their hands with a ‘high five’.

Lowdown.  All in all, the workout experience was exceptional.  In Paris, it’s not easy to find a kickass workout that is also motivating and community-oriented. There’s something about this combination that just works.  Reminds us of New York.  Definitely a must-try for anyone who is up for a challenge, who wants results and to be inspired.

To connect with Natalie:

Rates at Crossfit Louvre

25 E per class.  10-class pack for 225E.  annual membership @120E/month.

3 month package for 150E/month.


Crossfit Studios Currently Open in Paris