Extreme Fitness Competitions Invade Living Rooms
If you happen turn on ESPN this weekend you might notice some seriously stacked men and women climbing ropes, dragging sleds and doing burpees. Sound like punishment? Nope, it’s the CrossFit Games, an annual fitness competition that tests participants’ physical ability and preparedness through a series of workouts rewarding strength, speed, endurance and agility.
This probably isn’t your introduction to such extreme fitness competitions. Heck, my Facebook feed is full of references to CrossFit, the Warrior Dash or the Spartan Race. But now we’re seeing more of it on television.
Last week ESPN extended the agreement to televise the Games exclusively on ESPN. And this year there’s more live action on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3: 46 hours of it, culminating in the finals on Sunday evening to determine “the Fittest on Earth.” Contestants don’t know the workouts they will be performing ahead of time, which ups the challenge even more.
“The beauty of the CrossFit Games is that it’s a different competition every year,” Todd Myers, ESPN’s director of programming and acquisitions told us. “This year for the first time ESPN’s family of networks will be distributing every minute from every competition with ESPN and ESPN2 televising four hours live,” he said.
Also last week, NBC Sports announced a multi-year TV alliance with the Spartan Race, another such fitness contest. This one involves running through fire and crawling under barbed wire. On Tuesday NBCSN began airing the first of five Spartan Races, with the Spartan Race World Championship airing on NBC November 16.
And then there’s Tough Mudder, the dirtiest of them all. It’s a 10-12 mile obstacle race in the mud, designed by British Special Forces to challenge the toughest troops out there. No one’s bought up the TV rights to air these races just yet, though MTV’s “Made” and “True Life” have featured it in episodes and Travel Channel’s “Sand Masters” has shown the Warrior Dash. But my guess is we’ll see it televised soon. Because who wouldn’t want to see incredibly fit people forcing themselves to tread through mud and dodge electric shocks? Just check out this article from BuzzFeed if you don’t believe me.