The 2017 Crossfit Games, the annual fitness competition involving hundreds of thousands of Crossfit enthusiasts from around the world, now includes a military and first responder competitive division.

Military members, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians will have the opportunity to compete in their own respective categories, and compare their scores.

Since debuting in 2007, the Crossfit Games have earned notoriety for claiming to be able to measure and assess the ‘Fittest’ athlete on Earth. These separate divisions potentially allow someone from the military to claim the title ‘Fittest Military Member on Earth’.

But while they may be the Fittest service member on the planet, they will still have to measure up to the professional Crossfit athletes if they wish to compete at the Games.

Crossfit is an exercise program that frequently polarizes opinions in the fitness industry. Its proponents are known for their die-hard dedication to the community; its detractors are equally vocal.

As an exercise methodology, Crossfit is defined as “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.” The ‘workout of the day,’ or WOD as it is known to those in the community, are intentionally different every day, and designed to be unusually physically and mentally taxing.

Crossfit’s tight-knit community, unique vernacular, and intense physical culture has many parallels with the military, and perhaps not surprisingly, has become a huge hit with service members. Crossfit clubs have sprung up at nearly all military bases around the world, to include in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This close relationship with the military and Crossfit’s emphasis on service and sacrifice has manifested itself with “Hero WODs,” or workouts usually named after a fallen service member that are particularly difficult to complete.

Perhaps the most famous of these Hero WODs is called ‘Murph,’ dedicated to fallen Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy. This workout has appeared twice at the Crossfit Games, in 2015 and 2016.

As the fitness trend has grown, it has morphed into a professional sport with well-known professional athletes of its own. Some of the most prominent figures are veterans from the Special Operations community. Dave Castro, the founder and current facilitator of the Crossfit Games, is a former Navy SEAL. Josh Bridges, a top competitor in the sport, is also a former SEAL.

Last year, Castro drew the ire of many within the Crossfit community after offering a Glock 19 pistol as a prize to the male and female winners of the Games.

The Crossfit Games are open to any member of the public. The grassroots feel of the competition, where anyone who signs up is technically competing with the biggest stars of the sport, has contributed to its growing popularity.

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