Mannequin Members at CrossFit Discovery


The Mannequin Challenge, identifiable by #mannequinchallenge, is the latest viral social media challenge.

People remain frozen mid-action while a video is recorded and the song “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd plays. The challenge has been taken on by everyone from Hillary Clinton to the Cleveland Cavaliers — and more recently, the 9:30 a.m. class at CrossFit Discovery in Charleston, South Carolina.

Owner Robert Vannewkirk said his wife, who owns a dance studio located in the same building as CrossFit Discovery, recommended his class make the video. Vannewkirk and his athletes happily obliged.

“We could have had a lot more people if we had set up a time to shoot it, but it was really spur of the moment,” he said of the clip, which has now garnered more than 1,000 views on Instagram.

Vannewkirk said that there’s nothing wrong with a little spontaneity in the Box. He added that as an owner, keeping a light-hearted atmosphere with activities like the mannequin challenge can even be critical to client retention rates.

“Doing things that are fun and kind of break up the routine, and finding outside activities where [athletes] can really enjoy being strong, fit, having endurance and all of those things, it’s really important because if you don’t, people will lose their motivation to keep training,” he said.

One thing is for sure: plenty of strength and endurance was displayed in the 42-second mannequin challenge video. One athlete holds a perfectly steady squat as the camera pans over him, while others can be seen hoisting kettlebells, hanging from ropes and even holding a pull-up position, all while staying still before the chorus of the song comes on — at which point everyone comes to life and shows off their best dance moves.

“It helps us to engage people on a personal level because we’re really interested in their well-being, not just how many muscle-ups they can do,” said Vannewkirk.

The Box owner explained that CrossFit often comes with a lifecycle, and once athletes deem themselves fit — which Vannewkirk said can happen pretty quickly.

At CrossFit Discovery and Peace Love Hip Hop, his wife’s dance studio, a lot of the focus centers around helping people to move better and have better lives.

“We have this synergy between the two spaces that makes it a really lively, fun place to be for all kinds of people,” he said. “Box owners have to make it fun for themselves so you don’t feel like your job is horrible, and for your clients, if you make it fun, they’ll rely on you not only to get them fit, but they’ll also stick around.”

Selena Alexander
Selena was a previous staff writer for Peake Media.