CrossFitters on Tour

What do you call 10 CrossFitters traveling together in an RV to various Boxes as they raise money for charity?

Something special. Or, as Ben Isabella calls it: a Fitness Tour.

Isabella is the owner of CrossFit Sayreville in Sayreville, New Jersey, and has been an Affiliate since May 2013. He found CrossFit in the summer of 2011 after watching the Games on ESPN. He decided he wanted to find out if he enjoyed teaching it. So, Isabella began coaching out of the local high school weight room when he wasn’t working with the wrestling team.

Gathering together a few of his friends, Isabella decided to use them as he tested out CrossFit coaching. He was already trained and had been doing many of the movements of CrossFit, just not in its particular fashion. “I only had four or five of my buddies that I was basically just abusing and being test dummies,” he said. “And I was like, ‘This is awesome.’”

However, before Isabella even owned his own Box, the idea for the Fitness Tours was born from a random remark. “[Andy, one of the Box’s original members,] made an offhanded comment that we should just rent an RV and go to different CrossFits and workout,” said Isabella. “It came as a joke. Then I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Before he knew it, there were five CrossFitters, plus a photographer, traveling throughout New Jersey, D.C. and Delaware, working out three times a day and visiting five Boxes during their weeklong trip. “It was so amazing that we said, ‘Let’s do it again,’” said Isabella.

And they did in August 2012, this time raising money for childhood obesity. Looking to do 25,000 burpees in five days, they asked people to donate per burpee. “We did burpees all over cities and subways and stores,” recalled Isabella. “Wherever we could, we just did burpees.”

Since then, the Fitness Tours have evolved and grown exponentially. Isabella said they now focus solely on visiting CrossFit Boxes, typically visiting 15 Boxes in five days. From Texas to California, eight to 10 CrossFitters have hopped in an RV to spend a week visiting Boxes in different regions of the U.S., working out and raising money for various organizations. Since they started, Isabella said they have raised over $14,000 total.

“These tours really get to the heart of what CrossFit is,” said Isabella. “Anyone who wants to just come and drop in, or strangers want to come in from a different area … they’re welcomed in with open arms, and there’s rarely other communities that will be so welcoming to complete strangers and willing to help as much as they’re willing to help us. And I guess that’s really what CrossFit is intended.”

As the tours have grown, Isabella has had to look to bringing in sponsors to help alleviate the costs. These sponsors will send along items to be purchased from the Boxes Isabella and his team visit. And that has been a benefit on the business side. “There’s no other event or competition that you’re going to get the personal touch that you’re going to get through this,” he said. “One of us, coming in and saying, ‘I’m a CrossFitter, I’m an owner. I love these products; these worked for us because we do CrossFit and so do you’ … There’s definitely business potential for a company to get on board because we’re seeing hundreds of people in an intimate setting for a week.”

The next tour is August 25 — 29 in Miami, Florida, and the proceeds will go to raising money for athletes with life-threatening or altering illnesses. Overall, that is what it really comes down to for Isabella: “CrossFit isn’t always about business. It isn’t always about how many members you’ve got and programming and the things we get caught up on in everyday life. It’s about reaching people and helping people who have their different goals or strategies in life, whether [that’s] helping that member lose 25 pounds or getting that other member to PR, it’s all the same. We all have our goals and we all want to help and I guess that is what CrossFit is all about.”

Photos courtesy of CrossFit Sayreville

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.