Stefan Hupp is a man of the world. He was born in Wurzburg, Germany, and has spent time in Egypt, Australia and the United States. But, during time in Hawaii he experienced something that would soon become a major part of his life – CrossFit.
Hupp has always been athletic, even playing soccer on a professional level as a young teenager in Germany. However, the course of his life took a drastic change when he had a serious knee injury. No longer able to play on a competitive level, Hupp turned his time and energy towards physical therapy.
He had heard of CrossFit before and even used parts of it in other’s physical therapy. But, CrossFit was in its infancy at the time, and it was hard to find a Box to experience — even so, years later he became the proud owner of CrossFit Icke in Berlin, Germany.
Hupp said that CrossFit has almost the same reputation in Germany as it does in America. People view most Boxes full of hardcore members performing very intense workouts.
He said many of the Boxes he has seen in Germany are using the same marketing strategy of Boxes in America: bragging about how intense the workouts are and posting photos on social media of men and women doing Olympic lifts at their Box. But, Hupp said he finds this approach lacking.
“There is a trend in Berlin where every new Box that opens up is trying to market themselves as even more hardcore and even more down to the basics,” said Hupp. “But, we thought that’s not really the way to go because, especially for people 40 plus, that marketing isn’t going to get them in your gym. And that’s a huge market.”
Hupp and some of the other trainers at CrossFit Icke have their background in physical therapy and sports rehabilitation. So, they play to those strengths on top of offering specialty classes in weightlifting or gymnastics for those who value one aspect of CrossFit over the others.
He also tried to tone down the hardcore imagery of his Box by using soothing paint and creating more of a loft atmosphere, versus the typical CrossFit garage look and feel. So far, this approach has come with great success: He said the Berlin community has really responded to his Box and CrossFit in general.
Recently, they moved to a bigger space, and during the arduous process, members were left with nowhere to go. So, Hupp and some of the trainers offered free classes in a nearby park for anyone who wanted to stay active during the move. He said by the end of the week they had 60 to 100 people flooding the park to do CrossFit.
It’s always difficult to tell how something will translate in a different culture, especially with CrossFit as it sometimes has problems with scaring people away. But, Hupp said CrossFit is a growing sport in his country, and he hopes that his softened approach is part of the reason.