These women opened a CrossFit room after retraining

Posted on Jan 16, 2023, 8:00 AM

Céline Martin’s career seems to be all over the map. At the age of 18, he chose IT and graduated from Lyon 3 University armed with a master’s degree in information systems. This sportswoman enjoyed her early career and worked for several years for a software publisher specializing in the management of territorial public services. But, after ten years of professional life, presenteeism and office life begin to weigh on him. Family trials act as a trigger: at the age of 34, Céline left her computer to pass the BPJEPS (professional certificate for youth, popular education and sport), sesame to teach: “I want to make money from my passion for sports! »

And not just any discipline. For some time, Céline has been practicing CrossFit, which is still emerging in France. It’s 2014 and the intense mix of weightlifting, gymnastics, muscle building and cardio is just starting to grow. The principle: sweaty and compact one-hour all-inclusive workouts, different every day, in small groups, supervised by a professional. Céline started teaching in a room in Lyon. In 2020, he crossed a second by setting up his own structure, Crossfit Limonest, north of Lyon.

Only 10% of managers despite training are female

Céline was not the only one who started: the development of CrossFit in France is one of the great achievements of the last decade in sport. From a few “boxes” (this is what CrossFit gyms are called) isolated at the beginning of the 2010s, there are now 776 affiliates and now all over the country, and not just in big cities.

Céline Martin created her own Crossfit structure Limonest, north of Lyon, in 2020. This discipline attracted her to “its intensity, its diversity and its group energy.” A practice that, according to him, allows you to exceed your limits and achieve goals in your personal and professional life.Credit: Laurent Wallard

However, of them, only 77 are held by women, i.e. only 10%… “Surely not too many of us”, agrees Selsebil El Blidi, when presented with these figures. At 28, he is the head of CrossFit Atlas Ludos, in Ain. At first, this young entrepreneur thought of making films, before switching to a language degree. When this one in his pocket, he hesitates, then chooses to leave for a three-year license, to Staps this time. Passionate about football, rugby, then CrossFit, he says he’s always used to being surrounded by men. And that, Selsebil chose to make this strength by opening its box: “For me, the big advantage is the identification of women with my background. Out of my hundred members, they represent 80%! » Against 40 to 45% on average, among all practitioners in France.

“The boss is a woman like any other”

Nadia Ouyahia, too, sees more opportunities than disadvantages in being a woman in this environment. After a first career in human resources at SNCF, he left his job to open his CrossFit box with his ex-husband. “I have a double punishment, I’m a mother, I’m over 40 and I don’t have the body for work to do CrossFit. Finally, the members are sensitive to it. The boss is a woman like everyone else, likes to play and chat! », he explained. Being a woman offered her some boosts, particularly a Hauts-de-Seine scheme that helps female entrepreneurs with a loan of honour.

The increasing presence of women in this sport also reflects a change in attitudes. Those who dare to step through the doors of the boxes learn to lift heavy loads and display more muscular bodies. No more elliptical, hello Olympic bar. “We are really seeing that the standard is gradually improving. Society is increasingly accepting of muscular women. I see girls coming to register, because they want to have a butt, pecs, tapered arms”, rejoices Elodie Zakrzewski. This former high-level gymnast turned to marketing before leaving the Paris region to return to her native South. He opened CrossFit Massilia in 2013, when there were only about twenty boxes in France. And watching attitudes change over a decade.

At left, Elodie Zakrzewski, a former high-level gymnast converted to marketing before starting CrossFit.  On the right, Selsebil El Blidi, launched the Crossfit Atlas Ludos in Rhône-Alpes, in 2019, after the STAPS study.

At left, Elodie Zakrzewski, a former high-level gymnast converted to marketing before starting CrossFit. On the right, Selsebil El Blidi, launched the Crossfit Atlas Ludos in Rhône-Alpes, in 2019, after the STAPS study.

But if the new generation moves to representations of bodies, it is less in the case of its parents. “The mother of a young member told me one day that she didn’t want me to hold her son, because the Claudie Pierlot brand stopped at the age of 42! » Elodie thought, still surprised by what was said. In front of some men, you also need to know how to be strong. “Especially in the South, where there is a macho side that remains. I never let remarks or small sentences pass, my reaction was immediately very strong. Every woman should train what she wants, where she wants”he will decide.

For these entrepreneur-coaches, it is also necessary to establish its legitimacy, perhaps even more in this area, points out Cécile Daön, founder of CrossFit Saint-Maur: “I’ve been doing CrossFit for ten years, I’ve had great competitions, the French weightlifting championship twice… This sporting background gives me credibility as a coach. And fortunately, because without that, sometimes it’s hard. Some men still resent being followed and advised by a woman. Fortunately, only a few! ». Small, and less. Proof that in sport and entrepreneurship, women can win important battles.

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