CrossFit is a fitness regime that has attracted a number of Christian athletes over the past few years. Some of these athletes bear witness to their faith with and through their bodies. Rich Froning, the four time winner of the annual CrossFit Games, for example, has “Galatians 6:14” (“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”) tattooed over his upper body. Other Christian CrossFitters gather for retreats where they subject their bodies to sweaty workouts, prayer, meditation, and Bible readings.
Pain, in particular, seems to be at the heart of some of these religio-sportive discourses. In references to bible verses and visual language and aesthetics, references to pain and suffering abound. This paper explores these references to pain and suffering and argues that painful WODs (workouts) establish a mystical-mythical union between the suffering athlete and the suffering body of Jesus in his passion and crucifixion.
Seminar “Le corps et les discours religieux contemporains” / “The Body and Contemporary Religious Discourse” at DRES, CNRS-Université de Strasbourg, 30 Sept – 1 Oct 2015.
A published version will appear in 2016.