“CrossFit Has Proven You Can Be Muscular and Still Be Feminine”

Exploring Comparative Practices Within CrossFit


  • Hannah Bennett Augusta University
  • Caitlyn Hauff University of South Alabama
  • Christina Gipson Georgia Southern University
  • Nancy Malcom Georgia Southern University


CrossFit, social comparison, body ideals, transformation, exercise


Women in sport struggle to navigate feeling and acting feminine with wanting to achieve a high-performance standard in their sport and find themselves toeing the line and attempting to strike a balance between socially appropriate femininity and strength and power. One such exercise modality where females are encouraged to push beyond the “acceptable” cultural norms is CrossFit. While there is a heavy emphasis on body functionality over appearance, women who CrossFit still experience disapproval from those around them and society as a whole; their transforming bodies do not agree with societal gender norms. The purpose of this qualitative paper was to explore how women who CrossFit engage in self and social comparison, aiming to understand the various facets that may influence body image within CrossFit, and how women who CrossFit are impacted by the potential comparative practices around them. Three different and distinct comparison themes were uncovered: comparison of self to self, comparison of self to other athletes, and comparison of self to ideals. The comparative themes found in this study highlighted females’ personal transformations while also recognizing that there is more to address within societal norms before this environment can be experienced by all women.


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