War Of The Shoes

It all started about seven years ago- a black sheep libertarian named Greg Glassman flipped the strength and conditioning world on its head.

Greg invented a style of training he called Crossfit that went “viral” (so to speak) around 2009.  Whether you like Crossfit or not its success is undeniable.

Part of Crossfits explosive growth has not only been the lining of Greg’s pockets but the growth of countless businesses all over the world.  Crossfit didn’t just revolutionize the idea of fitness, it breathed life into and created entire new industries surrounding the active lifestyle.

Arguably the largest beneficiary of Crossfit’s explosion (and there  are several companies you could argue for) has been Reebok.

Reebok, albeit a massive company, was losing terribly to names like Nike and up-and-coming Under Armour when Crossfit came along. Multiple companies had the opportunity to sign on with Crossfit, get rights to produce Crossfit’s shoes and clothing and events, but it was Reebok who not only saw the potential of Crossfit but bought into the Crossfit mentality.

They jumped in with 2 feet, embracing Crossfit with both arms, and have been virtually remade as a company since.  For years Reebok was growing, raking in the cash and virtually owning a monopoly on the Crossfit shoe market.  Sure, there were smaller competitors like New Balance and INOV8, but the offical shoe of Crossfit was the Reebok Nano.

Sadly, for Reebok, that’s begun to change.  The elephant that’s in most retail rooms was looming in the background, testing the market and waiting of the right time to enter the functional fitness scene.  That elephant is named Nike.

Nike entered by dipping their toes in the water, not with two feet as did Reebok.  But the response of the Crossfit community to Nike’s toe was tremendous.  Their first “Crossfit” shoe, the Nike Metcon, was sold out all over the world.  Granted, it was released in limited supply, but the excitement for the shoe and Nike’s entrance into the Crossfit world was unparalleled.

Tactfully, Nike time the release of the Metcon just a month or so before the annual Reebok Crossfit Games, Crossfit’s annual Super Bowl.  A few select athletes were pegged to wear and market the shoe, and this is where the drama kicks in.

Reebok released a statement that no other brand was allowed to be worn at the Crossfit Games.  This was of course met with mixed responses amidst the communty and Nike, to keep the hype going, actually had several semi-trucks parked outside the arena that hosted the Crossfit Games that said, “Don’t ban our shoe.  Beat our shoe.”

Needless to say the feud has raged for the last couple of years.  The latest event was the release of Reebok’s newest Nano, the 7.  All I need to say is, check out this meme:

Of course Reebok caught a lot of heat over this but it hasn’t deterred the loyal fans of Reebok from getting in line for the shoe.

The rivalry has been very entertaining and shows no signs of stopping, what with the reigning champion of the Crossfit Games, Mat Fraser, being a Nike sponsored athlete.

As for me?  I’m actually slightly torn between the two brands.  But I’ll write more about this in future posts.

Stay fit!