What is the Hyrox race, the new global fitness phenomenon?

Learn more about the Hyrox race. (Istockphoto)
Learn more about the Hyrox race. (Istockphoto)

Summary

The Hyrox race is only seven years old, but its combination of running and functional exercises is proving to be a worldwide smash

The exercise world never sits still, even though the goal of all exercise has been the same for a very long time—to make us fitter and healthier. The basics of exercise have stayed the same as well—cardio, mobility and strength training. However, within this clearly demarcated spectrum, the exercise world has witnessed plenty of innovation.

This is especially true since the turn of the millennium, with programmes such as CrossFit, boot camps, animal flow, Les Mills’ spinning and HIIT workouts. There has also been the growing popularity of endurance sports such as running, cycling and triathlons.

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Fitness has become so popular that it has led to reality shows and ticketed events like the CrossFit Games—much like a mainstream sport in stadiums—that are live-streamed, and come with live commentary and expert opinion.

The Hyrox race

If you spend any time on Instagram looking at fitness reels, it’s likely that Meta’s algorithm would have already pushed plenty of Hyrox content into your feed. Hyrox was conceptualised by three-time Olympic medal-winning German hockey player Moritz Furste, and Christian Toetzke, a race organiser, in Germany in 2017.

Little wonder then that Hyrox is a fitness race, combining two of the most successful fitness activities today—running and functional fitness. Its rampant success is mainly down to how simple the Hyrox concept really is. You run a kilometre, then perform a functional fitness exercise. You do this eight times and you are at the finish line. Simple.

But simple can become boring pretty quickly. So, they made it just the right amount of challenging as well. One of the biggest drawbacks of CrossFit is that it is just way too challenging, and most of the standard CrossFit movements are actually meant to be performed by skilled and trained athlete. Also, there is always an element of surprise in CrossFit, in terms of the exercises that you may be asked to perform. In Hyrox races the entire format and every exercise has been the same since its inception.

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How to do it

The race format accommodates both professional athletes and everyday fitness enthusiasts, much like a marathon. Everyone does the same exercise, performs the same number of reps and covers the same distance. You start with 1km run. Then cover 1,000m on an ergonomic ski machine. Run again, and then perform a 50m sled push. Run again and then perform a 50m sled pull.

The fourth kilometre is followed by 80m of burpee broad jumps. The next run ends with rowing 1,000m. After another kilometre of running everyone does a 200m farmer carry. Next comes 100m sandbag lunges after another run. The eighth and final kilometre of the races leads to wall ball shots (75 or 100 depending on the category you belong to).

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As you can see, the exercises in a Hyrox race are very universal in nature and almost everyone can perform them easily. Apart from open and pro categories, you can also participate as a team in doubles, mixed doubles, relay and mixed relay divisions.

Where to do it

Today, across Europe and the US, there are gyms that create dedicated training programmes to help prepare people for Hyrox races. These programmes not only focus on improving performance in running and the eight exercises, but also on making you stronger as well as improving your endurance. This means a typical Hyrox training programme includes strength training with weights, sprints, interval training, HIIT and even long runs.

Simple, yet challenging, Hyrox has been something of a winning combination, which is evident in the fast growing numbers at the Hyrox races. As many as 90,000 participated in Hyrox races in the 2022-23 season and that number is growing as Hyrox reaches new cities this year. Hyrox has already swept through Europe and the USA and has entered Asia.

It is just a matter of time before an entrepreneur enthusiastic about fitness sees an opportunity and gives people in India a new way of working out and a new race to run in.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

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