The Rise of CrossFit YiQi

Community Spirit

Written by Tara Rose
Published in Trendz magazine, October 2017 issue

The importance of the fitness is becoming more recognized in Cambodia, as people young and old seek new ways to stay healthy and strong. Enter CrossFit YiQi, challenging the traditional gym model and providing a novel way to stay in shape.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit was founded in the USA back in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai, and since then it has featured in over 13,000 gyms and custom-built centers (called boxes) worldwide, revolutionizing the way people work out.

The program is meticulously designed to improve stamina, endurance, flexibility, strength, speed, power, coordination, agility, accuracy and balance. With a scheme that involves weightlifting, aerobics, and calisthenics, the budding CrossFitter can expect exercises involving weights, kettlebells, and body weight carefully structured into highly effective sets known as WODs (workout of the day).

What’s great about CrossFit is that it can be enjoyed by all ability levels and challenge even the fittest among us. Enjoyable to those who love the variety and struggle to stay committed to one type of exercise, this highly addictive workout option has taken the world by storm. No matter what your fitness goals are, CrossFit will prove hugely beneficial. Designed to be competitive yet motivating, members of the CrossFit community admitted to feeling a sense of camaraderie, helping them stay committed to reaching their individual goals.

What is CrossFit YiQi?

The newest CrossFit box to enter Cambodia is CrossFit YiQi. Located in popular BKK, this center was specifically designed with CrossFit in mind. YiQi (pronounced “yee-chee”) means togetherness in Chinese, and professes the motto, “Leave no one behind”. What is immediately apparent on arrival is the fresh and highly motivating atmosphere, clearly following the YiQi principle, “The spirit of fellowship one will feel immediately upon joining the community”.

YiQi is the second affiliated CrossFit box in Cambodia, boasting fully qualified and experienced coaches (both Khmer and expat) who are passionate about the community and particularly the goals of individuals. In fact, no matter what your goals are – fitness, weight loss, strengthening – the coaches are confident that CrossFit is the way to achieve them.

At CrossFit YiQi I was excited to meet Zhengyu Ren and discover what led this Chinese national to open a CrossFit Center in the Kingdom of Cambodia. As it turns out, Zhengyu’s first association with CrossFit training was in Cambodia. He was involved in the first affiliated CrossFit for two years before realizing how popular the program had become and deciding to start his own venture. “I see a lot of potential in Cambodia as it’s still underdeveloped but waking up to the need for fitness and a diversity of options,” he passionately informed me.

Zhengyu originally started participating in CrossFit for weight loss, to great success, and soon found a noticeable improvement in his mental health too. Stressing that the mental benefits are as evident as the physical ones, he found that this particular form of exercise really improved his clarity and outlook. After having tried many other forms of exercise, but always losing interest over time, CrossFit captivated him.

Zhengyu informed me that when CrossFit started out it was particularly military, but was adapted to be more appealing and suitable for the everyday gym goer wishing to improve their fitness. Participants get a lot more value out of a shorter workout than with other fitness methods.

CrossFit continues to gain popularity, with over 300,000 people competing in the 2017 CrossFit Games – nearly double the participants in 2016. Another attractive element is the community aspect. Thile regular gyms require a lot of mental energy to plan a workout or to motivate yourself to complete a session, with CrossFit the planning has already taken place. You can focus solely on the workout and can sustain it with the encouragement of your coach and teammates. The positive atmosphere at CrossFit YiQi helps participants to change their behavior, boosted by a sense of pride and achievement with each completed WOD, moving them closer to their long-term goals.

Why is CrossFit so addictive?

It was early on a Saturday that I visited YiQi and scoping the surroundings I noticed mostly young men. Thankfully I managed to catch one lovely young man who had just completed his workout and was able to find out what brought him to CrossFit YiQi. His name was Sep, and he assured me there are usually an equal number of female CrossFit enthusiasts. Sep had heard about CrossFit back home in the Philippines, but he hadn’t really checked it out until he noticed the construction of CrossFit YiQi close to his house and his interest was aroused.

Having struggled with his weight in the past, Sep decided to give CrossFit a go and hasn’t looked back since YiQi opened its doors. “I’m addicted you could say. It’s like a cult. I’m here at least four or five times a week and being a competitive person the class setting has really helped to push me.”

Sep loves meeting new friends and has an office-based job so craves a chance to work out. He finds he can easily fit the sessions into his busy life. “I love meeting like-minded people, and CrossFit YiQi is like a cult in that everyone is committed and very understanding of each other.” With a beaming smile, Sep informed me he reached his goal weight just a few days previous to our meeting. The discipline required for CrossFit also helped him adjust his diet and become more aware of the nutritional benefits of different food groups.

Lee, the Member Services Manager, arrived shortly after, ready for her Saturday morning WOD. Hailing from Canada, super energetic Lee has been addicted to CrossFit for more than three years. Like Sep, she loves meeting healthy and motivated people from all walks of life. Lee was hooked on CrossFit YiQi after attending the opening celebration and felt the same sense of community that she felt back in Canada at her previous CrossFit boxes. For Lee, the fact that CrossFit has universal scalability (meaning it can be adapted for all fitness levels) makes it a winner. She’s seen women in their 80’s participate and hoes to be doing the same at that age.

I certainly felt welcomed at YiQi. The coaches seemed genuinely passionate about what they do and I was witness to the diversity of its members – all of them hyped up and ready to smash their goals.

What if I don’t like heavy weights?

CrossFit YiQi also offers Bootcamp. YiQi’s Bootcamp is suitable for all fitness levels. It’s fun yet challenging and still gives you great results without the use of heavy weights.

How do I get started?

Offering ample secure parking, CrossFit YiQi is located at #16, St 352 (between Streets 51 and 57) in central Phnom Penh. If you are interested in checking it out, a FREE TRIAL is on offer. This will give you the chance to find out what all the hype is about and discuss your individual needs with a trained coach. Once you’ve completed your free trial, several membership packages are available with 3 and 6-month deals offering the best value.