Recognizing and Appreciating: How CrossFit Helped Girls Locate and Nurture Their Strengths

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Presented at North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Conference

Young females identified as at-risk carry negative social stigmas. Programs have been developed to overcome deficiencies rather than teaching individuals to appreciate their positive attributes and capabilities (Norman, 2000). In the current study, the fitness regime of CrossFit was offered to four girls between the ages of 10-13 who were raised in singleparent, low-income homes. Participating in CrossFit challenges social norms that suggest that girls are weak, should not have muscles, and should not sweat. The strengths perspective was adapted from social work field to locate and nurture each of the participants’ innate potential (strengths). Therefore, instead of examining deficiencies or inabilities, the researchers and participants focused on what is right with the girls (the things they can do). Using an inductive approach, the research team carried out interviews with each girl and her mother to discuss their experiences within CrossFit. Using their own interpretations and stories, the mothers and daughters constructed their realities about the girls’ strengths experienced in and through CrossFit. Emerging themes included: increased confidence, positive internal dialogue, value female role models, and bond with mothers. Each interview highlighted ways in which newly developed (or increased) strengths have transferred into all parts of the girls’ lives.


North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Conference


Windsor, Ontario