MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - CrossFit has shown an explosive growth in popularity across the country, opening new doors for sports tourism opportunities in Myrtle Beach.
CrossFit athletes will be competing Saturday and Sunday in the Beach Town Throw Down, one of the largest CrossFit competitions in South Carolina.
For the first time, the city’s sports tourism department has partnered with a CrossFit competition of this size.
More than 550 CrossFit enthusiasts are in Myrtle Beach for the two-day competition which is expected to have a significant economic impact.
“We’re expecting a direct impact between $200,000 and $300,000, which for the month of May is very encouraging,” said Myrtle Beach Sports Tourism Director Tim Huber.
CrossFit is a mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics and weight lifting and has become the biggest fitness trend in the world, even in Horry County.
“The biggest thing is the people, anytime you come here we have 10 to 20 people working out with you that are cheering you on and pushing you harder,” said CrossFit athlete Eric Tatro.
Tatro, 40, is one of several CrossFit athletes from Myrtle Beach competing this weekend and believes camaraderie is why the sport of CrossFit has become so popular.
“It makes you want to get up and come here in the morning, because you feel like you’re letting these people down if you’re not here helping out and it’s just a fun time,” said Tatro.
Two months ago, at the age of 64, Joe Thibodeau walked into CrossFit Myrtle Beach to improve his health, proving age is just a number.
“There’s that personal relationship that I never felt from another gym, it was always you paid your membership and here’s the gym,” said Thibodeau.
The first CrossFit competition held in Myrtle Beach had less than 100 athletes compete. Seven years later, Doug Shaw will host the largest Myrtle Beach CrossFit competition for both men and women.
“I think CrossFit has done wonders for females, it’s putting the focus on what our bodies can do rather than what they look like,” said CrossFit athlete Laura Roney.
Along with a tourism boost for hotels and restaurants, local CrossFit gyms are benefiting from the competition in their own backyard.
“A lot of people will come here to work out a couple days while they’re here and stuff so it’s great for the entire community,” said Tatro.
CrossFit enthusiasts Judy and Bill Langfitt have helped host CrossFit competitions in Myrtle Beach for nearly a decade and are amazed at how quickly it’s grown.
"It’s probably the biggest CrossFit event in the southeast,” said Judy.
"550 is a big number and it gets a little scary, but having the city and this site makes it easier for us to execute and put on a good event for the athletes,” said Bill Langfitt.
The Beach Town Throw Down is free to attend.
Saturday’s competition will feature individual CrossFit athletes and team competition will be on Sunday.