The Importance of Hero WOD’s

CrossFit describes a hero WOD in the following:

 “Military, law enforcement and first responder communities were amongst the earliest proponents of CrossFit. Their intensity matched with the fitness CrossFit provides is a match made in heaven. When a service member dies in the line of duty, a CrossFit hero workout is created in their name. Hero WODs are an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the fallen – to speak their names and honor their memories. These workouts have been a tradition of workout gyms since 2008.

First some facts:

  • Hero WOD’s have actually been used well before 2008 but that is seen as when they had a foothold in the CrossFit community.
  • They are known to be very challenging and difficult.  Of course some are more well known than others but overall they are designed to be a little beyond most of the daily WOD’s.
  • As of 9/11/2020 has 879 hero WOD’s listed.
  • Some of the most famous hero WOD’s are Murph, Kalsu, DT, 9/11 Tribute, Hotshots 19, and Chris Kyle.
  • Hero WOD’s are usually created and submitted by affiliates local to the fallen Hero.  If they are posted on CrossFit’s mainsite they are seen as “official” CrossFit Hero WOD’s

Why they are important

Obviously first and foremost hero WOD’s pay tribute and honor to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.  For a community built around fitness and hard work a few moments of silence just isn’t enough.  Our love is shown by sweating, labored breathing, throwing up, passing out, ripped hands, bleeding shins and being so uncomfortable you can’t help but cry(all of which I have seen or experienced during hero WOD’s).  CrossFitters show love and respect a little differently than most, we push ourselves to uncomfortable places in an attempt to say ‘thank you for your sacrifice’.

A face to the name

All benchmark WOD’s in CrossFit have names, sometimes they are comical like “Burn the Bird”, the originals are known as ‘the girls’ which as imagined all have girls names, such as Annie, Fran, Diane, Grace.  But those aren’t named or designed for real people.  Hero WOD’s are different.  Hero WOD’s have a face or sometimes many faces associated with them.  They are bittersweet, in a way it is nice to be able to honor people who have placed their own lives in danger to help and save others; on the other hand every hero WOD means there is someone who lost a child, sibling, parent, or friend.  More importantly it means there is one less good person in the world, and the world needs as many good people as possible.

Personally I have never heard anyone complain about a hero WOD, they might say it was hard, or they wanted to quit, but I have never heard anyone say they hated it, or anything of the sort. For most a hero WOD is not about you, it’s not about how fast you can complete it, or posting a picture or video on social media, it doesn’t matter how much pain you are in, it doesn’t matter how bad you want to quit, or how long it takes.  

A hero WOD is about those who have done their time, paid their dues, been placed in extreme situations most times knowing that was probably going to be the last thing they did.  

Hero WOD’s will always be the hardest, and most sacred WOD’s, as they should be.  The next time one is on the whiteboard remember why we do them, and pay your respects the CrossFit way.


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