Intense, sweaty crossfit training Mathieu Gregory and the Leica Q and M9

CrossFit is a booming sport, becoming a real trend in the fitness culture. Mixing cardio, gymnastics and weightlifting in a high-intensity workout, CrossFit is meant to be a daily training session during which athletes go “all out” for a defined time. They meet and train in a special gym called a “BOX” with no machines. Just weights, bars, ropes and their own bodies.

Many pictures are taken to promote this new discipline, but I wanted to show it under another light… a darker light.

I had the chance to follow a small team of everyday athletes from the Paris suburban area in the city of Montreuil.

The “CrossFit Wonders” box, run by the head coach Salim Mokrani, is a bit like the city it’s located in: cosmopolitan, unshiny, ghetto-like.

In this old factory warehouse which has been turned into a gym, the rap music is loud and the atmosphere is sweaty.

I wanted my pictures to translate the intensity of these timed WODs (workout of the day). A light and easy-to-handle camera was the best option for moving around these constantly on-the-go athletes without hampering them.

The Leica Store in Beaumarchais Paris suggested that I use the “Q” model. The shooting took less than an hour. A true “WOD” in itself.

The second shoot was done with a Leica M9P, fitted with a 24 mm Aspherical. I also used a Canon 1D MarkIV with a 50 mm lens to shoot the portraits of each athlete. Each of them came to me breathless at the end of their timed routines. It was, again, meant to be a very short shooting. The idea was to instinctively capture those moments, just like they execute their exercises.

With such restraints, equipment choice is crucial. Concentration is maximised… and photography was turned into a sporting exercise.

To know more about Mathieu Gregory, please visit his official website.

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