CrossFit Gains Popularity in Asia – An Interview with Lachlan P. Winner

The popularity of CrossFit has established a strong following worldwide. Everyday Diabetes talks with Lachlan P. Winner, CEO of Reebok CrossFit Sentinel based in Seoul.


Australian native Lachlan P. Winner first set foot in Korea 12 years ago, but has been living between Korea, Singapore and Indonesia for for the past six years. The former Natural Resources Lawyer is now the CEO of Reebok CrossFit Sentinel based in Seoul.

Everyday Diabetes Magazine recently caught up with Winner to talk about his move into the fitness and health industry, the wild popularity of CrossFit and the benefits of functional fitness.

How did you get into the business of fitness and health?

Lachlan Winner Crossfit - Everyday Diabetes MagazineI first got into the functional fitness business because I found that my sedentary lifestyle was making me dysfunctional. In my mind I was still an athlete with a day job, but in reality I no longer had the athletic ability that I thought I had. This was more due to the dysfunction that occurs from sitting in a chair for 12 hours a day than it was not being fit enough to run 5km.

I started a little business with friends as I couldn’t find any functional fitness available in Seoul. It soon caught on. People wanted to gain strength and mobility for modern living rather than for a bodybuilding contest. The focus had shifted from aesthetics to being able to use your body without pain, and a great side effect of this type of fitness is of course, looking great and feeling even better!

Our little business was never envisioned to grow into what it has but was rather meant to be a place for like minded individuals to experience a more fun and practical way of making healthier decisions for themselves. The community aspect was a huge part of what we did, not so much the transactional side of the business.

“CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.”

CrossFit is well known worldwide, but can you explain the concept for those who might not be familiar with it?

CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. These are the core movements of life. They move the largest loads the longest distances, so they are ideal for maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time. Intensity is essential for results and is measurable as work divided by time—or power. The more work you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort. By employing a constantly varied approach to training, functional movements and intensity lead to dramatic gains in fitness.

“I really think that the growth of CrossFit can be attributed to its community of like minded people being motivated by the same goals.”

There is a lot of passion in the CrossFit community movement as a whole. Does that translate into your position as well? Is it more than just a business for you?

For me this business is all about passion. It is the passion that is within the CrossFit community and also translates to any community that has passion for sharing fitness, health and wellbeing at its heart. Our most popular program at Sentinel is called BootCamp. We developed it in Korea in 2012 and we have registered the trademark in Korea. It is a mixture of the same functional moment patterns as CrossFit but with the addition of some other planes of movement. Bootcamp does not use Olympic lifting in Bootcamp as we see most of our members are coming to us before or after a 12 hour day in the office.

CrossFit Korea - Everyday Diabetes MagazineMost people start with existing injuries or ailments that are caused by their sedentary lifestyle and we try to fix these by relearning how to use the body functionally again through more gymnastic strength and body weight movement before teaching complex movements with the barbell. We find that many of our Bootcamp members after gaining confidence in their abilities are then interested to learn more complex movements. Bootcamp is more focused on prehab/rehab, mobility, core stability and agility related movements and less on strength. It doesn’t matter which program you choose, CrossFit or Bootcamp as both programs are meant to make people enjoy the process of getting better everyday. The Sentinel motto is “We Change Lives” and how can’t you be passionate about that?

There are over 13,000 CrossFit locations globally. What are some of the aspects of CrossFit that you feel have contributed to it being so widely embraced?

I really think that the growth of CrossFit can be attributed to its community of like minded people being motivated by the same goals. It has taken the sales and and Personal training approach out of fitness and glued the same results together by community holding each other accountable.

What is it about CrossFit that separates it from other fitness programs?

CrossFit reminded people that fitness should be fun. It reminded them that fitness is not something that you do alone and passively but something that you should throw yourself into passionately with a strong community of like minded others. It united a very fragmented market of people that thought that fitness was aesthetics not function.

“The world has a reliance on magic potions these days and I think this is due to the main reason of humans no longer living naturally like we were designed to.”

Medical practitioners are fond of advising everything in “moderation”. How does that play with the philosophy behind CrossFit?

There are injuries in CrossFit as well as injuries of being a pedestrian crossing the road. Moderation in my opinion is learning about your body first and getting functional before you look for performance in any sport or fitness. This is quite natural, however, the “moderation” that you describe from the medical industry, I fear is more “self preservation” for the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry. Headaches, migraines, diabetes, arthritis, coronary disease and depression are just as attributable to daily sedentary lifestyles as anything else. Sitting in your office chair for 12 hours a day is not moderation, nor is resolving ailments and disease with pharmaceutical drugs. Lifestyle and diet are more closely tied to the fitness world than the medical world these days so I worry when I hear “moderation” referred to in functional fitness.

Lachlan Winner CrossFit Korea
Lachlan P. Winner (left) with Jay Williams.

The world has a reliance on magic potions these days and I think this is due to the main reason of humans no longer living naturally like we were designed to. Animals that live in the wild do not have the ailments listed above, but when you put that same animal into the zoo all of a sudden their lives become sedentary and their diets are manipulated you see these ailments arising. If you sit in an office all day eating mass produced/mass packaged food that has no shelf life or live nutrients, smoking and drinking to relieve your stress, then very soon you start identifying more with the animal in the zoo and less with the animal in the wild. It is not any one person’s fault, it is an entire movement and it is hard to break free from this for most people. When you try to get away from the being so sedentary and reliant upon drugs to manage your lifestyle and then you are told by the medical/pharmaceutical/food industry that you need to be “moderate” in your activity, it is a real worry.

How about for Diabetics? Is there any advice you have for those looking to get into CrossFit?

Well I don’t profess to be a trained professional on this topic but I realise that there is a big difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. There is a real difference between the body not producing insulin (type 1) and your body not utilising it properly (type 2) and this needs to be understood in great detail as well as not all Diabetics have the condition because of poor diet, too much sugar or sedentary lifestyles. It is too complicated an issue for me to be generalising here and there is no single genetic, lifestyle and environmental factor that we can say contributes but there is little debating the fact that a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and good nutrition can help lower the risk of type 2 Diabetes and help manage type 1. No one in Medical history ever asked for Diabetes but I am pretty sure that most people would be interested in a cure or a management program if they could find it. I think that functional fitness is a great starting point. It helps you get active and aware. When you’re aware you are happy to look outside of the everyday potions that pose little upside relief but a host of downside, issues such as auto immune disease for example.

You only have to look at the small print on pharmaceutical warning labels to know they are not curing anything but rather just managing the problem, which is where “self preservation” comes into the equation. My suggestion is that it is always better getting to a point of managing your own body than anyone else managing it for you and it is surely worth trying to manage this with a community of like minded people helping you along the path. Come along and learn more about yourself, build confidence in yourself and take back control of yourself, there is no better community than one that is like minded about changing their lives for the better!

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