What to Know About the NPGL: Grid League

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So here’s the first question I have to ask you, have you heard of Grid? The National Pro Grid League</a href> or NPGL is a new fast paced, lifting league in it’s inaugural season. With 8 teams, sponsorships, a built in fan base, and TV coverage; the NPGL might be the next sporting competition to take over channels, and may be the answer to the weightlifter niche we’ve all been waiting for. I only watched one match and did a ton of reading, but here is what I took as a spectator about what this sport is all about.

The Generals

The NPGL is a league that pits co-ed teams against each other in 12 different races. The races include multiple lifts or moves, and range from one person performing at a time with a tag-in, tag-out approach or with multiple teammates at a time. 5 legit chicks and 5 awesome guys on each team, the weights are the same for everyone. There are races that are only for the men, races only for the women, and then of course mash-ups. There are points, which I’ll get to later, and there are well dressed coaches. It’s pretty cool.

The Athletes

The draft, which took place in July, was done in snake fashion with only athletes who attended the Vegas Combine. Athletes from all over the world are in this league, from Annie Thorisdottir to Jeremy Kinnick. The verdict is still out on if they get paid, since I found articles that say they get paid a small amount and that they pay the league themselves. The women all look ridiculously awesome and the men are muscled out and many are tatted up too. It makes for great spectating 🙂

2014 NPGL Las Vegas Combine
2014 NPGL Las Vegas Combine

Spot Me Girl, the Spectator

For all the reading I did online, I decided I needed to watch it live to fully comprehend. Got the chance to catch the DC Brawlers</a href> take on the Philadelphia Founders</a href>. You quickly understand that the “Grid” refers to the setup of the competition area, with its numbered areas and segmented sections. The Grid is about separating where each movement is done. You can’t go to 3 if you haven’t completed 2. While the arena wasn’t packed, the intensity of the crowd was strong. The MC running around to speak with spectators, coach interviews, and the Kiss Cam remixed as the Flex Cam…it felt like a real sporting event. I would have grabbed some nachos if I weren’t at a competition based on fitness.

Walking into this, you assume a level of casualty because its just another lifting competition, right? Wrong. Social media was being spouted everywhere, and the coaches both were dressed so well that I thought a pair of European soccer coaches had shown up to energetically remind their teams to lift faster. There was clipboard throwing on the Founders side, and jumping and screeching on the Brawlers side. The most important part of this of course are the athletes. I was struck by how amazing the women looked. I was also properly impressed with the fact that the NPGL doesn’t make an exception for the ladies and makes them do the same weight and moves that the men do. Finally a league that knows a woman can be just as awesome as a man…or something like that.

brawlers coach via activelifedc
brawlers coach via activelifedc

The Confusion

So you’re going to look at The Grid and say, isn’t that just like the CrossFit games? It isn’t. Yes, I feel the confusion spreading across your face. The CrossFit games are specific to individual competition and time. You don’t necessarily have to be a professional CrossFitter (i don’t think) to be in the NPGL. The fact that I don’t know the solid answer to that proves why it can be confusing. Furthermore, the point system leaves some confusion, given there are at least 4 exceptions to the original point system which is that there are 3 points available for each race and whoever wins gets 2 and whoever loses gets 1. There being exceptions to something so easy, means that you’re watching the scoreboard at times trying to figure out where some extra point came from.

Why This Could Work

I’m not a CrossFitter, which you don’t have to be since it isn’t called CrossFit, but I thoroughly got invested in this match. During the races that were close (rep for rep deficits), I found myself legit cheering and sitting forward waiting to see who would take over the lead. At that moment, it wasn’t a sorta CF competition, it was a lifter’s competition. Being a lifter myself, I found myself calling out for one more rep or to go heavier. You get the exhaustion, you get the movements, you get the dynamic of teammates. CrossFit can be isolating for us mere gymrats, but there is nothing isolating about having a coach yell out that you, indeed, can lift that. It mixes functional fitness with straight out competition and teams. Sponsors, media coverage, and social media…I’d say The Grid League is catching the fitness wave right at it’s peak.

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