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'Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness' showcases the best and the buffest

'Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness' showcases the best and the buffest
A scene from the documentary "Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness." (Ross Forte / CrossFit / Gravitas Ventures)

If you've never heard of the CrossFit Games, consider it the Olympics of working out. Every summer, the best and buffest CrossFitters from across the globe compete for the title of "Fittest on Earth." That competition is showcased in the documentary of the same name, "Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness," directed by Heber Cannon, Mariah Moore, Marston Sawyers and Ian Wittenber, which illuminates this new and niche sport for a wider audience.

The weeklong series of brutally tough physical challenges started as a backyard barbecue on the California ranch of Games director David Castro in 2007.

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Though it now fills a stadium, the event maintains its spirit of sportsmanship and surprise, as Castro constantly throws new challenges at the muscle-bound competitors. The object is to test them, not showcase them, as one organizer states.

"Fittest on Earth" carefully tracks the events of the 2016 CrossFit Games, following several athletes along their journey, from rookies to returning champs.While at first it seems like an infomercial for CrossFit, the movie focuses more on the athletes when the games get going.

Their bodies are pumped and sculpted for function, not necessarily form, and each one speaks reverently about "fitness." Fitness is their sport — it's not about specializing in a single event but excelling at any and all that come their way.

The commentators speak about the enjoyment of watching these athletes suffer, but "Fittest on Earth" deftly tracks the emotional trajectory as well. Plus, the slow-motion shots of gloriously muscled bodies in peak physical form will definitely inspire a trip to the gym.

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'Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness'

Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Not rated

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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