S.K.V. Hercules – CrossFit Twente University is the only student sports association in the Netherlands that offers CrossFit on a large scale. The association consists of about 85 members members. There are three training sessions per week, two in the CrossFit Twente box (on Monday and Wednesday) and Thursdays at the gym or the running track on the University campus.

Trainings in the CrossFit Twente box (a former church and as such one of the most beautiful CrossFit boxes in the entire world!) are given by professional CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting trainers and consist of a combination of weightlifting, gymnastics, and high-intensity WOD’s (Workout Of the Day). The trainings on Thursday are given by student trainers and are mainly focused on intensive bodyweight workouts.

Besides training, Hercules tries to bring members closer together by having drinks at a bar that is at a walking-distance from the box once a month. Additionally, Hercules provides its members with the opportunity of attending monthly workshops or activities to further increase their skills and get to know each other better

HISTORY OF THE CROSSFIT TWENTE CHURCH

Foto collectie Instituut voor Christelijk Cultureel Erfgoed, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
The current CrossFit Twente gym started orginally as the Pauluskerk (St. Paul’s church) in 1957. Credits: Foto collectie Instituut voor Christelijk Cultureel Erfgoed, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

On January 4, 2015 the last church service was held. In February of the same year, former Hercules trainer Jan was done converting it into the current CrossFit box. A reportage from TV Enschede showed the transformation.

See also this interview with Jan van Delden about this unique location.

HISTORY S.K.V. HERCULES

S.K.V. Hercules officially started in 2002 (or even a bit earlier). It was coming from fanatic students that spent a lot of time in the weight room area of the fitness facility in the Sports Centre, and wanted an association for like-minded people. Most importantly Hercules was there to promote fitness strength facilities on the University campus, which were back in the day substandard (1) (2). The special weight room of the UT, had a special Hercules club hour on Wednesday and later on Tuesday (see that old site before Gifs were cool) (2).
Nico van Baarsen the founder of Hercules in U-Today (the published date isn’t correct) about the University fitness facility: ‘It just had to get a bit gezellig. That wasn’t the case. It was a bit impersonal to me in comparison to Nijmegen. For a long time, the founder van Baarsen was involved in his sport there. And that is where the UT student found the gezelligheid that he has to do without in Enschede. ‘They also had a power stength-sports association in Nijmegen and that proved to work well in practice. Just a nice club of people who occasionally made a trip. The big advantage of an association is that the members motivate each other. Now you see people training their Christmas fat off in January and two months later they are leaving again. They don’t have something that can be used as a threat (stok achter de deur) to continue after those two months. That’s a pity. If you are member of an association, you will automatically become motivated by others. I experienced that myself. But of course nothing is obligatory. The atmosphere remains casual, but will be a lot nicer than it is now. I’m convinced of that.’ Photo credits: U-Today
Interestingly the only student strength-sport association in Nijmegen was back in the days not N.S.K.V. Prōfectus as they started in 2016. The association which van Baarsen in Nijmegen talks about was probably the closed Art of Power (or N.K.V. Atlas?) Making Hercules the oldest student-strength sport association in The Netherlands.

Around the same time (early 2000’s), at the other side of the ocean, CrossFit was started in California. It combined elements from American military and firemen trainings. It is primarily focussed on ten key physical qualities: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. In short: functional strength exercises. A former chairman Thomas Schonk described: You learn to lift technically and there is much more variety than fitness or powerlifting. Moreover, the competitive element makes it fun, you just want to be a bit faster than your buddy. Although I cannot compare my results with Jan, as he’s doing it six times a week. It really makes you incredibly fit.

In 2006, Jan van Delden became also a trainer at Hercules as the association wanted more professional coaching. Jan van Delden was since 1984 rowing coach for the rowing association D.R.V. Euros. For rowers, strength training is important too. They have their own krachthonk (weight room), were Jan also was coaching functional strength exercises. At the end of 2008, he was looking for alternative exercises for weightlifting to introduce: he stumbled on CrossFit on internet: an interesting mix between interval training, weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics, calisthenics (exercises with own body weight) and other exercises.
Soon the Hercules members were convinced of this new CrossFit thing and the amount of members doubled. That’s the time (open the link for an English interview with Jan), S.K.V. Hercules added “CrossFit Twente University” to their name. Then Jan also introduced CrossFit exercises to the rowers. They were also enthusiastic. For them, the throws with car tires and sandbags were a welcome change from the mind-numbing hours on the rowing machines. Soon they became stronger, more flexible and in addition had less injuries.
The future vision of Hercules had taken a different direction. The emphasis was more on total body balance besides muscle mass only.

They first started doing CrossFit in the sports centre, however that was not the ideal place as they needed different equipment. Besides they needed more space for all those new members that joined, as it became too full in the fitness area. So Jan started to make it more professional and founded CrossFit Twente, one of the earliest (3rd) CrossFit boxes in the Netherlands, were Hercules would be the important subdivision. They found a new place and started trainings on at the broken down ROC building (Hengelosestraat 381) and later IJsbaanweg 99 (still visible on Google Street View of 2014) in an old car repair shop. However, there was no official permit for a gym on that place. Together with the municipality of Enschede, they found a better location. As too few people came to the former St. Paul’s Church (Pauluskerk) the church administration rented out the church. This is happening more and more often in The Netherlands: hundreds of church buildings do have new purposes. Today in the same unique location, you can enjoy professional CrossFit workouts with our great coaches. Come along some time!

All of the above links were also saved in the Internet WayBackMachine archive.org