Travel Guide: Lagos, Nigeria

Treetop view in Lekki Conservation in Lagos, Nigeria.

Contributed by Paris Williams. 

I am in Lagos for a month visiting a friend as part of a wider trip through West Africa. I’ve been training at CrossFit Jagun - Nigeria’s first and only official CrossFit affiliate.

Training in Lagos

Training at Crossfit Jagun connects you with the romantic stories of how CrossFit was in the early days when it was genuinely an underground counter-cultural fitness movement. As somebody who got into CrossFit when it was relatively established, I am jealous of the stories of the CrossFit pioneers who found the sport in its early years when it was just a small collection of individuals in a few boxes, garages, and gyms following programming from ‘Main Site’ and comparing notes online.

CrossFit Jagun is at the centre of the frontier CrossFit community in Nigeria and it is still the only official affiliate in the country, notionally serving a population touching 200 million people. The box was founded by charismatic and welcoming owner Wale when he returned to Nigeria from the USA and wanted to carry on doing CrossFit but was frustrated at the lack of options in Nigeria. Wale initially opened an Affiliate in his garage at home in order to compete in the Open but gradually started training a handful of family members and clients. From garage beginnings, he has grown a tight-knit community of 75+ members with a healthy mix of both ex-pats and Nigerians. I have never felt more welcome dropping into any box before. During my stay, I was offered lifts around town, invited to social events and people were genuinely interested in my story - why I was in Lagos, making sure I was having a good time, and was visiting the right parts of the city.

Group of athletes training at CrossFit Jagun in Lagos, Nigeria.
Paris's final workout at CrossFit Jagun. 

As for the box itself, Wale and his head coach Jen (the fittest woman in Nigeria – watch out Maddison) are both excellent and attentive coaches who spend a lot of time in the classes warming you up and drilling technique and mobility which is important because the programming is fun but brutal. Expect lots of long AMRAPS, Open style tests, and the occasional Hero WOD. Despite the AC, this is Lagos and the box quickly becomes stifling. Thankfully the thumping Afrobeats playlists and encouragement from the members makes training at Jagun incredibly fun and rewarding. The box is well equipped with everything you would expect from a modern space, classes are typically less than 12 people and Wale has just secured a new bigger location which is due to open in summer 2020.

Jennifer Okpolua, CrossFit athlete from Nigeria.

Jennifer, the fittest woman in Nigeria and Coach at CrossFit Jagun. 

Overall, I can’t recommend CrossFit Jagun highly enough. Wale has created a friendly, tight-knit community faithfully in the image of CrossFit’s founding principles – a supportive environment where people work their ass’s off to improve a little bit every day. 

When in Lagos

Lagos is a city that is better lived than ‘visited’. Instead of trying to tick off every individual attraction spend time enjoying the music, food, people, and culture. Below are a few of the sites I did enjoy while I was in town:

New Afrika Shrine – Shrine to Fela Kuti and an open-air performance centre with regular concerts run by Femi Kuti the son of Fela.

Nike Art Centre - The largest collection of traditional and contemporary Nigerian and West African art.

Lekki Conservation – Beautiful conservation centre with the longest suspension bridge in Africa, great for an afternoon walk.

See Paris's recommendations on the Travel Guide Map.