There’s been a lot of talk going around the CrossFit community lately about standards. This isn’t a new topic mind you. Ever since CrossFit became something on the world’s radar, the people within the community have been subject to a LOT of scrutiny given their “new” rules of exercise. At first, I was a huge supporter of some of these new concepts as I thought it was a great way just to get more and more people involved in fitness, working out, and trying new things. But now, I am having a harder and harder time understanding why the hell CrossFit HQ seems so adamant on throwing years of rules and standards in the toilette.
CrossFit took the commonly understood definition of Fitness and changed it to something that made more sense. Fitness according to Websters Dictionary just doesn’t seem to cut it. Glassman created the idea of CrossFit, and I think he was dead on. He also was at the right place at the right time, and just like so many other creations/inventions was the lucky dude who got all the credit for this incredible new concept. I respect him for that.
Next, CrossFit became very controversial because they not only shoved their idea of fitness in your face and claimed that you are clearly NOT fit if you don’t do CrossFit (this is what I believe led to a majority view that CrossFit is a cult), they also started to slowly mess around with other common standards and concepts as well. Throwing away years of standards held true by Olympic lifting and other forms of exercises, CrossFit chose to ignore those standards in the name of their mantra: increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Still OK in my eyes; except for one thing.
If you decide to modify a snatch (a clearly defined movement with strict standards), you should pay respect to the lift and the sport by simply changing the name. If I decided to steal a combination of movements from football and baseball because I feel like it’d work better for me, yes, I can be a pretentious jerk and steal the name they spent years building their sport around and change the standards for it, or, I could respect the sport and come up with my own name. In fact, many respected people in the CrossFit community do this, like Kelly Starret who calls press-outs and dropping to the knee on Olympic lift attempts “snatch-like movements” or “clean-like movements”.
Many, many different things inspired this post, but recently there was a video posted on the Facebook of a CrossFit Games athlete PR-ing his “snatch-like movement”, falling to both knees. He himself comments that while he was happy with getting it, he knows he needs to get it on his feet. CrossFit HQ posted the video with praise and lo and behold came the flood of comments pleading for CrossFit to just cut it out already. As of 80 comments in, the only added comment from HQ was a snide “well he’s a CrossFit Games athlete and none of you guys are”, really, guys? So, I will start hitting foul ball “home runs” and posting all over Facebook how awesome I am. And if anyone comments that I’m wrong and that I did not actually hit a home run, my defense will be that I played a higher level of baseball than all of them so they should just shut up?!?! Come on, have a little respect! Same thing happened when my friend and old training partner Neal Maddox lifted an impressive 294# over his head on a snatch attempt. He immediately dropped the bar and prepared to actually get the lift (because he knew it did not count, the event had honest standards). HQ posted that Maddox hit a sick PR, then argued and insulted people who questioned the lift.
All this is SO unfortunate as CrossFit grew into something that I personally hoped would be a great thing for the world. A community that supported a higher standard of health and fitness, and one that anyone and everyone could be a part of. I turned a blind eye to the elitism that came from the top for as long as I could with the hope that the good community growing would overpower it, but I’m just not sure now. Many gyms that started off as “CrossFit so and so”, are either changing their name to drop the CrossFit, or de-affiliating all together. The social media is overwhelmingly filled with VERY unsupportive comments on what CrossFit is becoming. CrossFit began as an “open source system” (as defined by Greg Glassman himself) and now it seems that the openness of the system is crying out at the ridiculousness of the leadership. Will they listen to their community? Will they respect other communities, or will they keep causing conflict because “they can”? As one HQ staffer said on Facebook when questioned about their abrasive actions: “f**k PR”. Classy.
I know it sounds like I’m bashing CrossFit a little here, but I’m doing so because I personally would love to see a change. I compete as a CrossFitter, train a lot of CrossFitters, and am still very supportive of the community, and I hate that it SEEMS like HQ thinks they are just better than everything else. I remember watching a video that HQ posted of a really popular CrossFit Games athlete at an official Olympic Weightlifting competition. They titled it as the athlete achieving a big lift. At the meet, the judges scored the lift a failed attempt as the athlete pressed out the bar (not meeting the commonly understood standards for the lift). Interestingly enough, the athlete actually got annoyed at the judges and you can see the athlete “yelling” at them asking what was wrong with the lift (while trying to hide behind some nervous laughter). I was so disgusted that not only HQ would post this with praise, but, that such a popular icon in the CrossFit community would treat an official Olympic lifting meet with such misunderstanding and disrespect.
Obviously CrossFit has no reason to listen to me (I know there’s at least a few people at HQ who read my blog, and after this post I’ll probably move higher up on their “watch-list”) but I feel like I should be vocal about my thoughts. As with anything in this world, the more people who actually stand up for what they believe in, the more change occurs. I don’t want to sit around and just flat out rip on CrossFit, I’ll leave that to this guy, and this guy, and this guy, and this guy. What I’ll do here is offer my thoughts with the hope that either the community will overcome and drown out the elitism at the top. Or, that leadership will realize that with growth inevitably comes change, and they need to stop being so abrasive if they want the world to take them seriously. If you’re a jerk, it’s hard for people to view you as good.
Here’s hoping for positive change!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This past Saturday there was a bit of a CrossFit Competition down on Capitol Hill. Mostly athletes from CrossFit Balance were there and it was organized as a sort of birthday celebration by the birthday boy himself, Ash Cope. I knew a whole slew of people attending and competing so I figured it would be a good time to join in the fun and hang with everyone while getting a few awesome workouts in!
APRAP 1 minute of: ground to overhead anyhow w/ 85% body weight (no dropping or resting the bar on the ground)
I weighed in at 202.8 at that morning (this nutrition experiment is going crazy on me In a good way) and used a weight of 175#. This felt pretty heavy but my goal was just to find a comfortable rhythm and keep moving for the short minute. In the end, Ash counted out that I got 12 reps (I always try to count on these and end up losing track after about 3...not sure why). Not too bad with the tight back from heavy deads on Thursday, and a late night "lock-out" workout the night before; and, it was enough for 3rd on the event. I believe one guy got a whopping 17 reps!).
A note before going into the next two workouts: this whole thing took place at Ash's house, a nice brownstone between Eastern Market and the Capitol Building, so our first workout was literally set up on a rubber mat in the walkway in his front yard, so cool! The second workout utilized whatever outdoor space he had...
Workout #2: (you kind of had to be there for this and the next...)
With a three minute cap do:
Sprint walkway, hurdle front gate
Run around to back of building, scale 8 foot wall
Grab 30# sandbag, throw over wall, scale wall again
Carry sandbag to front of house, hurdle gate with it, carry to top of stairs
Hurdle gate again, grab 80# sandbag, hurdle gate, bring to top of stairs
Tire flip jump through for remainder of time
It seems like a lot, but most people finished the obstacles and sandbags in about 90 seconds. Then came the burn-out tire flips. Up until my turn the top flip was 19, so everyone was wondering if 20 could be reached. And, thanks to the insane amount of tire flips we all did back in the day with all my High School guys, I was able to efficiently move through them and bang out 25 reps before time was called. This was an AWESOME workout! Massive props to Ash for his programming. All of our lungs were on fire.
For the final workout we all grabbed a collection of 20# and 12# dynamax med balls and walked about a 800 meters to a large park to the side of the Capitol Building. To paint a picture here: we had 50 meter lanes marked off along a sort of reflecting pool with a grand stairway and fountain directly in front of us. Here is what we did, i dare you to follow along!
For time do:
50 meter burpee broad jumps
Run up, around and down stair case with med ball
Overhead lunge 50 meters
25 push ups
Bear crawl 50 meters
run up around and down
Bear crawl 50 meters
25 push ups
Overhead lunge 50 meters
Run up, around and down with med ball
Burpee broad jump 50 meters
Sprint 50 meters
This one was just a gasser and we had a great heat pushing all along. Devin, the athlete set up next to me pushed away on the overhead lunges and first set of push ups, but I was able to stay on his tail and take over the lead on the second set of push ups. It was a dead sprint alone for me at the end and I finished up in an exhausting 6 minutes flat and an overall victory!
We posed for a big group picture and headed back where I believe everyone hung out and grilled and partied (I stupidly scheduled a client and had to get back to The Garage STAT). In the end, this was exactly the perfect example for why I love CrossFit so much. A huge group of people banded together (all in all around 40+ showed up, and this is NOT counting the masses of people that stopped and hung out to watch as they walked by) to push themselves and support each other outdoors. I can not explain how excited it makes me to be a part of a community that truly enjoys finding ways to workout together at all times, it is so freaking awesome! I feel so much at home and comforted knowing that this is such a fast growing community, and that I involved in the capacity I am. I honestly hope that it never stops growing and the world can shift to a healthier, more active one.
OK, so, going a little off there. I woke up this morning to a text from my biddy JP about headed out to hike the Billy Goat Trail with a couple he knows. I was totally game and jumped up to meet him and head out there. We threw on a 20# vest each and just moved through it enjoying the perfect weather, saying hi to the throngs of people (perhaps throngs is the wrong word, but it was more crowded then i have ever seen!) and just chatting. It was the perfect recovery and chill type of thing to do. Then, it was off to coach a double header before headed home for a nap and a little TV before bed and plenty of training this coming week!
What did you do this weekend?
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Today marks the one-week-from-the-official--start-of-the-CrossFit-Games-season (yeah, a bit of a mouthful there) and it looks awesome. It's pretty clear that the excitement is brewing, not only in the little community I am involved with, but on a damn global scale! In well under 24 hours, the CrossFit Games Facebook page announced that over 1300 athletes and 400 affiliates were registered. That's insane! I am predicting over 100,000 total registrants by the time the first workout is announced next week. We'll see what happens!Now how about this crazy new format they are trying out this year? Well, if you take an hour or so and search back to when they first announced the concept, it looked like they had just confessed to killing a big group of kittens or something. The vocal community let loose a whole landslide of complaints, it was actually pretty entertaining to read through (I highly recommended it if you have some spare time and enjoy reading people banter like crazy).As more and more information began to SLOWLY leak out, it seemed like the negative comments got fewer and fewer. And as of today, with the unavailing of the new website and the crazy "step-up'ing" of CrossFit affiliates to host these things, people attitudes have taken a huge change for the better. Here's what I have to say on all this:CrossFit was started as an open-forum business, meant to allow people the freedom to approach the community however they see fit as long as they don't tarnish the name. Yes they can be a little unconventional at times, sure they can even be controversial (those recent partially nude photos they've been posting up on the main site). Their leadership tends to be abrasive, profane, unprofessional and seemingly unorganized but in the end, they get the job done, very well. They have put together a company that does exactly what they had in mind: allow people to get more fit and healthy then ever before, and allow the freedom for people to use their ideas and theories as a base and the form their own, individual companies however they see fit. They have done all this while not straying one inch from their ideals and I can do nothing but respect the hell out of that. I think what people should take the time to do is think about the amount of times CrossFit has actually let the community down. With the insanely rapid level of growth the community has seen over the past couple years, they have successfully shifted just enough to allow things to stay smooth. And this years CrossFit Games changes are no different. From the looks of it, they have predicted the communities ability to band together and offer a competitive forum for athletes, and there is still the opportunity for anyone in the world with a camera, computer and little time to submit their scores. Sure there are a few things that aren't perfect, but geeze, with so many people involved, you have to admit that they are doing a damn good job. SO, mad props to the CrossFit powers that may be for yet again stepping up to the challenge and offering the world something groundbreakingly awesome. I personally am so excited to get these workouts, work my ass off, compare myself to the world, and, to host the weekly Sectionals as well! To all you out there competing, good luck, have fun, and tear it up. And oh yeah, even if you have negative views on the creators of the community we are all a part of, take a second to thank them for getting all this craziness started. Be sure to check the Courage Performance and CrossFit San Mateo hosting of the Open Sectionals!Never Stop, GET FIT.Josh Courage
Quick shout-out to my noon-day warriors James and Carlos. They tore it up!
In a few short weeks the new year will be upon us. For most that means a fresh start to their lives, eating a little better, exercising a bit more, so on so forth. If you're already a CrossFitter, your resolutions will probably be met pretty quickly. If you are not a CrossFitter, well, go check it out and watch yourself grow (in a good way of course)! Me, I will be making a dedication at a whole new level. From January 1st through the 31st, I will be visiting as many CrossFit affiliates as my body can handle around the greater San Francisco Bay area. My goal is to hit at least 24 over the course of these 31 days, and if I can get a few more squeezed in there, believe me I will!
At each gym I will be interviewing both coaches and athletes/members, getting in a workout and video taping the whole process. And each night I will be posting up the edited video along with a review post of that affiliate. In the end, I will be writing up a long article on the whole point of this adventure of mine: community.
I did this last year for a week in and around Washington, DC and felt it was a pretty good success! This time around, besides the fact that I'll be going at it for an entire month, I plan to make the videos a little more dominate, hopefully each one will be like a short TV show. Personally I find I get more across when I can just talk, rather than writing.
So why am I doing this anyway? Well, it's actually for a few reasons, the main one being to promote a healthy, active, fit community. And seeing how CrossFit has done such a stand-up job doing just that, I figured that getting to know as many of these places as possible, and publicly writing about them will help continue spreading the word as to just how great it is to find a way to be a part of it all. I know that even though CrossFit has spread like wildfire around the world, it is still a baby in terms of popularity. And even if people DO know about it, a lot of them have some pretty distinct misconceptions of what it's all about. And to go further with that point, given the attention of things like the CrossFit Games and almost celebrity status of the top CrossFitter, we can actually begin to see this wonderful, supportive community of ours changing drastically each and every day. And I want to make sure the attention does not go completely away from what got this stuff going in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I celebrate the elite as much as the next person, hell, I want to BE one of the elite. But I love the idea of living in a world where health and fitness are a natural way of life, not an afterthought. I want to see a world where seeing an obese child is an extreme rarity, not a commonality. And I see CrossFit, at its core, being a huge part of this
My other reasons for doing this are to meet like-minded people in a setting I love to meet people in, the workout arena! And, well, I hope to get some damn awesome coaching along the way, not only to help me towards my own fitness goals, but to educate myself on different ways to approach my own coaching methods.
I sent out an email to some 30 affiliates just a few days ago, and I have already received 16 confirming responses. So exciting! My next step is to get the schedule planned out, and then get mentally prepared for one hell of a month. If you know anyone in the Bay Area who may be interested in me coming in for a visit, please let me know; and spread the word! The more attention I can get on this, the more our community will grow, so any connections/people/gyms/news/papers/blogs you know/have, send it out!
Now that I got that out of the way, I'll do a quick run-through of todays workout. Strict press: sucked. Failed at 175# and was demoralized to say the least. 4-rep thrusters: not bad, got my final set at 195# and felt strong. The metcon: whew! Hard! This was the opening workout to the Mid-Atlantic regional last year (but with 95#) and I attempted it a day or two after I got my cast off, getting in the mid-6 minute range. This time around, I got 5 minutes flat, with the heavier weight! Still could have shaved off a good amount of time on the muscle ups, but they are getting better!
Car pulling tomorrow!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.