In the past couple weeks the institution of CrossFit has had a decent amount of press in comparison to the past many years. A good bit of it has been relatively critical and as entertaining as it has been for me, CrossFit HQ lights up the social media with all sorts of backhanded, argumentative remarks about the articles.
One of the articles was all about something called rhabdo (Rhabdomyolysis) which is a severely serious reaction to incredibly rapid muscle tissue breakdown. This causes all sorts of damaging toxins to release into the bloodstream and leads to some pretty messed up symptoms.
So, CrossFit teaches about rhabdo in their level 1 seminar, and even makes a joke of the condition by having created a CrossFit mascot named “Pukie”. Anyway, some people don’t understand it, others think it’s funny, some think it’s horrible, and some (like me) just choose to ignore it because CrossFit HQ has always tended to push the envelope with political correctness as they grow (maybe they think it’s cool, maybe they think it will attract attention, maybe they’re just a bunch of weirdo’s, who knows, but they’ve ALWAYS done it).
Anyway, I’ve had a handful of people reach out to me about this article and my thoughts, so I thought I’d write a little something about it.
I will give credit to CrossFit HQ on the fact that they actually raise awareness of it at their level 1 seminar. They are one of the only fitness companies that actually teach all about some of the potential issues that training in their style could lead to. Everyone who has gone to a level 1 seminar will have received a base-level understanding of rhabdo and how to prevent it. In fact, I have had some 5 trainer/coach (not CrossFit obviously) friends of mine admit to not knowing anything about rhabdo, so, credit to CrossFit there for sure.
So, because of the attention CrossFit brings upon itself, it’s easy to assume that training CrossFit will inevitably lead to getting rhabdo. It’s simply not true. Any athlete can get rhabdo, check out HERE, and HERE, and HERE. While intense exercise may increase the risk of more negative issues, it should never be a reason to avoid being intense. Sort of a simple statement that everyone has heard a million times, but: CrossFit does not cause rhabdo, coaches/trainers who push their athletes/clients too hard cause things like rhabdo.
CrossFit claims that since all their coaches have been supplied some info on what rhabdo is, they are actually better informed on how to prevent it than most other coaches. While the statement itself is true, to assume that all their coaches actually practice good coaching methods is a pretty broad and, well, dead-wrong assumption. I have met a TON of CrossFit coaches who have no idea what rhabdo is (and also have no idea how to protect their clients, program properly, or teach proper technique to most movements). To assume the thousands of coaches you put through a 2-day seminar actually care enough to remember and put to practice everything you threw at them is pretty ridiculous. And when you make a public joke of the condition by making your mascot a vomiting, rhadbo-inflicted clown, you’re not helping your cause all that much. So it should not be that surprising that people have a few negative, critical thoughts about the company. It appears as though CrossFit harnesses some sort of pride in the fact that their program has been known to potentially really break people down. A lot of people who actually understand health and fitness know that it is not CrossFit in and of itself that hurts people, but irresponsible coaches that do, as mentioned before. There are bad coaches in CrossFit, just as there are bad coaches with many other backgrounds and certifications.
But if CrossFit really has an issue with people criticizing them, perhaps they’d take a few seconds to change their very confrontational approach. Or, they should continue being confrontational (they claim to not intentionally be controversial, but libertarian), and stop acting all confused and annoyed when people question and criticize them.
Or, all of us people need to realize that this is just what they do. The people who run CrossFit have ALWAYS been pretty abrasive. And now that social media is so popular, and the concept of “trolls” has become a “cool” thing for bored people who think it’s fun to stir up conflict; CrossFit has jumped headfirst into it. And it has brought them TONS of attention. And they don’t care if it’s good or bad. They will fight incredibly established companies and people on twitter, they will talk down to established figures in their own community, they will “play dumb” to conflicts they start, and you can watch the comments and attention roll in.
In my opinion, this is a bit unfortunate and seems to be a little counterintuitive of CrossFit. The concepts that CrossFit originally promoted (and that Greg Glassman talks about when speaking publically) have been some of the most influential in the world for promoting health and fitness. Thousands of new, small gyms, eager to help people live better lives and support each other have popped up around the world thanks to CrossFit. It’s a beautiful thing. Many of the best CrossFit gyms that I have been to (the ones with the best coaches, intelligent programming, understanding of true community and support) generally choose to just ignore the actions of CrossFit HQ and continue to do good, staying out of trouble and controversy.
I suggest that if annoying arguments are something that cause you stress and anxiety, just don’t follow CrossFit on Facebook and twitter, and avoid reading the comments on the articles that pop up about it. They have said over and over again that they could care less if you follow them or not (I’m sure this has led to thousands of more followers as another CrossFit HQ employee has stated). If you like to get all worked up and pissed about stuff, read away! They will not disappoint. I personally find it entertaining here and there.
One of CrossFit HQ’s now-well-known employees made a pretty clear statement about CrossFits approach to what they choose to talk about: “Fuck PR”
My personal thoughts?
I personally love CrossFit as a sport. I train for it, compete in it, appreciate the athletes and what they can do, and how entertaining it is.
I coach all my athletes and clients in athletic performance, not CrossFit. Do you know the difference?
I love that CrossFit has helped create so much more attention to health and fitness. We’ve seen pretty dramatic growth in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, track, nutrition and general fitness education thanks to CrossFit. That. Is. Awesome!
I’ve made friends and been able to grow my business into two gyms and a pretty successful blog/brand with direct and indirect influences from CrossFit.
I can’t stand the way CrossFit HQ chooses to act. It used get me so worked up that I would get angry (and even now I will sometimes rant on my dislike for them, or allow one of their instigating posts to get me started on a post myself, or even engage them here and there). Now I just avoid their posts if I am feeling like I don’t need more annoying things in my life.
Nothing you or I say will make them change the way they act. So either read their craziness and engage in whatever way you will, or just stop paying attention. But if you want to get worked up, and pissed off, and question why they choose to act like they do; well, you are just wasting your time and energy. Maybe constantly defending themselves and arguing will get old to them, and they will change (I have actually seen a slight shift in wording in that they actually ask for opinions rather than just randomly post stuff with the implication that they endorse it. Also they have been on a kick recently talking more and more about how scaling and modifying workouts are so important to beginners; and understanding proper movement patterns and technique are more important than times. So who knows).
Either way, CrossFit is here to stay, no matter how they choose to act, and no matter how you feel about it and the people that run it. Take what you will from it and try to ignore the crap if it really bothers you. There are plenty of incredible ways to get into health and fitness, choose the one that helps you the most and you’ll probably have a better life. Easy as that!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
PS - If you want to see what I'm talking about with the Facebook and twitter craziness, just spend 5 minutes on either of the those things on the CrossFit page and you'll see. I don't have the patience to link to them (plus, there are WAY too many and I can't choose the best ones)
Chilling by the TV with family, Rocky playing in the background, stomach wonderfully filled with all sorts of great food, I am thinking of what I have done over the year and what is to come. 2010 was nothing short of epic for me. My offical shift into a competitor in CrossFit, with a 2nd place finish at DC's Most Primal, and an 8th place finish at the CrossFit Games Mid-Atlantic Sectional, I really think I have found my new sport. I am so excited with what 2011 has to offer. No matter what happen along the way towards the CrossFit Games 2011, I know I'll be having a blast all along!
My Trans-America Bicycle ride was probably the biggest challenge I have ever been a part of and even though it ended with be getting pretty beat up, and only 1800 miles completed, it was such a life-changing experience. I saw so many places, met a ton of great people, and pushed myself each and every day a good bit farther than I imagined being pushed. It was fun, even though I did end up busting up my hand and neck in the crash in Colorado.
My move to California would also be way up there in the biggest challenges I have faced, but my excitement for this new life, with my wonderful girlfriend Lindsey, and the promise of the lifestyle I have always dreamed of made it all seem so logical and simple. When I sit back and look at where I am headed, I can do nothing but smile. I know I am following my heart and my passion, and good things come when life is approached in that manner. I can not wait for what's to come, and I am going to enjoy every second of it, good and bad!
So, a few days back I visited Albany CrossFit to get my physical and metal abilities majorly challenged along side CrossFit studs Austin Malleolo and James Hobart. Along with head coach Jay, and fellow athlete Matt, we all prepared for this:
2 rounds for time of:
200 double unders
50 overhead squats 135#
50 pull ups
1 mile run
Oh. Hell. Yes! This sort of thing is just fun. I personally would have issues with this sort of workout being programmed in on any sort of a regular basis, but for competitors, for fun, to pay homage to our fallen hero's, yeah, let's all get after it! This style of workout can do nothing but put a smile on my face, it's over the top and ridiculous. It's so crazy that there really is nothing anyone can do but to just go hard and keep going until you finish. And luckily for me, I was able to share the torture with a couple super-athletes.
We all got started and I was feeling very smooth, getting all 200 double unders unbroken in about 1:38. The overhead squats felt more like 185#, but I was able to string together 3 sets of 10, then got the rest mixed in with 3 or more reps. Austin and I got to the pull up bar around the same time, and he pulled a little away from me there and into the first run. The run was tougher than I would have expected. I guess I really have adapted to the warmer California weather. It was in the upper 20's and I was never able to really get a comfortable breath going. But with Austin not too far in front of me, I just kept pace. The second round was just a test of everything in my body. The double unders went fine enough, I actually got 100 unbroken right off the run. The overhead squats were about as brutal a test as I have ever been faced with. At around 20 I began to feel total muscle break-down in my hips and shoulders, and I was beginning to feel a bit nauseous. But, we all just chipped away. I ended up crossing back into the gym at 45:10 and was very happy with that time. I put every ounce of energy into that workout, and I know that that was the best time I would get on that day, given my programming and travel schedule leading up to it. It was fun!
This workout is posted up on the CrossFit Main Site today, and you can check out our effort at Albany CrossFit on the video posted up there (yes, it does say I got 45:40, and yes they does link to my old site, but it's all good, I'm happy to be up there!).
Tomorrow I head over to Northampton for a family gathering, and will be hoping for another group workout, we'll see!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Yesterday I got to visit my friends at Albany CrossFit and get a damn tough workout in at the same time. It was great to see the head coach, Jay. He's a welcoming, open and all around awesome dude. On top of that, I was excited to meet and workout with CrossFit extraordinaires Austin Malleolo and James Hobart. A whole group of us did one of the toughest workouts I think I ever done. Out of respect for the process of CrossFit mainsite, I'll wait until next week to post details of the workout as it's going to be programmed there on Sunday. All I'll say is that I had such a great time being able to workout with such high caliber athletes. Similar to my visit to LaLanne Fitness a couple weeks ago, I got that extra push of "get after it" by being next to people who are most liekly going to be better than me at this. So, while I can compare my numbers to others in video and reading and so on, it's a worlsd of difference being able to sweat it out right next to them! I wish I could have this every day, but, I will take what I can get.
Later on, Lindsy and I met up with our good friends and went to the Siena basketball game for an evening of fun. Then it was off to sleep. Today, it was up and out to shop till we dropped. Then, with whatever energy I had left, I met Kenny at Siena College for a workout. He beat me on our warm up game of one on one... I wasn't completely sore, just annoyingly sore. What I mean by that is I was sore enough head to toe to notice no matter what, but not enough to stop me from doing anything. But by the end of the day I felt like I had been beat up.
5 x 5 increasing weight box squats
3 rounds for time of:
15 hang power cleans 135#
15 push ups
15 knees to elbows
I got to 315# on the box squats, easy enough, just slow and weak. The metcon went smooth enough through two rounds. I went unbroken except for the bar slipping out of my hand on rep 10 of the second round. It was the third round that hit me, an it hit hard. I broke everything up and was gasping for air like crazy. I was able to finish in 5:21 and am somewhat happy with that effort. I had nothing left in my arms, so, I gave it everything I had left.
Now, I am back at Jen and Martins (check out Jen's Blog!) and ready to hang with lots of great friends, eat TONS of food, smile a lot and enjoy the warmth of the holidays!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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