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)
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.
Get Discounts Below!