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)
First off I want to apologize for the crappy video uploads on the Occupy Strength event, I tried like 4 times and still couldn't get them all up there! If you really want to see all of them, and check out some pictures, your best bet is to go to my Facebook page. They're all on that. Next up, I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up to find myself on CrossFit Footballs mainsite page! Pretty cool! Two more things! I have created a site for trial this summer and you can check it out HERE. It is meant to be for all the athletes who are training at The Garage this summer, but I am in the process of trying to generate some data for the thing and if you all would be so kind as to check it out, offer opinions, ask questions, etc. And finally, I am hosting The Courage Games IV! All info will be posted in the Courage Performance Facebook page, but click HERE to register!
On to the good stuff! Breathe. Nope, this is not a post about the benefits of proper breathing techniques while lifting, although that would be a great post! This is more about taking the time to sit back, take in the warm summer air, and just breathe. All sorts of stuff has happened with me over the past six months. I have been up, down, and sideways. It's basically been one of the biggest roller coaster rides of my life and it left me more confused, lost, and overwhelmed than I've ever been. I forgot what it meant to live for the things I most hope for in life, and I got caught up in so much negativity I began to lose the ability to be positive and happy myself. This is always a tough place to find yourself in, and while I'm sure everyone experiences it, and I would honestly say that everyone SHOULD experience it, I really don't wish it on anyone. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves to experience joy, positivity, and good. And everyone deserves the opportunity to live a life they dreamed of. The really cool thing to realize is that these things are constantly available to you if you just know where to look, how to ask, and how to take them.
With my days filling up with clients, workouts, social media craziness, and programming, I am finding it somehow easier and easier to just take a moment (even though the moments are sparse) to just sit down, gaze into the woods, and breathe. And every time I do, good things flood in:
I love that I can sit on a plyo box in my tiny little gym and look into the woods.
I love that every day, athletes of all shapes, sizes, and ages come in to work hard, have fun, and get better at whatever it is they hope to get better at!
I love standing in the backyard in the humid evening air, charcoal fire slowly cooking a grill-full of grass-fed steak, chicken and asparagus for my wonderful feasting.
I love the sweat dripping down my face as I grab the chalked-up bar, every inch of me focused on executing my next rep as perfectly as I can. Getting stronger, getting faster, getting better.
I love my friends who I know I can call and meet up with to fill up hours of energetic and fulfilling conversation. Having groups and individuals who support you in being who you want to be and challenge you to keep perfecting that is becoming more important to me every day.
I love the hope of another day bringing more experiences, more smiles, more challenges and more excitement. The next few months are going to be tough, I know that much. I have TONS of people to train, I have tons of training to do myself. I have major life-choices to make that no matter how you look at them, will make some people upset. But I see so much more clearly now that that sort of thing is just a part of life. Challenging decisions are the ones that end up changing your life the most, so they are not to be taken lightly. The only thing you can do is clear your mind of the things that weigh you down, and the answer will come to you, more obvious than ever!
I love hope. But I hope I'm not addicted to it.
I love learning. I love learning through doing. I love learning from failure. I love learning through succeeding. I love learning from reading. I love learning most through watching.
How many of you could articulate what it means to be happy, successful, positive, satisfied and generally GOOD with yourself and the world? And how many of you are DOING it? Because Batman is the greatest character in the history of anything in the world, it's obvious that I would use quotes from those movies and comics:
"It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you"
LIVE the life you want and not only your life, but the lives of people around you will be wonderful.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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