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)
After my visit to CrossFit Burn, I turned the car towards San Francisco for my next two visits for the day. I got into the city and pulled into the heart of downtown and found a spot outside of CrossFit KMSF. I must say, next to San Francisco CrossFit I would say this one was the most unique of all my visits. So, ladies and gents, welcome to “the basement”!
The main sport CrossFit KMSF is located within is actually a pretty well-known training center in the city. Krav Maga is the man focus in the facility, but plenty of other classes take place inside their doors. When I left, I was super excited to see a huge group of people getting prepped for a TRX class in their main training room. As an avid promoter of this training tool, I thought it was so cool they utilized it with such a large group. And while I have never personally taken a Krav Maga class, I know quite a bit about the Israeli self-defense method and hold it in very high regard.
To get to the CrossFit within the facility however, you must walk through the man floor hallway, past the couple huge training rooms, down a narrow stair well and into a very narrow hallway. You pass a couple smaller training rooms and then turn left into a room about 600-800 square feet in total space. The ceilings are low, half the floor is concrete, the other half is super worn carpet. There’s a makeshift pull up bar on both sides of the ceilings support beams, four sets of rings strung up from DIY braces up there as well. Just inside the door was a decent stack of bumper plates, and back towards the far end of the room were a few beat up squat racks and a GHD. Yeah, this place was about as thrown together as you could possibly imagine, shoot, my old Garage Gym back in Maryland had more total equipment in it. But I’ll tell you what, the coach, the athletes, the workout, the energy; holy cow did this place rock!
Everyone who was there warmly greeted me, and I found it very easy to talk with anyone throughout my time there. Kat, the head coach and veteran CrossFitter in this awesome communities short life so far was super open and welcoming to me. I had a great time talking with her before and after our workout and was so intrigued by how her place was put together. She is a level 2 coach, she has been seriously involved in CrossFit much longer than most people have even heard about it. And here she is, in the basement of a self-defense center, in the middle of San Francisco just doing her thing. There was something so simplistic and respectable about how she ran her spot and I was reminded of a discussion I have had with training buddies in the past: you don’t need a fancy gym to have a good business, all you need is a good coach and good programming to have an awesome following. And when the athletes start rolling in, they will stay, and they will spread the word. The athletes I met that came through the doors seemed like good, serious, dedicated fitness junkies. I mean it’d be tough to imagine a snooty old lady walking into a basement gym and not walking away in disgust. No, the people who came and stayed were people who understood that it’s all about the training. These people were so proud to be a part of that gym, it was inspiring.
Similarly to CrossFit Burn, the early evening class was understood as a little more free-for-all than others as it was that shaky after work time for most of the athletes. Because of that, we all just got warmed up on our own, and the workout was performed in heats.
10 rounds of:
10 deadlifts 135#
10 push ups
God my poor arms. Already completely destroyed, my shoulders needed a real good warm up before attacking 100 push ups. A group of us got a couple laps around the block (always fun to run around a city around rush hour!) and then set up for the workout. I went in the second heat and had a sub-5 minute goal in mind for this one. Well, that crashed around the 6th round. I was able to go pretty much unbroken until then, but around the 60th push up my arms just had nothing left. I was able to get all the deadlifts like it was nothing, not even a pause on any of them. But with the struggling push ups I ended up rolling across the finish line at 6:20. A couple heats later there was one guy who crushed it in sub-4!
I hung out for a while talking with Kat and a handful of other people. It was real cool to see how people just sort of seemed to keep rolling in. Such a uniquely different CrossFit gym for sure, and it was a great one despite all their seemingly obvious setbacks. The fact that I had to rush out of there to get to my next visit was a bit of a bummer for me actually, I really liked hanging down there with everyone. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to head back there soon!
1455 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Great site and recourse from one of the athletes!
Post are coming, hate that there’s such a delay between visits and posts, but I an only edit these things so quickly! I’ll have them up soon enough!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Get Discounts Below!