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)
Right off the bat, apologies for the delay in this post, last night got away from me and I just did not have the time and focus needed to make a proper video and post.
But onto the first visit of my second week, CrossFit SOMA, smack in middle of the great city of San Francisco. Things started off great because my parking spot gave a view about two/three blocks down the street of the baseball stadium. And for any of you who know me, I am slight fan of baseball. The neighborhood added so much to the feel of this gym, very hip and modern. The entire area is a completely done-up collection of warehouses and garages, turned into condos, nice shops and fancy restaurants. This gives the entire area that sort of rugged hint behind all of it's cleanliness. The gym was the same way. Just like any other CrossFit gym, all the same equipment and so on, but it had an organization about it that was a good bit different than most. I honestly could not tell if that feeling was because of the way the gym was set up, or because of the neighborhood, but it felt that way all the same. The main thing that left me standing there in awe for a few minutes was their pull up rig. I am a huge fan of cool pull ups rigs and this one took the cake. It was huge! It ran right thrugh the middle of the gym, and had an impressive dominance about it. The fact we got to use it on the workout got be so pumped!
Jenny and Olivia, the two owners for UB (United Barbell) were both extremely welcoming, warm-hearten and knowledgable. They're backgrounds are very impressive and they ring in a very rare personality to CrossFit gym: one that is run by two women. Perhaps this plays a roll in the way the space feels, but as they put it, they really think it plays a roll in the community it forms. Only having been around for 6 months, they are still very much in the growing process, but they have already formed a great following that is very dedicated to changing their lives. According to Jenny, they are a group of people who are very green to fitness, without very much history in serious athletics at all. This leads to a slightly tamer gym, where the fire-breathers and hardcore competitors are generally not found. Their community is one that has grown organically and has grown strong, something the owners don't necessarily actively promote (at least not yet), but are very happy with.
Only a couple people came in to the noon class I joined (the rent cold front in the city has been keeping a few people cooped up in their homes!) but they were both really nice athletes and I had a great time working out with them.
20 minute AMRAP of:
1600 meter run for remainder of time do:
5 ground to overhead anyhow 95#
10 pull ups
15 PVC sit ups
We took a good long time to warm up, work on some hollow rocks and get to know the movements we were about to perform and I really feel like we were all well-prepared. I can't say enough about a coach who makes sure each athlete is not only warmed up, but warmed up properly for the specific workout. Then to add to it, makes sure each and every athlete fully understand what they are about to do. Even a well-trained athlete needs good coaching and scheduling time pre-workout to work out hitches in form is something I feel a lot of people miss. But not here, we were all good and ready.
I was felt very good physically and was able to get in a good pace on the run, finishing in 6:35. I then got right into the exercises. All ground to overheads went unbrken, all pull ups the same; it was the PVC sit ups that got me. What this is is an ABMAT sit up where you hold a PVC pipe on your shoulders like a back squat. This takes any chance to use momentum out of the picture and all of a sudden the sit up is brutally hard. I could not string together more than 8, and it was exhausting, both physically AND mentally. When time ran out I had gotten 7 complete rounds. I felt like I pushed, but not as hard as I really could have, not totally sure why, but it as a great workout all the same!
Looking through UB's workouts I really liked their programming. They have backgrounds in Olympic lifting, and while they fully promote using those lifts, they do not seem over-do it on their athletes. Many times you'll see a coaches likes and dislikes strongly through their programming, and the athletes inevitably are molded in that direction. A good coach uses his/her experience merely as one source for designing a program, but the main one is the well-roundedness of their athlete (depending on the athletes specific goals of course). Jenny and Olivia have found a great route in terms of supplying all their members a truly divers program. With a tight-nit community, great programming, well-organized gym and great coaches, these two have a lot of potential as their gym continues to grow through their first year.
United Barbell/CrossFit SOMA
300 Brannan St, San Francisco
Today I am prepping for a double dip: San Francisco CrossFit and Mad Dawg Fitness!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Get Discounts Below!