There’s been a lot of talk going around the CrossFit community lately about standards. This isn’t a new topic mind you. Ever since CrossFit became something on the world’s radar, the people within the community have been subject to a LOT of scrutiny given their “new” rules of exercise. At first, I was a huge supporter of some of these new concepts as I thought it was a great way just to get more and more people involved in fitness, working out, and trying new things. But now, I am having a harder and harder time understanding why the hell CrossFit HQ seems so adamant on throwing years of rules and standards in the toilette.
CrossFit took the commonly understood definition of Fitness and changed it to something that made more sense. Fitness according to Websters Dictionary just doesn’t seem to cut it. Glassman created the idea of CrossFit, and I think he was dead on. He also was at the right place at the right time, and just like so many other creations/inventions was the lucky dude who got all the credit for this incredible new concept. I respect him for that.
Next, CrossFit became very controversial because they not only shoved their idea of fitness in your face and claimed that you are clearly NOT fit if you don’t do CrossFit (this is what I believe led to a majority view that CrossFit is a cult), they also started to slowly mess around with other common standards and concepts as well. Throwing away years of standards held true by Olympic lifting and other forms of exercises, CrossFit chose to ignore those standards in the name of their mantra: increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Still OK in my eyes; except for one thing.
If you decide to modify a snatch (a clearly defined movement with strict standards), you should pay respect to the lift and the sport by simply changing the name. If I decided to steal a combination of movements from football and baseball because I feel like it’d work better for me, yes, I can be a pretentious jerk and steal the name they spent years building their sport around and change the standards for it, or, I could respect the sport and come up with my own name. In fact, many respected people in the CrossFit community do this, like Kelly Starret who calls press-outs and dropping to the knee on Olympic lift attempts “snatch-like movements” or “clean-like movements”.
Many, many different things inspired this post, but recently there was a video posted on the Facebook of a CrossFit Games athlete PR-ing his “snatch-like movement”, falling to both knees. He himself comments that while he was happy with getting it, he knows he needs to get it on his feet. CrossFit HQ posted the video with praise and lo and behold came the flood of comments pleading for CrossFit to just cut it out already. As of 80 comments in, the only added comment from HQ was a snide “well he’s a CrossFit Games athlete and none of you guys are”, really, guys? So, I will start hitting foul ball “home runs” and posting all over Facebook how awesome I am. And if anyone comments that I’m wrong and that I did not actually hit a home run, my defense will be that I played a higher level of baseball than all of them so they should just shut up?!?! Come on, have a little respect! Same thing happened when my friend and old training partner Neal Maddox lifted an impressive 294# over his head on a snatch attempt. He immediately dropped the bar and prepared to actually get the lift (because he knew it did not count, the event had honest standards). HQ posted that Maddox hit a sick PR, then argued and insulted people who questioned the lift.
All this is SO unfortunate as CrossFit grew into something that I personally hoped would be a great thing for the world. A community that supported a higher standard of health and fitness, and one that anyone and everyone could be a part of. I turned a blind eye to the elitism that came from the top for as long as I could with the hope that the good community growing would overpower it, but I’m just not sure now. Many gyms that started off as “CrossFit so and so”, are either changing their name to drop the CrossFit, or de-affiliating all together. The social media is overwhelmingly filled with VERY unsupportive comments on what CrossFit is becoming. CrossFit began as an “open source system” (as defined by Greg Glassman himself) and now it seems that the openness of the system is crying out at the ridiculousness of the leadership. Will they listen to their community? Will they respect other communities, or will they keep causing conflict because “they can”? As one HQ staffer said on Facebook when questioned about their abrasive actions: “f**k PR”. Classy.
I know it sounds like I’m bashing CrossFit a little here, but I’m doing so because I personally would love to see a change. I compete as a CrossFitter, train a lot of CrossFitters, and am still very supportive of the community, and I hate that it SEEMS like HQ thinks they are just better than everything else. I remember watching a video that HQ posted of a really popular CrossFit Games athlete at an official Olympic Weightlifting competition. They titled it as the athlete achieving a big lift. At the meet, the judges scored the lift a failed attempt as the athlete pressed out the bar (not meeting the commonly understood standards for the lift). Interestingly enough, the athlete actually got annoyed at the judges and you can see the athlete “yelling” at them asking what was wrong with the lift (while trying to hide behind some nervous laughter). I was so disgusted that not only HQ would post this with praise, but, that such a popular icon in the CrossFit community would treat an official Olympic lifting meet with such misunderstanding and disrespect.
Obviously CrossFit has no reason to listen to me (I know there’s at least a few people at HQ who read my blog, and after this post I’ll probably move higher up on their “watch-list”) but I feel like I should be vocal about my thoughts. As with anything in this world, the more people who actually stand up for what they believe in, the more change occurs. I don’t want to sit around and just flat out rip on CrossFit, I’ll leave that to this guy, and this guy, and this guy, and this guy. What I’ll do here is offer my thoughts with the hope that either the community will overcome and drown out the elitism at the top. Or, that leadership will realize that with growth inevitably comes change, and they need to stop being so abrasive if they want the world to take them seriously. If you’re a jerk, it’s hard for people to view you as good.
Here’s hoping for positive change!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Yesterdays trip down to San Jose to hang with Neal Maddox and crew was the first time I didn't do the workout. Having scored a respectable score on the Sectionals Workout, I was satisfied enough and had no intention of trying it again. Plus, with Lindsey and me leaving late tomorrow night for our adventure, I wanted to hit the 6th and final workout tomorrow (totally need to rest up the shoulders and legs as it will be BRUTAL!).
It was fun to judge and watch all these beasts get after it. I have been around "fire-breather" CrossFit for a while now and I only yesterday realized that watching while also being a competitor is totally different than watching for the sake of watching. As a competitor I tend to analyze what is going on. I watch for things athletes are doing to make the movements more efficient. I watch how they react to transitions, where they take breaks and how they feel and approach the beginning, middle, and end of the workout. I feed off the energy as adrenaline for my own effort but am always a bit introverted, focusing on my personal routine. More on this in a sec.
As a non-competitor, things become WAY more exciting. You can just sit back and soak in the absolute impressiveness of human beings challenging every aspect of their make up. They push themselves physically and mentally, they sometimes burst through barriers, and sometimes get crushed. But no matter what happens, it is more suspenseful, motivating, emotional and powerful then almost any other watchable event I have been to. For those of you out there who have yet to see a bunch of CrossFitters getting after it, go online, find an event, and go check it out. Your life will change (even if it's just a little, it will change).
So here's how it changed for me! It made me sit back and think about my approach to CrossFit and training in general. I personally like CrossFit less for the actual workouts (believe me, I LOVE the workouts), but more for the need to better understand oneslef. Let's take this last Sectionals Workout as an example. The thing was 20 minutes of three tough exercises, and what happens when these show up on the board is either a bunch of groaning about how tough this will be, and/or a whole slew of strategizing. CrossFit workouts have allowed the ability for people to figure out the best way for themSELVES to get through a workout the most efficiently and effectively. As an example, Neal Maddox broke this one down like crazy, and ultimately made the mistake of over-transitioning. He went in with the goal of taking his time and mis-judged how much time to take between exercises. Normally his strategy to to go balls to the wall from the start, but he chose to change it up here and it came back to bite him in the butt a little (just as a side: Neal is sitting around 4th or 6th in the world right now. The guy get's it done about 99% of the time, and when he hits that 100%, it's going to be scary). I picked my strategy: to rest mostly between the cleans and the toes to bar (to allow my grip a break), then try to keep the transition time down between all others. I also focused on NOT breaking the cleans and the wall balls as I knew it would devastate me to have to pick the bar and ball back up once it fell. For me, this style of workout is one that I excel in. I think my marathoning a few years back helps me understand how to pace longer workouts. But with workouts in the 5-10 minute domains, I am still pretty rusty as to what works best for me. It's all about knowing what you as an individual can and can't do, and then basing how you approach the workout accordingly. If you are a strong finisher but struggle to get warm, why would you go 100% at the start? If you function better in on-and-off bursts of energy, why would you plan to do things unbroken? In training it would be smart to work on this stuff as well. It's not just about training physical weaknesses, but when you move up in the CrossFit world, it's about figuring out so much more, and training it all!
This next workout is one I feel I should do well with, but I have to spend some time figuring out how to approach it. It's a 7 minute all-out effort, and I struggle with the mental side of that. Upon a bit of thought, I think my best bet is to Neal Maddox it, or Prefontane it: when I hear go, I GO! All out, rest only when I need to and as quickly as possible. You can do anything for 7 minutes...
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Today I drove on down to Neal Maddox's place with Lindsey and her mom to get another try at Open Workout #4. I rolled in with certain ease because I was pretty happy with my score of 115 from Wednesday. But, I figured since it wasn't the most demanding workout in the world, I would go ahead and work it into my programming. Plus, it's always a good time to workout next to Neal, the dude is an absolute BEAST!
My goal for today was to hit everything a little faster because I felt like I took too much time leading up to and doing the muscle ups (I did so on purpose because I was really focused on getting those damn muscle ups without a miss!). I felt pretty good when the time began and I found a perfect rhythm on the burpees, finishing these about 20 seconds faster than the first go-round. I shook out the arms and legs and threw the barbell overhead to start my overhead squats. Felt SO much better with these and was able to 19 unbroken. Then of 6 and 5. All of a sudden I was going into my muscle ups with just about 1:40 extra time! But that's about all the excitement I had for the day because I went for my first effort and missed, ugh. This has been exactly how muscle ups go for me over the past couple years, I either have them, and have them real comfortable, or, I can't get them at all.
I was able to squeeze out a brutally ugly 5 reps here, then I just hit my wall. I missed about 7 straight and just like that I saw I have about 30 seconds left. Oy. So, I recalled that I got 115 a few days before, I saw my boy Neal slowing down in the upper area of his second round of burpees, so, I decided to call it quits and give the remainder f my energy to Neal so he could get a few more reps in. All in all, it was a nice little workout and and I just didn't have those muscle ups today!
Now it's time for a little rant, not organized, not thought out at all, just thought I'd express myself. Upon a quick review of the mid-Atlantic region leaderboard on the CrossFit Games website, I am totally in the wrong spot. As of right now I am placed like 28th with a score that should have me either 19th or 20th. They have yet to adjust for my better score on workout #3, and they have me in the wrong spot overall. So here's the thing: I am pretty confident that they have all the correct info somewhere in there, but it's all the "glitches" they are experiencing that is causing the mistakes we all see. But even though I have confidence in them, it is freaking nerve-raking to not be placed in the correct spot. It'd just be nice to see my name where it belongs is all.
Ok, I'm done. I have a nice rest of the weekend planned out with Lindsey's family and I am excited for my programming next week! I'll fill you all in on that soon.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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