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 a few last minute changes, Lindsey and I decided on San Diego as our spot to chill for about a week. The choice could not have been more perfect, and to celebrate my 29th birthday, we had all sorts of fun. Here’s a bit of a run-down of our adventures:
Woke up, had a massive breakfast at our hotel in downtown San Diego, then headed out to Pacific Beach to get a workout in at my buddy Bryan Boorsteins’ gym Pacific Beach CrossFit. I got some decent squat work in, then a super quick metcon of double unders and GHD sit ups. Then it was a few hours out by the pool, a nice little dinner and a Padres game before headed to bed.
My birthday and I was excited to get rolling! Lindsey and I hit an AM run along the bay with some nice stir sprints to finish. Then it was a he breakfast before heading back to Pacific Beach for another workout:
29 reps of each for time:
Power cleans 95#
Box jumps 24”
Push press 95#
Row for calories
OH lunge 45#
Toes to bar
Wowza was this a killer. I finished in 15:29 and am sure this is one that could be done sub-12. Toes to bar and dips got me. Oh well, off to the beach for some lunch and sun! After we burned ourselves up a bit, we hit the road, headed for Cuyamaca Rancho State Park out in the mountains for some camping. Before getting into the wild though, we found a Whole Foods to stock up at, and then hit an absolutely AWESOME Mexican spot for dinner, El Zerape. Steak burrito and fish tacos baby! Rolling into the campsite around 8pm did not help us with the organization of the whole evening, but, we found a site, got the tent up and promptly passed out under the sounds of nature and the amazing clear night sky.
I woke up around 6 and was buzzing with energy. We had granola and fruit, and then packed up our gear to head to Ramona to a trail head. The once rugged path was now a spacious winding trail (we even hiked past a bunch of workers making the trail more navigatable) that led us about 2.5 miles into a gorge. Once down in lower and, we waded through three river crossings before popping out to a absolutely breathtaking 150+ foot waterfall. The next three or so hours was spent chilling by the water basin, jumping from rocks and just soaking in the incredible beauty nature supplies us (if only we go looking for it!). This part of the whole trip was hands down one of my most memorable experiences. I would travel back to San Diego for this waterfall alone in a hear beat. SO NICE!
The hike back was a tough, but our minds were filled with excitement from the waterfall and it flew by. Back at the trail-head we chowed down on salami, celery and almond butter and trail mix. We then stopped at a store in Ramona to get a few more supplies and drove o back to the same campsite to have a peaceful evening. We got the fire going, set up our tent and cooked up some burgers and chicken sausages, topped off with a few s’mores and another early bedtime under the stars!
Another breakfast in the great outdoors and we began out trek back towards the city. We made a quick stop at some batting cages first and took a handful of rounds each. I have been missing baseball a lot lately and it felt so great to swing the bat again. I plan to do a lot more baseball stuff this coming summer! The rest of the day was spent checking out downtown for lunch, hitting Pacific Beach CrossFit again for some deadlifts and bent rows, and then out to La Jolla for a perfect dinner at an organic restaurant, before heading home and getting some sleep in.
Not much to write about here, just some food, one last stop at PB CrossFit to bring Bryan and Anders (the other owner) a little gift, then off to the airport to head back up to San Mateo!
Man, when I break down this week and I can think of not too much else to add. I always have all these ideas f things I want to do but when you boil it down it consists of only a few things: hanging with Lindsey, working out, being outside, and exploring. I got to do all that and more this past week and it was one for the record books in terms of awesomeness! I spent mot of the last day thinking about what I want out of my life and realized that with everything I hope to accomplish, all I want is to have those four things on a regular basis:
Lindsey, Workouts, Outdoors, Exploring
Now I’m back home, ready for a new training program to prepare for regionals, and the reality of this whole move back East is really stating to sink in. I have a lot to do these next couple weeks!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Get Discounts Below!