The article that has swept the nation/world/universe regarding how awful and terrible and wrong CrossFit is has been on my mind since I first saw it a few days ago. I’ve been toying with the idea of responding to it, but I just kept thinking, honestly, what can I say that’s better than what a million other Crossfitters can say, or have said already? Still, I felt the need to respond and give my 2 cents.
I love CrossFit. That’s all there is to it. It has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I am not religious, I do not like “cults”, but if the community and family and friendship (not to mention, fitness, knowledge, strength, motivation, self confidence, self esteem, improved health) that I have found and gained in my life because of CrossFit are all considered cult-like, then I’ll take it. Every damn day.
In my opinion, Erin just visited a couple bad gyms, and had negative experiences with them.
With her fitness background and experience, it seems as though she’s not happy with the popularity that CrossFit has gained over the last few years, and is trying to find reasons to bash it and give herself more credibility. I get it. Any publicity is good publicity, especially since she just gained ten million inbound links to her site from all over the place, and her name now comes up as a suggested Google search term. If she was going for shock value, she got it.
The problem is, anyone who hasn’t really truly experienced the community and family nature of a true CrossFit gym can never understand how amazing it is. Many people prefer to work out alone, don’t like the motivation from outside sources, and that’s fine. I used to think I didn’t like those things. I remember specifically telling people who were cheering me on during a WOD to stop. “Don’t cheer me on, don’t pay attention to me, don’t try to push me, please just leave me alone.” I was embarrassed to be last, slow, sluggish, fat, whatever.
Now, I embrace the motivation from others. I know they’re doing it because they care, they want to see me finish, and they want to help. Shit, just the other day during Murph, I stepped in and did 80 extra air squats with my box owner and coach, Russell, to help push and motivate him to keep going. Where else can you see that? I’ve never seen that anywhere in my life.
The camaraderie you see within CrossFit gyms is uncanny. People cheer on everyone, regardless of who they are! The more they’re struggling, the slower they move, the more people stand behind them and want to encourage them to do their best, to finish.
When traveling, I often like to check out other CrossFit gyms to get a workout or two or 5 in. Just another thing I love about CrossFit, is I can walk into any box around the country, or WORLD even, and the feeling is the same. The equipment, the movement, the form, the mobility, the whiteboard, the friendly faces, the high fives, the cheering. It’s all there. We really are a giant, global family that welcomes just about everyone who wants to be a part of our culture. I’ve been to several boxes out of town, including gyms in Las Vegas, Traverse City, Madison, Miami, Ocala and it’s incredible that I now have these ‘home away from home bases’ in place around the country.
Totally digressing here, but I mention all of this because Erin doesn’t comment at all on the community aspect of it, except for calling it a Cult. Which to me, shows that she walked into those gyms with a shit attitude (nobody likes a shitty attitude) and obviously wasn’t welcomed. (Assuming from her writing style and opinion of CrossFit that she had a shitty, I’m better than you attitude, but I could be entirely wrong.) It’s hard to understand the community aspect of something like CrossFit, when you haven’t experienced it firsthand.
To me, the community of a CrossFit gym is its core. Its foundation. Without a community, a box is nothing.
Moving along. She mentions you can get certified in a weekend, but what she doesn’t know (because she hasn’t experienced it, and she obviously didn’t do her research) is when you go to take your Level 1, you don’t ‘get CrossFit certified’. You just earn the legal right to call yourself a CrossFit trainer provided a box will hire you or allow you to coach. BUT, most gyms wouldn’t hire you without experience, training, and some sort of background. I have my Level 1, but I don’t consider myself ‘capable’ or experienced enough to go and coach. Could I coach? Yes, but I can’t do muscle ups, ring dips, and I can’t string together pull ups, so while I’d be able to teach people the principles of the movements, I’d personally have a problem with teaching people how to do things that I myself wasn’t able to do. With time, I will get there, but just saying.
An example, teachers in the state of Florida technically don’t have to be certified or even have a degree in teaching/education to teach in Florida for up to THREE YEARS. You can have your 4 year degree (in ANY subject except I believe real estate or religious studies), and as long as you pass the background check, you can teach whatever subject a school will hire you to teach, and you have three years (yes, THREE YEARS) to take all the tests, certifications, courses, etc to become qualified. How do I know this? I was a teacher in Florida. And I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences. The state of Florida paid for my course work needed to bring me ‘up to code’ to teach in the state, which I fulfilled my first year, and went on to earn my 5 year permanent teaching certification. (I’m legit.)
She goes on to argue so many technical aspects of CrossFit that she says are wrong, but anyone can find evidence to support just about ANY claim, especially now that we have this great big library called Google. She just doesn’t like CrossFit, and that’s okay! But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to bash it. I don’t bash figure competitions, (I don’t get them, or understand why, but that doesn’t mean I have to hate them). I don’t bash baseball, football, golf, basketball, but surely there are lots of injuries associated with those sorts of sports.
Look at hockey! Look at the dudes with missing teeth because they like to slam themselves into other dudes and fight in an ice rink (is there more to it? I don’t know. I’m not a hockey expert and I’m not going to pretend to be.) More power to you if that’s what you love, it’s not for me, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean I’m going write an article spewing hatred and dislike and trying to convince the entire world that’s WRONG and everyone should do CrossFit instead.
As far as screaming coaches go.. I’ve never had a coach scream at me, and if I had, I wouldn’t belong to that gym anymore. I’ve had coaches cheer me on and encourage me, but guess what? At my gym, if we’re in pain, we’re told to stop. We are expected to hold ourselves accountable and stop if it doesn’t feel right. We’re not told to push through the pain or suffer through it. Anyone who pushes through injury-causing or injury-sustaining pain does it because of their own ego and insecurities. They have that need to prove themselves. We are not taught that at my gym, and modifications and scaled weights are ALWAYS presented for each and every WOD. Our coaches always walk around and help our members decide what weights work for them, especially the newbies who aren’t sure what to do! The idea is to perfect the form, and then increase the weight over time. If that means working with an empty bar for a year to learn form, then so be it. That’s what we’re taught and encouraged to do at all times.
And, I’d just like to mention that Olympic Lifting as a sport has survived and thrived because of CrossFit. A once dying sport has been revived and all sorts of new love has been generated because of CrossFit. That’s incredible!! Even Lift Big Eat Big credits CrossFit to being able to sustain their own seminars and education. They’ve used CrossFit as a tool for spreading their own information and style of lifting. And we welcome organizations such as theirs to share their info!
It makes me sad that some people are just so anti-CrossFit that they’ll never get to experience the amount of love and caring and fun that comes with the true CrossFit experience. It has sparked a movement, a healthier lifestyle, a better way of eating, across the world. More and more people are aware of their bodies, their health, their fitness, their strength and abilities, the food they eat, the regulations in place by our governments, the chemical content of ‘traditional’ processed foods.
There is so much more than just ‘lifting heavy shit’ that goes along with CrossFit.
If you haven’t experienced it, you won’t get it. If you choose to have a shit attitude about it, then don’t expect to feel welcomed into our community. Shitty attitudes don’t belong in CrossFit. The only frustration you’ll find is within athletes who are disappointed in themselves and their performance or abilities. (Especially during competitions.) Instead of quitting though, they just strive to get better and to improve their skills.
And that’s all anyone can really strive for; to get better, and improve themselves.
|My big, happy, Cult-like Family.|