Friday, May 30, 2014

You Don't Hate Crossfit

            I never thought this blog would deal with things outside of traveling, personal life, and my own ideology. I guess this blog in some way taps into the latter but still something I never thought I would touch on. I recently came across an article, one of many I’ve seen over the past few years, which has recently gone viral on Facebook. The article entitled “Why I don’t do Crossfit” is basically every negative stereotype you’ve ever heard about Crossfit by someone (Erin Simmons) portraying herself whether knowingly or unknowingly as a sort of fitness “guru”. Granted her credentials seem to back up this idea. She’s got over 15,000 followers on her fitness Facebook page, and there’s no denying the girl looks good in some spanks and a tank top. However, like most Crossfit haters out there Erin simply looks at the surface issues of Crossfit and does nothing to address the reality of the situation.

            I would be lying if I said I hadn’t watched one of the dozens of compilations of “Crossfit Fails” available with just the click of a mouse on YouTube or Facebook. There’s no denying the people in these videos have no idea what they’re doing, they are ill trained, ill supervised, and in great need of a basic understanding of sports kinesiology and how the body works and performs at it’s best. But if you go to a real Crossfit gym, with REAL crossfitters they will tell you that these people are not really part of the club. They know that the many who have made Crossfit a way of life are suffering at the hands of the few, and most specifically at the hands of the greedy.

            “Crossfit” is not a type of fitness training; it is a brand, though in recent years the two ideas have become interchangeable. Anyone who has ever played competitive, organized sports at one time or another has completed what could be considered a “Crossfit” workout. At its simplest form “Crossfit” is simply cross training, a foundation of modern fitness training principles and a staple of any proper training regimen. The reason for this is the best way to maximize results when training is to challenge your body. We are adaptive creatures and our muscles are no different. This is the reason so many people plateau and eventually take a downward turn in there training. Plain and simple, you can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect to keep getting results.

            This is where the greed and confusion come into play. Greg Glassman (who by the way is a big fat POS) founded “Crossfit” as we know it today in 2000. In terms of packaging and branding, this was basically the workout equivalent of bottling water, we had water the whole time, but now it was repackaged in a fancy way, and we were going to PAY for it. Over the next decade Crossfit gyms began to spring up all over the country and for good reason. The principles and techniques were based on the foundations of all we know about modern lifting, sports science, and kinesiology. However, Mr. Glassman was more concerned with making Crossfit a brand rather than educating and properly training facilities, which pay a hefty price to bear the “Crossfit” name. As the industry began to boom more and more gyms began to pop up. It made perfect financial sense from a business perspective, and just like the “dot-com” boom you can blame people for jumping on board. Just look at the type of returns you could expect on an investment.

            Lets say it costs you $50,000 to invest and open your own gym (assuming you do a more traditional box without fancy things like A/C) with a lease and equipment (much of which can be purchased second hand). If you advertise and market the right way it’s very feasible that you could get to 100 members simply in your initial signup period. The low-end cost of many gyms will run you about $150/month (that’s the low end). That means starting out at 100 members (and most gyms have significantly more than that) you’re bringing in around $15,000 a month. Even with maintenance, rent, etc. you’re looking at almost $200k a year, for a small business owner, and remember these numbers and estimates are VERY LOW. This is why its no wonder so many people jumped on the Crossfit bandwagon, once the name recognition took off and the games became huge it was/and is a license to print money.
            Just as with any other business venture, when a bunch of people start jumping on board things tend to slip through the cracks and attention to detail becomes secondary to monetary gains. This brings us to Crossfit coaching “training” an everything you need to know 3-DAY COURSE, that is supposed to make you qualified to own, train in, and operate your own gym. Plain and simple if the only training you’ve ever had with sports and fitness was a 3-Day course you are not qualified to train ANYONE! This is not to undermine great coaches and gyms that are in existence, you don’t have to have a sports science degree to know how to teach, and quite honestly a lot of the best coaches don’t. But they have something you can’t learn in a classroom, experience, athletic backgrounds, and a willingness to continue to learn, adapt and challenge themselves. The problem lies with those who simply got on board the money train, with no regard for health or wellness, and that is precisely where the negative stereotypes begin.

            Before we begin we should take a step back and revisit Miss Simmons for a moment. After visiting her website I stumbled across a photo in which she listed her workout of the day (WOD if you will). After all her Crossfit bashing it was very interesting to see that the first thing posted on her website looked eerily similar to something you might see on a white board in any Box across the country. The work out was listed as so:
Run 0.5 miles
3 x 10 weighted sit-ups and pullups
Run 0.75 Miles
3 x 10 cross body sit-ups, pushups
Run 1 mile
3 x 10 leg lifts, squats
Either repeat going back down the ladder or cool down
She also goes on to say in her own article, “There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger. Take it for what it’s worth, but please believe that your box is NOT different, no matter what your coach says.”
         So its ok to follow Erin’s Workouts, but not the WOD’s you see in your gym, maybe she’s just really uncomfortable with accronyms, because to me her workout has Crossfit written all over it. This is the type of hypocrisy that infuriates me with critics of Crossfit, and let me be clear I don’t even Crossfit anymore! I was part of a wonderful gym called SUBU for the better part of a year and a half and here’s what I learned while there. Not every gym, in fact the majority of gyms do not do any of the things that people associate with the Crossfit crazies. Never once did I feel I was ill-prepared for a workout, and if I was I was allowed one on one time with a coach away from the group for further explanation. Never once did I feel pressure or forced to continue once I had reached my limit (encouragement is different than forcible pressure). In fact the person pushing me the hardest in class was usually myself to the point where I had to be told on multiple occasions to drop weight or take a rest from the coaches because they were concerned I might be pushing too hard. I played football growing up and I can tell you the things I heard and was subjected to playing organized sports including the beratement and belittling does not exist in the world of real Crossfit.

            So where do these stereotypes come from and why are they so prevalent, specifically on social media? The truth is the few ruin it for the many, with ill-suited coaches and a lack of proper training. However there is one aspect of Crossfit that is undeniable and must be fixed if Crossfitters as a whole are ever to be taken seriously. Just… shut… up! The only thing I hear more on social media and in articles than how dangerous Crossfit is is how annoying Crossfitters are. They are called a cult, a “brainwashing service”, and the list goes on. But in my mind there is really no defense for this, that part I agree with, but again it’s a result of the few ruining it for the many. And because Crossfit already has a stigma attached to it the deuchebaggery of these Crossfit-Crazies is amplified exponentially. I love Crossfit and even I have joked that sometimes we are the Jehovas Witnesses of Physical Fitness. If I have any advice for anyone doing Crossfit, its leave the soap box at home, save the gym selfies, and stop bringing it up ALL THE TIME. Instead let your results do the talking for you, and find comfort in the fact that you get a better workout in 20 minutes than that steroid monkey posting Anti-Crossfit articles gets in three-hours of mirror flexing at his local Gold’s Gym. Fitness is like religion, when you throw it in other peoples’ faces they resent you for it. However, when your results do the talking for you and they are finally ready to seek out something new, you will be there to comfort them, and show them the way… to the BOX!


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