I know when I’m wrong and while I may not always admit it, I will work to correct myself. In this case my mistake was to pass judgment on CrossFit and founder Greg Glassman based mostly on the opinions of others who I “thought” knew more than I did on the matter but were in fact speaking only from a position of jealousy. The fact is until you’ve gotten to know people who do CrossFit on a regular and serious basis then you really don’t know what it is. Trying the odd CrossFit WOD or visiting a box once doesn’t make you an authority on it either. I could go on further to say that wearing Reebok CrossFit gear from head to toe does not make you a CF athlete either but you get where I’m going.
You see I know a lot of people that like to bash CrossFit, its principles, and its athletes. Likewise they attribute every victory or good showing to genetics or doping but rarely months of hard work preparation and dedication. I’ve done it myself; most recently in a previous article. But that stops now. Over the last few weeks I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and taken it upon myself to visit actual functioning and established boxes in the region. What I found was a vibrant community of passionate people not only welcoming to me but willing to share their knowledge and expertise to help me achieve my own goals.
These were not the crazed cult followers and snobs I was told to expect, or the wannabes and fake athletes I was told about. By and large the average CrossFit box member I’ve met was nothing more than an average-Joe. Some were supreme athletes who compete seriously but even these “firebreathers” were ready to lend a hand to new members and veterans alike. Also outside of what I expected most boxes you will find are not all about making money and commercialism but about people and building relationships. My goals and abilities were the topic of discussion not my income. I was encouraged to try the workouts for a week before deciding to commit to the facility. Granted most box managers know a week is enough time to form an addiction in someone as fitness driven as myself.
The moral of the story is that when accepting advice about something you really must consider the source and its motives. For a long time I was a serious opponent to CrossFit. Like most personal trainers today I cut my teeth under the traditional model of weight-training and or cardio. For a long time I saw CF as a dangerous style of exercise based solely on rumors and gossip. That said rumors and gossip supported my own long held but misguided beliefs simply made them that much easier to believe. Fortunately I was able to move past what I thought I knew and was willing to investigate the matter for myself. I think you will find that most often those who criticize something like a new exercise trend the most are those with a financial stake in its success or failure. Many who stand to lose money by CF’s growing popularity will rail against it and call it dangerous and any number of things designed to scare people away.
Any form of exercise can be dangerous if performed improperly and with poor technique and function. The fact is I’ve seen more injuries in runners than any other type of regular exercise in my near-decade as a trainer though and more often than not this can be attributed to one of two things; poor technique and over cushioned shoes. In the past 18 months that I’ve been following CrossFit the most common injury I’ve seen myself and among fellow athletes is the dreaded shin scrape from missed box jumps and rope climbs and that’s about it. Not once have I seen an injury from performing Olympic lifts, muscle-ups, or any number of dynamic movements.
So if CrossFit is not a cult churning out injury after injury bent on emptying your wallet and capitalizing on market branding then what is it? For me CF is nothing less than an opportunity to be more than I thought possible. I’m stronger now than I ever was before. I believe in my own capabilities. I see others in the box as athletes not just cooks, lawyers, or drivers. I think after awhile you start seeing the potential in people and glimpsing the things they’re moving towards and celebrating each new victory with them. In short I think it makes you a believer in the human spirit once again. CrossFit is a community; it’s a gathering place to be among those who think as you do, and believe as passionately about fitness and health as you. Outside of the military many people today lack that defining moment that shows them who they are and what they’re capable of. Most people are rarely tested to their limit and shown just how much they can endure. CrossFit gives them that test. If you are looking for a challenge and want to see just what you’re made of maybe CrossFit is the place for you.