Hate-filled CrossFit rant?
…not so fast my friend.
As a Coach, my athletes and I have experienced our fair share of athletic competitions. Track meets, Powerlifting competitions, and various other sporting events, I’ve been blessed enough to experience nearly every popular sport there is. With one large, and fairly new, exception.
CrossFit is, more or less, one of two things.
A training style (or lifestyle for some)
An athletic competition.
This new(ish) style of training is quickly creeping into nearly every gym across the nation. It is hard to walk into any facility and not catch someone partaking in their daily WOD (workout of the day).
Whether it be an individual taking up the entire gym for his circuit training madness, or a full blown class kipping their way to ripped glory, one thing is certain.
CrossFit is all around us.
Within its participants the love for CrossFit runs deep, almost to a cult like level. CrossFitters (as they like to be called) blindly follow their “sport” as if it is not only the best way, but the only way to achieve “elite fitness”.
The obsession for CrossFit can, at times, be obnoxious and overblown. Ironically though, the only thing that overshadows the love for CrossFit is… all the hate it attracts.
Hate is never a good thing… ever. With that said though, it is easy to see why so many harsh feelings are directed towards the sport.
-The unfounded beliefs that their sport (or training) is best.
-Their “claim” on certain exercises. (Gymnastics, Olympic Lifts, Etc.)
-The rampant use of PED’s at the highest levels.
-The alarmingly high rate of over-use injuries.
Each of these reasons are definitely valid, to an extent, and it is rather understandable how they could inspire some “negative” feelings.
With that said, I have a certain theory I’d like to confess. A theory on exactly why anti-crossfit-haters (that’s a word right?) feel the way they do.
I genuinely believe that none of the aforementioned reasons are why people
dislike, hate, loathe CrossFit.
I think most of this hate stems from one (typically) true fact…
That “CrossFitters” are just in better shape than them.
Very recently a local CrossFit Affiliate (Black Label Crossfit) hosted a “partner” competition. The idea of a partner based competition seemed fun to me, so I decided to enter two of my athletes in what they called “The Black Label Brawl”.
Choosing the athletes to compete was a bit tricky. I literally had zero experience coaching anyone to compete in CrossFit. What I did know though, was that CrossFit is an extremely well-rounded sport. So I chose two people on opposite ends of the athletic spectrum. One high level amateur powerlifter, and an All-Conference college Track Athlete.
Considering the highly varied demands of the competition, I figured two very specialized (one aerobic and one anaerobic) athletes would have us covered.
I was wrong.
The first thing that blew me away was how incredibly well-rounded all the athletes were.
1 mile run?
Jump Rope mastery?
300 pound Clean and Jerk?
Nailed that too.
Many people criticize Crossfit athletes by saying that they’re “elite” at nothing.
This is definitely true, but I completely disagree about this being a negative.
Crossfit’s most unique specialty may in fact be their complete lack of specialties in general.
Going in to the competition I was under the impression that two high level and specialized athletes would more than hold their own. But, in the end, it was their specializations that held them back.
Crossfit athletes may be “elite” at nothing, but they are good at nearly everything. And in a sport where being well-rounded is the goal, maybe that lack of specific “elite-level” ability is actually what makes them elite in their own regard.
While my guys did not compete as well as we had hoped, it was a great experience and tons of fun. They showed some serious heart, and as a coach that is all you can really ask for.
So how is Crossfit a joke exactly?
If you ask me, it’s due to the complete misconception of what Crossfit really is. This misconception is not one-sided either. The misconceptions are extreme on both sides of the fence.
Your average gym goer thinks of crossfit as a room full of people doing things like kipping squats or handstand curls.
Crossfitters like to think of themselves as “the world’s fittest”.
Neither of these are even remotely true.
(Although kipping squats and handstand curls would be interesting to watch)
The “average gym goer’s” misconception of crossfit is understandable. They do not understand it simply due to lack of experience.
Similarly, the misconception that (most) crossfitters posses also tend to be due to misunderstanding.
Obviously they do not lack an understanding of crossfit, like the other group, but rather they lack an understanding of what fitness really is.
People tend to think of fitness as a conglomeration of a billion different skills (Speed, Endurance, Power, Etc.)
But, in reality, Fitness is completely specific to the situation at hand.
What does that mean?
Well, take football for example.
Who is more “fit” to compete in the NFL?
The “fittest man on earth” Rich Froning, or Addrian Peterson?
Most of you probably said Addrian Peterson.
So, is Rich Froning the fittest man on earth?
Now, maybe I cheated by using Addrian as an example though, as the man is an absolute freak.
But, maybe I didn’t.
So, I’ll use another example.
We’ll stick with football.
Who is more “fit” to play Quarterback in the NFL?
Addrian Peterson or Peyton Manning?
Once again the answer is fairly obvious. It’s Peyton Manning.
Peyton Manning is obviously no freak athlete, yet in this situation he finds himself more “fit” than one of the top athletes on the planet.
Now, to bring things full circle, one last example.
Who is more “fit” to compete in the crossfit games?
Peyton Manning or Rich Froning?
See where I’m going with this?
My point here is that fitness is completely reliant upon situation.
Nothing with fitness is ever black and white, and as such crossfit follows suit.
Rich Froning is not the fittest man on earth.
But, he is definitely the “fittest” Crossfitter.
(And he’s really really jacked. Which is cool.)
In fact, I would argue that not only is Crossfit extremely impressive… It’s pretty cool as well. As long as you accept Crossfit for what is really is.
It is an incredible display of well-rounded athleticism.
It is not the end all be all of “elite fitness”.
Not Black. Not White.
Not Right. Not Wrong.
It’s just Crossfit.
And that is what makes Crossfit so unique.
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***Many of these thoughts were heavily inspired by Anthony Mychal and his site, check it out and say hey. He’s a fairly nice fellow.
***Shoutout to Kyle Harrod, Alice Beck, and all the other great people at Black Label for hosting such a great event.
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