CrossFit defined, diaried and dissed in the blogosphere

Posted: May 18, 2011 in CrossFit, Exercise, Fitness, Health, Obesity, Uncategorized, Weight Loss
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m sure it’s no shock that I’m not the only one blogging about CrossFit, but I sometimes feel like the few of us who are “average folks” (yes, unfortunately, between being obese and 50 years old, I get to be average) are outnumbered by the jocks, increasing the fear factor for those of us who are most in need of the kind of fitness CrossFit can provide. Some bloggers are affiliates (i.e., they own a CrossFit training center, or “box”), some are other folks like me trying to stay on track, and some are, well, not crazy about CrossFit. And some are the bloggers that make CrossFit sound terrifying.

On the other hand, most forms of fitness or sport has the folks who want to make everything into a competition or to be seen as a member of an elite group. If you like competition, go for it; but as I’ve already posted about finding a coach, if you are like me and somewhat intimidated, you’ll want to look for a coach who creates an atmosphere that scaling back is absolutely cool. They are trained to scale in certification classes, so any coach theoretically can do so, but some will be more interested and supportive about doing so.

So here’s a cross-section of what some other bloggers have to say about CrossFit.

Defining and defending CrossFit:

The blog “Kyriakossstrength” takes the meat out of CrossFit founder Greg Glassman’s CrossFit Journal article on the meaning of fitness and summarizes it quite well:

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program based on constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity. If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general physical skills must be considered:

CARDIOVASCULAR/RESPIRATORY ENDURANCE -The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.

STAMINA – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.

STRENGTH – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

FLEXIBILITY – The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

POWER – The ability of muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

SPEED – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

COORDINATION – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

AGILITY – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

BALANCE – The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.

ACCURACY – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Our fitness, being “CrossFit,” comes through molding men and women that are equal parts gymnastics, Olympic weightlifter, and multi-modal sprinter. CrossFit incorporates metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, and weightlifting to forge the world’s fittest men and women.

“Healthy in Chicago” has tried CrossFit and has this to say about it:

CrossFit is for anyone from beginners to former collegiate athletes because you are training against yourself. The coaches are trained in helping you do modifications of the movements that fit your skill level.

Nestor Perez advocates CrossFit in a guest post on “The Common Sense Warrior,” but he’s a Marine, so it’s up for grabs as to whether that’s reassuring or scary (for those of you not in the military, it is the sworn duty of all other military branches to give the Marines crap; actually, it’s arguable that the sworn duty of all military members is to give every other branch crap). He definitely gives CrossFit a thumb’s up.

For the beginner:

Just the title of “Blood on the Bar” is enough to make a cowardly, out-of-shape fattie like me shudder, but, surprisingly, the author has one of the best comments for beginners I’ve read:

 If you are just starting off with Crossfit, catch a clue and go easy. Crossfit is not “too hard”; it may be you are too inexperienced or deconditioned. And in an egomaniacal, ascetic-driven fitness industry, this can be hard.

I think I’d have called it “aesthetic-driven,” myself, but some athletes definitely seem to go for medieval ascetic virtues.

Brad (no last name on the blog) says it all with the name of his blog, “I (heart) CrossFit,” but he, too, has some encouraging words and advocates hieing yourself to the nearest box:

[D]on’t be intimidated by the idea of CrossFit or by if you think you can’t do it–YOU CAN! … People helping each other achieve their goals.

Like Brad, FallOut CrossFit emphasizes the camaraderie of the box, and, kudos to them, they actually have a video with people of all ages and fitness levels in it.  Adam Stanecki also speaks well of the support system, saying

The thing that attracted me to CrossFit – aside from the awesome method itself – was the community. It astounded me at first that such a number of geographically disconnected people would help, encourage and criticise – politely of course – each other over the internet.

Blogger Paul Stroud kindly provides a list of the 25 most informative CrossFit blogs, so I don’t have to list them all here. (Hey, Paul, can I be 26? Maybe? Someday?)

CrossFitter diaries:

I find it encouraging to see who else is working at staying on track through blogging. “Brooklyngoilinnewpaltz,” a rock climber, has been doing CrossFit for two years and thinks it’s great. “Elle in Wonderland” celebrated her six-month CrossFitaversary with a 43.4 lb weight loss.  Paul Santos, who blogs more frequently about weapons, started in January of 2010 and appears to still be at it, but he sounds like another individual who started out fit before CrossFit.

But the best blog I’ve found so far is Susie Rosenberg’s “If not now, when.”  Just look at her pictures! Rosenberg’s already made the journey I’m attempting — twice! She posted a testimonial about her CrossFit experience in November of 2007. In December 7, 2007, she wrote about age and weight being a factor in making her self-conscious at CrossFit. Then, in 2008, she had to have major back surgery. But she returned to her fitness regime after. And I have trouble just returning after my rest day. Rosenberg is seriously inspirational. If you want to just read her CrossFit entries, enter “CrossFit” in the search box at the top right. But she’s got a lot of great things to say about other life stuff as well.

For the already fit, emphasizing the “elite” potential of CrossFit:

Bristol CrossFit, an affiliate, tries not to scare you off with its last line about the video of competitive Crossfitters, saying “Don’t be put off by the intensity of the training – these guys will have spent years building up to this.” Yes, but it’s still a bit intimidating. I like the videos of people who are using PVC pipe to get the form right, which sends the message that everyone needs to work on form, not just newbies.

Fitlyf doesn’t even try to keep you from being scared, showing just how hard CrossFit can be with an intense workout by coaches (warning: the music contains profanity, so don’t click on the link if that’s going to bother you). “Smashby’s Training Blog” is trying to be inspirational (and probably is if you’re already an athlete) and the video is really cool, but it’s another one that makes me think, geez, I could *never* do that. [But please read the author of Smashby’s Training Blog’s comments for some great additional info.] Tommy (I couldn’t find a last name on the blog) is unabashed about having a “CrossFit Swagger,” not something I think I’d advocate even if/when I get to a point where I could justifiably do so.

The CrossFit “haters”:

Some of these guys don’t really hate CrossFit, and they do have some points to make about the downsides of CrossFit. Like most things, CrossFit isn’t for everybody, and the experience certainly will vary depending on the attitudes of the coaches and other people at the box.

Dan Shute at “Athletics and Aesthetics” is a CrossFitter, but, like me, he does see a few things to be careful of within the CrossFit community, and lists three of a possible ten, with full explanations, in his post “10 Things I Hate About CrossFit“:

  1. The “Us and Them” Mentality
  2. Rx’d at any cost [meaning that some people insist on doing the Workout of the Day (WOD) as written, whether they are ready for it or not]
  3. O-Lifting in WODs? [CrossFit utilizes Olympic-style lifting in Workouts of the Day, but ignores some of the fine points of this lifting style]

Bodybuilding.com has a balanced post discussing pros and cons of CrossFit, concluding

Is CrossFit friend or fad? It’s really a matter of opinion. This is a highly refined system of exercises and training programs that are geared toward the more experienced athlete. It’s understandable why so many feel that the system is a fad, or a bit on the cult side, but regardless of the stance it’s difficult to argue with hard results from people who successfully use the system almost every day, no matter how many injuries come up.

Another author that sees CrossFit as primarily for the already athletic, the problem that plagues anyone like me considering CrossFit as a way to get from completely unconditioned to fit. Ultitraining.com, a site for Ultimate Frisbee players, seems to be reserving judgment to some extent, and posts links to articles evaluating the utility of CrossFit.

And then there’s this:

I’m guessing the blogger’s name is Justin Bailey, and he makes an interesting case for CrossFit as church. Given that the narrator of the video at FallOut CrossFit calls it his religion, maybe he’s not too far off.

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Comments
  1. Smashby says:

    Great post, and thanks for the link to my blog. I completely understand your feedback about “probably being inspirational” if you’re already an athlete, but I’ve also done posts in the past that I feel cater to anyone at any ability level.

    I’m very curious, though, as to what you would find inspirational! What about this post a while back based on a story from Mark Sisson?
    http://wp.me/pXQfN-hg

    Does this success story of some of that amazing athletes I train inspire?
    http://wp.me/pXQfN-mV

    I made I want my blog to appeal “mostly” to CrossFitters, but still be somewhat relevant to people everywhere!

    Interested in hearing what you think!

    • Wow, yes, the Mark Sisson story is inspiring. I always love to see the pre- and post- pics. I’m too cowardly to post my pre- until I have a post- to add to it. Thanks for sharing it with me. I’m planning to do a post on nutrition soon and I’ll include this in it; my husband is always talking about “feeding the machine,” so that’s the working name of the particular blog. I’ll be looking through your Paleo posts, too.

      And I really like the Gym Family post; if you don’t mind, I’ll add it to my “Inspirational Stories” links I keep on hand, too. It’s always encouraging to read about coaches like yourself who take care to scale exercises.

      And I agree, your blog is relevant to others trying to get fit even though it’s geared to CrossFit. Thanks for the great feedback.

      • Smashby says:

        Jodi,

        I appreciate the comments on my posts! My goal is to create a place through my blog where athletes (of ALL ability levels) can relate and be motivated/inspired!

        About your desire to wait for “appropriate” AFTER pictures, I completely understand. My only input there would be to not make your goal about being able to take a picture of yourself to impress others. I’m not saying that is your motivation at all, just that I don’t think it should be.

        With regular exercise (especially CrossFit!) and an improved diet, the body reacts in ways we could never even imagine 🙂

        Making the goal to simply improve one’s health for YOU (and your family) trumps any before/after picture! I don’t like calling the “Paleo diet” a diet at all. To me, diet sounds too temporary. I told myself I was going to change my lifestyle of eating to be healthier. BOOM, not on a diet anymore 🙂

        Feel free to share any of my content, and please comment on any posts for suggestions or feedback! As it says in my Blog Header… I’m always striving to be:

        “… better than yesterday!”

        ~Smashby

      • Great points. Thanks!

    • Oh, and my husband thinks I’m crazy for not finding the video inspirational. I think it’s probably all about your confidence level.

  2. Karene Smith says:

    I’ve been at Crossfit Retribution in Westminster,MD for a week now. I’m a 47 year old woman who on the “No Excuses Monday” (my moniker in my own head for my start day) weighed 321.4 lbs. I weighed me, not them, before I went. I went in and this was my 3rd time there. I have cousins who go to this gym, and I went to observe. I got interested watching my older cousin get fit and through my other cousins’ Facebook posts. I went to observe for 2 days at the 9:00 am session and it was some serious athletes, as in training for Olympic teams etc., some serious Crossfit people, and some assorted Moms and newbies, which leads to some assorted short people running around, or drooling, or crying, as the age level may warrant. EVERYONE, and I do mean EVERYONE, came over and introduced themselves, asked how I was and if I was thinking about joining? They assured me that it would be tough but I would love it. That sold me more than anything else having experienced the stereo typical gym attitude throughout my years. I went on Monday am, Wed am, Thurs am, missed Friday morning, but decided to go at 4:30 pm. This is the Friday before The Tough Mudder mind you. Boy was it a different group then! I walked into some very LARGE men lifting what looked like about a million lbs in reps. There was literally a woman doing chin ups from the exposed beam in the ceiling and trying different things while up there. I thought “Oh No, here we go with the traditional gym experience”,My trainer Bo, who I nearly didn’t recognize without small children drooling, chewing on, hanging from him, as he has no problem bouncing a client’s baby on his shoulder while coaching, and often does. He told me what to do to warm up and started helping me get down to business. As I warmed up, AGAIN these very serious, and seriously large, athletes came over to say “Hi” and ask how I felt about Crossfit and tell me if I needed any help to just yell. We got through warm ups and Bo gave me my modified WOD. During the WOD I was shocked to hear the guys around me calling out encouragement and praise. I think I almost cried. I am committed to staying on the Crossfit path. As of today, 7 days exactly after I started, I am down 11.8 lbs. I’m guessing a LOT of it was water and I know the impurities are leaving at an impressive rate. My heart is working better, I’m sleeping better, eating better, and breathing better. I have learned what you eat makes a huge difference in how I feel, and also that what what I eat eats makes a huge difference!

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