So I realize I’m a few years late on this blog. Sorry. I still have some things that have been on my mind and that I am going to get off my chest.
The running joke about CrossFit is that people who do it can’t stop talking about it. I think that’s a funny joke because it’s true, but what I can’t stand is when people lump “Breaking Bad” into that mix. Yes, people who watch “Breaking Bad” can’t stop talking about how great “Breaking Bad” is. It’s true. I have always been one of the “Breaking Bad” gossip people. But the difference between CrossFit and “Breaking Bad” is that CrossFit is dumb and “Breaking Bad” is awesome. In other words, one is worthy of being shared with the world and the other simply isn’t. I’m not even saying that just on the merits of one being objectively more interesting than the other, I am saying it on the merits of one being a television show that anyone can watch and share together and the other being a self-aggrandizing brag fest by a person you know about how many double unders they can do in a minute. If you don’t know what a double under is, that’s because it’s stupid and impractical and you’ve never needed to know what it is to do anything you do in your life.
Now, my CrossFit gripes go beyond the bewildering need to overshare accomplishments. After all, that is a trait shared by many communities. Members of the Very Elitist Running Community often post pictures of themselves after races, for example, biting their medals (I don’t understand this? They’re not made of chocolate) and making sure everyone knows they beat their best time. I’m one of those people, fine. Let me explain all the reasons why CrossFit is dumb (and why anyone who does it is, by default, a nerd).
First, you have to be a special kind of person to do CrossFit. There are people who do organized team sports or individual races and things like that. Then there are people who were never good at any of those things and view CrossFit as their second chance. When was the last time you met a CrossFitter who was Captain of their High School sports team or a collegiate athlete? The answer is you haven’t. To do CrossFit, you need to resent the dumb jocks, you need to have a beard, perhaps be a Gluten-Free Vegan, you must have pounds of chalk sitting in your basement at all times, and you must understand how to properly utilize social media to disseminate information about your WOD (Workout of the Day). Now, I’m not here to cast judgment (well, I am, obviously, but you know), and I am all for anyone living an active lifestyle and being enthusiastic about trying new things. What irritates me about this crowd is their insistence that they are superior to others or that it is them — and not the expert squash player who has been practicing since the age of 3 — who are elite at their craft. And that elitism has allowed CrossFit to bully its way into a national sport that you can watch on ESPN. Everyday people on TV, just like the nerds who are now playing video games and making millions of dollars for doing it. Kudos to these people but it leaves the rest of us wondering how there is a real audience for this stuff.
The second reason CrossFit dumb is a little less exciting. Ready for it? It’s actually just scientifically stupid. For those not well-versed in what CrossFit is, it’s basically a self-induced torture whereby one tries to do as many reps of various exercises as fast as they possibly can. If it sounds like that might cause a lot of injuries, that’s because it does. This is only my second post so I’m not going to waste time figuring out how to link you to the various studies and surveys that prove this point, but most medical experts, athletic trainers, and people who are a lot smarter than me agree that CrossFit is very bad for people not only in terms of near-term injuries, but also long-term joint pain, among other things. Case in point — I used to travel to San Francisco quite often and I would jump into CrossFit gyms during my stays to try to stay active. On one such occasion, the “WOD” consisted of so many squats, lunges, and other miserable leg exercises that I actually could not walk the next day. My boss asked me if we needed a wheelchair to get me to our work meetings that day. Haters and losers might attribute this to my chicken legs; but in all seriousness, I am a relatively active person and it’s quite simply impractical (from a fitness perspective — again, not even my personal opinion) for someone to be unable to use their own legs, you know, to get from Point A to Point B, after a workout.
What’s more maddening is that a lot of the a movements that are celebrated in CrossFit are not functional. What I mean by this is that they do not help people in their everyday lives in terms of their training for athletics or really just to maintain a healthy spine. The exercises are geared largely around aesthetics and turning someone from an Average Joe into an Obnoxious Chad. For example, the most elitist of CrossFitters can perform a move called a “Muscle Up.” A Muscle Up is like a pull-up, except that at the end, you shift your arms in a way that allows you to lift your entire body over the bar. I literally cannot think of a moment in my life where a Muscle Up would be of use to me, except for the very improbably moment where I might be dangling from the edge of a cliff. Maybe in that moment I’d say to myself, “Man, I really should have done more CrossFit because I’d be able to do a Muscle Up, but instead I am going to fall off this cliff and die.” And even then, everyone who knows me knows that I am too stubborn to ever admit that anyway.
Lastly, what I really cannot stand about the CrossFit community is that it is eerily similar to the Very Elitist Running Community in that there are many acronyms and inside knowledge for those within the pearly gates of CrossFit. You’ll hear people talking about the notorious “WOD’s” (these are posted every single day online), the notorious “Murph” workout (whereby whoever can do it is praised as a Greek God, even if they cannot throw a baseball like a normal person), and “Reps” vs. “Non-reps!!” – the latter of which is always screamed like a banshee. It’s hard to break in. I personally struggle with mobility due to muscle tightness and to even attain the bare level of participation at this point, I’d need to be willing to put myself in a wheelchair and pray for acceptance from the members. Put succinctly, it’s not for everyone.
Now, I want to try to be fair here. Because what I often notice about people who criticize CrossFit is that a lot of them aren’t really passionate about anything themselves. They’re maybe just a little bit jealous that their unathletic friend suddenly became jacked, and they want something to complain about. That person is objectively worse. And maybe some people are passionate about stuff but not nearly as passionate as a CrossFitter is about their trade. At a bare minimum, I can respect the passion. Kind of like how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has no idea what she’s doing but I respect that she really cares. I’m not a huge fan of the CrossFit fam, but here’s what I say: CrossFitters gonna CrossFit, let’s just hope they do it at a distance.