The following is a repost. I thought it was good for all the newbies to read.
I started researching CrossFit in 2007 because I had heard about from a few volleyball player friends. I found some articles that outlined the dangers of CrossFit and how it was for the sadistic and genetically gifted. I was neither of these things, so I opted to stay clear of this crazy workout. I started dating a girl who was also doing CrossFit and I would ask her questions about the gym she was going to and she would tell me crazy stories that further solidified my decision to stay far away from the program. After I had already fallen in love with CrossFit, she forwarded me two blog posts about her friend’s bad experience at a CrossFit box.
Now before you read these two articles, realize that this was written a few years ago and I have removed the affiliate’s name. She brings up some very valid points and also takes some very emotional jabs. I make it a point to read these articles every few months just to remind myself what type of environment we want to create for our athletes and what we want to avoid. There is really no right or wrong answer to the situation below. I understand that this isn’t like our normal posts, but it does offer us a valuable and different viewpoint on something we all share a passion for. It is important for all of us to understand we at CFSB all work very hard to make sure none of our athletes has an experience like this. You make the call. Post your thoughts to comments:
from Malingering’s World
Sadly, something has happened at my gym recently and there’s been an epidemic of arrogance and egoism which continues to grow. I’m not exactly sure what’s happened, but I’m pretty certain they should change the motto from “Forging Elite Fitness” to “Forging Elitism” as it’s truly terrible. The other day someone got very irritated with me for sharing his/her equipment during the warm-up. Like I was interfering so dreadfully with his/her warm-up that I shouldn’t even exist. And then there was the person who finished the warm-up a good 3 minutes before everyone else in the class and started loudly complaining about how s/he has to wait sooo long before starting the workout and “why is it taking so long??!?!” People post diet logs online which are becoming reminiscent of those anorexia nervosa message boards where people encourage each other that being hungry and depriving yourself is a good thing. Jokes are made about getting “rhabdo” (rhabdomyolisis has happened in a number instances in CrossFit workouts, and is the leading cause of kidney failure in this country), creating a culture where pushing yourself too hard is glorified. There is no room for moderation, and safety often goes by the wayside. The whole place is so full of ego, there’s hardly any room to work out. A few days ago we were in class and two people from the previous class sat inside the gym and loudly chatted away, bragging about their scores for Fight Gone Bad and their times for this and that and their strategies for so-and-so workout and in a furious tornado of self-promotion, managed to distract everyone working out. I also heard someone say to another member “yeah, but you only did the intermediate class” with such scorn that one wondered why an intermediate level person even bothered working out at all. The other day someone called another person a pussy for lifting less weight than him/her, even though the person lifting less weight had a serious injury and was adjusting appropriately. And then (my favorite) was the person who pointed and laughed when I dumped the bar on a failed clean. S/he laughed so loudly that about 5 people silently turned and looked at him/her and this person then shouted “nice ass plant!” at me as I tried to get up (fortunately the other 5 people did not join in).
Sadly, this is not the gym I joined 18 months ago, which was a supportive and positive environment. People are becoming quite concerned with their weights and times and records, and much less cognizant of the community itself, which is deteriorating rapidly. People are so worried about “the board” (a whiteboard listing the top 5 students/instructors results in various exercises) that they’ll sacrifice form and dignity to get there. People even come into the gym when there’s no class going on to do special workouts to “get on the board.” Not to mention it’s a near impossibility for most people to “get on the board” because the top 3 spots are invariably the names of the gym employees so it becomes this elusive space for only the most, well, elite. The other day I saw a group of people spend at least 5 minutes gazing upward to the leaderboards in the sky, calculating how they could lift more weight than so-and-so and what it would take to “get on the board.” Ugh. Just focus on your workout and worry about yourself. It’s not worth it to compare yourself to everyone else, especially these people who live, (don’t) eat, and breathe CrossFit.
I’ve been faced with the dilemma about what to do about all of this, as I feel the once positive and nurturing community that I wrote about last year is a mere shell of itself today. I love being in shape, and I love working out, and I love the pressure of pseudo-personal training to keep me in check. I have made some amazing friends at the gym and I’ve learned a lot about fitness, diet, and exercise (a lot of which I’ve outlined here on the blog). On the other hand, I see the hegemony emerging and I don’t want to be a part of the elitsm, arrogance and self-promotion that is only getting worse. For a few months I thought it was just me, that maybe I, was the one who was becoming overly competitive or arrogant and this was how it was manifesting. But the more people I talk to, the more I realize it isn’t just me at all, in fact it is noticed by almost everyone I’ve talked to. I keep hoping things will turn around, that at some point it will come full circle and we’ll be back to where we started. Occasionally I catch a glimmer of that old environment and it keeps me going, because those days were pretty damn cool.
“What to do, what to do”
So this is me. I’m overhead squatting 125lbs, which is well over what I weigh. And as you can imagine, that feels pretty awesome. I can do things that I didn’t think I could do (yesterday I almost bench pressed my bodyweight, which has been another goal of mine). I’m stronger than I thought I could be. I’ve met some people who are really cool. Some of my closest friends are people I met at the gym. I work out consistently because the thought of losing any sort of money by not showing up to class just pains me. I like showing up and being told what to do by an instructor rather than wondering what I “should” be doing. There’s a (for the most part) good staff on hand who knows and loves CrossFit. The non-douchy people are encouraging and helpful. I’ve learned a lot about fitness. And for that reason, I stay at Crossfit Blank.
But then, of course, there’s the other side of things. There’s the elitist attitude held by some members. There’s the sloppy conditions. And then there’s the general competitive nature of CrossFit which has people bragging and boasting and sucking each other’s cocks about how freaking awesome their Nancy time was or whatever.
I was doing a workout the other day, and we were doing one of “the Girls” which are these standard Crossfit workouts that are on the website and people use as benchmarks to try to test their progress and such. I think originally you were supposed to see how much you improve, but at my gym they post the results of the top 5 people on the wall for everyone to see, so of course for a subset of people, it’s all about beating those times. Anyway, a relatively new and incredibly strong gym member starts doing this workout. He’d never done it before, and he’s kicking ass and everyone’s encouraging him because he’s a machine and it’s awesome to watch. But (and this is what ruined it for me) one of the members of the staff was standing next to him, with a stop watch glancing up at the wall and shouting what the current time was and then what the “time to beat” was, over and over and over. He’d say “finish in 30 seconds, you can beat Andrew!” “You’re one minute ahead of Bob!” “Forty-five seconds and you’ll take down John!” Continuously. For the entire 4 and a half minutes it took for this guy to finish the workout. It wasn’t about HIM anymore, it was about who he could beat and how he could get his name on the wall. (The somewhat ironic part of this story is that this person ended up beating almost everyone, getting the 3rd fastest time in the gym, and they never put his name up on the wall. It’s been like a month and his name was never put up there. So the whole cheering and rooting on thing was a total cocktease.) This is how it’s been recently, more so than before. Now whenever we start a workout, the instructor tells us the “time to beat.” And really, some of us just want to work on our own personal goals because making your gym-time into a constant competition is more stressful than it should be. Obviously you can use other people’s times and weights as a reference point, but does it need to be all about beating people?
The other interesting thing is that every instructor at CrossFit Blank has been going to the Landmark Forum (the awareness program started by the EST people back in the 80s). Do what you wish, if it works for you, that’s great. But don’t use your influence as an instructor to try to recruit gym members to your Landmark meetings, because it’s not really cool. I had one instructor come up to me before class and tell me to leave the gym and join him at a Landmark meeting rather than work out that day. And then people get all Landmarky on you and start making comments that they NEVER would have made before going to their Landmark meetings, like when I said I was sore from yesterday’s class, the instructor replied “the workout didn’t make you sore, YOU made you sore.” Everyone’s getting The Secret for Christmas.
The thing that’s getting to me (and the one thing I simply can’t ignore, that other bullshit I can block out or roll my eyes at, but this thing I can’t), is that I get injured. A lot. My back, wrists, knees, shoulders and feet take turns at causing me agony depending on what I did at the gym. The Olympic lifting seems to fuck my shoulders and back. Now every time I lift my arm over my head I get a loud clunking sound and a sharp pain. I can’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time because my back spasms are so bad. My neck is always stiff and by the end of the day I have a tension headache. My old gymnastics injuries get aggravated, and even though I had wrist surgery, I still have pain when I lift weight overhead. And this doesn’t affect me just in the gym, it affects me all goddamn day. Sometimes it’s just annoying, and sometimes it’s freaking terrible.
So what to do, what to do, what to do? The cost-benefit analysis is making my head hurt even worse.
Workout of the Day 8/8/2012
10 Back Squat
15 OH Wall Squts
20 Single Unders
B. 4 Hill Sprints
Calf Stretch 30sec/side
Hip Flexor (wall stretch) 30sec/side
10 Overhead Squats (45/33)
A. 5 Rounds
2×2 @ 90%, 3×1 @ 95% Back Squats
5 Barbell OHS
*Part A is more important than Part B, do all 5 sets at the prescribed weight
B. 4 Hill Sprints
Calf Stretch 30sec/side
Hip Flexor (wall stretch) 30sec/side
10 Overhead Squats (65/53)
A. 3 rounds
10 Push Press
5 Strict Pull Ups
30 sec Hollow Hold
40x Walking lunge steps
30x Sit ups
20x Push ups