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Don’t Hate on the WOD: Addressing common crossfit criticisms

Photo belongs to Wellness One Fitness/Crossfit Great Bridge, the greatest gym in the world.

Photo belongs to Wellness One Fitness/Crossfit Great Bridge, the greatest gym in the world.

Like any up and coming phenomenon, Crossfit has its critics. And they can be loud.

Whether it’s from a lack of understanding, a different take on fitness, or what have you, lots of people seem to have a problem with Crossfit. Before I take on specific complaints that have been made about Crossfit, I’d like to point out a couple things in general. For one, if you seriously hate Crossfit – you think it’s stupid, dangerous, or that it just isn’t effective, then cool – don’t do it! Don’t watch the Games, don’t join a gym, don’t bring it up in conversation with your friends that are into it. This is just common sense for anything you disagree with people about. If you don’t like football, well, don’t play it or watch it. But lots of people love football, and there’s no need to rag on them for playing and watching it. Same rules apply here. Secondly, you are totally entitled to your own opinion when it comes to fitness. I will not jump down your throat if you think hopping on the elliptical is the best possible way for you to get in shape. I might tell you what I think is the best way to get fit, but I’m not going to rip on you and tell you how ineffective I think your workouts are and that you’re wasting your time and you’ll be out of shape forever. In the same respect, please don’t tell me that I’m crazy for doing what I’m doing (I might be, but hey, no need to point it out).

Here are three arguments from The Problem With Crossfit that I thought were the most relevant to a general discussion.

1. “It is generalist.” How can you get better at anything if you don’t specialize in anything?

The thing is, Crossfit isn’t about becoming great at one specific thing. If you want to be great at that one thing, you practice that one thing. So if you want to be an incredible swimmer… swim! Don’t do Crossfit! Or do Crossfit as a supplement to your “thing.” Crossfit doesn’t claim to make you the best at whatever your particular sport or activity is. It only claims to make you an all-around fitter person and better athlete. And it will. Yes, it is generalist – on purpose.

2. “You will get injured.”

Yes, you will (duh…?) Eventually in life you will get injured… unless you never move. And, yes, if you don’t understand your limits, you can hurt yourself doing Crossfit. Find a gym with people who are certified and really – really, really, really – know what they are talking about. If they don’t make you spend some time learning proper form, helping you understand your limitations and scaling things down to a reasonable starting level for you, then yes, you will get injured and you should turn right back around and look for another gym. But, hello, this goes for any physical activity. Crossfit may be more intense than a lot of other physical activity you’re used to, but it follows the same principles as everything else – you need a good trainer, and you need to take responsibility for your wellbeing by understanding what you can and cannot do. I am a dancer, and I have walked into a ballet class, looked around, and walked right back out because of the form I see being allowed in the class. Just be smart about how you train and who you train with. Minor injuries will probably happen – scratches on your face when you’re first learning wall-balls (or if you’re me… always), a sore joint here and there, maybe some bruises. But big injuries should only happen if you’re doing something wrong, so the idea that Crossfit will get you injured more than other physical activities will is pretty bogus.

3. “The whole ‘cult’ thing.”

Yeah, a lot of people think Crossfit is a cult. I’m sure every Crossfitter will admit that a) before they joined, Crossfitters annoyed them a little, and b) we do talk about what we do… a lot. But let’s think about this from a generic perspective. If you have something in common with someone that you both love, isn’t it a topic of conversation on a regular basis? If you and your buddy both love Dungeons and Dragons, isn’t it normal for you to see each other and be like, “Yeah, yesterday I got the to the Cave of Wonders and defeated the ultimate flesh-eating dragon, bro! What’s your flesh-eating dragon PR?” Or… something like that? What I’m saying is we all do the same thing, so we like to talk about it with each other. It’s not a cult; we don’t walk into the box and sign our name in blood on the whiteboard and do a chant to Greg Glassman. It’s a community of our friends that we work out with, and yeah, we’re probably going to talk about our workouts. And sure, to be fair, there are those bros that can’t ever change the subject and are super obnoxious about it, but they’re not exclusive to Crossfit – every sport has its bros.

I hope I adequately addressed some of these complaints about the Crossfit community and have put it into some kind of perspective. As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, ideas, awesome pictures of you doing handstand-pushups, or anything not overwhelmingly obnoxious to contribute to the conversation, please submit them here.