So CrossFit is Stupid?

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So CrossFit is Stupid?

There are a lot of people that hate on CrossFit. So-called experts complain about the programming and the technique that “they” use. My question to them is, “Have you ever been in a commercial gym?” If so, why are you singling out CrossFit? I went to L.A. Fitness in Atlanta this past Friday and a local gym tonight, and man did I see some of the craziest movements of my life. Actually I am not sure that I can even call what these people were doing, “movements”.

Tonight I looked at my wife and said, “Wow this is real! People actually do this insanity.” I shook my head as a group of teenage boys came in the gym, slapped 205lb on the squat bar, and proceed to perform the most rounded back, knee-knobbing, and high squats that I have ever seen. Not to mention they of course were using the sissy pad to protect their precious little necks. I almost threw up, and that’s when I was inspired to write this blog.

You can hate on CrossFit all you want, but I have never seen more insane movements and awful technique than in a commercial gym. Now before I become the first hater of commercial gyms, I want to say that good things do happen in commercial gyms. Heck Ed Coan trained in a commercial gym. Nathan Damron trained in a commercial gym. I just trained in one tonight, so obviously there are people doing it right in commercial gyms.

Here’s the point that I want to make. Whether you are in a CrossFit, commercial gym, collegiate strength and conditioning room, or any other type of gym in America, there will be good coaches, bad coaches, ridiculous people, and amazing people. It doesn’t matter the genre of strength that you love. There will always be good and bad.

I just want to make this point once and for all. I want all of you to know that there isn’t a strength genre that is perfect. There are no absolutes, and that goes both ways. I have met some amazing CrossFit Coaches like CJ Martin, Kevin Simons, and Ryan Grady. They are masters of their craft, and are dang good weightlifting coaches as well.

I have been in CrossFit where all the movements were beautiful. That’s pretty darn impressive because there are a lot of movements to perfect. I have also seen some pretty crazy stuff like a 60-year-old snatching when they had no business snatching. I have watched people snatching that needed to learn how to air squat properly.

I have also been in Division I strength and conditioning rooms where I was actually confused about what was going on. I am talking about major universities with strength coaches that weren’t qualified to teach a spin class at your local YMCA. I have also watched guys like Coach Kenn from the Carolina Panthers run a room as if he was conducting an orchestra with athletes performing exercises with perfect movement.

The problem is that there isn’t enough regulation anywhere in the strength world. A guy goes to a CrossFit certification over the weekend, and now he’s a coach. A guy takes his C.S.C.S and now he’s coaching Division I Athletes because he knows somebody in the organization. Heck a guy or gal goes online tonight and takes some certification, and then gets a job at L.A. Fitness tomorrow. Are you kidding me? Clients and athletes deserve better.

Instead of everyone hating on each other, we need to find common ground where we can judge all coaches. Here is a list to judge a coach/trainer by:

• Have they produced quality athletes?
• Basic understanding of physiology, anatomy, physics, biomechanics, and kinesiology.
• A desire for continued education and an overall thirst for knowledge.
• An eye for movement
• A sincere desire to help their athletes/clients.

If they possess these qualities, you have something to work with. If not, they need to keep working until they have them. I want this industry cleaned up. I want people to get the help that they deserve. There isn’t one genre worse than the other. This is an entire industry problem. Let’s stop pointing fingers, and let’s look around and see where we can help.

CrossFit has done a lot for the strength world. It has introduced more people to the barbell than anything before. CrossFit has been the catalyst for millions of people to get off the couch and into shape. It has done a lot more good than bad. Personally I am a big fan, and I enjoy programming for my CrossFit clients and gyms.

Let’s all stop hating and get to work cleaning this industry up as a whole. Let’s become better coaches and trainers. Let’s work our best to help our clients reach their dreams.

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7 thoughts on “So CrossFit is Stupid?”

  1. Well written article, this makes a ton of sense. I feel like quite a bit of responsibility falls on the athlete as well (not a coach). It is so easy to sacrifice form for higher numbers, even knowing it may be hurting you in the long run. I for one, want to run before I can walk and need to swallow my pride and perfect my form before adding weight.

  2. I think part of the reason people “hate” on Crossfit is because the culture is often over the top. Meaning you see goons in a commercial gym doing goofy stuff, but they probably aren’t as in your face about how awesome they and their method are, what’s your Fran time, I eat Paleo, etc.

    Just an objective observation FWIW.

  3. I start it crossfit in February it’s been 4 months the couch Sean Thomas n the rest of the couches are amazing. Crossfit it’s a great way to work out. What more can u ask for a. Couch on bore n am hour class. See a person like me have no clues what to work out in a regar gym Not crossfit all you need it’s to learn the move n you in un like me it’s taking me for ever to learn but I’ll get it one day.

  4. Calling out the CrossFit culture as “over the top” is laughable. There were gym fails LONG before CF became a household name, and the same assholes who were giving fitness a bad name back THEN migrated over and became the same assholes giving CF a bad name. People have been painting all of CF with an exceedingly wide brush for a LONG time. You want to see some of the crispest, cleanest movement in the world? Watch the CF games. Watch any gym with a coach who will NOT allow shitty form in the name of “RXing” the workout, or putting more plates on the bar (such as mine). That said, you can also see plenty of people getting out of position at the edges of their abilities. Again, watch the CF games when the lifts get really heavy, and you see things start to go to shit. Just like in the Olympics, or any other sport. Like powerlifting. Or bodybuilding. Certainly “athletic training” by kids who’ve never been introduced to Zach Even-Esh, or the folks at CF Kids or the Brand X method. In my humble (2 decade plus) experience, globo gyms are the HOMES of the gym fail population… because its where the people who are too shy, too broke, and sometimes just too damn stubborn to work with a trainer end up (this was me, back in the beginning. Not judging, just pointing it out.) Most of them just don’t have a clue: They literally don’t know what they don’t know. That’s the sign of a good trainer: they know there’s a lot they don’t know, and they’re willing to learn, and have a small enough ego that when a question comes up that’s beyond them, they can honestly say “I don’t know, let’s find an expert.” That’s **also** the critical quality in an athlete. I’m nothing special, but I’ve been doing this a long time, AND I’m fairly certain I don’t know shit about shit. What I do know, I coach. What I don’t, I’m more than happy to defer to someone who does. Whether that’s Travis, or Dan John, or Mark Rippetoe, or Greg Everett, or Louis Simmons, or whoever, that’s just another thing for ME to learn, too. 😉 Cheers! Now go find some awesome gym fails videos. The treadmill disasters are my personal favorites…

  5. You are correct that any gym you go to will have people doing movements wrong. However, there is a major problem with “properly” performed crossfit movements that are not part of properly performed traditional lifting movements. MOMENTUM!!! Almost every single crossfit move is a “cheat move”. Why is this not good? Think of a truck pulling something with a rope. If the rope slacks and the object it is pulling rolls forward several feet, is the truck doing any work during that range? NOPE So many of the motions are “partial reps” often only working the start/stop ends of the range. Why is this bad? You’re not working the full length of the muscle thereby introducing weakness. Why is that bad? If parts of the muscle/tendon development out develop other parts, you are introducing weak/failure points. What better way to cause one of these weak areas to fail than to do some jerky movement in an exhausted state. SNAP! Throw-in a bunch of fad chasing A-type noobs and well you get all the injuries that comes with crossfit. I cringe when i see crossfit, you should too.

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