Thursday, May 16, 2013

Crossfit: The Dark Cloud With a Silver Lining


Crossfit: The Dark Cloud With a Silver Lining


I am many things in the exercise world: a former group fitness instructor, Figure competitor, powerlifting dilettante, personal trainer, Olympic lifting newbie, nutrition coach, healthy lifestyle writer, and a die-hard, long-time yoga instructor/practitioner...

but a Crossfitter I am most certainly not; I've never been, not even once. 

It’s simply never appealed to me. I’ve always kept busy slinging iron and conditioning. That, along with ample amounts of yoga, has produced the desired results and been so much fun that I haven’t wanted or needed to switch it up. 

I've never done Crossfit and doubt I ever will but... 
in some ways, it's helped women's fitness!  

There. I said it.


It is changing how women exercise, how they eat, how they think of themselves, and helping them focus more on what their body is capable of rather than wasting away their days yearning to be stick thin. 

Let's back up.

As mentioned above, I’m a nutrition coach and healthy lifestyle writer. Women email me all of the time about all kinds of things, but it’s typically:

  1. Questions about physique change, and/or
  2. Inquiring about my services. 

Two years ago, most emails were from women that were telling me how much cardio they were doing and how little they were eating. Their food logs were full of low-fat granola bars and bagels with fat free cream cheese. They never lifted weights due to the dreaded fear of bulking up. 

Times have changed! 

More on Lindsay HERE
Strength training for women is officially all the rage. Totally en vogue. Super cool. The ‘in’ thing.


"Thinspo" is finally phasing out (thank goodness) and women are screaming, "Strong is the
new skinny!" from the rooftops, and plastering it all over their t-shirts and websites.

Gone are the majority of emails I used to receive from cardio bunnies, and now most of the messages I get are from women that are already squatting, deadlifting, and working on their pull-ups along with other strength movements. 

Sure, most of them want to get leaner and that is fine, but almost all of them want to get stronger, gain muscle, and improve certain lifts as well. 

I think I speak for many when I say it is about mother-effing time that the focus was directed at performance and not towards being skinny!




We have Crossfit to thank for a lot of this.


Say whaaat? Before you make the jump to the comment section to have a meltdown, read on...

Listen, I have the same problems with Crossfit that the majority of trainers and coaches do, which is why I don't have any desire to do it: 
  • There is no rhyme or reason for the routines. 
  • Many Crossfit gyms are ran by supposed “coaches” that have no business teaching a person how to sit onto an office chair, much less throw weighted barbells over their heads. (Like everything else, there are exceptions.)
  • It is extremely tough on the adrenals to work at maximum capacity every damn session.
  • Frantically performing highly technical movements with bad form and weight that is too heavy for most people is a recipe for disaster,
etc, etc, et-friggin’-cetera. 

These are not new arguments, and these points have been hashed out and re-hashed ad nauseam. In lieu of the usual complaining, lets shift our attitude a bit and focus on the silver lining, because Crossfit, whether you like it or not, is here to stay, so we may as well make the best of it and focus on the great things that it has done for women. 


Women are lifting weights!


:: the clouds part and angels are singing ::

Even though power lifters, olympic style lifters, and physique competitors have been privy to the benefits of strength training for decades, it’s been Crossfit that has violently shoved iron into the spotlight and popularized it, which has aroused the curiosity of women all over!  

It could be the cute knee socks that initially lures the girls in (fashion has admittedly made me do some crazy things), perhaps it's the camaraderie, or maybe it’s because women are fiercely competitive amongst other women, but something about Crossfit has inspired countless women that have never lifted before to finally - finally - get off the cardio machines and pick up a barbell! 

Hangin' with your girls, in cute socks, working out? Uh, yeah, that sounds fun! 

It's part of my mission to get all women strength training for a multitude of reasons, so I find this alone cause for celebration! 

Is it the best way for a beginner to get into lifting? Absolutely not. Are we all grown-ups and able to make our own decisions? You betcha. I freely admit that I did some really idiotic things during the beginning of my strength journey - you'd be hard pressed to find anybody that didn't -  but we make our own choices and have to learn. It's all part of the process. 


Women are finally pushing themselves


Between training clients and doing my own workouts, I’ve been to a ton of gyms in my day, and I always notice the innumerable women doing half-assed “workouts”. 

They do a set here, do a set there, walk around, goof off, chit-chat, get some water, do another set, and then call it a day, with nary a bead of sweat nor any kind of exertion to be seen! 
You certainly shouldn’t be killing yourself daily in the gym, but can I please see some effort? Sheesh! 

Crossfit, once again, has motivated women to get in there and work their booties off, often unnecessarily hard, however I digress... they are actually pushing themselves. Hooray for that! 


Crossfit has made muscle and strength cool


Where women used to complain incessantly about their “thunderthighs”, those same thighs are now being flaunted all over Instagram in super cute Lululemon Wunder Unders with the proud hashtag of #demquads
Females are finally loving what men have revered forever - a big, round ass, and they've come to terms with the fact that heavy lifting and proper nutrition is the way to get it. 

I can hardly believe my eyes seeing all of these selfie pics on Facebook and Instagram, with women commenting how they are trying so hard to pack on size in their glutes, quads, delts, etc. It's like somebody flipped the switch inside of the brains of millions of women, and now most all of them think strength gains are awesome.

It is a refreshing change from everybody vying to be so damn skinny a few years ago! 

While I personally don't find it appealing for a woman to morph into a total monster, muscles = curves = excellent. Period. 


Less bird food, more real food


Crossfit peeps are big advocates of a Paleo nutritional approach. While I’m not full Paleo (I eat rice, a little dairy, etc), getting the ladies to step away from low-fat, processed Frankenfood like granola bars and fat-free cereals, and eating real food like vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, and dietary fat is inarguably a wonderful thing. Convincing women to trade in their fat-free crackers for some salmon and a heap of veggies? Pfffft. You've got my vote. 

Crossfit ladies have changed the game with their (often overly) generous consumption of steak, veg, coconut oil, and bacon errrthang. Women are no longer afraid to eat! They understand the importance of fueling their bodies and know that eating plenty of food is directly proportional to how they'll perform in the gym. This is a huge step in the right direction! I'd much rather have women eating too much good food, than not enough terrible fake food. 


Self-confidence

Crossfit is boosting the confidence of women everywhere, and my guess is that it's a combo of enjoying their workouts, building relationships, and really seeing what their bodies are capable of.

Hop on Instagram and search for #crossfitgirls and watch as it pulls up ~57,000 pictures, 50% of  which are lifting pics but the other 50% are self-taken pics proudly touting their progress. Booty shots, quad pics, double bicep pose, you name it, and they're showing it off.

This aspect of Crossfit thrills me to no avail. My passion is to get women in the best health and shape of their lives, and to boost their self-confidence. It's so sad to see a woman that is self-conscious and uncomfortable with herself. If Crossfit can give her a boost, that is a huge plus in my book!


Crossfit is here to stay


Like everybody else on the planet, I've seen the horrific Crossfit videos of people attempting to do Olympic style lifts and nearly killing themselves (and everybody around them). There are many aspects to Crossfit that I have a problem with, but I've come to the realization that it is here to stay so we need to make the best of it.


What we all need to come to terms with is that bashing Crossfit and moaning about it on Facebook and your blog isn't going to get anybody to stop doing it.

We need to focus on education and guidance for lifting newbies so that they can make intelligent choices, be safe, get results and have a blast. We are all adults and we have the right to do whatever makes us happy, regardless of what others think.

If somebody is hellbent on doing Crossfit, help them find a reputable gym with excellent coaches. If you refuse to help them, trust me when I say that they will just pick one at random and go anyways, and that may be scary. Develop a rapport with some great Crossfit coaches in your area so that you know who to refer people to.

Until we can get everybody to move flawlessly, safely, and smart every single time they train (sarcasm), lets stay positive and focus on the silver lining because with Crossfit it's definitely there.

I will continue not to do Crossfit, however if you are in the Kentucky area, make sure to check out Derby City Crossfit in Louisville, KY! Those guys know their stuff!


What do you think about Crossfit? Love it? Hate it? 
Drop me a line below and lets discuss! 


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42 comments:

  1. Great article. You nailed something I've been feeling for a while. While I don't do Crossfit either and have the same concerns you do, I've also been growing tired of the constant negativity surrounding it amongst much of the S&C population. Sure, we have plenty of gripes about it, but I'm so pumped that more women are lifting heavy and loving it! And FLAUNTING it, no less! There IS a silver lining to this whole thing. My hope is that women get so into it that they start doing their own research, spreading an educated word about strength training, and making smart choices for their goals.

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    1. Thanks Heidi,
      Your last sentence is precisely my hope with this entire topic:

      "My hope is that women get so into it that they start doing their own research, spreading an educated word about strength training, and making smart choices for their goals."

      Yes. So much YES!!!! <3

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  2. I've never done crossfit at a box but I do sometimes incorporate WODs into my weightlifting. Currently I'm working on 5/3/1 and after my big multi-joint lift I usually throw in a WOD that works the same muscle group.

    I actually really like the Crossfit Football website's workouts because there is more of an emphasis on strength building and the WODs are a little more suited to me.

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    1. Hey Samantha,
      so glad you are doing 5/3/1 - great program. Like you, I tend to do big strength movements, and then throw in a metabolic circuit afterwards. I think it's a great approach.

      I've never checked out that website, but I'll be sure to pop over and take a peek. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. awesome article! I started doing Crossfit back in January and I agree that it does get stressful on the adrenals with too much HIIT sessions but I've learned to take it easy when need-be even if the coaches are trying to push you! Agreed that it's hard to find good coaching but I make sure to read lots of blogs on knowledeable lifting form so that I'm sure that the lifts are performed correctly! Mainly it's taught me to EAT!

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    1. Hey Julie,

      The fact that you are listening to your body and backing off a bit when need be is music to my ears! If we can just get more people to do this :)

      Hoorah for eating! Sooo important!

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  4. I got into CrossFit about 3.5 years ago on a total fluke - my friends who own a gym in DC were expanding into CrossFit and they asked for my help to develop a website for their new CrossFit studio. I'll never forget my first meeting with the head CrossFit trainer to talk through the website. She walked in and I thought, "holy ----, she's JACKED" (and not in a good way, or so I thought at the time). After a number of meetings with her, she convinced me to come to a foundations class and I reluctantly accepted. Fast forward a few months and I was hooked on CrossFit - I loved the challenge, I loved the competition (with myself and others), and I loved the camaraderie. But more importantly, my image of what a woman's body should look like had shifted. I found myself yearning for that body I'd judged a few months prior as being unattractive and overly muscular.

    Over time, my love affair with CrossFit has faded, but it served the purpose of not only changing my mindset about women's bodies, but also about strength training and nutrition/diet in general. A year ago, I said goodbye to CrossFit to put more focus on strength training - improving my form and getting my numbers up. And while I agree with most of the criticism toward CrossFit, I'm grateful for the path it's set me on and the friends I made along the way. Great story, Jen.

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    1. Cristyn,
      a story like yours is exactly what I had in mind when I wrote this article, and I'm hopeful that it does the same thing for all of the women that initially get into Crossfit. I hope that CF is a stepping stone for them along their journey. I hope that they enjoy it, learn from it, and take the wonderful things away from it while adding even more great stuff to it when they finally move on.

      Absolutely awesome stuff! Thank you for sharing!

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    2. This article hits on so many of my feelings about Crossfit!

      Cristyn, I had a similar experience as you. I started Crossfit a little over two years ago and was pretty hooked for a while... completely "drank the koolaid" so they say. I'm grateful for the experience because it inspired me to learn about strength training, eat what I believe to be a much healthier diet and kept me training consistently (thanks to the community!) until exercise became a habit.

      About a year ago I became disenchanted for a number of reasons and ended up finding a powerlifting gym about 25 minutes. I too wanted to work on what I was good at and what I enjoyed (lifting), improve form and use a more organized type of linear program to get my numbers up (wendler 5/3/1). I was tired of feeling like a workout had to feel miserable to be "good", I despised long runs (despite giving running a good effort for over a year) and was showing signs of hypothyroidism/adrenal insufficiency. When I found powerlifting/S&C style training, it was love at first sight. I would never go back to crossfit and love what I do, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten to where I am had crossfit not introduced me to strength training....or at least it would have taken significantly longer! So as much as some of the crossfit stuff makes me cringe and as sure as I am I would not want to do it again, I steer clear of the bashing because I know that without it I probably wouldn't have gotten to where I am today.

      I think there IS a growing number of powerlifting/strongman/oly lifting women coming out of the Crossfit movement which is great. My gym seems to have a growing group of "ex-crossfitters" including a few girls I train with. Whatever the reason, its an exciting time for women and strength training!

      P.S. As a crossfitter turned powerlifter... I love nothing more than the slow, perfect set up and execution of a movement at a heavy weight for a SINGLE rep with no consideration for time :)

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  5. Yes! Thank you! Great post, and I agree completely! I think I would be an "anti-CrossFitter" myself IF I hadn't had done it for a year 1/2 myself. It doesn't make sense, but there is something about it...and it works. I have seen what it does for women, there is no doubt about that! But it is definitely SO important to have a good coach(which we have at Black Label CrossFit!) Oh-Thanks for the photo and link! And btw, I think you should try it(CrossFit, that is). ;)

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    1. Hey Lindsay!
      I can't lie, Crossfit does look like it'd be fun, and for somebody that is an Intermediate or Advanced lifter, I think it's totally fine!

      I may have to give in and give it a whirl, just for fun ;)

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  6. I don't much care for Crossfit, personally. However, it has served as the impetus for change in women and should receive credit. When I see Crossfit sites promoting pain and working to failure, I cringe at the thought of what their bodies must go through - present and future damage. I have Crossfitters in my class and simply working on a basic Russian Kettlebell Swing can be a challenge because of what they have learned from their "box". I believe in ropes training, heavy kettlebell training, plyometrics, pull up work, suspension systems, all of which are components in Crossfit. My goal is to keep people in good form and safe (a challenge in a group setting) while getting them to sweat, step outside of their happy place even for a moment, and smile. I believe working out shouldn't make you want to puke, but rather it should make you want to do it some more. I try to make classes more like playing on the playground, but with a kick. Therefore, finding an appropriate coach who has been extensively trained in the individual modalities used in Crossfit would be the CORE component really - not just a Crossfit cert. If I have to defend the Russian Swing against the "quasi" executed American Swing any more, I just might earn my clown sticker!!!!

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    1. hahaha, I absolutely loved your last line. The American Swing drives me absolutely CRAZY, and everybody that I've ever seen do it has their body in a terrible position. Brutal!

      Everything you said, and everything you are doing, is wonderful!

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  7. I've been doing CrossFit for 8 months now and I LOVE it!!!! All of my coaches are trained/certified and KNOW what they are doing.. I find it interesting you said most of the coaches basically don't know what they are doing? Besides my own gym, Most of the other gyms I researched before choosing mine focus on beginners learning form and working on skills before they progress with weight... Anyways, CrossFit really has changed the mindset of people out there! When I started my blog I just wanted to lose weight and then a few months down the road my whole outlook changed! Great Stuff.
    Dani
    www.thatfitnesschic.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Dani,
      so glad that you are enjoying your workouts - that is so important!

      You're right - I shouldn't have said "most" and should have said "many". There are wonderful coaches out there, but here is where my comment stems from:

      About 6 weeks ago, I took my USAW certification to further my knowledge about the Olympic style lifts. There were about 40 people in the certification, and we all had to go around the room and tell about ourselves, what we do in fitness, etc etc. 35 of those 40 people said they were Crossfit coaches.
      Time came around for the hands-on portion and I was aghast when I saw that 90% of those Crossfit coaches were unable to execute a squat with an empty bar. Their knees were caving in, upper body was collapsing forward, weird bar position and bar path, etc etc.
      The fact that these people can't do a squat, but are teaching highly technical movements like Olympic style lifts (in which a squat is a pertinent part of the movement) absolutely makes me shudder.

      But, like everything else, there will be great coaches and ones that need serious work. I'm glad that you've found an excellent place that is treating you so well. We need more Crossfit gyms like that and it'll be smooth sailing! Care to share which gym you go to?

      Thanks for the comment!

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  8. When I was initially sent this article I thought it was going to be bashing CrossFit but your perspective is good and one that more people getting into CrossFit should have. It has done a lot for women and I can personal attest that I wouldn't have picked up a barbell without it. That being said, quality coaching is important and I'm SO happy that you mentioned that. Check out CrossFit Football. That's the program we follow at CrossFit Farmland in Wisconsin. My quads and ass are gigantic but my numbers on lifts are improving at a rapid pace. The big bonus to me is that as a person with a thyroid problem the lifting program we're on has given me way more energy than the old CrossFitty CrossFit WODs we were doing. The long and short of it is, find a box with quality coaches who know how to lift and go from there. Strength is beautiful, thanks for the well spoken and thought out article! :)

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    1. My pleasure, and thank you for your input!

      I'm so glad that you have found what makes you happy and have wonderful coaches to guide you!

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  9. I recently jumped into crossfit feet first because my schedule was killing my workouts and I needed to push myself out of a 3 year maintenance phase. I find myself coaching my husband during classes because the group-x environment is a terrible way to learn complex lifts. Most of our coaches know their stuff, there are just too many people moving too many different directions for effective coaching to occur. When I went to sign up, I only wanted to come 2x/week and their response was "you can't get in shape coming 2x/week". Ummm, I don't plan on eating bonbons and watching daytime TV on the rest of the days!!?? Anyhow, the push was to train crossfit every single day. So, I did. My thoracic area is always sore, my shoulders sit at ear height, and I feel 100 years old. My physique looks okay. I'm sleepy most of the time. I have one more month left on my super expensive membership and then plan to invest my $$ into a basement gym. I will name all my workouts after Disney characters. As you've pointed out - despite all the pros and cons, people are working, and working hard, which is great. The one thing that really bothers me are the "girls" - the stupid names for their workouts. Really? We're going to do girls? I pay $170/month for this. Can we think of a better name? In as many ways as crossfit lifts us up, it puts us down. Case in point: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/crossfit-tough-titsday-class-south-brooklyn_n_3230768.html
    Crossfit is what it is, I just hope it morphs into someting more tasteful and respects the women that it serves.

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    1. hahaha! Holly, I laughed outloud at your shoulders sitting at ear height!

      I had no idea that they pushed training like that daily! Good grief, that is too much!

      Basement gym is totally the way to go, and I look forward to your Disney themed WODs. ;)

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  10. When I first found out about crossfit I found out about Paleo as well. I started Paleo in a search to clear up and control my acne. Which it has done. After that I found your blog. Between crossfit, paleo, and you and your blog, it has all inspired me. Don't think I'll ever do crossfit, only because I think it's outrageous to charge so much money to workout, but I do have a lot of respect for them. I've been eating clean, and lifting weights for a year now, and never felt better. Thanks for being one of the ones who inspired me :)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words Chelsea! Reading things like this inspires ME!

      Eating clean, lifting weights and feeling great = YES! Wonderful to hear! :)

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  11. Wonderful article. I got into strength training because of Crossfit, back in 2008, though I'm quite far from Crossfit now. I didn't even know what it was then- there just happened to be one near my house. I began and fell in love with lifting. Our gym disaffiliated from Crossfit by 2009 and changed the name. We still focus on strength and conditioning, and my love of lifting has only grown. I now focus on strength and do strongman competitions. Crossfit was like my gateway drug!

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    1. That is a perfect story, and what I hope happens with many people. I hope that Crossfit is just their jump off point to a wonderful journey of strength and health!

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  12. Like in all fitness arenas you have trainers and coaches that own the title but do not have the know-how to go with it. I marvel at all of the folks that take the time to bash Crossfit when indeed they themselves have never tried it! I agree it isn't for everyone as you have to have a driven personality and not be afraid to sweat. The fundamental science behind the whats and the whys of crossfit is very vast if one will do there home work. I am a 45 yrs old female and began Crossfiting just short of a year ago at Ben Lomond Crossfit here in Northern Utah. Three months ago my husband and I, being convinced of the validity and business potential purchased the Box because of our new found love of Crossfit. Mind you that's after coming from the natural bodybuilding world of over a decade. I love that even as intense as the WODs can be, everything is scalable to each individuals abilities. We have a 68 year old female athlete all the way to our 4 & 5 year olds program. I do believe Crossfit is here to stay especially with major endorsors like Reebok and thousands of athletes competing in The Games from around the world. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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    1. Hi Laurie,

      I agree with you completely. There will be a wide array of great coaches and terrible coaches in every arena, and that will never change. While I'm not a proponent of Crossfit, I try to respect what makes people happy and look at the bright side of things.

      I'd be very curious to learn the reasoning behind having somebody do 30 Snatches for time, or similar type workouts, and that is something I admittedly haven't looked in to.

      I arrive in Salt Lake in less than two weeks for the summer. I still need to come stop by your gym and see what it's all about! :)

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    2. Jen I would love to meet you! Contact me when you get settled and let's get together. BTW - Here is a YouTube 'intro to crossfit' video for those wanting a better understanding.
      http://youtu.be/5Q4EWm1XKHI
      Cheers,
      Laurie1187@gmail.com

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  13. I couldn't agree more with your writing and beautiful written I might add:) I do a extreme balls to the wall cross fit session with my trainer once a week. then running and other strength exercises during the week but nothing like my Thursday session. I agree it awesome but not a good idea for ever day, and I don't even use heavy weights yet since I am still in the begging stages of my training. but I am getting stronger its amazing to see:) thanks for all the wonderful advice;)

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  14. Very interesting article!
    it always was uncomfortable and embarrassing for women to lift weights, especially in the gym when everybody is looking at you. It's time to overcome this. Fortunately, this time has come now! :)
    Greetings, Katie

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  15. Jen, as someone who has written critically about CrossFit on my blog (you in fact shared my first post), I'm disappointed that you would refer to criticism as "complaining". I have had women privately thank me for helping them come to terms with their mixed feelings about CrossFit. I have had people describe it as similar to being in an abusive relationship. It is confusing when one is being "empowered" through lifting at the same time as one's body is literally being broken down by too many reps, poor form, and group programming by people with two-day certs who keep screaming at you (oh, but you are aware of the problems, sorry). I recently stopped by a CrossFit gym to ask if I could sign up (to use the Oly equipment), but not do the WODs. I was told I HAD to do the WODs. Why? "Because that's what CrossFit is." Not one single question about my background, my injuries, my body, or my goals. CrossFit is all about CrossFit. I am now training with a strength coach who is programming for my specific body and goals and I cannot even begin to describe the difference. And communication is a healthy two-way street, there is no KoolAid for me to drink. I don't believe CrossFit is here to stay and the experienced trainers that I have interviewed don't think so either. If CrossFit has introduced women to lifting, great. We need to ask why it took something like CrossFit to do that and make changes to gyms accordingly.

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    1. Hi Beth,
      thanks for stopping by and for your input. I understand your stance on this topic.

      I remember the article that you wrote well, and unfortunately there are a ton out there just like it. My opinion on Crossfit hasn't changed - I don't like it, I don't do it, I don't agree with it, and I probably never will.
      That doesn't change the fact that thousands and thousands of people are participating in CF, whether you (or I) like it or not. As somebody that has been immersed in this industry for 16 years, I have come to realize that people are adults and they are going to do what they want to do. Period. Because of that, I think the very least we can do is recommend solid Crossfit gyms with coaches that know what they are doing.

      I'm sure you are well aware of how many horrible S&C coaches there are out there, and plenty of them aren't affiliated with Crossfit at all. There will be crappy coaches/instructors and crappy programming in every arena of fitness, from lifting weights to yoga instructors.

      I stand by what I said about Crossfit shifting the paradigm about lifting. It has intrigued women and encouraged them to get under the bar. I believe that is a good thing. Now we just need to help them understand how valuable progressive and safe programming is, and just how far that can take a person - not WODs or other mish-mash workouts.

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    2. Thank you, Jen, for posting my comments and for replying. I appreciate it very much. I'm not sure why you say "unfortunately there are a ton out there just like it" when referring to my first CrossFit post? Do you mean it's unfortunate that so many people have had bad experiences with CrossFit or that they've written about it "ad nauseam"? My primary objection to your post was that you characterized those who criticize CrossFit as "complaining". I believe women need strong voices just as much as they need strong muscles. Since my first CrossFit post is the most read post on my blog and my other critical articles such as "CrossFit: Does it Love You Back?" are read daily, I have to conclude that constructive criticism is valued. I agree with the other points you made. Thanks again for the healthy dialogue.

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    3. When I said that unfortunately there are tons of posts just like yours, I meant that it's unfortunate that so many individuals have had bad experiences with Crossfit and have gotten injured, etc.

      While your blog post may have been sharing your story, there are plenty of people that drone on and on AND ON about how Crossfit is stupid, dangerous, anti-progressive, etc., and while I don't disagree, I pride myself on trying to seek out the good in really bad situations. This was no different, and I simply offered up a different perspective.

      Regarding complain vs criticism, that really boils down to perception, and it's unique for everybody, so I'm unapologetic about that stance.

      I think it's important to remind you that we are on the same side here, it's just a difference in delivery.

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  16. Thanks for clarifying, Jen. Yes, I agree that we are on the same side here, with different deliveries. We have both talked about our personalities on our respective blogs and I think we are very different people, with different approaches - which is fine. My critical perspective is my way of finding my path going forward, possibly my way of burning a bridge that I don't want to run back across. So I think of it as a positive thing, something necessary for me. In the end, I think we both show by our actions that what matters most to us is our love of lifting, fitness, strength, health, and family. Thanks again for the conversation.

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  17. "What we all need to come to terms with is that bashing Crossfit and moaning about it on Facebook and your blog isn't going to get anybody to stop doing it." <---Hilarious. What we really need to be focused/worried about is Prancercise and hope that fad doesn't take off.

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    1. haha! Prancercising looks so fun though! ;)

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  18. As some people before me already pointed out. Whichever fitness regime/program you choose to stick with you'll get gyms and coaches that know what they're doing and those who don't.

    I do agree with that because of the intensity of the workouts, going about it wrong could damage your body a lot in a short period of time. More so than if you're going about Zumba wrong or the BarMethod. And I do see how going to "less qualified" boxes would be tempting because of a lower pricetag. And while this is all unfortunate, I don't think that it's reasonable to judge the sport itself based on people who obviously aren't doing it the way it's intended to be done.

    I've been training at three different boxes over the past year. And in contrast to most of the stories here, all of my coaches have been very mindful of that we all train safe. In regards to proper tech, scaling, intensity and frequency. In my experience the only people who gets hurt are the people who are unable to put their ego aside and listen to their bodies. On a daily bases I hear my coaches encouraging people to take a day off or pick up a lighter weight or pace themselves better. I feel that for people who enjoy these type of high intensity workouts it's WAY safer to do it with a coach than doing it without any help or guidance at say planetfitness.

    I'm rambling, but for me (as for alot of people) CrossFit stirs up a lot of emotions. CrossFit got me working out for the sake of being healthy as opposed to being thin for the first time in my life. It made me realize I've been unintentionally under eating for years. Which as a recovered anorexic was a terrifying discovery. It introduced me to my own muscles, and the amazing feeling of being strong. I'm very grateful for this sport and my amazing coaches have been a great part of that journey.

    Point being, there will be the good the bad and the ugly no matter which route you go down. Just do the research and be prepared to put in the time to educate yourself and CF is perfectly safe and beneficial. But yes, the certification course to be able to teach CF should probably be longer than 2 days.

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    1. Hey Jo!

      Thanks for the feedback. So glad that you have found something that you really like!

      I think you may have missed the point of my article, and that is pointing out all of the benefits of Crossfit. ;) While I personally think there are much better ways to go about exercise, I can definitely see the the good that has came of it, and why people enjoy it.

      You are right - there are good coaches and bad coaches in everything! I have many issues with Crossfit, but the focus of this post was to point out the good things.

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  19. Hello! This is the first blog of yours that I've read. CrossFit is what got me into lifting several years ago so, good or bad, I've directly benefited from its inception. You pointed out above to another commenter that this article is to point out the GOOD that CrossFit has done. I read what you're saying but the pointing out of good things is very dissonant with some of the other strong things you write in the post:

    "My opinion on Crossfit hasn't changed - I don't like it, I don't do it, I don't agree with it, and I probably never will." and "...there are plenty of people that drone on and on AND ON about how Crossfit is stupid, dangerous, anti-progressive, etc., and while I don't disagree,..."

    If it's the specific trainers at DC CrossFit you like, you could easily recommend them personally (as opposed to the gym) and if there are trainers you see that have done damage to athletes, you might be better off to call them out as individuals rather than denigrate the entire sport of CrossFit. If it's the PHILOSOPHY of CF that you don't like and don't agree with then it seems at odds to link to and recommend a CF gym. (Your comment responses seem more open-minded.... kind of.)

    Were your readers asking you to comment on CF? Or do you get asked often what your feelings are? It seems to me like they are in conflict at best. I'm not sure I "get" this post but, that being said, YOUR blog is to air YOUR thoughts and feelings. It's not surprising, though, that everyone's a little confused. Thanks for writing & best wishes.

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    1. Hi Jen,
      thanks for taking the time to read, and for your feedback.

      First off, I'm happy that you have found something that has worked for you.

      The only people that seem confused by this post are people that are so incredibly sensitive about Crossfit that any criticism of it at all puts them on the defense. Please notice all of the good things that I listed about it, yet you chose to focus only on the two sentences that weren't in favor of it.

      I'm not a fan of Crossfit. I don't like their programming (more like, lack thereof), I feel like it's unsafe, and I wouldn't recommend anybody start doing it. However, I pride myself on trying to look at the bright side of things, and wanted to show that some good has come out of it. In my perfect world, we would take the good things about CF and put that energy into safer, progressive programming, which is what I hope to see CF evolve into.

      With all of that being said, adults can make up their own minds as to what they choose to do for exercise, so if they are insistent on doing CF, the least I can do is recommend trainers/gyms that I feel are doing it best, such as DC CF.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  20. Great post! My thoughts EXACTLY on crossfit! Wont ever do it myself, would hate it if I did but glad it is out there for others to do! It is all the rage in my smallville town and people constantly ask me if I crossfit because of the way my arms look. I tell them no, I lift heavy weights :)

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    1. Thanks!

      I'm all about the heavy weights, too! ;)

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  21. I applaud you for looking at the bright side, not many people would take that kidn of time and effort.

    I've been at it for two yearss, and I understand people's concerns assuming they've witnessed them firsthand. The four bullets you laid out are definitely a problem when they are present. However, I think that those are more characteristic of particular coaches/boxes than Crossfit at large. I think if someone witnesses these things, I suggest trying another box, but would totally understand getting turned off by the initial bad impression and not wanting to do it.

    A few observations from my own box to speak to your four bullets:

    -The programming is set up in several weeks blocks, for example, there will be X weeks of a certain lift on Mondays, another on Wednesdays, etc, using 5/3/1 or another plan. It will be supplemented with metcons that dont abuse the same muscles from earlier in the class, or work on something two days in a row, etc. They'll pair lifts and gymnastics movements that complement each other with a very clear purpose. Any given day may seem random but looking at it in the course of a week and 3 or 6 week block will make more sense.

    -In my experience the fake "coaches" are the exception rather than the rule. I can only speak for my own gym but our coaches are longtime crossfitters, some qualifying for the games or regionals, or experienced crossfitters who come in with a background or speciality in something related like college gymnastics or competitive weightlifting. If there is a newer coach, they are paired with an experienced coach for their classes. Many have advanced degrees in physiology or the like.

    -I've found metabolic conditioning works well for me, assuming I rest appropriately. I rarely go more than two days in a row, typically four days a week. If something is hurting me and/or doesnt' line up with the workout that day, and I need extra rest, I take it. All the coaches to a man emphasis rest and recovery, active recovery and variation with things like runs, yoga, playing sports etc.

    - If someone is using bad form, a coach will stop them (even mid work out!) and make scaling adjustments. They will coach and re-coach them on the movements. Sometimes it only takes a small cue, and sometimes it will take a complete tear down and rebuild. They can often identify this if we are working on the movement earlier in class, and will scale appropriately with a different movement or lighter weight in advance. I can't do the prescrived weights but have been slowly increasing (which is why it's so important to keep a detailed log).

    In short, I think a good coach will alleviate these concerns. I can only speak for myself adn I certainly don't diminish the importance of your concerns, but I think they are less prevalent.

    Or maybe I am just lucky with my box. Hope this helps!

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