If you talk to any Crossfitter who’s been in the game for any length of time you’ll often hear them talk about “back when I started Crossfitting…” I guess that’s no different than any situation; I’m sure if you listened at any workplace around the world you’d hear the salty veterans telling the newcomers how tough work was “back in the day,” something about walking in the snow, uphill both ways. We get it, life was tougher back then. And I say all of this as a precursor to what I’m about to get into because I will in fact be telling you about “back in my day.”
You see, I’m worried that we may be witnessing the end of CrossFit as we speak. I know that sounds odd seeing as CrossFit is booming considerably but I can’t help but think it may be going in the opposite direction. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the strides that CrossFit has made and the opportunities that they have had the good fortune to recognize. ESPN, Reebok, televised Open workouts, an update show,professionally sponsored athletes…I mean the list goes on and on containing the awesome things CrossFit is doing. I’m worried though. I’m worried we may be getting away from what CrossFit is all about.
(Here comes my back in the day story.) I had the good fortune to be introduced to CrossFit in 2007 while I was in the Marines. As most of you know, CrossFit has infiltrated just about every sector of the military and for good reason; this stuff works. So when I was introduced to CrossFit, and for the first two years I implemented it, I lived in the world of Murph, Cindy, hundreds of tabatas, and anything with a pullup bar and running. We did bare-bones CrossFit. In fact I didn’t even perform my first clean until maybe a year and a half ago and just a week ago I attended my first Olympic lifting seminar with Mr. Glenn Pendlay and the awesome folks down at MuscleDriver USA.
My point with all of this is I’m starting to see people lose the spirit of what CrossFit is all about. The CrossFit Games, while awesome, have turned CrossFit from training for the “unknown and unknowable” to training for two big competitions a year. I can name five coaches off the top of my head who specialize in getting athletes to the Games. Now again, that is awesome and I’m super happy for these coaches and the athletes that they are producing but is it helping CrossFit? I’m talking CrossFit the strength and conditioning program not CrossFit the sport.
As I’ve said before, I make my living teaching CrossFit. Coaching movements and teaching people how to move more effectively are what drives my life but it seems that lately my biggest challenge is trying to get people to understand that butterfly pullups and rebounding box jumps are not for you. I spend a significant amount of time talking people out of attempting movements that are way too complex and out of their skill/strength level. In fact, I’m pretty sure most CrossFitters think this whole lifestyle is a “do really cool moves” program rather than the strength and conditioning program that it really is. And that’s my concern. Beyond the fact that I watch Games athletes who still do not seem to grasp the kip (we take our gymnastics from gymnasts right? Find me a picture of a gymnast who throws their feet obnoxiously behind them, loses all tightness in the abdominal, and turns their body into a back-wrenching U just to perform a muscle up) and sacrifice any and all sound body mechanics to perform movements they shouldn’t even be attempting, I deal with people everyday who forgo any sound thinking to focus on movements miles out of their ability level. How many people can’t front squat their own body weight yet feel the overhead squat is a necessary movement in their arsenal? Go back and read the original articles on CrossFit and see what Mr. Glassman has to say about when and why we make movements progressively more difficult.
Five years from now what will CrossFit look like? Will it still be the tight-knit community that has built it into what it is today or will it just be training centers for people going to the Games and the rest of the community takes a backseat? Think about this. More and more boxes are starting to franchise into other cities. Hell, Reebok is now putting their name on CrossFit gyms in major cities across the world. Wal-Mart started as a single store in a single location did it not? What happened to local boxes making do with bare-bones gear and still producing awesome human beings? How many people realize that more and more box owners are simply letting their affiliations run out and changing their name to ________ Strength and Conditioning?
In the end I don’t know and I don’t have all of the answers. Maybe I’m just over thinking it and CrossFit hasn’t changed a bit. To be honest, sometimes I just like to think about stuff. I love CrossFit and I’m very grateful to be a part of the CrossFit community but I always wonder…is this what Greg Glassman wanted when he started this whole thing or are we forgetting who we really are? You tell me.