Why it shouldn’t matter that I do CrossFit.


I’ve had this blog since midway through graduate school, but I haven’t blogged in almost a year and a half. Why? I have a hard time staying interested in writing (even though I enjoy it) and a hard time believing that anyone would really care about what I have to say. If you look for my previous entries, you’ll see that there are none to be found. That’s because my typical pattern is to blog for a few months, stop blogging, rediscover my blog, and then hate everything I used to write about and delete it all. I’ve been contemplating bringing my blog back, being less judgmental of myself and how often I post, and just going with it. With everything I have going on in my life, I should have plenty to talk about, and this could be a nice outlet for me to do so. So to start…

There has been a slew of articles going around about CrossFit lately. The famous “Why I don’t do CrossFit” article has went viral, and people are now starting to write their responses. I’ve tried to keep my opinion off of social media for the most part, because I typically do not like my personal opinion to be put on blast just because it differs from that of others. In addition, when it comes to straight up opinions, no one wins, and the arguments that typically ensue seem like a waste of energy. However, I have been getting asked my opinion on the initial article by Erin Simmons, and I’ve also read some of the responses written to her. So, if anyone wants my two cents, here it is…

It shouldn’t matter that I do CrossFit. It shouldn’t matter that you don’t do CrossFit. All that should matter is that whatever you do for physical activity works for you and makes you feel happy and healthy. No one should think that your physical journey isn’t credible or that they are better than you. No one should discount what you are doing to feel better about what they are doing. Whether it be running, walking, biking, swimming, yoga, pilates, P90X, olympic lifting, power lifting, basketball, football, volleyball, softball, ultimate frisbee, hula hooping, Wii Fit, CrossFit, or whatever. If you’re being active, having fun, and being healthy, do your thing. But wait, Erin Simmons cites that CrossFit is very dangerous for many reasons, so isn’t doing CrossFit unhealthy? To my knowledge, every type of workout or physical activity I have ever heard of has a warning to consult with your doctor before starting or of the possible risks. Every type of workout or physical activity I can think of has the risk of injury if performed incorrectly. I have written enough research papers in my life to know that you can find articles that will support your opinion no matter what it is. I also have written enough research papers in my life to know that even articles that have a different opinion than yours can still be used to support your opinion. So when you read an article, remember that. Don’t take everything as a fact just because it has quotation marks around it. Do research for yourself and from both sides. And keep in mind that many CrossFitters say CrossFit is safe because they indeed have never been HURT from their practices.

From what I know, there are critics and supporters of CrossFit. There are articles that share positive and negative opinions and information about CrossFit. I also know that there are critics and supporters of running, along with articles that share positive and negative information about running. And my guess is that I can interchange any other type of physical activity for the word CrossFit or running in the previous sentences and find the same thing. So, to me, what that means is that every type of physical activity poses the risk of injury, and therefore it is my job to be sure that I pick a type of activity that works for me and that I feel safe doing. I picked CrossFit because going to the YMCA just wasn’t working for me anymore. I couldn’t stick to it, even though I always felt safe. And if there was equipment at the YMCA that I didn’t know how to use properly, I stayed away from it. I also always feel safe doing CrossFit, because I went through On-Ramp (the introductory classes for a month where you learn everything), I have attentive coaches at our affiliate, and I have never been pushed to do more than I am capable of, but encouraged to work hard. Have I felt sore from workouts before? Yes. But a normal, I worked hard sore. I was fine the next day. Have I ever felt pain while doing CrossFit? Yes. Once. But here’s why… we were attempting a 1 rep maximum back squat one day. We were CLEARLY told by the coaches present that when we were going for a new personal record to tell them so they could watch us and spot us. I added like 5 more pounds to my bar and thought it was no big deal. I did something wrong in the hole and that’s my fault. I didn’t listen to instructions. After that, I felt some discomfort, but no pain. So I sucked it up and kept on with the day. And then I kept on for a few weeks, ignoring the discomfort and not telling my coach. Finally, when the discomfort wasn’t going away, I told my coach. And I got yelled at. If there is something causing you any discomfort, YOU NEED TO TELL ME so that we can do what is necessary to keep it from becoming pain. If you don’t tell me something is wrong, I don’t know. Check your ego and tell me what is going on. Lesson learned. I took the precautions needed, healed up, and haven’t had any trouble since. I’ve been doing CrossFit for over a year and a half. If I work out an average of 3 days per week, that’s one “injury” in over 230 workouts. That means I’ve personally been “injured” less than 0.05% of my workouts. Sure, just as any type of athlete we acquire some gnarly bruises, hand tears, some fatigue, and some soreness, but we aren’t consistently INJURED. Despite what Erin says, there are affiliates and coaches out there who would NEVER allow what her experience was to happen under their watch and in their facility. EVER.

Now, what I just mentioned about my affiliate and my coaches is contradictory to what Erin Simmons says in her article. Erin believes that CrossFit is very unsafe, and therefore no matter how good I think my gym or my coach is, I’m wrong. She also goes as far to state that I have this belief because of the cultish brainwashing that occurs through being a CrossFitter. Not only does Erin say CrossFit is cultish, but so do some friends and acquaintances of mine, along with many others. And this is where I personally think the true difference between critics and supporters of CrossFitters actually lies, not within the safety aspect. To critics, we’re an intensity seeking workout and fitness obsessed cult who cares only about our WOD and talk non-stop about CrossFit. To supporters, we’re a dedicated and motivated family looking to better ourselves by testing our limits and capabilities on a regular basis through a WOD and talk a lot about CrossFit.

It’s true. Some CrossFitters talk non-stop about CrossFit. How do you know someone is a CrossFitter? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. And while that may be annoying to a friend who does not share that common experience, it shouldn’t make that friend think CrossFit is a cult or that their friend has went to the dark side and all hope is lost for them. Instead, I think the friend should be happy for their friend for finding something that has the potential to better their life in a healthy way, and maybe just tell them you can’t personally relate to CrossFit and don’t always like to hear about it. Chances are they’re just really excited and don’t realize they’re yapping away. I’ve also heard the phrase, how do you know someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Is it completely wrong of me to think that CrossFiter or vegan could easily be interchanged with runner, new mom, gamer, girlfriend/boyfriend/partner, dog/cat/pet owner, partier, yogi, and so on? I don’t think so, because I believe that we talk about the things we care about, the things we do, the things that we enjoy, the things that make us who we are. And I think that those things are different for every single person, and sometimes, when we don’t care about the same things, we find the excitement the other person has about their thing annoying. We find it weird or intimidating because it is unknown to us, or maybe we’ve heard bad things about it, or maybe we’ve tried it and didn’t like, or maybe we just don’t give a shit. But it shouldn’t matter. If I want to talk about my workout, it doesn’t make it weird, annoying, cultish, or uninteresting just because you don’t get it or like it. If I want to talk about my upcoming wedding it doesn’t make it weird, annoying, cultish, or uninteresting just because you don’t get it or like it. If I want to talk about my dog, a video game, a sports team, kayaking, my child, my new puppy, or whatever, it doesn’t make it weird, annoying, cultish, or uninteresting. I shouldn’t be shamed for being excited and passionate about my health, fitness, and developing self-confidence regardless of the workout form I chose to achieve it. BUT, if I tell you that your workout isn’t as good as mine, if I can’t have the ability to gauge your lack of interest in CrossFit related conversation, if I legitimately injure myself from doing something incorrectly or beyond my skill level, I understand why you think CrossFit is weird, annoying, cultish, or uninteresting. But just because my topic of conversation or interest is different than yours does not make me part of a cult. Or brainwashed. I do not believe that CrossFit is the only way of fitness, it’s just the one I enjoy most. I also run. I also hike. I also like riding my bike. I do not worship my coach and do not think he is the end all and be all of what is right. But I do believe he knows what he is doing and pays attention to the details.

CrossFit is not for everyone. Not all CrossFit gyms and coaches are the same. Yes, CrossFit can pose the risk of injury. You can take the word CrossFit out of all of those sentences and change it to something else fitness related. But here’s the thing that bothers me. I’ve stated all of these opinions many times before when I was found in a position to have to defend myself for working out (UHM WHAT?), but I have received the response that CrossFitters take it to a whole different level than any other type of athlete. Do runners not put 13.1 or 26.2 stickers on their cars? Do Iron Man finishers not often times get a tattoo? But it’s only CrossFitters who take their excitement to a “cultish level?” And I still can’t fully wrap my head around it, but I sort of can. What I mean is, even as a CrossFitter, I know other CrossFitters who sometimes talk about CrossFit so much I almost don’t want to be associated with CrossFit. I know that some people start doing CrossFit and become totally different people, but I think that is okay, as long as that person has changed for the better. If they become an arrogant douche, well screw them, but they do not represent all CrossFitters. Just as Erin Simmons does not represent all people who do not do CrossFit. This is where I will admit that I once was that person who ONLY talked about CrossFit. Seriously, I get why my friends (and the non-CrossFitting friends of CrossFitters) get annoyed. We know there are definitely other topics to talk about aside from CrossFit, even though our social media accounts and conversations may cause you to think otherwise. I would like to believe that I am currently that person who can talk about CrossFit but knows how to stop and has once again incorporated other things into my life. Sure, I still like to talk about CrossFit, but I think I am perceptive enough to know when to end that conversation if I’m in one and when to not have that conversation at all. I no longer come home from a workout and tell my fiance every single aspect of my hour there in painstaking detail, but I do come home and tell him if something unusual or noteworthy happened. And then I try to leave it at that. I’ve made the conscious effort to keep things about CrossFit minimal on my Facebook account now, but feel like it’s okay to have my Instagram have more health and fitness related things. I figure that someone would rather be up to date with my Facebook than Instagram, so I try to keep it balanced as much as possible. Plus, the # feature on Instagram helps connect me to a community that I can learn from and find support from. Do I talk a lot about CrossFit to my CrossFitting friends? Sure, if that’s what we want to talk about. But believe it or not, we do have non-CrossFit related conversations. Maybe your CrossFitting friend isn’t at that point yet, and maybe they’ll never get there, but wouldn’t you rather them talk about something that makes them feel happy, healthy, and confident, rather than hear that they are doing something destructive like binge drinking every weekend? Maybe not, and that’s okay. You don’t have to like what they’re doing or what they’re talking about, but you should still try to respect the fact that they do like it, especially if it isn’t causing them or anyone else serious harm. And you being annoyed by talks of pull-ups and snatches is not being harmed. And why is it that people seem to hate when people talk about fitness a lot, but not other topics? Perhaps that is the question we should be asking ourselves. What is it that makes me feel so annoyed if someone talks about their workout? And can I say one more thing about my personal experience with CrossFit and wanting to talk about it? For me, I wanted to talk about it so much because it was new and exciting, but also because it made me feel so empowered, especially as a woman. It made me proud to do things that many people have the false notion that women can’t or shouldn’t do. It made me proud to acquire the upper body strength to do a pull-up. It made me proud to lose inches from my body even though I wasn’t obsessing about numbers anymore. It made me proud to feel part of a family and find something that I could stick with that works for me. And I still feel empowered on a regular basis though CrossFit, and therefore I will talk about it sometimes. But I will respect your right to not care or not want to hear about it. And if I ever came off as a holier than thou douche bro asshole, I’m sorry. That’s never my intention unless I’m clearly joking about it. So, to wrap everything up…

Unless someone doing CrossFit is actually physically hurting them in the process, it isn’t hurting you, and therefore, it shouldn’t matter if someone does CrossFit. Just like it shouldn’t matter if you don’t do CrossFit. Fitness is what we make of it, whether we sit on the couch, run marathons, do CrossFit, or whatever. Instead of bringing others down and making fun of a person’s chosen community, we should encourage them. So to all the non-CrossFitters and critics out there, stop judging us and saying we’re brainwashed. It isn’t nice. Do what you enjoy and be proud of it. And to all the CrossFitters out there, you have the right to be proud of what you do, but do not let yourself become arrogant or think less of someone who works out differently than you. That’s not nice either.