The truth is there are a lot of things that Crossfit does well, and in some cases, better than anyone else.
The first thing that comes to mind is the incredible positive energy and sense of community that can be found inside your local Crossfit “box” (box is their alternative name for gym, I don’t know why so don’t ask me). I fell in love with my current sport of choice, Powerlifting, in large part because of the positive atmosphere. There is nothing in the world like having everyone in the audience, the MC’s at the meet, and even the people you’re competing against all rooting for you as you attempt to grind out a new personal record. Crossfit does the same for it’s members. Gym goers are cheering loudly for one another to get through whatever the “WOD” (workout of the day) requires, because without that support system the chances of finishing the workout become pretty slim.
The problem is many of us coaches, trainers, and average joes don’t really understand this phenomenon within the crossfit community and we then go on to label them a cult as a result. Crossfit is no more a cult than bodybuilding, yoga, or even my beloved powerlifting.
One might say in response, “But Rob, Crossfit goes further than just staying tight knit with one another, many Crossfit Instructors go on to preach about ridiculous hardcore diets backed by very little research, most famously, the Paleo diet.” My question to you is, if it’s the additional dietary advice that leads you to call Crossfit a cult; what makes Crossfit so different than that of the vegan diet/lifestyle that is preached by many a yoga instructor, or the unsustainable pre-contest and off season diets of bodybuilders?
Walk into many a commercial gym in this country and ask one of the local trainers what some of their own biggest problems are with Crossfit, and I will guarantee that at least 50% of them will answer at one point during the conversation that Crossfit Instructors only need to take a 2 day class which if they pass they get to be qualified as a Level 1 Crossfit instructor. Apparently, most of them forgot how long their NASM, NSCA-CPT, ACE, etc. weekend courses lasted. I’ll give you a hint, somewhere between a few hours taking an at home, online exam, and a 2 day weekend course at the local big box gym.
With Crossfit, they as an organization, have done a pretty good job of fostering a culture of learning, and this is becoming more and more evident to me as I show up to conferences all over and more and more of the attendees are Crossfit instructors. In fact, now a days the Crossfit instructors usually outnumber us Personal Trainer’s that come from a commercial gym setting. So what does that tell you about Mr. Billy Biceps who works for the local Globo Gym? Exactly.
Just to reiterate, there are a lot of things that I feel Crossfit as a brand/exercise style could become much better at, but it’s not all bad, and we as fitness professionals shouldn’t be so quick to bash it. In fact, we should be examining how we can reach some of the same population that Crossfit is attracting to it’s doors, and bettering ourselves in the process.