I’m still having a hard time believing that I’m actually sitting down to write this article.  Anyone who knows me, knows off my many issues with Crossfit’s methodology and programming (or lack there of). I could just as easily be sitting down to write an article breaking down the many flaws I see with it like high repetition olympic lifts with maximal loads, prioritizing the score of your workout over technique of the exercises you’re doing, or the higher than normal rate of injury, but the truth is, there are plenty of articles like that out there, and there are in fact some things I really like about Crossfit.

Lately in the strength and conditioning field I’ve watched battle lines being drawn between strength coaches/trainers and Crossfit instructors. These lines usually end in us coaches and trainers calling crossfit a “fad” or a “cult”, and on the flip side, the crossfitters calling anyone who may have criticism (valid or otherwise) “haters” and retreating back within the ranks of their “box”.

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.
It often reminds me of an old Chinese proverb “Out of the hottest fire comes the strongest steel.” The bonds that get created between people while facing adversity and overcoming it are strong, and to me it only makes sense that people who have shared said adversity (I’m just talking about hard workouts, so take “adversity” with a grain of salt) want to stick together because they know they have a great support system in place.

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.
Furthermore, and I touched upon this in earlier post here, many of those same trainers, think that once they got certified, they didn’t need to learn much more, and if they do go about taking a class or doing some type of continuing education to keep their certifications current, it’s usually whatever is the easiest class to take (more often it’s online), not which will actually teach me the most.

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.


04/01/2016 4:53am

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