CrossFit: Inside Looking Out
As a new affiliate owner one of the hindrances I run into is misinformation. Much of it coming from individuals whose only experience with CrossFit are youtube videos of people performing exercises with awful form and articles that present CrossFit in a dim light. I am not one for mincing my words or beating around the bush so ill delve into the topic of conversation. There was an article featured on yahoo.com throwing CrossFit under the bus yet again. Lately as the CrossFit snowball keeps rolling down hill and getting bigger more and more articles like this are beginning to surface. In it the author prefaces by saying;
“The fitness industry is always looking for “the next big thing,” and the past decade or so has brought a lot of good things: Insanity, CrossFit, P90X, Zumba, Flywheel, boot camps, mud runs, BodyPump and Prancercise, to name a few.”
” I am not writing to disparage any program or organization, but I do hope to shed some light on what I feel is a real problem in the industry: competitive exercise.”
Of the 8 programs or organizations he listed. (he was joking about Prancercise) CrossFit is the only one that is referenced throughout his article. I’ll post the article so you all may read in full, but instead of addressing each and every; misinformed, bias opinion, I will get into my problem with this article and articles like it. Aside from missing the true spirit of CrossFit with gross generalizations, authors like this discredit all the friendships, hard work, sweat, tears, and inner strength that have been found throughout our gyms. Each person has their own intimate experience with CrossFit. Something that keeps them coming back for more, and it isn’t about being first or beating someone else. Its about pushing themselves to be the best version of their own self. If you think CrossFit is about having the best time on a benchmark workout or having the heaviest clean and jerk in the gym clearly you’re on the outside looking in. Authors like this, blur the line between the CrossFit Games we see on ESPN and the CrossFit that goes on at our gyms. Of the 5 CrossFit gyms I’ve been to I have yet to see any coach encourage their athletes to sacrifice form for time. However, there are people that no matter what or how many times you tell them are going to do what they’re gonna do. The greater majority of affiliates discourage and do not allow this behavior. That being said, every CrossFit is not perfect. Some things the author mentioned do happen and there are coaches that don’t correct poor form. That I won”t defend. It just doesn’t happen as much as you are made to believe it does.
My experience with CrossFit is like no other. My personal life has been widely publicized, however, the reason why I became an affiliate owner is not, and the two are integrated.
The year before we, my wife Laura and I, began CrossFit had been one filled with highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The highlight of that year was our engagement in November of 2010, but our excitement soon became short lived. In March of 2011 Laura passed out at work, woke up on her own and somehow drove herself home. She called me and left a message that was hard to understand. Her words were jumbled and I could tell she was scared and worst of all alone. My parents took her to the hospital where it was eventually determined she had a brain tumor. There are many different types and grades of tumors however, hers had the poorest prognosis of them all. Statistics gave her a 2% chance of a 1-5 year survival rate with current treatment. Having been recently engaged, and 5 months from our wedding date, we embarked on a journey following a road map with an unknown destination. She was scheduled for surgery to be followed by chemo and radiation 3 weeks post op. She completed her treatments the week before our wedding. Laura looked stunning as always and didn’t show a single effect from the war her body had been through. Knowing that our time might be limited we were always on the lookout for things we could do together. One of which was working out. We would shoot hoops, run, play tennis, and occasionally lift. I think most of the time she would tolerate my choice of working out because it still meant time with me. However, I wanted to do something we both enjoyed and could bond over. I had a buddy that was into CrossFit and he inspired us to give it a try. We began CrossFit in May of 2012 intimidated and clueless of the impact it would have on our lives. The workouts were challenging, painful, and emotional. It gave us something else to talk about and actual friends! We had a group of people that we enjoyed spending time with that felt more like brothers and sisters than acquaintances. Unfortunately, Laura’s tumor returned for a third time in July of 2012 and she was scheduled for her third surgery in a year and a half. Six weeks after surgery she was back in the gym. In that short period of time she endured 3 surgeries, 2 rounds of radiation, and more than a handful of drugs. Each time the tumor came back Laura came back stronger. She worked out 5 days a week and I noticed two things I took for granted myself, the will to live and the power of a community. When facing the end of your life you have choices. Fight like hell or succumb to the fate given to you. Laura fought like hell and she didn’t do it alone. We would meet at CrossFit every day at noon and workout together. Not against each other and not against anyone else. As a personal trainer, she didn’t like getting beat, but that isn’t why she showed up each day. She wanted to be faster, stronger, and better than she’d ever been. And she was. With her determination and the support from our CrossFit community Laura was able to do things she wasn’t able to do before. CrossFit helped give me 2 years of quality time with my wife that I don’t know I would have had, had we not joined.
This experience ultimately led me to opening my own CrossFit affiliate. Beyond the physical gains people will see as a result of this type of training, we seek to be a community of people who will encourage will power and inner strength, regardless of what you are battling.
Authors like this seek to dismiss experiences like my wife’s and play on the fear of the unknown. They attempt to scare people away by taking certain stories or videos and presenting them as what CrossFit is really about. They trivialize the accomplishments of the girl that no longer lets body issues control her life or the guy that found the courage to finally ask a woman out on a date. Right now there might be someone that read that article and could really use the confidence or just the support of a group that now won’t because they are scared of CrossFit. We only fear what we don’t know or understand. I encourage everyone to do their own thinking and not let another do it for them. Here is the link to the article discussed above. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/trouble-competitive-exercise-120805077.html
Owner, CrossFit Merle Hay