Three Reasons to Get Upset About CrossFit

About 13 months ago, I arrived home for lunch and found that all three elevators were out in my building.

I was living on the 20th floor at the time, so this was not soul crushing news. I grabbed my Hello Kitty lunchbox and plodded up the stairs, thinking that if anything this was an opportunity to burn some calories before gorging myself with mid-day pancakes and jelly beans. What I didn’t count on was months of lethargy and inactivity… I arrived at the front door soaked in sweat and ready to take a nap. I was only 28 years old.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point in my mid to late 20s I reached a state of general malaise. It was not a conscious decision, I didn’t wake up one morning and decide it was time to stop moving around quickly or throwing things on a field. It was just the result of months and months of stagnation and apathetic decisions.

And ding dongs. SO MANY DING DONGS.

And ding dongs. SO MANY DING DONGS.

Without action, my health was only getting worse. I had a vision of my sweaty, overweight, and out of breath self trying to keep up with my future unborn children and it was disquieting. My vision of the future would be an enormous disappointment to my childhood self, who had always planned on wearing jean jackets with Michael Dudikoff and staring handsomely at the horizon.

He could've snuck right in if just wore a red uniform.

He could’ve snuck right in if just wore a red uniform.

My brother had joined “the CrossFit” a few months previously and seemed to be in pretty awesome shape, so I figured I’d start taking a look at what this newfangled fitness regimen was all about. I knew it had something to do with doing 100 pull ups and throwing up, which was a fancy stretch from my normal 3 month stints of chest & tricep, back & bicep, and shoulders & legs. In the end, I signed up for an Intro course and jumped right in.

Now, I am by no means a trendsetter. I only just started wearing trucker hats; I have the musical taste of an impressionable 13 year old girl; and I did not join CrossFit before it was cool (I don’t even know what “cool” is anymore… Is “twerking” drugs?). Over the past year however, I’ve seen CrossFit mature into a much more mainstream fitness program. With that popularity, I’m starting to see more and more articles and resources popping up in crazy numbers on blogs, news sites, magazines, and newsfeeds. However, I’m also finding it harder and harder to distinguish between fact, opinion, and trolling when it comes to a lot of these pieces, especially when I consume most of my information in the madness that is the digital wild west.


I read articles with titles like “CrossF*cked” and “10 Reasons Why CrossFit is Not a Sport” and I have trouble taking them seriously.  I can’t tell if the authors are confused on the meaning of “edgy” or if they’re just replacing content with provocation. It seems as though the purpose of these articles is less to inform those that are trying to forge an opinion on the subject and more about driving as many shares, likes, and comments to the bathroom stall that is their comments section.

At times, the opposition seems no better… Both sides can tend to paint a very black and white portrait of the subject. The internet is no place for a grey thought.

My greatest fear is that people who are truly concerned with their fitness would read these articles and let them dictate their outlook on CrossFit without ever being exposed to a milder perspective that might shed some light on its value.

I also have an irrational fear of Liam Neeson.

My second, third, and fourth greatest fear.

I’m certainly no authority on the subject, but I’d love to address three of the more common issues and complaints brought up by some of these CrossFit articles and posts from a perspective of relative experience and critical thinking. Feel free to disagree in the stall below.

1. CrossFit Illuminati Serve Kool-Aid via Water Fountains

Let’s get this one out of the way early… Yes, CrossFit can be a bit “culty” at times. Just like owning a Harley Davidson, being a car guy, or having babies can be “culty”. It’s an activity that has its own vocabulary, encourages commitment from its members, and becomes a neighborly gathering place for those with like mind. CrossFit can be a very social activity… And while some members can take it a bit far by revolving everything they do around it, it’s up to you on how far you want to go down the rabbit hole.



My wife and I both do CrossFit, and we both enjoy it. We talk about WODs during dinner and have been known to be an annoying/overbearing CrossFit couple that posts too many workouts on Facebook (we’re working on it, really). We have tons of friends we’ve made through they gym (far more than I made at the gym during my bench and tricep days) but we’ve still managed to make and keep friends from outside the gym and not drive them off with talk of Heroes and Girls. People get excited about CrossFit just like they get excited about camping, or drinking, or their pets. Anyone can be high handed and overbearing regardless of the interest… Assholes in real life become assholes who like CrossFit, and awesome people in real life become awesome people who like CrossFit. Just be awesome. Always.

The word “cult” should not be used in place of a lack of understanding on why a large group of people are excited to workout together. A “cult” should really refer to a group of authority figures with no accountability, using subservience to force members to cut ties with family members to further their main goal of bringing in new members and money.

Yes. That.

Yeah, like that.

And on that note…

2. CrossFit Wants ALL Your Lunch Money

In a world of 99 cent apps and Walmart discounts, CrossFit can seem outright swanky. Relative to the price of a monthly membership at your local 24 Hour Fitness, we could be looking at a difference of eight fold or more. So yes, CrossFit costs more than a membership at your local gym.  My wife and I pay just short of a combined $300 a month for our current memberships and I find it extremely reasonable for the amount of value we get. On average I’ll spend anywhere from 8-10 hours in the gym per week and not only do I get instruction from highly qualified olympic lifting and strength and conditioning coaches, but I also get to train alongside former college level athletes, games athletes, and a wide array of friends and cohorts that are willing to push me during the workouts far harder than I’d push myself. All for less than $5 per hour. 

You can spend $20 a month on a gym membership and if you’re getting the results you want, awesome (I enjoyed this for years). If you’d prefer to build a garage gym and train by yourself or with a partner and that works for you, fantastic. Personal trainer? Great. I happen to prefer working in a social setting with the oversight and personalized training of my coaches. I don’t mind paying them the equivalent of a couple of fast food tacos per hour for that service either.

Only you can make a decision about what your personal finances can handle and how you’d like to prioritize your expenses.

I've made shrewd decisions on where I've put my money.

I’ve made shrewd decisions on where I’ve put my money.

Just remember that your health functions like any other investment, the earlier you start contributing, the more value and benefit you’ll be able to enjoy later. Siphoning your money into weekend binges or daily dinners is awesome and I’m certainly not one to tell you how to live your life. Just don’t convince yourself that your health is a financial priority that falls well below your cable bill and coffee allowance.

Speaking of health…

3. CrossFit Wants to Rip Out Your Knees and Break Your Back With Them

Before CrossFit, aches and pains were usually the result of “sleeping wrong” or turning my head too quickly. It’s easy to avoid injury when “intense activity” means yelling at 12 year olds when they end my killstreak.

I like to make sure they know Santa Claus is an elaborate lie.

I make sure they know Santa Claus is an elaborate lie.

Yes, you can get injured doing CrossFit. You can also get injured jogging, rock climbing, surfing, skiing, walking, or any other activity in the present progressive tense. While I have yet to have a serious injury, there are certainly days where something is aching abnormally, or I have a pain in a place I normally don’t. I consider this a side effect of being active and pushing myself physically. I take those days as indicators to slow down and let my body rest.

One of the major foundations of CrossFit is “intensity”, the idea of doing “more work in less time (without overdoing it)”. The competitive nature of CrossFit is where I can find myself getting into trouble, losing sight of the real goal of “fitness” and replacing it with “winning”. I’m fortunate to have incredible coaches that know how to teach the movements, but they can’t be by my side every second of every lift. I have to take some personal responsibility and understand my own physical boundaries and limits. If something’s too heavy, no one should know that faster than me. Your ego will get you injured quicker than CrossFit will.

On that same note however, each gym operates completely independently with very flexible standards of quality and training. Like any purchase, there needs to be a certain amount of research done on the background and qualifications of the gym you’re interested in joining. Not all CrossFit affiliates are created equal, so make sure to spend at least as long deciding on which gym is right for you as you do deciding on the right shampoo for your hair type.

Where's scraggly?

Where’s “Receding?”

Injury is a pretty broad subject, so my take is: Make sure your coaches know what they’re talking about. From there, make sure you understand what they’re talking about. Then, make sure you follow through and don’t let your ego get in the way of performing what they’re talking about. And if you’re doing it right, you’ll still get aches and pains.

But what does it all mean?

I’ve found that CrossFit is not for everyone. Just like basketball is not for everyone. Just like skiing is not for everyone. Just like black licorice is the worst candy ever created.

How terrible does your childhood have to be to enjoy black licorice?

Seriously, how terrible does your childhood have to be to enjoy black licorice?

For me, my CrossFit gym is a social gathering place. It’s a venue to enjoy the company of some seriously hilarious and ridiculous folks that I may have never met through any other means. In a world of work relationships and Facebook acquaintances it’s nice to find that kind of opportunity in a common interest.

It’s also a place I go to play around. “Play” is a thing so many of us have lost touch with that we forget how much fun it was when we were kids. Monkey bars are much more difficult than you remember. So is jumping rope, dodgeball, tag, and all the other physical activities we used to do in gym class. And while they’re much more labored than you recall, they’re equally as awesome.

It’s also a challenging environment. It’s a place I go to push myself mentally and physically, to limits I would never choose to go in any other comfortable setting. You quickly find out if you’ve gotten enough sleep or have been paying attention to your nutrition. I never truly understood the value of a good night’s sleep or a well balanced meal until I started recording my performance and quantifying what a weekend of drinking looks like during a workout.

Or a weekend of whatever the hell that is.

Or a weekend of whatever the hell that is.

And while CrossFit may not be right for everyone it may very well be right for you. You’ll never find out if you try and experience it through the twisted pages of the Interweb, so be wary of creating an opinion based solely on the belligerent works of Internet trolls and squabble peddlers. Find a qualified affiliate close to home and give it a shot. If in the end, you’re not a fan and dislike the approach, just make sure to write a combative and venomous post about it (I’d suggest a misleading title like the above). I’ll see you in the comments section.


368 thoughts on “Three Reasons to Get Upset About CrossFit

  1. Pingback: Some Really Funny CrossFit Articles | Steven Winkler

  2. Great info. social quality. FP hi five,
    I’ve only been at crossfit a few times – it’s for me – I run out of time though. Fair health here though at age 62 , Just last night was a “first success” gym rock climb, I’d tried and failed this one before. Leading and completed without takes 60ft 5.11a ( you know the feeling – fist bump all the climb buddies) Enjoy!

  3. Your blog post slipped out of the internet ether and into my reader on the very day I contemplate signing up to Cross Fit. Kudos to your perspective, your delivery, and your fantastic sense of humour. Thanks for a great read. I’m off to sign up.

  4. Great title. It suckered me into reading your well thought out article when I came across it on the HuffPost blog today. Then your blog showed up in freshly pressed, so I had to give you a follow! I write about paleo food, if you are into that sort of thing. Best to you!

    • Thanks! I was hoping to give everyone an unexpected zing. Thanks for the follow, I am occasionally into that thing if the food tastes good. Though I do enjoy ice cream. And cheese. And other various non-caveman foods.

  5. I’ve never been one to get upset about excercise fads, expect when people begin to treat it like it’s THE ONLY WAY TO EXCERCISE EVER AND HOW COULD YOU NOT WANT TO PARTICIPATE *cough*hotyoga*cough*? Excercise is personal; as long as your burning more calories than you’re taking in; who cares how you go about it?

  6. Extremely well written, balanced view of CrossFit.

    “Assholes in real life become assholes who CrossFit. Awesome people in real life become awesome people who CrossFit.”

    Thank you for stating that so simply and eloquently. 🙂

  7. omygoodness thank you for this post. You took an approach that showed both sides of the never ending argument of crossfit. i love CF! I’m sad that I will no longer be able to afford it in the big city as opposed to the small town I am in now but I will be back….AWESOME POST.

  8. I love your post. It was a very interesting read, I had heard of crossfit, but wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. Now I know, not for me. Much prefer to avoid eye contact and pretend no one can see me while I am dripping sweat and wanting to vomit. I do disagree on black licorice being the worst candy, but I won’t hold it against. you. 😉

  9. I like black licorice…so this means I might not be into CrossFit.

    Actually, I had to look this up. I thought it may have been an informercial-type thing. Not that I am hating on those. I love my ab-roller. It seems there is only one of these in my area right now, and not in the greatest neighborhood.

    I am glad it is working for you. And I love the Liam Neeson picture too 🙂

  10. Well written! Love the photos (btw my mom and grandma love black licorice. They swear by the organic kind with a panda on it. I’m not convinced.) I can completely attest to the “cult” misconception as a rock climber. It’s more like a family where everyone speaks the same language, and yes there are ass-holes in every family. lol

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  12. Enjoyed the article. Would like to try it, but know I can’t afford the $100/month. The un-air conditioned garage will have to do – similar conditions, less yelling.

  13. This is great. Like, in every way. I especially laughed at this: “I have the musical taste of an impressionable 13 year old girl.” Glad I found your blog through getting FP! 🙂

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  17. “What do you mean you people!” – Black Licorice.

    Terrific post! I don’t Cross Fit, nor do I have any interest. But I will say that I love your perspective. Cross Fit articles tend to lean heavily opinionated in one direction or another. Fitness is all about what works for an individual. So if knee high Reebok socks is your jam, then jam on!

    • Yep, if your goals are to finish a marathon, I would not suggest CrossFit for training.

      And I can’t take your starting joke any direction without sounding terribly racist, but it was great.

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  21. Hilarious and true. People are quick to point and tell you when you’re getting obsessed with something new, often from a the comfort of a living room where they might spend 4-5 hours a day boring their eyes into digital screens of tv and Facebook. Creepy.

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  24. The unexpected zing is marketing brilliance for the blog world, it too dragged me in. I have been a fitness professional for a long time and I truly appreciate your views on the topics. I am always relieved to hear when someone says to watch the EGO, I see more issues with injuries because of competition and performance. It sounds like you have your head on and have your priorities in a healthy perspective! Thanks again for the great post.

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  26. A very well written (and humorous) piece. And the key takeaway that most will miss: “each gym operates completely independently with very flexible standards of quality and training ” That is the key in it all – you said you have great coaches that ensure good form, and you understand about keeping your ego in check, so I would say serious injury is probably not in your future. I’m not a CF kind of guy (free access to weight room = lift heavy things then put them down and repeat), but I know folks who, thanks to good coaches have had success – but I’ve also seen the videos of what happens with bad coaching. The problem with most fitness disciplines is that you will always have the dogmatic zealots who see all other disciplines as heresy and the key is finding good information and what works for you.

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  29. Hello, I am new to the blogging world. I see that you have a good audience on your blog. I am an author and I just published my autobiography. I self published so I need to market it on my own. I want to raise awareness about my book so that it can reach and impact as many people as possible. If you can put this on your blog for your readers I would greatly appreciate it. I see that you have quite the following and it would really help if I had somebody with experience to help me promote my book. Thank you!! If you can even go to my blog and ‘reblog’ my post about my book that would be awesome thank you so much!! Even if you can support me by reading my book that would be awesome!!

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  31. Reblogged this on NEIGHBORLY NEWS and commented:
    Months ago, I left my doctor’s office frustrated because my cholesterol was too high and ,while I have always done well to keep my weight under control, I was told I needed to start getting active again . So, off to the gym I went to use the membership I’d been paying for for months, but had only used a couple of times.

    After what I thought was a reasonable workout, one of the trainers, who is also one of the owners of the gym, approached me about Crossfit. Frankly, my only experience with Crossfit was through my college-age daughter. The story of running until she vomited did not make the idea of trying Crossfit appealing. But after expressing my concerns and finding that this trainer’s philosophy on workout meshed with mine , I gave it a try. Six months in and not looking back! Even my husband is all in and over 20 pounds lighter!
    Only problem I’m really seeing is all of the misinformation about the sport.

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