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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 09-15-2013, 03:13 PM   #1
Tyler Jordan
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Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

I am on my last semester of college at Colorado State and am a Sociology major. For my Capstone seminar, I have to write a paper on any topic I want, but my life revolves around Crossfit. I am struggling though to come up with a research topic on how Sociology and Crossfit can relate. How I can write a 15 page paper on Crossfit in a Sociological research study. Any help would be much appreciated.
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Old 09-15-2013, 03:48 PM   #2
Robert Fabsik
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

How has CrossFit influcence/changed the fitness industry?
--Old Globo Gym model vs. "Functional" fitness, barebone gyms

Do lifestyle changes need a cultural change, and is the cultural change create long lasting lifestyle change? Living a CrossFit mindset vs. "I need to exercise a few times a week." Eating "Paleo" vs. "I need to eat better."

Compare traditional organizational models in the fitness world vs. CrossFit
--large capital investment vs. small capital investment
--machines vs. barbells
--Individualized personal training vs. Group Class Coaching
--big memberships to feed the Globo vs. loyal team/grassroots growing membership.

Just some ideas, and I'm aware my statements aren't just the result of CrossFit.
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Old 09-15-2013, 04:06 PM   #3
Michael Pollak
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

One idea would be to address how the crossfit model fits modern sociocultural evolution. Sure, globo gyms have group classes but rarely do you find a " workout facility" that has such a sense of community, fierce loyalty, competition. The boxes I've been to really are " micro communities" developing their unique social rules , norms, and mores.

I'd play that angle and draw similarities to ancient and modern developing tribes and communities
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Old 09-15-2013, 07:05 PM   #4
Dakota Base
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

I'd expect some level of flaming for this, but I'm going to say it anyway:

One interesting effect I've noticed around Crossfit in society, specifically the fitness world, is that there are dominating stereotypical perceptions of "Crossfitters" that is often a turn off to those outside Crossfit. To put them bluntly, 1) "It's a great workout, but I wouldn't join a Crossfit box because there are too many *********s", or 2) "It's a great workout, but the people are too elitist/too intense, so it's not for me".

Are these perceptions true? Are they self fulfilling prophecies? Are they unfair stereotypes (one bad apple ruining a bushel, as it were).

So pick a stereotypical perception, follow how it inundates the society around Crossfit, how it draws or repels people, how a box grows or declines as the 'reputation' spreads through a community, etc.

The interest, in my perspective, is rooted in the fact that the 'general perception' of a thing, whether it holds any truth or not, is what is ultimately important, and unfortunately, refusing an established incorrect perception with truth is nearly impossible.
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Old 09-18-2013, 04:23 PM   #5
Steven Wingo
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

You need to check out the book The Power of Community: Crossfit and the Force of Human Connection. The author is a co-owner, with her husband, of a CrossFit box and is a licensed psychologist. Her book addresses the importance of community in helping folks reach their fitness goals. I have started the book but gotten sidetracked since then on a couple of others. I do plan to finish it.

I'd suggest you consider a study/paper on the same topic. Another one to consider is the importance of the "white board." Greg Glassman emphasizes the importance of posting results as a motivator. He quotes a military friend who has noted that when it comes to sport "men will die for points." It would be interesting to see an in depth analysis of the importance of posting results. Anecdotally, posting results on a a white board is very effective. I'd say the vast majority of us push a little harder on most days knowing that our time or score will go up on the board. And anecdotally it appears clear to me that being a member of a supportive group is superior to going it alone in most circumstances when trying to obtain a fitness or health goal. We are, after all, social animals.

Here is a link to the book I mentioned. Take a look at these issues. I think they would be more personally rewarding for you to work on for a whole semester than studying the negative stereotypes out there among some folks. It could also be interesting for CrossFit to have some documented studies. Good luck with your paper.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Comm.../dp/1936608731
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:18 PM   #6
Chris Mason
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

As above, I would say the community aspect of CrossFit would be of great interest from a sociological perspective.
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Old 09-19-2013, 02:39 AM   #7
Mark Ritchie
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

Well, I may be one of the only CF box owners with a Ph.D. in sociology, but the suggestions above are great.

Look at group theory, specifically Weberian in-group/out-group literature, tribal markers, subcultural theory, etc. Then use CF and a specific CF box as an example.

Some guiding questions/lines of inquiry would be:

1. What language/dialect are used by CrossFitters to mark who is in/out of the subculture? Specific works/phrases/etc. (AMRAP, WOD, Fran, etc.)

2. What physical signifiers/markers are used in the subculture to signify membership in the group? (t-shirts, tattoos, etc.)

3. What other subcultures do CrossFitters not identify with, or specifically look down on? (e.g. globo gyms, ultra runners, etc.)

4. What similar groups/subcultures are there? Look at bikers (Harleys as well as road bikes or MTBs; skaters, snowboarders; ultra-runners. Do a comparison of group identity, etc.

5. What groups/subcultures do CrossFitters overlap with? Paleo as a social movement, tattoos as a subculture, etc.

6. Quantitatively, what sorts of socioeconomic groups does CF draw on? It is commonly attributed to upper middle class, but is that always or even mostly the case?

LOTS to write about. Someone is going to do a good dissertation on it sometime -- just too much material not to jump on it.

Classics would include Goffman, Weber, and even Seth Godin's "Tribes".

Have fun.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:27 AM   #8
Dan Douglas
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

Wow, what a happy coincidence Mark saw this. Awesome stuff.

My suggestion would be something ironic along those lines about how cf has co-opted the criticism that it is a cult and proudly promotes "drinking the kool-aid", which is a direct cult reference. I am sure Sociologists have come up with definitions of what a cult is that you could compare and contrast with cf community in practice and come up with something college papery.

But, my non-sociologist rambling aside, Mark is the man.
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:58 PM   #9
Michael Cook
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

How about trying to figure out which personality type does better at Crossfit? Give a bunch of people from the same box a Myers-Briggs personality inventory, and then keep track of their progress over a period of time and see if there is any correlation between personality type and progress in crossfit.

Or maybe that is more psychology than sociology.
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Old 09-22-2013, 11:39 PM   #10
Dakota Base
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Re: Crossfit and how it relates to Sociology

I think it's far more interesting to study the type of people, and the culture they fall into, that view Crossfit as "drinking the Koolaid", than to study the people that DO drink the koolaid. From Crossfit's perspective, keeping your die hard fans is easy, turning over a biased predisposition and recruiting outside of your 'standard member base'.

As someone that has passed between and/or co-trained different sports for over 15yrs after high school (professional rodeo, triathlon, powerlifting, Endurance OCR, MMA, Crossfit, and 3 traditional Martial Arts) I have seen and heard EVERY sport stand on its soapbox and look down at other similar or competing sports, and have tested out the theories for myself. You hear the same stereotypical lines about each sport, until you try it, then you hear mirrored bashing right back at the other. Bull riders make fun of calf ropers, marathoners make fun of mud runners, triathletes make fun of cyclists, Crossfitters make fun of body builders, Judoka's make fun of MMA fighters, and turning ANY of those examples around would be true as well, and many more...

How negative stereotypes get cemented into external society around a given sport is the biggest hurdle that any recruiting group has to overcome. Deserves having the light shined on it.
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