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Old 11-18-2009, 03:05 PM   #1
Dennis Murphree
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Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

This post may wander a bit so best to read the whole thing, especially if you feel like commenting.

I'm interested to hear thoughts on what makes Crossfit valuable. I recently read this quote by Greg Glassman which made me think that some CrossFit people have lost their perspective on fitness and athletics:

"Our workouts are competitive events. The strength and value of CrossFit lies entirely within our domination of other athletes. This is a truth divined through competition, not debate." -Greg Glassman

This is clearly an important quote for many Crossfitters: as my roommate Paul pointed out, it was one of the slogans at the 2009 Crossfit Games (http://games2009.crossfit.com/assets...psun-1385.html). You must indicate whether your links are Work and Family Safe (WFS)

I understand that Greg's the man who made this type of workout "CrossFit" and got it popular, so he by nature needs to promote it. But to me this seems kind of ridiculous. What makes CrossFit valuable is that it allows you to "dominate other athletes"? So if you stopped dominating other athletes it would no longer be valuable? So the guy who finishes last in the CrossFit workout sees no value from CrossFit because he has failed to dominate other athletes?

Or more likely, Glassman means to compare Crossfitters to practitioners of other non-CrossFit training regimes. So what does that even mean anyway, to "dominate other athletes"? How could you possibly test that? Well, CrossFitters of course train for CrossFit, so it isn't useful to compare results with a non-CrossFit group on CrossFit workouts. Sports in general require learned skills, so it isn't useful to compare a pure CrossFit athlete to sport-specific athlete by using the sport. Basically, you'd need to find a sport where there was a significant population of practitioners who trained using their own regimen as well as a significant population who trained with CrossFit. Otherwise how can you tell that, thanks to CrossFit, you are "dominating other athletes"?

This reminds me of the false arrogance I often see in physicists and mathematicians, who think that they somehow dominate practitioners of other subjects because they have more training in math and problem solving. There is strong overlap in these cases actually. Perhaps both physicists and CrossFitters think they are somehow better than others because they perceive the things they train for as somehow being more elementary, more fundamental. I don't know. But it is ironic to me because in both cases we construct our own game, are good at it, then claim that this makes us better than others. Who are we kidding?

I am both a physicist and a Crossfitter, and I love both, but I find that substantial numbers of members (or at least vocal members) of both groups take themselves too seriously. This quote from Glassman is a prime example.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:30 PM   #2
Katrina A. Burton
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

First I will give you a little background on myself which may or may not help you understand where I am coming from...
I am 24 years old past national level gymnast and have been training CrossFit style for exactly 2 years. I started CrossFit because my boyfriend was opening a CF gym and I thought it would be nice to show him my support. Initially I bought a 3 month pass thinking that was as long as I was going to stay because I hated working out. That wasn't the case I got hooked.

CrossFit is now my sport. I competed at last years regional qualifiers and narrowly missed out on the CF Games (tied for the final spot).

CrossFit has taught me so much in the short time I have been training this way. It has taught me hard work, percerverence, failure, setting and achieving and not achieving goals, limits, etc. CrossFit is competitive and I can tell you as past national level gymnast that CrossFitters are the kings and queens of working out. Sure a gymnast could whoop our butts in 30 muscle ups for time but would probably not even be able to complete Grace RQ and vice versa for a football player.

In the end we are talking about working out and I'm pretty sure that's the approach Glassman takes (though I have never met the guy). I do believe CrossFitters are the best at working out and can do anything regular gym goers throw at us. We could turn the elliptical into a competitive event and beat those chicks that spend 2 hours on it a day.

In my city our CF gym enters a annual 6km run every year with zero running training on top of what we do in our regular wods (which isnt much in the winter). Last year the majority of our members placed in the top 8 in their age category beating people who train running specifically.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:52 PM   #3
Jason David
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

You're right. lets meet at a coffee shop or something and argue about who is in better shape...we can compare biceps to impress the chicks and stuff.

or we could go to an affiliate, do the WOD and look at the whiteboard.

I really didn't want to respond to this.
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:07 PM   #4
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason David View Post
You're right. lets meet at a coffee shop or something and argue about who is in better shape...we can compare biceps to impress the chicks and stuff.

or we could go to an affiliate, do the WOD and look at the whiteboard.
This. Crossfit's claim to be a "better" GPP program rests entirely on the performance of CF athletes. If you think Glassman is a clown and CF is bogus, well, send some athletes to the Games and we'll see who comes out on top.

This is more or less identical to the challenge MMA poses to traditional martial artists: if you think your stuff is better, we'll see you in the octagon.

In both cases, the competition isn't actually as fair as it seems on the surface. Consider all the perfectly legitimate fighting moves that are illegal under MMA rules, or the disproportionate impact that movements like muscle ups and handstand pushups had on otherwise fit Games competitors. But it's still the best cross-art or cross-program comparison that anyone has come up with.

Note, though, that Glassman is talking about the value of Crossfit *as a system,* not the value of individual workouts for individual people. For individuals, if Crossfit helps you meet your goals, what else do you need?

Katherine
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
Casey Crooks
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

"We do your stuff nearly as well as you do, you can't do ours very well at all, and we do everything that we both don't do much better than you can. Not very humble, I know, but true." Greg Glassman

This is what first came to mind when I read your post. Someone who trains hard at CrossFit will be able to perform well above average at pretty much any physical activity. Like running, as the person above me pointed out. Or climbing, or soccer, or rowing, or fighting fires, or lifting weights, or physics....
Well, maybe not physics

But seriously, isn't one of the main ideas of CrossFit that of the hopper? Being able to do anything that we are called on to do? And we can. We can outmatch average athletes in any task I can think of with no sport specific training.

Nice first post.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:06 PM   #6
Jason R O'Dell
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

I don't want to be one of those people but I believe a lot of people brought up good points in this thread which discusses this quote:
Link deleted. You must indicate whether your links are Work and Family Safe (WFS)
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:15 PM   #7
Ryan Hoegner
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

I really dislike that quote.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:29 PM   #8
Shane Skowron
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

Well, sometimes when you're trying to promote something new that goes against the grain, you've got to make sweeping statements.
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Old 11-19-2009, 01:18 AM   #9
Dennis Murphree
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

Interesting thoughts everyone...thanks for contributing!

My response so far would be:

Katrina: "I do believe CrossFitters are the best at working out and can do anything regular gym goers throw at us." This is a great quote. Why? because to me you begin to distinguish between fitness and athleticism. What makes someone fit is not the same as what makes someone a good athlete. I also firmly believe that the average crossfitter will best the average gym goer at most things one might do in a gym. To me however this is distinct from "dominating an athlete". About your club's results in the run: congratulations! However, I have to wonder, if the majority of your club finished in the top 8 for their age group, how many people were in the race (for each age group)? And how many people are in your club? Also don't forget that Crossfitters appear in general to be more competitive, thus likely workout more and try harder at physical fitness, than the average person. So don't forget to try to control for this in your measurement. Question: is it Crossfit, or is it the type of personality that Crossfit attracts? To me it is naturally both.

Jason: You missed one of the points of my post, namely that comparing a Crossfitter to someone who does not do Crossfit by measuring their results in a Crossfit WOD is not very useful. I appreciate though how this attitude might be helpful in you promoting your affiliate. After all, marketing is marketing. Still, think about this: why do you think you are a better athlete than I am because you (might) score better on what you train for?

Katherine: "This. Crossfit's claim to be a "better" GPP program rests entirely on the performance of CF athletes. If you think Glassman is a clown and CF is bogus, well, send some athletes to the Games and we'll see who comes out on top."

You also perhaps missed one of my points: sending an athlete to the Crossfit games only measures how well they do at CrossFit. As an extreme counterexample, why not send the top Crossfitters to the Superbowl? How well would they fare against an NFL team? Or send them to the Stanley Cup? My point is that how well other people who do not train for Crossfit do at Crossfit is not very relevant.

You then go on to make an interesting point about MMA and the difficulties involved in comparing fighters. The similarities with Crossfit are striking. And I completely agree with your excellent thought: "For individuals, if Crossfit helps you meet your goals, what else do you need?" This is very in line with my own thinking. According to Glassman's quote however, the value is in me "dominating" other athletes. Thus my post. Your points are excellent.

Casey: another excellent post. I particularly like and agree with this: "Someone who trains hard at CrossFit will be able to perform well above average at pretty much any physical activity." This is how I see Crossfit, and part of why I do it. Crossfit gives you above average (probably significantly above average) physical fitness. And the generality/hopper scenario point hits the nail on the head.

Jason: I'm probably going to miss work tomorrow now thanks to you. I just spent god knows how many hours reading that thread. Thanks!

As an aside (separate thought):
A friend of mine once remarked that Westerners who studied Japanese Lit were more relaxed than those who studied English Lit because they didn't have to prove that they had accomplished something. The task of learning Japanese at such a high level spoke for itself. That CrossFit finds the need to proclaim to others that it is so much better might appear as a weakness: If the feat were truly great, shouldn't it stand on its own?

This is of course not truly applicable to CrossFit. Besides, when you are new you've got to do something different. And frankly the fact that we're even discussing this on some bulletin board shows that CrossFit as a community is successful.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:22 AM   #10
Jason David
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Re: Thoughts on Crossfit attitude / what makes CF valuable / etc

your NFL comparison shows your complete lack of understanding of what CrossFit is...

This thread should be closed...you aren't 'on to something'..
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