CrossFit: The Healing Kind

Constantly varied functional movements can be executed at high intensity without injury. Or puking.


What if the rhabdo-stricken fitness craze called CrossFit wasn’t really about being the most hardcore cat on the block? What if insane fitness gains didn’t have to be associated with bloody hands and puke?

My experience with CrossFit has been rhabdo-free, and it’s included zero vomit. I’d argue that I’m not being a pussy about it, either. I recently PRed in the back squat (430 pounds) and I’ve never not gone sub-three-minutes on “Fran.” No humblebrag intended, but I think it’s important to highlight what a certain approach to constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity can look like, sans the hospital visits and torn labrums.

To give you some history, my particular CrossFit journey started at the University of San Diego. I was a catcher for the baseball team and lucked out with Stephane Rochet, a rockstar CrossFit HQ trainer, for a strength coach. Flash-forward to the end of 2009, when I was released from the San Diego Padres after hitting near the Mendoza Line and nurturing a nagging shoulder injury. I became a “CrossFitter,” and I started with an injured shoulder.

I had extreme pain in my throwing shoulder, which came and went. Then it was combined with pain in my left shoulder, which I assumed was from some serious compensation while going overhead.

A year, maybe less, maybe longer, thereafter I, for the first time since I could remember, had no pain in my throwing shoulder. Baseball is a very conservative sport, you see. And coaches wouldn’t dare allow their players to train overhead or focus on the shoulder joint unless it involved some vigorous drills with bands and tubing. The idea was that it’s totally acceptable to trot a kid out on the mound to destroy his arm for life as long as it happened on the mound and not in the weight room. The result is a lack of preparation and a surplus of demand, or injury.

CrossFit put me overhead. It forced me to train through this injury, and in a sense, it has healed me. Now, surely this article won’t make it’s way to the New York Times or Huffington Post, only the rhabdo articles and near-death experiences will. But I’m not the only one that can relate to a healing kind of CrossFit.

Many of my students have traded the label “bad-knee guy” for “runner” with CrossFit. And, that’s a beautiful thing. Furthermore, it’s a damn shame that more people don’t get to hear those stories.