CrossFit: You Do It, But What Is It?

CrossFit has captivated my life, like it has captivated many others’ lives, in an incredibly positive way. For me, however, it’s not so much about a physical transformation or the hard workouts or
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CrossFit has captivated my life, like it has captivated many others’ lives, in an incredibly positive way. For me, however, it’s not so much about a physical transformation or the hard workouts or
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CrossFit has captivated my life, like it has captivated many others’ lives, in an incredibly positive way. For me, however, it’s not so much about a physical transformation or the hard workouts or even the community. For me the construct of CrossFit delivers at every ideological corner (when it comes to the training, at least).

CrossFit has purpose. Where much of the fitness industry is unwilling to address true purpose, often compromising it for sales, excitability or ease, CrossFit goes many layers deeper.

Like many of you, when I first read Greg Glassman’s article “What is Fitness?” I was blown away. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s not forget that this, like nearly everything on the Internet, is just one man’s opinion, but if the defining elements of what CrossFit is has half as much value as I think it does, then I see a problem (or source of opportunity) in the fact that most people can’t tell you what it is. CrossFit is more than just good workouts. We, then, are leaving arguably the biggest value of what we do on the table if people don’t know that these are just hard, fun workouts.

Surely, as we educate others and the community grows, more and more people will come into contact with CrossFit. I’m not talking about the folks that haven’t yet heard of it yet, though. What I’m talking about is educating the men and women that are in CrossFit.

It’s a shame, in my opinion, that for many people CrossFit is that thing that you “know it when you see it,” but when push comes to shove even some experienced students wouldn’t be able to do the question, “What is CrossFit?” justice.

Now, though it may seem that I just want everyone else to like what I enjoy about CrossFit, including relationship between anaerobic pathways to the oxidative pathway, an understanding of fitness that is about capacity rather than aesthetics, and nifty ideological ideas about the safety of functional movements at super maximal loads. I’m actually less worried about others who like CrossFit for the reasons that I enjoy it, and am more hoping that folks would at least be able to answer the question more directly at a dinner party, in an online forum, or during that intervention conversation with a friend that needs to get in shape.

“What’s that CrossFit thing all about?”

I think that if we can educate each other inside the community about these basic ideas than we will be a bit more robust to criticisms and agile when it comes to evolutions in our gyms. If, however, many of our athletes and coaches are being guided by the second hand understanding of what CrossFit looks and feels like, rather than what it is (constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity), then we might just start believing that CrossFit is box jumps, torn hands, and AMRAPs.

It’s my view that no matter how many affiliates choose to go down the worm hole of copying each other’s interpretation of CrossFit, the more distant we can become to simple, effective GPP training. And, the dumber we all sound at the dinner party when someone asks you, “What’s CrossFit?”

“Well, it’s kinda like circuits….”

Logan Gelbrich
@functionalcoach
Founder – ORIGINAL Nutritionals & DEUCE Gym