CrossFit Criticism

Nov 5, 2013

Over the past few days I’ve been asked repeatedly what my opinion is on the recently viral article about CrossFit and Rhabdo.  Most of me wants to leave it alone and get back to programming for the athletes at 8th Day Gym.  I know how intelligently we approach training and that our number one concern is the safety of the athletes.  I can’t control what happens outside our walls.  I know there are instances when wisdom is found in silence...in not responding.  Hopefully this isn’t one of those times.


“CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret”
“Getting Fit, Even if it Kills You”

The titles reveal a lot.  They’re written to get attention.  And it worked.  So is it warranted, or mostly inflammatory naval gazing?  Well, how many people have died in the past 10 years while CrossFitting?  I’m pretty dang good on the ‘ol Google...but I can’t find a single instance.  Doesn’t mean there aren’t any...but certainly suggests it isn’t prevalent either.  What about rhabdomyolysis...is it a noted risk of high intensity training?  Yes.  Is the risk so high that it mitigates the benefits?  No.

Honestly, that should be enough to diffuse the general overreaction to the article.  Some simple logic and a balanced perspective.  So if you don’t like reading...you can stop here and go back to being in the best shape of your life with some great friends you’d never have known otherwise. The rest will just be expanding the topic for the sake of pontification.

Between 2003 and 2011, 45 people died (1 in 70,000) during USA sanctioned triathlons.  28 people died between 2000 and 2009 while running marathons (1 in 50,000).  Aside from death, recent studies show the possibility of significant cardiac tissue damage from ultra endurance events.  What about skiing, or water sports, or football?  The explosive nature of the Decathlon threatened damage to almost all of my joints.  Seems like anything that involves the human body in motion may result in death or injury. We should probably stop exercising alltogether!  Except there’s a large and well documented body of evidence that tells us the most deadly thing you can possibly do...is nothing. 

Almost every sport or fitness regimine has its own “Dirty Little Secret”.  Here’s the thing though: most of the time the secret is the idiot in charge, not the resulting injury or damage done.  I’ve competed and coached at the Olympic, DIV I collegiate, and highschool levels.  I can tell you firsthand that when a poor coach is at the helm, bad things can happen.  Several times I stopped highschool pole vault competitions to find the coach of an athlete who was about to impale themselves due to basic misunderstanding of the sport.  But that doesn’t mean pole vault should be banned.  If you hire someone to roof your house, and they do a terrible job, does that mean all roofers are terrible? 

Let’s remember though...it’s ok to be criticized.  Toughen up.  I can take the heat, so can you.  Some of it’s warranted and deserves an appropriate response.  For the first few years in business, I wouldn’t affiliate.  We’re named 8th Day Gym (not 8th Day CF) for a reason.  I despise...deeply despise Uncle Rhabdo and Pukie the Clown.  Utter ridiculousness.  Sometimes I have to go out into the gym and do 100 slamballs when I read quotes by Glassman about “periodization being witchcraft”.  There are bad gyms out there, and sometimes they make more noise than they should.

But I’m part of the fix.  We’re all part of the solution.  8th Day Gym is working to silence the charlatans.  There’s other GREAT coaches and GREAT gyms out there changing the tide of our industry.  Performance weeds out ignorance, and the rise of the sport of CrossFit (the Games) will do nothing but help make it more clear who knows what they’re doing, and who should scurry for the dark corners.  So use your head and good judgement.  Pick a knowledgable and competent coach, with a solid training philosophy.  Explore the culture and community and you’ll quickly be able to determine if there’s a viable wellness foundation.

Oh, and as far as the peeing while working out thing...simply scroll up to the top and notice it’s written by a guy who’s never given birth to children.  Enough said.