CrossFit: reflections on the meaning of “the sport of fitness”

I really enjoy CrossFit.  This week I took a little time off to learn more about Olympic lifting, and I didn’t devote as much time to the typical workouts.  And I can feel it.  I did not get my hormonal adrenaline hypothalamic fear factor flight/or/fight stimulus (I just made all that up.)  So I’m not quite as settled as I normally am at this point in the week (that’s the true part.)

Anyway I had a chance to browse some other blogs and review some comments about CrossFit.  Mostly negative comments, the gist of which is that CrossFit is ill-conceived as exercise regime because it’s dangerous — the movements are too fast, are done with poor form, and too often.  Various people (e.g., Drew Baye) insist there are safer alternatives that offer superior benefits.

With respect to the dangers of CrossFit, I’ve covered that in various other posts.  With respect to whether there are better alternatives, here is what I insist: that CrossFit is open to anything, and if there are better methods you’ll see them adopted by CrossFit coaches.

Frankly I’m not in a position to argue about the mechanics of one exercise vs. another.  But there is something I can comment on, and that’s my experience working out at a CrossFit gym, and that’s what this blog series is about.

From now on, if anybody asks me “what is CrossFit” or “do you recommend CrossFit” here is my answer.  CrossFit is a recreational activity with a strong emphasis on physical culture, e.g. “fitness.”  CrossFit compares to water skiing, snow skiing, skateboarding, rock climbing, snow boarding, body surfing, surfing, rollerblading, and sky-diving.  I’m guessing most people know what those activities are,  and will immediately understand the level of athletic ability required, as well as the potential dangers.

CrossFit claims to be “the sport of fitness,” not an exercise program.  Like any sport, it requires diligence and commitment.  It has a set of core ideas, and a particular approach.  CrossFit, as a recreational activity and sport, requires risk management.  My experience is that CF is exactly what it claims to be.

Do I recommend CrossFit? Absolutely.  The benefits are huge.  But if the definition of “exercise” precludes injury, CrossFit is not exercise.  So I will concede that point to Drew Baye, Anthony Dream Johnson, and Micheal Allen Smith.  For me CrossFit is fun, enjoyable, and has lots of benefits.  If someone wants to enjoy CrossFit as an activity, or sport, then I recommend it. And CrossFit can be modified to allow anyone to participate.

Next week: back to WOD.


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