The other day I posted some comments about the dangers of CrossFit. This was in response to a blog posting by Anthony Johnson called “CrossFit™ : A 100% Chance of Injury?” posted last week. Essentially I agree with the assessment that CrossFit is dangerous. Which is to say it requires careful risk management. Risk management or not, for Johnson CrossFit is a losing proposition because there are safer ways to get the same results. And I agree with him that “danger” and “exercise” are, or ought to be, mutually exclusive. If your exercises are dangerous, they are something other then “exercise.”
Now as an aside I want to mention that Johnson also talks about “self-actualization,” which I find to be a strange concept. I’m not at all sure that there is a “self” to be actualized. I think there is a sum total of personal experiences, and an ego that creates a personal narrative, and that’s what “self” is. I confess I haven’t bothered to do any research on the topic (aside from seeing the term used in the 70s), nor do I know what Johnson means when he uses the term. But I get the distinct impression he means something very, very focused on an individual-istic approach. Let’s call it the “I” factor, or “me” factor. Knowing this about Johnson isn’t terribly relevant to risk-management in CrossFit or any other physical fitness approach, but I do think it’s relevant to what makes CrossFit different from other approaches to fitness.
CrossFit is about fitness, of that I have no doubt. The physical demands are rigorous, there is a strictly adhered to discipline about what makes a real CrossFit workout (functional movement, intensity, constant variation) and a metric (work done over time.) Is CrossFit exercise? No. I knew that from the start. It’s a way of managing fitness goals. It’s more like a sport then exercise. Is it actually a sport? I don’t know, I can’t say that I care.
Johnson read my post, and offered up the opinion that what separated our opinions is that I seem to be skeptical about being able to get the same benefits as CrossFit but using other, safer, methods.
But that’s not exactly the difference. The real difference is, when the truth is told, my “self-actualization” includes the desire to master fear. If there are safer methods, great, I’ll explore those. My guess is that soon enough those methods will be adopted by CrossFitters. That is if those methods are consistent with: functional movement, intensity, and constant variation.
The other thing that’s important to realize about CrossFit is the community aspect. It happens within a small group of peers. Individual success becomes celebrated as group success. People are encouraged to achieve — in the safest way possible within the domain of CrossFit methods — their personal best. All the time. In that regard CrossFit is an attitude, not just a set of WODs.
But that’s CrossFit, and that’s my attitude. Other people read Johnson’s post and agreed completely, some bashed him, most didn’t offer up anything that had to do with the actual point Johnson was making: exercise is about finding the safest, most practical way to manage fitness goals.
Fine. I want the fear. I want the adrenaline rush. I want to be Cornell Wilde in The Naked Prey. OK, not really, but I would like to be able to run a 7 minute mile, do 100 burpees, run another mile in 7 minutes and have a beer to relax while comparing notes with the other people who just got done doing the same routine.