Why I Fell Out of Love With “CrossFit”

Before we get into this, I’m referring to our old group CF class, where everyone does the same “high intensity” working while trying to “forge elite fitness.”

Oh and don’t get me wrong. I “drank the kool-aid.” When I say drank I mean that I swam in that river.

When I started, I was going to go to regionals (when they still existed), I was going to build a gym of elite athletes- CrossFit calls them “fire breathers”, and everyone was gonna do muscle-ups and snatch body weight.

During that time, I never stopped to ask whether or not this was what people wanted or – more importantly – needed.

I was so consumed with the cool “sport of fitness” that I was blind to the fact that there are some pretty obvious flaws if you want to create a fitness journey that is sustainable for a lifetime and can lead to our clients being a badass 25, 50, and 90-year-olds.

The group aspect is fun, and doing the same high-intensity workout with others around you will double up on feel-good hormone responses. Your body gets hooked on that feeling and you convince yourself that this is where you need to be because it just feels so good. 

But, does it? Does it really feel good?

Are your goals being addressed? Your specific goals? Or are you snatching because that’s what’s on the menu for the day?

Is your movement selection and load correct for your body and your lifestyle?

Are your workouts serving you, or consuming you?

After 6 years in the “CrossFit” scene, I have seen too many people become consumed by having to prove themselves to others or to themselves and forget that they need to take care of their mind and body, first.

If you really want to get a pull up you need to be doing some very intentional work. If you want to get a skill like kipping or butterfly and stay healthy, you need even more specific work. Or else you’ll probably end up with some nagging issues in your elbow/ shoulder that will only get worse. Anyone else just read that and think, “Yup… That’s exactly what happened.”

If you don’t want a big back squat, there is no need for you to do heavy back squats. In fact, the argument could be made that unless you’re training for a sport that requires bilateral power production, you don’t ever need back squats in your life. Blasphemy, I know.

It is not normal or correct to have an “always achey” joint. Your workouts should address this and work around it if necessary.

Group fitness is fun, I get that. Nobody is telling you not to work out with your friends. We’re only saying that your friend might not need or want to snatch to be fit. You might not ever want to do a handstand push up, but if handstand work is programmed you’re gonna try kicking up to the wall because that’s what’s programmed.

We also have to be leery of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Going into the gym and loading more weight to keep up with your buddy even though your knee is aching is a sign that we have a misaligned intent for fitness. At that point, our movement practice has become counterproductive and arguably moving you further away from your goal.

Listen, I love the “constantly varied high-intensity functional movement” idea for fitness. It changed my life and allowed me to open a gym to help change other lives. I also know that it was a fitness modality originally created to train police, military, special forces, and Olympic athletes. Resilient individuals who had spent years practicing the basics and practicing a personal program before just diving in.

There was no long term test for the masses. CrossFit took off like a bullet train and we all just tried to keep up.

So did our parents and grandparents. High volume high impact cyclical movements performed at high intensity for the sake of “forging elite fitness” was prescribed to the masses with little regard for training age, chronological age, specific goals, or movement limitations. And as you would expect, people started getting hurt.

Asking someone to squat is not screening them for movement limitations. That’s like trying to assess whether you need new brakes by getting it up to 90 on the highway and then slamming on them. You’ll definitely get information, but is it the right information? 

No, because there is too much going on. Which leads to cues that can cause more harm than good. All because the coach didnt have the right information.

When squatting, you’re moving at 3 separate joints in the lower body- the ankles, knees, and hips. When determining why squatting is causing you pain, most coaches haven’t tested the joints individually for range of motion, looked at whether bracing is an issue, or whether one leg is stronger than the other. They just throw out something like, “Keep your chest up.”

For us, that’s not good enough. So again… How do we create better?

We do this with a movement screen and strength balance testing. These are the things that provide quality of life AND allow a professional coach to write a program to address those imbalances. 

Without looking at these physical markers and other contributing lifestyle factors, it is a disservice to blindly prescribe movement to somebody.

Let’s be real for a second. Most of us do not need “elite fitness” and even more people do not have the lifestyle pieces in place outside the gym to be able to safely and repeatedly express the high-intensity movement inside the gym – even when “modified” or “scaled.” 

Being in pain because of the gym is the opposite of why we should be doing fitness. Participating in an exercise program that causes discomfort is akin to insanity, of which the definition is “repeating the same task over and over expecting a different result.”

This is a piece of why we’ve decided to move forward in this new direction and create better. 

One of the most common praises we hear about our group class is our coaching. Now, we’re adding some serious muscle to that with our new Hybrid Class which takes that and makes it even better. We combine a personal program with a fun hour with your friends. You get the best of both worlds via a half and half split. 

The first half of class is custom work for you, your body, and your specific goals. This is delivered to you from your own coach via an app and the coach running class will be there to make sure you are wholeheartedly setup for success. In the second half of class, everyone does the same fun conditioning workout together.

Your coach has also armed you with the knowledge of what is the right modification for you, according to your movement screens and strength balance tests. This approach gives us the most effective AND most fun approach by combining a personal program with the opportunity to throw-down with your friends.

We are a personal coaching company that helps people create a better life through fitness. That means personal, specific, intentional programming.


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