In January 2016, the Santa Maria Sun put out an article in their Health and Fitness issue bashing a form of fitness--CrossFit. I was pretty unhappy with what David Minsky (the "journalist" who wrote the article--a man who obviously did little research on CrossFit and even quotes WebMD as a source in his article) had to say. I decided to write a response to it. If you'd like to read to original article, you can do so here.
When I first saw the Sun’s Health and Fitness issue, I was so excited to see a picture of a strong, smiling girl on the cover. As a female who has dealt with her fair share of disordered eating, I really enjoyed reading an article praising women for being strong instead of being skinny. However, I was very disappointed with the article I read next. In a Health and Fitness issue, I was very surprised to read an article bashing a form of fitness. The article “Too Much CrossFit?” seemed to do just that. Shouldn’t we be promoting fitness instead of discouraging people from trying new things? I thought this article was written from a completely biased point of view, and it was, quite frankly, a bit ignorant.
Mr. Minksy writes that CrossFit is a type of strength and conditioning program that uses a variety of different movements, which is accurate. CrossFit is non-specific training, meaning we implement many forms of exercise into our workouts: powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, and so on. We specialize in not specializing. Mr. Minksy goes on to add that CrossFit workouts include “something to the effect of lifting large tractor tires using your body or hitting them with a sledgehammer over and over again.” He describes CrossFit as “having a cultish, boot camp-like feel to it with intense encouragement (or peer pressure, depending on how you perceive it),” and he writes, “People seem to love it.” After reading that, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to give CrossFit a try.
Mr. Minksy, people “seem” to love it because they do. They leave class feeling accomplished and encouraged. The workouts are scalable so anyone can partake, and no one feels like they can’t participate in a workout. The workouts are always different and challenging so it takes the monotony out of going to the gym, not to mention the results people see in just a few short months of attending CrossFit classes.
When I first tried CrossFit three and a half years ago, I was completely overwhelmed with the change that happened, not only to my body, but also to my way of thinking. I no longer worried about the number on the scale; I just wanted to be strong. I wanted to squat 200lbs, and I wanted to be able to do a pull-up and a push-up and a ring dip and all the things I never thought I’d be able to do. CrossFit helped me to do all of those things and more.
Not only did I find a form of exercise that challenged me physically and mentally, but I also found a career in CrossFit. I’ve coached countless hours over the past few years and not once have I had anyone experience rhabdomyolysis.
I agree that you should absolutely use caution when doing any form of physical activity. Heck, you can throw your back out putting a dang casserole in the oven! What I didn’t agree with was the singling out of CrossFit in this article. Injuries can happen at any time, doing anything. As long as you have attentive coaches, and you are scaling your reps and weight appropriately, the chances of you hurting yourself are slim. A good CrossFit gym would not throw a beginner into a class without having had them go through some type of Elements or Fundamentals program first. These classes are designed to teach newcomers all movements in detail.
What’s more dangerous than CrossFit? Not exercising at all.
What’s the lesson here? Don’t be afraid to try new things (even if someone tries to scare you with definitions from WebMD)!