With all the steady negative press via social media floating around regarding HATING CROSSFIT, HOW DANGEROUS CROSSFIT IS, etc., I’m guessing its been a struggle for some coaches to voice their opinion(s) and share their two cents. In this case, my wick has burned out. Here we go…
When I first discovered CrossFit via the internet almost 10 years ago, I instantly connected it to the training I did routinely while preparing for wrestling. The program I was taught was simple. Get stronger (lift heavy), and perform movements fast for conditioning. Our training was usually always timed to simulate a 6 min match or 7 min match, even 10 minute matches. We’d often do 4, 5, 6 separate “twenty second goes” of leg attacks, stand-ups, etc. This was back in 1986, during the “pre-CrossFit” era. Therefor, my first impression wasn’t that CrossFit was dangerous.
Years later, after seeing CrossFit grow and evolve, from an outsider’s perspective, I didn’t understand kipping pull-ups… and why they were even accepted. I was floored with butterfly pull-ups for the same reason in addition to the safety of doing them. I didn’t quite understand why anyone would do 30 movements as fast as possible with form breaking down let alone olympic lifts or powerlifts. Yet, I still didn’t think danger was an issue.
I simply didn’t understand the purpose.
My athletic backround focused on similar training methods and some would say wrestling is DANGEROUS. Yet, most don’t think about the preparation at practice and what it takes to compete in the sport of wrestling. As a wrestler, my training and preparation was much harder than actual competition. Still not dangerous. Just harder.
As a coach, I’ve learned that not that all athletes are created equal. Knowing that, not all athletes should be treated “equally.” Even in the practice room, restrictions, scaling, modifications etc. were very common. Wrestlers get banged up over the course of a 7 month competition schedule but still need to train. So doing something like riding an airdyne or simply performing body weight movements in order to keep up with conditioning was expected. This was taught to us by our coach.
With that said, there are some coaches that don’t get it. Winning is more important and in some cases, their jobs are on the line. Then again, there are athletes that let their ego get in the way and want to come back too early after injuries (like RG3) and face the consequences by doing so. More often than not, the results are bad. During my career, I’ve been fortunate never to be on a team with a “bad” coach that wasn’t concerned with the safety of his athletes and their well-being. In translation to CrossFit, there are coaches that still learning. Some will program Fran on your first day just to prove a point. I wouldn’t do that to a new client but I can assume this sort of thing takes place from all the bad print.
The truth is, there are bad coaches in Gymnastics, Football, Basketball, Wrestling, Baseball, Hockey, Cheerleading, even CrossFit. There are bad teachers, bad doctors, bad dentists, bad bus drivers, bad parents… And in some cases, this can create danger for anyone around them.
The point, not all CrossFit facilities are the same, yet the ‘HATERS’ may have some reasonable concerns through their experiences, most just throw the Sport of Fitness under the bus just to make a name for themselves as if their “personal training” career seems to be suffering. Makes sense…
After earning my CFL-1 and affiliating with CrossFit, I can say while attending the Level 1 seminar, before the first day was over, I instantly felt as if I became a better coach. The Staff I was privileged to learn from was TOP SHELF. Lead Instructor, Nadia Shatila and her team answered all of my questions regarding kipping pull-ups, butterfly pull-ups, etc. They backed up their explanations with not only pointing out the efficiency, but also the mechanics that make movements safe.
Presently, I can say my body is injury and pain free. I can knock out 50 unbroken butterfly pull-ups, 10 consecutive bar muscle-ups. I can deadlift 3x my body weight, I can squat 2.5x my body weight, I can run a sub 6 min mile. I’m in better shape physically at 43 than I was at 23. I’m blessed to own and operate CrossFit Massillon. I’m proud to admit over the course of 20+ years of teaching weightlifting, I’ve never had any client have to seek medical attention due to the programming and scaling I draw up for them. Our current clientele is 80% women (outside of our student athletes). Thus far, no stitches, broken bones, torn ligaments or anything serious. I’ve witnessed a few sprained ankles. A barbell come down on quad, a few clients lose their balance practicing cleans, and of course a few box jump misses, but what’s most important, we all know why these mishaps occurred and have already corrected them. Injuries can occur any where. Most accidents can be prevented. We do our best to prepare for both.
As an athlete, I’ve been taught, you’re only as good as your coach. A good coach, knows their athletes.
If you’re still reading this and had a bad experience with CrossFit, I would totally agree with your fear and opinions of the box you attended. Fact is, a weekend seminar doesn’t qualify or make you a coach.
My advise would be to do your due diligence a little better.
Most CrossFit facilities offer an “On Ramp” or Elements Session that helps teach proper movements. During the process each athlete is assessed. A “good” coach is going to ensure your safety. He or she will be prepared to keep any egos in check. At the end of the day, CrossFit isn’t for everyone. If you’re not coach-able, stay as far away from CrossFit as possible.
On the other hand, if you are coach-able, perhaps checking out a different CrossFit facility with an On Ramp or Elements program then follow through for at least 6-12 weeks and really see what this sort of training can do for you. If you don’t like it, perhaps CrossFit isn’t for you and that’s ok.
If you have no experience with CrossFit, don’t believe all the hype until you’ve really tried it out for yourself.
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