July 01, 2005
CrossFit is often referred to as an “open-source” fitness movement. But what does that really mean? What is open source and how does it apply to fitness?
Brian Mulvaney explains. “Open source” and the profound concept of “free software” arose from the research-oriented computer engineering culture of the ’70s and ’80s that delivered the technical foundations for much of what we take for granted in today’s information economy. More broadly, and more importantly, open source has come to denote a collaborative style of project work, wherein ad hoc groups of motivated individuals—often connected only by the Internet— come together around a shared development objective that advances a particular technical frontier for the common good. Successful open-source projects are notable for their vibrant communities of technology developers and users where the artificial divide between producer and consumer is mostly eliminated. In most cases, an open-source project arises when someone decides there has to be a better way, begins the work, and attracts the support and contributions of like-minded individuals as the project progresses.
Perhaps we can try a thought experiment and compare some aspects of CrossFit to the best known of the opensource projects: the Linux operating system (GNU/Linux for the purists).