CrossFitters, Be Nice

By Michael Houghton

In Affiliation, Running

April 08, 2009

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Michael Houghton is a big guy. He’s a former NFL player (a Tackle for the Carolina Panthers). He’s also a 4th grade teacher and an affiliate (CrossFit 951). He believes that CrossFit is the best fitness program around. But sometimes, he says, these beliefs lead to arrogance and unfair judgments.

We CrossFitters take so much pride in being fit that sometimes we lose perspective and forget that there are people out there who are better than us at what they do. I’m not saying that Coach or many others feel this way. I’m just saying that the longer CrossFit is around, and the bigger it gets, the more elitist people’s attitudes seem to get. I have often found myself saying things like, “Well, that’s a waste of time” when I see people out running. Really, though, who am I to judge? At least they are out there doing something. As in-shape as I thought I was for the half-marathon, people absolutely smoked me in that race. They shouldn’t have—according to my big ego.

What I am trying to say is that as CrossFitters, we need to really keep our sense of humility about us. We know we are extremely fit. We know that we can do more than a good percentage of the population, but we forget how much we got our asses handed to us in the beginning of our CrossFit careers. We know it is still going to whip our tails, but the difference is that we know it. There is no going into a workout with a sense that it will be easy. We are experienced enough to know that the simpler or easier it looks, the more devilish it is. Case in point: 400m Lunge Walk for Time. Just as we do not underestimate CrossFit workouts, we certainly shouldn’t forget how humbled we were at the beginning, and how easily something like distance running can humble us again, no matter how in shape we are.

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81 Comments on “CrossFitters, Be Nice”

1

wrote …

Good article Brother!

2

wrote …

Amen Mike!

3

Love your article Michael. Thank you for the reminder. Arrogance is an easy trap to fall into and we do it all the time.

Congrats with your 1/2 marathon.

4

wrote …

One of the attributes that I have been most impressed by is humbleness. I think this article goes a long way as serving as a reminder.

Great message Mike.

5

wrote …

I liked your article Mike. Thanks for writing it.

6

wrote …

Great article. I've definitely been guilty of this to varying degrees, and it's good to get a reality check and keep some perspective.

7

wrote …

Mike,
Your article clearly hit home with alot of people. I believe this is your second article? - keep submitting them, good stuff.

8

Paul Southern wrote …

I remember you from the certification. I was amazed that the guy weighing 275 was repping out pull-ups.

The word Crossfit denotes cross training. That is, learning from all physical endeavors. The ultimate power of CrossFit is the collective exercise society that shares ideas. We can learn from everyone and everyone has something to offer. As Socrates points out, the person that thinks they know it all usually knows the least.

As a lifelong gym rat, coach, and trainer for 10 years, I have been guilty, at times, of thinking that I have this whole thing figured out. None of us do. No matter how much we study and observe. We are all students.


9

Cody Limbaugh wrote …

I was just thinking about this earlier today!
Coming off the L1 Cert in WA with Todd and Adrian I was struck by how humble all the instructors really are. I've seen a pattern in fact- it seems the more reason a person in CF has for being arrogant the more humble they become. I love to see the character on display of many of our more experienced athletes and coaches.
Todd mentioned right off to leave your ego at the door and he walks the walk---very cool!

Just one more thing I love about this community. That drive for excellence in all we do. Humility promotes learning.

Thanks for the article!

10

wrote …

Michael,

great article. I am new to Crossfit, six weeks at this point and while I am loving it, i have become acutely aware of the attitude.

The people who I am taking the "on-ramp" class with and my teachers are great and very supportive and are fantastic to an old guy struggling to make it through each class.

I have noticed that on an individual level, the community is great and hopefully we can treat others the way we treat each other, the way we ourselves would like to be treated.

Thanks again for the timely comments and congratulations on your half marathon,

all the best,

Mark

11

Tom Seryak wrote …

Nice article, Michael. The running community for the most part is extremely inviting no matter where you are. it would be nice if the Crossfit community where just as inviting...

12

Brian Thurmond wrote …

Mike, I was going to say/type something smart and or arrogant, but I think that I will just say...I LOVE YOU MAN! instead. I liked the article and I got a lot out of it. thanks!

13

wrote …

Mike, congrats on the 13.1, great job. Awesome article, great perspective. Like it has been said and written many times "generally well prepared for the unknown and the unknowable". Very well rounded (with working on your "goats"). Pride is great, to a point.

14

wrote …

That elitist attitude is a constant battle for those of us who are on a pursuit of human excellence. Though there are moments of a "better than others" attitude, in a true constant pursuit of excellence one understands that perfection, though we seek it, is an ideal that can never be attained. When we compare others that we see as less than (or less fit from a CrossFitter's point of view), who do we compare them to? Ourselves, despite the fact that we fall horribly short of that perfect standard as well.

Michael, that article was a breath of fresh air.

15

wrote …

I think you're definitely right, but as much as the community is part of the problem, it also tends to be part of the solution. You mention it- how overzealous newcomers like myself come in with stories about crazy exercises they see and how great CrossFit is for not doing them, and how they get calmly corrected and, eventually, learn about other ways of training.

I don't think we'll ever see the end of the overzealous newcomer, and even the old hands of CrossFit don't seem to mind firing a shot across the bow when they see particularly silly BS. The very existence of "Globo-gym" in the CF vocabulary is indicative of this. CrossFitters are going to make jokes, but often as we blow off steam about other programs or make these jokes, we also have to step back to acknowledge that everyone is doing the best they can to meet their own personal goals, and our job is to educate rather than humiliate. I think you do a great job of this Mike and appreciate the article.

On a side note, as for the bench press guy, if you were working out in the gym peacefully, would you really want a kid half your age coming up to talk to you about "full range of motion?"

16

wrote …

Excellent Article!!

17

wrote …

guilty as charged...thanks for putting this info on the table for me

18

wrote …

Mike,

I'm guilty as charged...sigh. Thank you for reminding me that we are merely students and that fitness is a lifelong lesson. Great article brother.

19

wrote …

finally, someone has spoken. good one!

20

wrote …

Thanks for the great article.

21

Joe Hardy wrote …

Love this article! One thing I have noticed is that a lot of crossfit gyms will say "there are no egos here." Which is true, as long as you are a crossfitter. But, outside the community, crossfitters tend to have a big ego.

I think this can go both ways too. A lot of people think that their program is the best and we are just being jerks by throwing weight around quickly. Explain to man who's doing bench press full range of motion? He probably wouldn't listen. Is it worth the try? Probably not, I've talked to enough non-crossfitters out there to know that if they would be interested in the first place, they would find it on their own. Maybe just tell them, "crossfit.com" That's all that got me started. But I definitely agree with the attitude of not judging other programs and leaving them be.

22

wrote …

Hey Mike,

I'll remember this topic next time we're lifting together and you ask me if I want the pink weights.

Great article!

23

wrote …

Hi Mike,

Great article with a different perspective. Well done. I'll continue showing you how to fish if you continue showing me how to excel at this sport of fitness! Did i say that?!?

24

wrote …

Good perspective. Anyone that has been around CrossFit for a awhile has seen this or done this themselves. I have. Why? Because sometimes we get a bit too caught up in ourselves. In reality, the people we are making fun of are doing the SAME SHIT we use to do in the gyms. Ask any trainer, coach or athlete in CrossFit what they were doing for training beforehand? Bodybuilding, marathons, biking, circuit training? Some may have been lucky to be coached or trained in lifting, gymnastics, track and field and such but most, i predict, were not.

I don't believe this means we need to stop having a sense of humor, but give credit where credit is due. And if you still think your fit, try heading to a gymnastics studio during practice, or a local olympic lifting competition, see what a group of 12-16 year olds can do. Talk about humbling.

25

Brian Bowen wrote …

Mike,

Awesome article...just awesome! You wrote: "I think that part of the problem here is that people that are relatively new to CrossFit go through what seems like an overzealous phase"

I cannot agree with you more. I've gone through that very phase myself; and now that I'm over that phase (thank God) I still see it in a lot of my new members. And to think it was just a mere month or two ago that they were doing the very thing that they now mock.

Thank you for bringing us back down--everyone has different goals, we just need to learn to respect them and move on. I will be sharing this article with my members.

Congrats on your 1/2 marathon (something I need to take on myself)

Brian
CrossFit Ramstein

26

wrote …

Thanks for the article, it's refreshing to step back and put things into perspective.

27

wrote …

excellent topic to bring up, probably more humbling than any workout coach could post for many people. Some of these same ideas come up in the comments for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVBgKB4Gnsw (greg and annie fran) Makes me wonder about our mentality.

28

wrote …

I had the similar experience with run :) 10km cross-country. I finished in 52 minutes second from the end... I was glad I survived and I was at least able to finish it without any running for last 5-6 months so it was kinda success for me.
I just hope that the guys on first place (37 min) is not able to clean, deadlift and squat (otherwise I would be in trouble :)))

29

wrote …

Mike
I think everybody said everything that I wanted to say. I absolutly agree with you. We need to look at people who do things differently than us, whether it be right or wrong, there is always something to learn. When we become arrogant we become blind, we close our mind to different things. What is the saying in LVL 1 Cert "get out of your box or comfort zone". That is how this whole thing started, this program is a "mut" it is a conglomeration of many different techniques and styles. Coach Glassman said it himself if there is something out there that is provable, repeatable and can be measured that will inhance human performance than he would use it. As a crossfiter we should be in what I call "recieve mode" 75% of our time should be spent watching what people do recieving information. and learning from it. The other 25% we teach and encourage. Thanks Mike for the eye opener. Great article.

30

wrote …

Great article, thanks for a different perspective. Also, I applaud the Journal staff for being open-minded enough to publish this article. This kind of openness to constructive criticism will definitely make our community a better one. Thanks Tony.

"As soon as you concern yourself with the 'good' and 'bad' of your fellows, you create an opening for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weakens and defeats you."

-Morihei Ueshiba

31

wrote …

Humility:

"Somewhere in China a twelve year old girl is warming up with your snatch 1RM"

32

wrote …

Thank god for this article! I just saw an NON-crossfitter complain about a girl at his job doing this. Everybody was wrong and she was going to tell them.

I also post on "seen at a Globogym". Thats because there are people Uninformed doing some dumb stuff. Or doing curls in the squat rack. But, like the article said, just because you dont know what they are doing doesnt make it wrong. Do you know how wrong a DB Snatch looks? Or even a push press? If i had seen a push press 5 years ago i would have told the person he was doing it wrong. If i had seen a Kipping pull up i would have screamed! But we practice Kips all the time. Why? Because we do it for a good reason. Just because you dont do it and it looks wrong to you doesnt make it wrong.

Keep your opinion to yourself or ask the person why he/she is doing it. they might give you a good answer.

33

wrote …

Great job Mike. I'm guilty as charged with the "what a waist" mentality. Once I got into CrossFit, I really wished I had found it earlier.

34

wrote …

Good stuff Mike. We need to remember that everybody has their own goals with regard to physical activity. Not everybody wants to be "fit" as we define it. Also, CFers need some perspective - particularly new CFers. We do a hard workout 3-5 x per week for a total of 5 hours with maybe 1.5 to 3 hours of very intense work per week. Many professional and high level amateur athletes do significantly more. They would do CF as THEIR warm-up. Rowers, volleyball players, speed skaters, gymnasts, wrestlers, etc. Check out their training if you want to be humbled. Finally, many people comment on the humility of the elite CF coaches. These people are confident and proud of themselves and this allows them to be focused on others, to be kind and humble. Over time that is where we should all hope to be.

35

wrote …

"I think that part of the problem here is that people who
are relatively new to CrossFit go through what seems
like an overzealous phase. I certainly went through it."

Me too... I think the longer you train CF the more humble you become (or at least that's what happened to me). I know I don't really wear my "pullup bars aren't for stretching" t-shirt anymore...

This article hits the nail on the head- The worst type of arrogance is IGNORANT arrogance, and unfortunately sometimes us CFers are just that.

36

wrote …

Good wake up call to everyone!

37

wrote …

Great message, thanks.

38

wrote …

Very nice article.

Some times we do take it for granted.
Yesterday I ran my 5k with a friend who does not do crossfit, but rather he runs and is a cyclist.

By the end of the very fast 5k, I was totally gassed. Mind you I was extremely happy with my time, he was barely breathing hard... He went on to do an extra 2.5k for time (9mins) and he doesnt do crossfit.

Very nice and very true.

39

wrote …

A very wise man who was once my boss said to me: ". . . education and explanation, opinion and analysis are all important, but at the end of the day there is always the irrefutable logic of results." I have seen a miraculous change in my life that for me is absolutely and exclusively attributable to my 18 months of experience and devotion to the CrossFit program, and perhaps more significantly to my CrossFit trainer and mentor Paul Flores. While I am sold on CrossFit, I am not sure that I would have ever accomplished this without Paul and his humble, encouraging attitude and manner. Bravo to Michael for reminding us that no matter what we believe CrossFit has to offer, more often than not it takes a personal connection and a dose of humility to reach someone.

40

wrote …

Great article, and I think something we should remind ourselves about every once in a while.


In the past I've definitely been guilty of letting my over zealousness spill over to arrogance. These days I try hard to keep it in check and keep my mind open to alternative ideas, its amazing where and from whom one can learn things - although I'd like to find myself in less painful zones of enlightenment than a half marathon :)


Good work Michael

41

Robbie Schulz wrote …

excellent message. I am a CF level 1 instructor and am also a personal trainer at a local all womans gym and deal with this every day. THe more humble and approachable I am the more and more clients I have who work with me and are successful and this is after doing the same gym classes for years. They simply change there routine, balance there hormones (eating clean) and voila! thanks for the reminder to not be judgemental.

42

wrote …

Thank you for the article and the reminder. I think that we in the crossfit community get our nose a little too high in the air sometimes. I have respect for others doing other types of training, weather it be bodybuilding, running, sport specific training, whatever because they are doing it for their own reasons and I came from that background myself, so who am I to judge. I always say at least it is better than nothing. I ran the 5k this morning and I saw an over weight lady walking and I though to myself good for you, because I know that it is hard for her to get up and get moving.

43

wrote …

Wow, I have been waiting for SO long for someone to fully address this issue. I'm new to Crossfit (5 months) and I come from a multisport background (triathlon, Jeet Kune Do, track cycling, rock climbing, acrobatics). I love having my ass handed to me. I love the challenge. I love the sense of community Crossfit provides and most people are very encouraging. But the insults and the arrogance that can be displayed both on CF radio and on the forum takes away from the joy of Crossfit. My mission is to explore and expand my athletic potential and to support others as they do the same. Insults are a bigger waste of energy and time than any exercise you may disapprove of.

Thanks so much for the article Mike.

44

wrote …

Good article Mike!.....Myself and some of my clients were there at the race.....in fact we are standing in the background of the pic of you crossing the finish line.......You did AWESOME!........ I just finished my 1st 1/2 on Sunday.....And I had the same experience.....But it was a great time!......I tell people when they ask me how I train...."Its not for everybody"...."And its not the end all to getting fit"...."I love it (Crossfit) and my clients love It".....Glad to see I'm not alone.

45

wrote …

ouch

My ego expanded about the 5 th week into crossfit. then my coach joined us in a workout. Cool dude, great coach, wonderfull athlete

Very humbling

Thank you Toby for your example as a coach

Thank you Michael for the message

46

wrote …

So glad somebody finally addressed it, and props to CF for putting it in the journal.

47

wrote …

This is yet another example of why the Crossfit community is so great. Kudos to Michael and the commenters.

48

wrote …

Well done, sir, thanks for making a chance to dialogue about this topic. I particularly appreciate your point about the support you were given by the running community. I have seen, and would like to think, that CFers are as good at supporting each other.

A question - is it more arrogant to have a private laugh about watching someone else doing something we once did but which looks foolish to us now, or to offer to 'help' someone and explain why what they are doing is 'wrong'? I think the former is better - but I also think it creates an opportunity for mis-interpretation. My ethic is that I do not let myself indulge in advice in a workout setting unless I am asked. Offering unsolicited advice is virtually always not ‘helping.’

Globo gym - the term is pejorative for a reason. The old business model for these gyms was to deliberately recruit more members than could possibly train in the gym based on the certainty that, due to the lack of results, despite the huge financial commitment members would not spent many days in the globo. That model was also based on the idea that it was better to provide thousands of square feet of relatively pointless, non-results producing equipment, than to keep qualified, well trained staff employed who could actually teach functional movement. I do not apologize for my condemnation of that business model. I believe it is an example of something that is 'wrong.' The pejorative term 'globo gym' is not a condemnation of clients who try to get fit in a bad setting, it is a condemnation of owners who try and build a business on the ignorance of those same clients. I also think that CrossFit is building a pressure in the market place that will force change in the globo business model, and I'm proud of that.

The other reason Globo gym has become a pejorative term is the tendency of Globo gyms to view CFers with hostility. They have every right to set the terms of use for their facility, and enforce them. I don't have to like how they do business, nor speak well of them, given their ignorance based hostility to functional fitness movements.

These are small points in the grand scheme of a very well framed message. I fully agree with Mike that arrogance serves no one well, but there is a place for critical thinking. It is necessary and not always “nice.”

To those who say this perspective is a surprise or a welcome change – I’m surprised at your surprise. I have seen over the last two plus years many humble, proud and good hearted folks who struggle with the issue of CF’s tendency towards elitism. This community is very, very transparent, allows almost unlimited criticism within the message boards and on the daily comments, and so far as I can tell, makes little or no effort to ‘control’ or ‘police’ the message of the community beyond certain personal attacks. Mike’s done us the service of preparing a Journal worthy piece, but the topic’s not new.

Coach has stated on tape he has no value judgment of those who choose a specialization vice broad, general, inclusive fitness. That’s not in conflict with his vociferous condemnation of those who sell specialization while calling it fitness, don't bother to quantify what they mean by fitness, then condemn CrossFit, and do so without measurable, observable, repeatable data.

Humility is a gift one gives to oneself, and I plan to give it to myself one day. I think I'll enjoy it very much. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy my 'legend in my own mind' status which is a useful crutch for one without the courage to really embrace humility. Paul

49

wrote …

Mike-
Great article and not to beat the dead horse but it does provide insight as to why others do not always take to "that workout stuff" we do. Many of my closest friends think I am weird and just like to punish myself with the rx'd work outs. My approach has not been the most humble and reserve, as that is not my normal way of acting, but I am humbled everyday when I see the performances posted on the main site. Maybe if I came with a better approach they would try it out, ease into it and realize the general all around benefits of this system.
This article is a great reminder of where we all have been and that our choice is just that, our choice. We should be ambassadors of what we have come to love not critics and nay-sayers of everything else.
I am FINALLY attending the Level 1 cert next weekend and reading this before was just what I needed. I think this would definitely benefit all Crossfitters, especially those that have just guzzled the kool aid and are breathing fire!

50

wrote …

What a great article. It's good to read something like this. The truth is I have felt similarly in this regard and it always disappoints me when i talk to people about what i do and they reply "o your a crossfitter, I don't like crossfitters, every single one that i've met thinks that they are the be all and end all of working out." The person who said this to me was a strong man athlete, athletes for whom i have tremendous amount of respect for and are incredible athletes. I asked him about what type of training he did on a daily basis. After hearing the rigours he goes through to be a strongman athlete i could in no way shape or form say that i was in anyway superior or more capable as an athlete than he was.

I can also say that i've been guilty of judging crossfit as a weird program that has no structure and makes no sense. As i previously was a bodybuilder, i loved bicep curls and tricep push downs. They served as a means to my end of being bigger far better than crossfit could have. Crossfit has not given me bigger arms or better abs, but what it has given me is a different way to workout and a quantifiable way to view my progression. I thoroughly enjoy the intensity and i relish in the pain that i feel afterward and for those reasons i love and will continue to train via the wod. However i will always feel that there are better ways of achieving specific results than through crossfit and that is something i think many people forget.

51

wrote …

Great article, it's about time someone said this. CrossFit isn't exempt from criticism either. It's just another "way". Find your own way, don't get trapped in any one way.

52

William Fairchild wrote …

Like Katey (#46) said above, it is awesome that CrossFit put this in the Journal. The "what a waste" response to seeing someone jogging really hit the nail on the head for me. It is easy to fall into the "your workout is our warm-up" mentality. Once you "drink the kool-aid" it is so hard to see things the way you used to. So many of us wish we would have discovered this 10 or 20 years ago, that it's hard to get over how blind you were in your former fitness efforts. Like many others have written above, the CF trainers maintain their humility so well while being off-the-chart fit examples of the results of CF. As Coach Glassman writes about success: people instinctively recognize virtuosity and want to be a part of it.

53

wrote …

I think you're being overly sensitive. "Seen at the globo" has a target audience, and that audience is crossfitters. And as such, it is a place for us to laugh at the "silly bullshit" we see other people do. There's nothing wrong with that. If the target audience were the people doing the "silly bullshit," then the tone would be completely different. In fact, it would look like the "Starting" forum, and people would be offering help to those confused people. The people who actually denigrate the butt of these jokes to their face are few and far between, and do so likely due to a personal character flaw having nothing to do with crossfit. There are also plenty of people, in and out of that thread, who poke fun at their current or former selves, and plenty of people eager to jump in and explain the viability of some supposed "silly bullshit." I've never experienced a kinder, more supportive, more helpful community than the crossfit one, but I also hope it never loses its sense of humor.

54

replied to comment from Ryan Jones

I think you missed the point. It is not that we shouldn't laugh at silly bs people do in the globo. The point is that some people in that thread you mentioned have made fun of people doing things that are completely legitimate. Nothing wrong with laughing, I do it plenty. I can laugh at myself too. You can't tell me how super supportive people are in the Starting thread. They get ripped on way more than should happen.

55

replied to comment from Sean Murray

Sean, Are you willing to point me to an example of what you mean by people getting ripped on in the starting thread? Want to make sure I know what you mean. Thanks, Paul

56

replied to comment from Apollo Swabbie

Sorry about that. I should clarify that I feel people being told to immediately search for an answer by vets that have been on the board for many many posts need to just keep quiet and stay away from those posts. It's kind of off of the subject a bit, but I thought I'd bring it up since Ryan thought that people were so completely understanding on the CF message boards. My apologies for even replying like that.

57

wrote …

One question I continually wrestle with that this article brings to mind: Is it elitist to make the claim that the winner of the 200_ CrossFit Games is the Fittest Male/Female on the Planet?

My instinct is yes, it's elitist although maybe not absurd.

Think of all the professional and Olympic athletes who did not compete. Or all of those with an enormous amount of natural ability who have never even heard of CrossFit. Or those who may not even have access to crossfit.com but still have to be incredibly fit to survive each day. There must be SOMEONE out there who is more fit than any of us.

But how would we know?

This is why although it's elitist to say without a doubt Jason Khalipa and Caity Matter are the current fittest man and woman on the planet, it's certainly reasonable to put them in the running (along with James Fitzgerald and Jolie Gentry, for that matter). I can make that statement because of two essential things Coach Glassman has contributed to the world of fitness: 1) a definition of fitness, and 2) a way to measure it.

So while four events in two days with the prerequisite of simply knowing about the event may not forever resolve the question of who is fittest, it certainly deserves the world's attention.

One more point: If I say that the Games is an imperfect measurement of the world's fittest humans, then it's on me to come up with a better one. I cannot. So even if it is imperfect, it's perhaps the best (only?) one out there. And if the whole world competed, there would be nothing elitist about claiming that only the fittest will emerge as the winners.

58

wrote …

Also, this has been discussed ad nauseum on the boards, and I don't think it should be discussed further. Again, shouldn't have brought it up.

59

replied to comment from Sean Murray

No, the Starting forum isn't perfect. A criticism of that board would be far more appropriate as people can be rude to their audience at times there. In it's defense, this is the internet, it brings out the worst in people. That said, this is the most civil message board I have ever experienced by far. Also, in the real world, I've never experienced anything remotely like what the journal article would have you believe is a pervasive elitism.

If someone mistakenly calls "silly bullshit" on an odd, valid exercise, people are ever eager to point out that person's mistake, and they do, and in one fell swoop that person (and everyone laughing along with him) has learned something and been humbled. Seems fine to me...

60

wrote …

Great article. This was timely and well-written.

61

wrote …

I really enjoyed this article alot. I am a distance runner that comes from a fantastic community of supportive and encouraging friends. I am also a crossfitter now for 8 months from a gym of incredibly supportive and encouraging friends. What I am noticing is that the two groups seem to be at odds with each other. I have recently taken the endurance cert and am finding my own way to train...the proof will be in my own personal results. I am however feeling tonnes of pressure from the CF folks to live up to the hype of CFE and alot of pressure from my running friends to see how this works out. I consistanly find myself defending why I am still running now that I am a crossfitter.

while I am fairly competitive at the CF gym, I continually get my ass handed to me in races, as recent as last weekend. I do not and will not snub my nose to anyone who can lay down very impressive results in a sport or activity they are equally passionate about as crossfitters are.

crossfit is an amazing program and I am very thankful I have found it...but lets face it folks...there is a great big world out there that we should be very respectful of.

62

wrote …

Finally. Thank you for addressing what I've seen as an elephant in the room. I have loved and learned so much from Crossfit over the last 6 years. I always enjoyed the straight talk from Coach Glassman, his words would often convey pointed disdain for other peoples' ideas of fitness, he would tear them up but always back up his arguments with solid reasoning. It is in this lack of reasoning and deep understanding that other fitness ideas would fall short.

It is the intelligence and commitment to excellence that Crossfit has stood for that has kept me devotedly following since 2003.

The one thing that taints my affinity to Crossfit is this vein of arragance that seems to run through the community in recent years. This "I'm better than you. Look! you can't do this! I can!" attitude that is written all over so many T shirts out there. To me it says, "I'm a douche bag". I don't think it's funny to have T shirts that basically say "screw you if you don't/can't do what I do". It just dumbs down such a wonderful, smart community.

To me this attitude is a scar on a system that glows with integrity and character. I want to be proud of this system for the high standards it commits to and the principles it is built on not for a community of adolescents who seem to think it makes them cooler when they swear more, wear an offensive shirt, and act cocky. Crossfit is so much bigger than that and deserves to be treated with humility and dignity.

63

Steven Caddy wrote …

I have several friends who aren't interested in trying CrossFit because of what they've perceived to be arrogant or elitist behavior in CrossFitters they've either met or watched on video. It's a real shame. One of the things that really drew me in when I discovered this program three years ago was the humility, humor and no-nonsense approach that people brought to incredible workloads. Quiet giants like Annie S, Eva T, Nicole, Dutch, Greg A, Kelly S and Adrian Bozman set a kind of example that I've always admired:

1. Demonstration of fierce internal drive through action, not bragging or dismissal.
2. Humility and respect for those around them. Being good means you don't need to shoot your mouth off.

CrossFit has the potential to both open and close eyes to the training of others. Don't choose to be the type of CrossFitter who believes that their's is the 'one true way'. Be the type of CrossFitter whose training brings an understanding empathy to just how impressive single-discipline performances are. CrossFit at its best can awaken a person to appreciate the grit of rowers, the power of Olympic lifters, the control of gymnasts, the accuracy of archers, the determination of Ironmen and the heart of anyone who tries their Goddamn best at anything. Positivity is contagious.

Be good at everything and inspired by everyone.

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wrote …

There's a term for it. It's called "The zeal of the converted." It happens all over the place, in all sorts of pursuits. It's no coincidence that it carries religious overtones.

Crossfit is no different. It's human nature.

The deep humility and kindness toward others you see from so many elite Crossfitters is an expression of their confidence and character.


Can you describe Nirvana to those who have never experienced it? It is something that comes from within. All you can do is show the uninitiated the path. You cannot make them take the first steps to true enlightenment.

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Glenn Siegrist wrote …

Good stuff.
A-B-C, 1-2-3 Safety, Teamwork set the example high.

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Erik Preston wrote …

Finally...

67

wrote …

Michael, excellent article!

Thanks for writing.

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wrote …

Thanks for the article Mike. It's a great perspective.

The whole thing about "walking a mile in someone's shoes" really hits home here. I was told about CorssFit by my sister for three months but I didn't check it out until I did a workout with her. I feel that the best way to get people on board is to have them workout with me now. I also know that there are a lot of aspects of fitness out there that if I work out with someone (distance over 10k, rowing, swimming, heavy lifting) I have a lot to learn from their specialty.

The closing scene of Dodgeball says it pretty well,
"here at Average Joe's, we think you are OK the way you are, but if you want to lose a few pounds, we'll help you out."
In the background, someone is doing pullups =)

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wrote …

Excellent article. I've been Crossfitting for about 18 months and have caught myself making fun of some things too. Then, just as you stated in the article, a little voice in my head would tell me "at least they're doing something and that's better than nothing".

I've had my ass handed to me in the swimming pool I don't know how many times because I just don't crank out the laps while some old guy keeps rolling like jaws. Great perspective that we all should keep. I will say I love some of the t-shirts, but only the ones that remind me that I, too am susceptible to the free refills of whoop ass!

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Joseph Mccaffrey wrote …

Being strong and humble is very powerful, as is leading by example. Excellent article Mike - thanks for helping us all keep perspective. I suspect your one of those leading by example.

And Johanna that Dodgeball quote is great.

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wrote …

Nicely put. I couldn't agree more.

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wrote …

Look at me: my ****fill in the blank**** is better than yours. Crossfit can be that superior thing in peoples' minds, but it certainly doesn't have to be. I prefer to think of it as the clean bill of health I get from the doctor or the heavy object I lift at work without hurting my back.

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Boris Terzic wrote …

Good article, we need to keep a level head about us.

I've encountered a crossfitter at the gym where I work, I work at a Globo as a trainer. He was doing one of the Girls with very poor form in his swings as well as the kipping pull-up. I won't go into detail but it is the kind of stuff you wouldn't want posted on You-Tube under Crossfit.

I approached him after his workout and offered a helpful tip on the Swing form. Before I could disclose that I was a crossfit instructor, he told me that he knew what he was doing and I wouldn't have any idea because he wasn't interested in "machines" and biceps.

Well of course this is not a vast majority of the community but it does show the arrogance some of us get.

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replied to comment from Apollo Swabbie

I think Apollo hit it on the head

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wrote …

I love it!! Crossfit will be spread faster and be more widely accepted through goodwill and humility. No one wants to hear they've been throwing away time for years. "Let me know when you get bored, I'll show you something cool." goes a lot further than,"that way sucks, my ways better." Wonderful insight.

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wrote …

If you're really good at what you do no matter what it is, then you don't have to tell anyone how good you are. Why not succeed with humbleness and humility and let your actions speak for themselves? We all win with Crossfit whether it's a 3 minute Fran, our first muscle up or simply making it to a class for the first time.

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wrote …

Great article - It is interesting that some amazing CrossFit instructors are the most humble, even though they can kick all of our asses. Maybe we should take thier lead and follow thier example.

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Daetan Huck wrote …

Great article, Houghton! I'm really glad that you brought our communal arrogance to the light. I've seen these sentiments in other Crossfitters and within myself and I've struggled with a way to address it; is it right to crack private jokes and act elitist? You deftly answered both of those questions: no, it isn't. You're right that, to the rest of the world, CrossFit is merely another fitness methodology and we'd do well to remember it!

79

wrote …

Nice article Michael!!! Thanks for humbling us back to what crossfit is all about. Not just about FORGING ELITE FITNESS but forging good sportsmanship.

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wrote …

Great article, thanks.

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wrote …

Well said, we need more meekness in Crossfit. You will never be great at anything unless you help someone along the way. God Bless.

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