August 08, 2009
Russell Berger, one of CrossFit’s top athletes, attends a Gym Jones seminar and tries to keep an open mind—but he’s left wondering about the substance of the program.
This is the story of my experience at Gym Jones, but the real story is a lot bigger than me.
The story of my love affair with increased work capacity is pretty typical. I started following the CrossFit main-site WODs and saw astounding results within a few weeks. But it wasn’t long before I again ran into that other website: GymJones.com.
Gym Jones is owned by Mark Twight, a 47-year-old veteran mountain climber of considerable accomplishment. Maybe something about my leaving the Army and enrolling in a public college made me appreciate Twight’s unapologetic elitism. Or maybe I just dug the stark black-and-white photography. Whatever it was, Twight’s intentional concealment of his methods added to the attraction. I quit following the CrossFit main-site WODs in the summer of 2007 and began my own regimen based on the few clues Twight disclosed on his website.
Soon after, I started having doubts about my new methods. I began sticking to the CrossFit main site, and a year later, I still couldn’t answer a basic question: “What is Gym Jones?” By that time I was the owner of a CrossFit affiliate in Huntsville, Alabama. But I was still curious about Gym Jones. When the CrossFit Journal offered to pay my $1,800 registration fee for a Gym Jones Athletic Development Seminar, I jumped at the opportunity.
Twight’s pitch was simple: CrossFit has problems. We found them, and we can show you how to get around them.
Unfortunately, I’d never noticed these problems. If Twight’s system really does produce higher levels of general physical preparedness and more successful athletes, he only has one thing to do: show the world. So far, he hasn’t.
Does this mean that Gym Jones doesn’t improve the performance of their athletes? Not at all. But until Twight or someone else can produce athletes with greater GPP than their CrossFitting peers, I’ll be sticking to the CrossFit main-site WODs.