Talk Is Cheap

By Mike Warkentin

In CrossFit

May 23, 2011

PDF Article

Mike Warkentin asks what happens when hard-charging CrossFitters run into gym socialites looking for a conversation.

CrossFit is changing gym culture—that’s obvious.

With new affiliates springing up everywhere, entire islands of CrossFit exist where people can fling chalk around like it’s flour on the set of Jackass and hear not one trainer complain. These boxes are loud, rugged and Spartan—the antithesis of the modern fitness facility.

As garage beautiful as a fully outfitted box can be, many CrossFitters don’t have access to one and are forced to pursue their version of fitness in traditional gyms where most of the equipment has a built-in chair. These athletes are a lot like covert operatives doing devious shit deep behind enemy lines, and the possibility of capture and punishment or expulsion is often very real.

Nevertheless, as people discover our program, fewer power cages are used for biceps curls and more and more facilities are filled with loud crashes instead of the sounds of plate stacks sliding on oiled rails.

And there’s less talking—thankfully.



25 Comments on “Talk Is Cheap ”


wrote …

Love it Mike...perfect. In fact, I bet at most CF boxes you can find a person or two that hasn't quite figured this out yet...they learn quickly though!


wrote …

Excellent article. I think I'm going to have a few of those t-shirts printed.


wrote …

My T-Shirts say "Shut up and Train" and "Squat til you puke" Both made by the Animal stack folks. They've stopped more than one would-be chatter.


wrote …

GREAT ARTICLE! Good approaches.

I seriously could have used a few of these shirts while using the local YMCA. Now that I'm out in my own garage or backyard, it's No Shirt, No Shoes Required, thank you very much.

I feel for the CF folks that try to use more than one machine/station at a time in a GloboGym. I've interrupted them myself un-intentionally back at the YMCA. Boy, was she torqued! Diplomatic, too. Hopefully she, like I, moved home or to local CF box and didn't give up the good fight.


wrote …

I thought that the title of this article was appropriate to make this post which I recently discovered today.

(As a note of interest, Mel Siff PhD, whom we often
respect and admire, holds his atherosclerotic disease
and subsequent heart attack as anecdotal evidence of
the contention that fitness and health are not necessarily
linked because of his regular training and “good diet”.
When we researched his dietary recommendations we
discovered that he advocates a diet ideally structured for
causing heart disease—low fat/high carb. Siff has fallen
victim to junk science!)

[*** Mel Siff: While I have cited my own case to show that one can be apparently very fit aerobically and anaerobically, I certainly did not use that one case study to prove my point. I noted that the medical profession as a whole has dealt with many others like me (others I mentioned recently included James Fixx and Ed Burke, Boston Celtic Reggie Lewis, Olympic figure skater Sergei Grinko, as well as several young sports stars suffering from HCM) - I would be a totally unscientific simpleton to use a sample size of 1 to prove a point, so a remark like that seriously misrepresents me.

Interestingly, I cannot recall anyone by the name of Glassman ever staying in the Siff household or studying me in the laboratory to examine my eating habits, so I am intrigued to know where he found this inside information. The abbreviated tale of my cardiac rehab programme
( certainly said nothing about my specific breakdown of macronutrients in my diet.

Had he read a little more carefully what I wrote, he would have noticed that my diet comprises something like 50-60% lipids (no fried foods, no transfats, no animal fat, plenty of fish) and under 30% carbohydrates (no refined carbs) and hasn't deviated much from that sort of balance for many years - I have never been a lover of high carb diets and have eaten little or no sugar
(other than about 1-2 tablespoons of honey or a few servings of fruit a day). Where on earth does he obtain that nonsense from about my diet?

Most important, I would like to know what "junk science" I have fallen prey to - in fact I find that remark very insulting and inappropriate, especially since it seems to be based solely on sheer opinion. So, I fully expect Glassman to elaborate via a letter to this list what this alleged "junk
science" is. Maybe if he really would like to find out more about my lifestyle, he could attend one of my Supertraining Camps and learn a great deal more about what a far wider spectrum of scientists think about fitness! He could also test his "fitness" to cope with very hot and very cold water in our restoration facility (hot temp for the "fitter" is about 112-114F), but I noticed that his CrossFit system does not directly condition one to cope with environmental extremes or high levels of pain that many of us have to cope with medically at some stage of our lives :)

Take it for what you will.


wrote …

And my personal favorite T-shirt message: "You can stare. Just don't interrupt."

I train some of the time in a globo gym, and people pretty much leave me alone while I'm working out. This may have something to do with my appearance, which is almost exactly as Mike described himself in the article -- hat down low, no eye contact, earbuds blasting, sweat and chalk everywhere (although I am fanatical about always cleaning up after myself). And I'm lucky because gym management knows me and is completely tolerant of all my CF antics and bringing odd pieces of my own equipment into the gym, etc.

What gets me is how often people will ask after I'm done "Dude, what kind of workout is that?" or "What kind of diet do you follow?" and I'm always happy to talk about those things and I never miss a chance to say "If you want to try it, just let me know the next time you see me and you can train with me." But I've never had anyone take me up on it!


replied to comment from Bill Maynard

I think people are afraid of what we do.


replied to comment from Joy Lydia Serrian

There's another possibility.

Here's an interesting quote: "Everyone thinks it's so hard to get ahead, but it's not, because most people are lazy." This is from Don Wildman, 75-year-old ultra badass who founded the chain of gyms that eventually became Bally Total Fitness.

Maybe he's on to something...


Jesse Gray wrote …

I have an idea, maybe a person doing Crossfit in a globo gym could stop taking themselves way too seriously and just be nice. Being intense doesn't mean you have to be a dick. When I'm pushing myself to the limit I'm typically in a pretty good mood and if someone taps me on the shoulder during the last 100m of a 2K row the fact is, it doesn't really matter. Was my workout ruined because I only went hard for 1920m instead of the full 2K? Of course not and the bottom line is that the best 2K I'll ever pull in my life will be nowhere near that of a truly elite athlete and if I miss a "PR" by a couple seconds it's just not that big of a deal. So, who cares, enjoy your WOD, smile and just try being nice because guess what, even if you squat 400lbs that's really not a lot of weight by strong people standards. Stop being so damn serious.


wrote …

+1 on Jesse Gray's comment.


wrote …

The second paragraph made me smile. I'm headed to the gym this morning on a Naval Base in Italy, and that paragraph summed up exactly how I feel while I crank out WODS there (the Navy "doesn't recognize CF," I've been informed.)

Also, great comment Jesse Gray. I had a woman stop me the other day to ask about my Five Fingers. I took guilty pleasure in secretly welcoming the break, smiled, answered her questions, and got right back to my T2B. At a military base, most people (with exception to the pesky staff) who have an inquiry during my workouts are intrigued by what they see. I'm delighted to facilitate converts!


wrote …

I hate this crap. This is why a lot of people think Crossfitters are assholes. This holier-than-thou, conceited, and rude attitude is unbearable at times.

There seem to be some genuinely nice people involved with Crossfit, but occasionally it's hard to believe. Do you people doing Crossfit in 'globogyms' get thrown out because of the programming or because the gym doesn't want them? Having to start your own club because none of the established places don't like you isn't necessarily a good thing. I've crossfitted at countless non-cf gyms and never been asked to leave, but I tend to smile. Weird.

Jesse Gray, I totally agree.


Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

I worked as a trainer in a globo gym for 8 years. I discovered CrossFit and started doing it in the gym i worked in. Lots of people asked about it and before long half the members was doing box jumps, swinging kettlebells and trying 'Fran'
I then did what any self respecting trainer that loves CrossFit should do. I opened a box right next door and took 50 people with me:)
There is nothing wrong with being nice to people and answering a simple question. At times it can be irritating but if you handle it correctly you could end up converting the whole gym to CrossFit!
Most CrossFitters came from Globo gym culture and we can laugh at it now but if you get a chance to 'convert' someone then please take that opportunity.
I've often seen posts on the mainsite and the journal about CrossFitters and their elitest attitude. I am yet to meet a CrossFitter that hasn't been a wonderful person to meet. I have met CrossFitters from all over the world, U.S.A,Canada, U.K, Ireland, Germany, Finland, Australia and everyone one of them have been lovely people. Intenet forums sem to bring out the worst in people sometimes. Take what's written with a pinch of salt. You might meet that person someday and discover they are very friendly and that you have a lot more in common than you think!


wrote …

I loved this article! I've been doing CrossFit for two years and my training happens in the back yard, or a small globo gym near by. It's the best hour of my day.

I have yet to meet a CrossFitter who doesn't jump at the opportunity to preach to anyone who will listen about the benefits of the program. But not in the middle of a heavy back-squat, or while doing a 2k row. Jesse Gray, you're a nicer person than me because I would literally die of astonishment if someone tapped on my shoulder during the last 80 meters! However to quote Mike Warkentin, "When I'm done I'm happy to talk about CrossFit, squats and dead-lifts".

No matter where we train, we owe it to ourselves to hit every workout with intensity. I respect my fellow gym-goers for doing whatever it is they do, bicep curls, half-squats you name it. I'm honestly not that invested in the people around me when I'm trying to break my squat record. It might not be heavy according to strong people standards, but it's my best effort and I need my space:)

I haven't been kicked out of the globo gym yet for doing CrossFit, but I'm not allowed to drop my rubber bumper plates on the floor anymore so the olympic lifting happens in the backlane. I tried smiling while I pleaded with the gym manager to let me lift, but it didn't pan out. Weird. I'm pretty cute too!

Happy Training!


wrote …

Exactly the way I want my training. Shut up and let me get my shit done!! I'm not there for a good time... I'm there to embrace the suck and get my ass kicked! Talk to me afterwards!


wrote …

There's got to be a distinction made between someone asking about workout methodology and someone who wants to chat about the weather or make lewd comments about a "hot chick". I wear the T-shirts for the latter and haven't noticed any change in the attitudes of the genuinely curious; except maybe that they appreciate the sentiment.


wrote …

The way I see it. If you wanna be all antisocial and shit, why not just build your own home gym? There you go, problem solved, nobody to bother you. If you have kids you can just convert your basement into a gym and lock the door while you train. It really isn't that expensive to make your own sandbags, med balls, kegs are practically given away, and people actually want you to take their tires. A little ingenuity wouldn't hurt people. In the meantime you could do your massive calisthenics movements, buy one of those snazzy pull up bars that fit on a door frame and you'll be all set. The next step would be to save your money for a bar and a set of plates and you're good to go. I realize that this doesn't work well for people who live in apartments. Oh well...

William Ortiz
Crossfit Riverdale


wrote …

Work out in my back yard with my own bumpers as much as I can. But, do go to Lifetime with some frequency - especially when I want to incorporate a C2 into my WOD.

Never really have issues with anyone. Never expected to have issues either. The content of this article is foreign to me.



wrote …

I'm a globo-gym trainer, and a crossfitterr. I hate when crossfitters come to our gym and think they run crap, cuz i havent seen half of them at the boxes in my area? i love it, elitist attitude gets you nowhere in this community. news flash, you suck, and 95% of you will never make it to games/regionals! sorry! and thats what i tell myself when people really think they are better than the rest!


wrote …

I work overseas. The embassy that employs me was "generous" enouh to set up a state of the art gym.

.....Sure I am thankful we have a gym- however; I only have ONE hour to sepend at that wonderful gym full of machines that often get in the way.
I "chose" to use my lunch hour to get my WOD in- but when I have idiots every two minutes asking what I'm doing..It eats up the precious time I've rightfully earned. EVERY SINGLE DAY I look forward to getting my ass kicked by a Cyndy a Murph, Nasty Girls, and many others - - instead I get the "hens" that run around the gym laughing and "talking" about working out....
Does it look like I want to talk about my day? NO...does it look like I'm interested in your work out? NO. Does a gym look like a bar? NO. so people should mind and respect the time you spend at the gym...
We may not make it to regionals... hell; we may not even make it through the end of one of the WOD's on time...but we are there to try for the day, to sweat and hurt for that moment, it will not make us heros, it will not make us Spartans...but it sure as hell will make us healtier in the mind and body...especially if there are ZERO interruptions with non-sense and bullshit!


replied to comment from Leigh Stepanian

You are a pompous ass. Funny, I've never seen your name in the top 5 at the Games. Are you therefore part of the 95% who won't make it to the games? What are your stats? What aspect of your training do you pride yourself on? Do you think you're hot shit because of your strength or your speed? Please educate us on how to train people since you obviously know better what with your stable of Olympians and World Record holding powerlifters and professional athletes!


wrote …

you have humor. I like that!
Thanks for the laughs. :D


wrote …

I belong to a Globo Gym and love it.
Trust me, I'm as intense as you can get, I dry heave every workout. But I don't need to scream or drop the weight when doing heavy deadlifts. People don't bother me when I do my turkish getups, box jumps, ropes. But I do enjoy interacting with others especially those that share my enthusiasm, whether they are lifters, swimmers, or basketball players. I try not to judge others, if some aren't motivated, so what, not my problem.


wrote …

Perhaps since we're so immersed in CF and the CF culture, and we take working out as seriously as we do, we expect others to have strong reactions to our type of workouts, when the truth is, most people don't give a shit about you or your workout.

I just left a CF box and signed up at the YMCA. I was definitely hesitant. But I asked before signing up if oly lifting and CF workouts were okay, and the guy said, "Of course." I took the advice I found on another forum, just to be nice to the other people working out, and to the trainers. So far so good. Today I squatted heavy, did a WOD with C&J, burpees, and plank holds. I say hi to the trainers and I ditch the attitude. Trainers say hi back, people are nice - what more do I want. I'm surprised to hear about people interrupting them during a WOD. My experience is that most people seem oblivious to what's going on around them, including me and my "elite" workout. I guess I'm not just not as important to these people as I expected, nor is my workout, and the potential conflict is in my head.

I'm not sure if people will hate on you because you WOD, but a lot of people will be glad to hate on you, and your workout, if you're a pompous dick - guaranteed.


wrote …

This quote "I had the Slayer cranked as high as it would go, hoping it was both audible and offensive to the other people in the gym." almost had me stop reading the article.

I am enjoying everything about CF at the moment. I work out at home because family life and shift work mean I need to, but am looking at the local box with more interest as my want for more diverse workouts increases. In my opinion, if ANYONE behaves with an intention to cause offence to other people in their immediate vicinity then they deserve the "Dick" title they will inevitably get.

I have a friend who is a "CF Elitist", always spruiking about it like they are selling a product or their version of "The Book".

Tolerance needs to be a staple of life, not just gyms or workout disciplines.

Good luck to all on your next WOD!

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