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What Is CrossFit? An Interview with Fast Company Magazine by Greg Glassman - CrossFit Journal

In Basics, CrossFit, CrossFit Games, Videos

September 20, 2011

Video Article

At the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games, CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman sat down with Fast Company Magazine to define CrossFit.

He first defines CrossFit as “constantly varied, high-intensity functional movement.”

Says Glassman: “One of the things that we’ve done that I think is critical to our success and perhaps unique to our effort even is that we’ve been very, very clear about, from the outset, defining terms.”

Glassman expands his explanation by defining functional movements through scientific means: “universal motor-recruitment patterns.”

“These things are unique in their ability to express power,” he says.

The importance of functional movements, says Glassman, is that “they will determine in no small measure the quality of your life moving forward.”

Glassman, however, has always preferred demonstration to explanation and tries to get people to experience CrossFit for themselves.

5min 35sec

Additional reading: What Is CrossFit? by Greg Glassman, published March 1, 2004.

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12 Comments on “What Is CrossFit? An Interview with Fast Company Magazine”


wrote …

That's what I like most about CrossFit is the "functional movement" aspect of the training. Who cares about bicep curls or any exercise that isolates one specific muscle? Thank goodness Greg put it all together.


Great piece. I always try to steal your description of functionality for the "old" person, when people tell me that either "crossfit is too hard/intense" or that they "need to get in shape before starting CrossFit". I try to impart, in a much less clear way than you, the importance of starting functional movements ASAP. I love your comparison to the bicep curls and lateral raises, I tell my students to try and fill their backpacks and lat raise or bicep curl them, as opposed to the way the typically lift them, which is a deadlift/clean hybrid. The amazement on their faces when I tell them that everyday they are doing a functional movement underload is neat to watch.
I love listening to you talk about this stuff. Very eloquent, concise, super clear!


wrote …

A concise or revised definition for “functional movement” is warranted. Functional movement is touted as one of the keys to success for those who follow the Crossfit program.
The current definition, frequently asked for, is unclear and is often stated by what functional movement is not. The exclusionary definition of not “bicep curls” or “lat raises” because you wouldn't see someone doing them in the “real world” often fails when we see the toes-to-bar or handstand workouts. Which movement pattern is more often used in the “real world”?


wrote …

Great Coach, Lat raises and bicep curls won't keep people out of care homes. Teaching people to Deadlift will.


wrote …

Without worrying whether toes to bar is a good representation of functional movement, the reality is that if I had known, and been able to express, the Crossfit foundations to my 90 yer old mother, perhaps she would not be in a nursing home, or at least delayed the day that she lost 'functional movement'.

I will not make the same mistake.


Zach Even - Esh wrote …

Coach - awesome, Dude! I like when we get vids of you on the journal, I think a lil' more would be cool, just random thoughts, nothing in particular, but it's always great to hear your thoughts!

Hope you're GREAT!


wrote …

Should we just call it what it is?
"Work capacity measured against broad time and modal domain"

"Constantly varied high intensity functional movement" is not well defined or perhaps accurate.

High Intensity should be clarified by calling it power. How much time does it take to get a certain amount of work performed; power.

Functional movement should be refined to those movements that allow for high power output.
An argument could be made that a movement does not have to have a high power output in order to be functional, it is therefore inaccurate to use it in that context.

These movements would necessarily be compound movements to allow for maximal average power output. This is where you can make a case to exclude bicep curls or lat raises, on the power output argument not the functional argument.


wrote …

Love the way you articulate the description of CrossFit.


wrote …

Is an l-sit hold a functional movement under that definition? If so, how? If not, what was it doing at the crossfit games?


wrote …

Great interview. Love the example of pulling mom off the floor... haha.

LOVE the can of coors light on the table. This is a symbol of something I've always loved about the CrossFit community, that is the attitude that what we are "selling" is right and we don't really care if you don't like it. It's not so much arrogance as it is confidence.

The comments on the main page that "it's free" sum it up well too. But I especially like the symbols, those being things like the beer can on the table. Yeah, we drink beer, we're not going to hide it from an interview just because it's not PC to drink alcohol, my oh my what would the kids think dear... Or another symbolic thing is the lack of censoring in both the comments (which there've been plenty of examples) and the videos. I LOVE that the videos are all uncensored. It's real dammit, and if you don't like it, go buy P90X and stay in your basement.

Long live CrossFit! (and me along with it)


wrote …

Great article. Not only do I completely agree with coach Glassman's
Definitions, but I'm amazed at how he still has to explain to people
What CrossFit encompasses. But, I have to constantly argue and explain
To others in the military of all places, so I can only imagine what the last twenty years have been like
For coach and others "selling" and convincing others on true fitness.
Thanks coach.


wrote …

N Selemon -

In response to your comment about toes-to-bar or handstand workouts...

All WODs are scalable. These athletes, like so many other CrossFitters are elite athletes. And gymnastics is a part of CrossFit. If you can't do toes-to-bar and handstand push-ups then your WOD would be scaled to sit-ups and pushups.

... Besides what fun would the games be if we watched everyone do sit-ups and push-ups till they puked. That would take a very long time and be very boring to watch.

The best way to explain CrossFit is to put them through it. I have a feeling the guy from Fast Company Magazine hadn't at the time of this interview. What a shame!

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