Classical CrossFit

By Craig Nelson

In The CrossFit Life

April 12, 2012

PDF Article

Craig Nelson asks us to take a break from Eminem and DMX to try a WOD with the OGs of music: Brahms, Bach and Tchaikovsky.

There are many things I love about CrossFit, and a few things I hate. Among the latter are, of course, burpees. But everyone hates burpees. But I have a particular loathing for something I suspect is loved, or at least liked, by most: the music.

My problem with the music is clearly my problem. It derives inevitably from the disconnect between my over-60 generation and the twenty- and thirtysomethings who represent the majority of CrossFitters.

To be clear, I absolutely endorse the idea of a soundtrack to accompany the WOD. No, it’s the type of music that I object to. And what type of music is that? Actually I have no clue. I suppose it’s some type of rap/hip-hop/dubstep something or other. I have no idea what these terms mean. They’re just words I’ve heard.

I’m not suggesting that my generation’s music be substituted for the current playlist. But is there some common musical ground that might suit all CrossFitters?

How about classical music?



27 Comments on “Classical CrossFit ”


wrote …

I hate the music as well and I'm 42


wrote …

This would be a great change and challenge. The music could match the motto of "constantly varied...". Thanks for idea.


wrote …

Thank you Craig Nelson!! This is JUST what the doctor ordered! As a former studio musician (french horn and voice), I'm moved by many different kinds of music. I love our box, but the music mix is a bit mono-chromatic. Constantly varied is a great way to think about it. A good Jazz mix is next on the agenda!


wrote …

I am not a fan of the music either. I am 31 years old. Sometimes, I find it too loud. As a coach, I feel it can be a crutch for athletes. Too many times, I hear, "turn up the music" when they should be turning up their intensity in the WOD.

WOD with no music... that is interesting as well.


wrote …

Great article! I am going to try a KB tabatata "The Song of the Volga boatmen"!


wrote …

+1 to the classical music! The music played at my slobo gym just isn't inspiring in the least.


wrote …

We've got a garage gym (3 50 y/o males) that very rarely has music playing and that has become "normal". During the Open I went to a box that played the usual pumped up volume music and it was somewhat disorienting at first. No music seems to allow me to focus on the task and organize my thinking to get through the tough parts.


wrote …

Yeah, I'm 36, and the music makes me feel like I'm in trouble sometimes, takes the fun out of things. I've actually tried and liked Enya and Ibiza-type stuff a few times for WODs where pacing was important.


wrote …

I've always suspected that Beethoven hated burpees.


wrote …


I'm going to hit the Beethoven soon!

I'm one of the home garage workout guys, have been for 3+ years. 43 years old. Works for me - Better than yesterday, getting younger every day. I've been to local affiliate for couple events. I thought the loud unintelligible music at the affiliate was a joke at first! Nope. Bummer. Really?

I like the sound of my own personal racket. Especially LOVE the sound of bumpers hitting the mats after an eye bulging, grunting, gasping set of overhead squats or jerks. But that's just me.

If training for the constantly varied, unknown and unknowable, perhaps consider that in that environment, most likely will NOT have your favorite tunes blasting or any music for that matter. IMHO.

Carry on!


wrote …

I'm a 27 year old male, and I would like for the Games to select a more mature soundtrack than it used last year.


wrote …

Personally, I don't like using the word 'mature' when referring to music. I love this article though, and I have some high hopes that this pans out for the boxes that try it out, now I know what I'll be loading up my clipzip with for my workout later today!


wrote …

Love the idea of an AMRAP to a particular piece of classical music. I am right there with you about not liking the mix we typically hear (I'm in my lower 40s). Mostly I just keep my mouth shut and ignore it, but some if it actually makes my head ache, which is not what I need when I'm already beating myself up in the WOD. Besides the classical selections you list, another great style of music for working out is Celtic jigs and reels. Check out some of the recordings by Natalie MacMaster, for example. "Jig Party" always makes me want to bounce off the walls. Celtic-influenced folk rock bands like Great Big Sea and Tanglefoot also have some great tracks for the gym.


wrote …

Awesome article. I am a musician and have a few classical tumes on my ipod, wich I play at my local box. No one has ever complained but that may be because once your into a workout like murph your brain and ears kind of shuts off.


wrote …

Classical music for a WOD, my ears are already bleeding.
At 57, i am to young for this.
Let's rock'n roll.


wrote …

Thanks for this, I have been looking for a list to play during WOD's.


replied to comment from Craig Witbeck

Oh you lovely man! I work out at a gym in Melbourne, Australia and the reason I dont do any classes is because of the music! Instead I do my kettlebells with my Gym Boss, my bike hills etc. and concentrate of what I am doing. I dont see the necessity to always have music playing in my ears. My first and best trainer always told me to work at being better than yourself, and dont waste your time, do that workout and then get out of the gym! As a result I am now a 69 year old woman with the strength of a 40 year old and the determination and discipline to match.


wrote …

I have a theory that every modern rock guitar solo has it's root in Bach's Toccata and Fugue. If you listen to it you will know where Eddie Van Halen learned all his tricks


Dustin Kreidler wrote …

Awesome article. Music is a must for me: I use it time and control my breathing (read: ragged panting), and for inspiration. Though my weapon of choice is usually Scandinavian Viking metal (see: Amon Amarth or Elveitie), I can totally see where Carmina Burana would be a perfect substitute. Just the opening movement of course... after that, Orff got a bit weird. My end of WoD pump up song? "Free Will Sacrifice" by Amon Amarth. If you can make out the lyrics:
` Soon we will be gone
` A free will sacrifice
` As free men we are born
` And free we shall diiiieeeeee!
You don't let up with that cranking in your ears. You just don't. Unless you hate metal. In which case you let up as soon as the guitars and blast beat kick drum kicked in. ;)


wrote …

awesome article - been feeling the same way about the music at our box....sometimes silence is best...though on the classical side adagio for strings - leonard bernstein....great way to "crescendo" any WOD!

47 yrs young and counting down!


wrote …

Thank you! That rap crap is horrible. I find it is not good for anything. I'm in my mid 60's and my box, CrossfitPB is kind enough to play Rolling Stones when I'm in, which seems to work well and is a good throw back for this old crossfitter.


wrote …

I'm not a fan of the gangsta-rap type music. The lyrics sound harsh and not at all appealing to older Crossfitters, and some young ones too. I like to focus more on my WODs and getting better and stronger. Let's get more intelligent music at the boxes and at the Games, especially in the Masters.


wrote …

I personally like no music at all. My soundtrack is the sound of my heart preparing to leap out of my chest and the clank of the weights hitting the floor.


wrote …

A number of people have expressed a preference for no music at all. We could satisfy both the classical music element and the silence principle by playing John Cage's 4:33...which is four minutes and thirty three seconds of not playing the piano.


wrote …

Mastering the varied movements is not assisted by music, but by focus. Music is an external factor that does definitely create a kind of focus. Since when did "kind of" qualify for actual. Actual focus is an internal factor, and is every bit as much of a skill that needs to be mastered as, for example, body position.


wrote …

LOL! I, too, hate the music at our CF gym. I'm 48 and have everything from classical to country to rock and pop from the 60s to 2012 on loaded on my iPod. I don't think I'm particularly rigid, but I still think the music at the gym sucks! My kids have informed me that this stuff is called "jock rock". Whatever you call it, it is not that I'm old, the music really does suck!


replied to comment from Jason McCutcheon

Constantly varied in all respects it should be!

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