In CrossFit

October 26, 2012

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Greg Glassman published the first CrossFit Journal article in 2002. Ten years later, the Journal’s overarching purpose remains the same: To define CrossFit and inspire and support our community.

The first CrossFit Journal article, Foundations, was published 10 years ago, on April 1, 2002, and the fitness world was forever changed.

It was written by CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman, who wrote all the content for the early editions of the Journal.

The first article was aptly named and went on to become a key part of the Level 1 Training Guide, the companion to the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar and the resource thousands of new CrossFit trainers turned to for answers.

The Garage Gym followed in September, outlining a facility almost completely unimaginable in a period characterized by Nautilus machines and plate stacks sliding silently on oiled rails. “The Garage Gym” contained everything needed to create a world-class strength and conditioning facility that was elegant in its simplicity and profound in its functionality. In fact, over 4,600 gyms around the world—and countless garages—now contain essentially the same equipment recommended in the original 12-page article.

In October 2002, the seminal article What Is Fitness? was published. “What Is Fitness?” was revolutionary in the way of Isaac Newton’s publishing on gravity. Gravity existed before Newton, but he was the first to articulate its principles in a measurable way. Fitness existed before Glassman, but he was the first to articulate its principles in a way that allowed measurable, observable and repeatable analysis of the safety, efficacy and efficiency of a fitness program. No one else in the history of fitness had done this.

“It will come as no surprise to most of you that our view of fitness is a contrarian view,” Coach Glassman wrote in 2002. Yet, so successful has the CrossFit revolution been that this statement may not resonate with younger students who started their athletic journey with squats and deadlifts. For others who had been told leg extensions in 3 sets of 8 were the path to fitness, Coach Glassman’s words were like an earthquake beneath traditional views of fitness.

The now-well-known definition of fitness is increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. This concise sentence came later, in 2006. In October 2002, CrossFit’s founder used four models to give a comprehensive view of fitness: the 10 physiological adaptations to training, the three metabolic pathways, the Hopper Model, and the groundbreaking Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum. Any training program could be evaluated by how well it improved its participants across all four models.

The issue also included the Theoretical Hierarchy of Athletic Development pyramid, and, of course, World Class Fitness in 100 Words (the phrase “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity” would also come later).

The document contains Coach Glassman’s original description of how to achieve high levels of fitness, and it created a feedback loop between training method and measurable results that would increase human capacity faster in a decade than at any other time in history.

What follows is a brief look at the history and the future of the CrossFit Journal.

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10 Comments on “The CrossFit Journal: 10 Years of Excellence”


wrote …

The Journal is the best value in fitness. For $25 I get a year's worth of technique advice, cooking and dietary advice, box tours, inspirational stories, etc. I still use the recipes and meal plans from the classic Issue 21, which has been on my refrigerator door for so many years that I'm going to have to reprint it so it is legible again.

Thanks to all who work so hard to put out this excellent resource, and I look forward to the next 10 years!


wrote …

I am truly grateful to be able to not only contribute to the Journal but to read the words of wisdom and stories of success that come from this publication.

Thank you to all the people who make the Journal what it is!


wrote …

Did you really equate Greg Glassman with Isaac Newton? Really?


replied to comment from Charles Wiles

Draw a comparison, not equate.


wrote …

One comment for Tony or Mike about the new Journal website/format.

Please, please, have a good index, search system and/or (and hopefully it's AND) tag taxonomy on the new site.

The current sites that use what for what of a better term I'll call the "Games engine" to drive the sites suffer badly in this respect. As an example, while the games were on I was on Lisbeth's troll-watch for the live comments feed on the games site. One of the common questions was about what live feeds were available where and what was being broadcast when. I knew that there had been a very comprehensive post made about that on the Games site and I went looking for it. Eventually I found it, but it too me more than half an hour. And I'm pretty good with digging information out of websites and knew what I was looking for. There was a post that had some of the information contained in my target post linked from the front page of the games site and that was what I pointed people at while I was searching for the more detailed post. But that illustrates the big problem with those sites at present; once something disappears into the archive it's very hard to find the information again.
This is modern web technology here, accessing information should be easy. Google has upped people's expectation enormously.
CF HQ has some very talented people designing the sites now and they're doing really good work (love the new find an affiliate section of the Community site). Throw them at this, make it a priority and I they'll deliver something really fresh and innovative.
Expand on the "related topics" concept already present in the Journal. The Journal has so much incredible information available in it, it should be a place where you start in one place and hours later emerge from a meandering wander through the web of links laid out by the site, index and search engine.

Oh and it could get messy, but if it were possible to subscribe to the comments made about an article, the discussion could be even more vigorous than it currently is as people were notified about responses to their posts. Which would mean, moderators. And ideally, a way to revoke or suspend commenting rights independently of Journal access. Everyone should be able to buy access to the Journal. Not everyone should be able to post maliciously.

And beef up the integration with Social Media. Let people Like and +1 and whatever Twitter users do, individual comments and make it easier to do that with the Articles themselves.

I've finished ranting for now, but if I can help with other ideas, let me know. ;-)


replied to comment from Charles Wiles

While the author may not have explicitly equated Mr. Glassman with Sir Isaac Newton, she did state that they were equally revolutionary in their thinking:

In October 2002, the seminal article What Is Fitness? was published. What Is Fitness? was revolutionary in the way of Isaac Newton’s publishing on gravity. Gravity existed before Newton, but he was the first to articulate its principles in a measurable way. Fitness existed before Glassman, but he was the first to articulate its principles in a way that allowed measurable, observable and repeatable analysis of the safety, efficacy and efficiency of a fitness program. No one else in the history of fitness had done this.

Placing Glassman's What is Fitness? ( which is an important piece of fitness literature) in the same paragraph as Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, the foundation of modern physics- and thus our understanding of the universe ( fitness or otherwise), is absurd. Coach might even agree- he seems to be in tune with Socrates exhortation to "Know Thyself".

The Journal was revolutionary, especially when Glassman was its primary author, but if it continues to be dominated by complacent and lightweight thinkers, it will be superseded.


replied to comment from Charles Wiles

Bearing in mind that we're talking about fitness here, not revising theoretical physics or proposing new engineering principles, what would a document as revolutionary as Isaac's work look like?


replied to comment from Charles Wiles

While I love Craig's question to you, I'd rather point out you've missed the author's point. Glassman was revolutionary "in the way of" Newton, not necessarily in the degree of. This is completely explained in the following sentence (which you adeptly quoted). Neither man invented or created a natural phenomenon, but instead both identified the underlying principles of an already existing phenomenon and presented them in a way that allowed dramatic progress to follow. There is nothing grandiose in the claim.


replied to comment from Tony Budding


I respectfully disagree with your interpretation. Glassman achievements in the fitness are immensely significant. There were however, plenty of people getting fit before CrossFit, just as there plenty of people getting fit without CrossFit.

Michael Jordan, Carl Lewis and Jim Brown did not get by accident, divine right or dancing aerobic class. The general public just wasn't doing the right thing at the gym. (It's not their fault, the public is generally stupid. And mislead.)

The fact that your understanding of the (fitness) universe changed, doesn't mean (the collective) 'our' understanding of the universe changed. You just didn't know it before learning CrossFit.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

You have misunderstood (or misrepresented) my point and in the process unintentionally defended it. TONS of people got reasonably fit before and without CrossFit per se. No one has ever gotten fit, however, without performing functional movements at high intensity. Great athletes and coaches have always understood that certain types of training supported sport and life's activities, but not why. No one understood clearly or specifically that functional movements performed at high intensity deliver increased work capacity before Greg and CrossFit.

Do you remember Greg's old saying, The magic is in the movements, the art is in the programming, and the science is in the explanation? Jordan, Lewis and Brown got fit from the movements. Great coaches have played with the art of programming to various degrees of success. Gravity existed long before Newton, but Newton's explanations changed the way it was understood and applied. Fitness existed before Glassman, but now we have a scientific explanation that serves as a feedback loop that has elevated the highest levels of fitness to historically unprecedented levels. As amazing athletes as Jodan, Lewis and Brown are/were, they didn't have close to the fitness levels of today's top Games athletes. No one in history has, because no one had the tools to optimize it

CrossFit's definitions of fitness and how to achieve it have allowed GPP training to become much more efficient and effective. The world finally has metrics by which to evaluate GPP and optimize it.

Apples fall from trees, the moon revolves around the earth, and birds fly whether anyone understands gravity or not. Modern aviation, however, is impossible without a profound understanding of both the theory and application of Newtonian physics. Playing sports and traditional sports training get you reasonably fit whether you understand the theory of fitness or not. No one, however, will ever optimize training without it.

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