I was talking to a friend online the other day, and he sent me this video of a guy snatching. The guy was a lighter lifter yet was snatching over 100kg and up to 122kg decently well. I didn’t know who he was, and I thought, “Oh, nice.” Then I saw that my friend had said, “I know you hate CrossFit, but we have some good lifters.”
I was shocked, and not because the lifter (who I later learned was Ben Smith) was a CrossFitter, but because my friend, who I’m pretty close with, thought I hated CrossFit (CF). So I wanted to clear this up. And by the way, Ben, that was some good lifting.
This website started when I was running the CF program when I was at the Wichita Falls Athletic Club. Before I moved there I had done CF for about a year, ran a CF group at my university, started an affiliate, and earned the Level II Certification (which is not easy to obtain). I enjoyed how I could compete against other people compared with my “bodybuilding structured” workouts (I posted on the main site for a few months — one time Gillian Mounsey and Chris Spealler were the few people to beat me). But I also loved lifting and wanted to do more of it. When I got to Texas, I considered keeping some conditioning work in my program, but opted to do a linear progression for real since it would help me coach other people.
In the time at Texas I slowly shifted into Olympic weightlifting and was decent. I qualified for nationals at my third meet despite an injury two months prior. Meanwhile I traveled and worked for Rippetoe in the Barbell Certification Seminars, part of the specialty seminars that CrossFit HQ has available. Since then I have started doing my own 70’s Big workshops and they mostly occur in CF facilities.
I point all this boring shit out because I would say that I had a negative view of CF for most of the time I was in Texas despite running an affiliate. However, I’ve been involved with CF for four years and have traveled to many affiliate gyms around the world, and no longer look at CF negatively.
I’ve said this before many times on this site, but CF has fantastic people involved in it. Most of the friends I have nowadays are a indirectly a result of CF or our interaction with it. When I attended the Level I in 2008, I was impressed with the lecture ability of Pat Sherwood and the military guys. They were willing to help, and Pat answered some of my e-mails months after the certification. I’m continually impressed with the kindness and willingness to not only help, but learn in the community. The desire to learn and get better is my favorite part of CF. CF has managed to foster an environment of people who rabidly want to know more, and are willing to pay money to do it. That’s a special thing, because spending money to do something represents full commitment into doing it (i.e. sacrificing to gain).
I also alluded to how I’ve met various people who are or have been involved in HQ like Chris Spealler, Todd Widman, and Adrian Bozman. I used the last two guys as coaching models early on and consider them the epitome of “good people” in CF. I’ve also met other “higher ups” in HQ like Nicole Carroll, Tony Budding, and Greg Glassman. I don’t know them very well but enjoyed the time I spent with them. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything they do or say, but I don’t even agree with everything my friends do. It may be entirely possible that these people, as well as others within HQ, think I’m an asshole or something. But I would suspect that while I have disagreements over some things they do, we still would have a jovial relationship if we were in the same room.
And besides, disliking somebody for different training methodology is bush league. Who am I to put down a guy who wants to “WOD his ass off”? I may disagree with the implementation of it (with respect to his goals or injury potential), but that doesn’t mean that guy is a bad person. Every training methodology has a group that looks at other groups unfavorably. I used to do this, but nowadays I just don’t give a shit. If someone wants my objective analysis of what they do with respect to their goals, then I’ll gladly give it to them (I’ve always aimed to help people). If someone wants to train for the CF games, I’m the first one to say, “Then do CF, (just make sure you’re strong).”
Skeptics of my stance might say I’m trying to suck the cock of CF with this post, but that’s not true. It’s easy to make fun of CF or the people that do it. There are silly or dumb aspects, but, again, there are silly things that my friends do. There are stupid weightlifters and stupid strength trainees. There are stupid Americans and Europeans. Every social group is going to have mock-able things going on, and that’s true of CF. I allow light jesting of CF on this website, but I’ve also defended it and put an end to overt criticism and mockery.
I just can’t hate something that has done so much for the realm of strength and conditioning, even if CF only consisted of assholes (it doesn’t). Glenn Pendlay wrote this the other day explaining how much CF has had an effect on the sport of Olympic weightlifting. CF is a catalyst for many athletes to “try and compete in new sports” which was one of the rules in early CF lore. And it’s worked. Powerlifting, weightlifting, adventure racing, and mud runs all benefit because of CF. There are legitimate places to train all over the world because of CF (some of them don’t allow you to do whatever you want, but many of them do — just ask). Not to mention that CF has allowed specialty experts like Kelly Starrett to improve the quality of training for all athletic activities (and this alone would be reason enough to like CF).
So I write as a beneficiary of CF in that it has exposed me to truly wonderful people, excellent gyms, plenty of opportunity, and improved my ability to coach and train. Sure, there may be a person doing something goofy every now and then, but that same person is willing to go out of there way to help you nearly 100% of the time. That’s why I don’t hate CrossFit.