The Question of CrossFit (Response from Bob Shannon)

This is the first response, written by Bob Shannon, to my original posting which asked the question of “how do you view CrossFit?”  If you would like to read the original article, the link is here.


To the air benders, grunters, motivational sock wearers, and those who may be interested in pursuing torn shoulders and paleo diets! CrossFit has officially been around now for 8-10 years and has the scene running. If you’re a mother of 6, homeless man, policeman, soccer player or even a couch potato, it is the cure for your life. A confidence booster that helps you maintain an athletic lifestyle and get the best training know to man.


Ok. Schep asked the question, lets let’s break it down.

CrossFit began with an amazing foundation. Functional lifts that are a test for strength and endurance all at once. It encouraged healthy competition where every one was a winner as long as you finished. It started with some athlete’s already elite (having more of a lifting back round than your average bear) men and women craving a challenge. Great idea. Great purpose.

Years down the road it is a hit! Everyone wants a hand in the CrossFit bowl. Gyms are making a killing, anything with “CrossFit” or anything saying that goes along with it is a hot item. If you have that shirt that says “ass to grass” or “WOD killer” everyone has to know that you are an elite human being.

Now everyone wants a part. Advertising is making Crossfit huge. It’s something everyone wants to try and when you join the gym, it’s a family. This family though, was also in the same shoes as the new member not so long ago. So they will show the new member the “ways”. So here is the beginning of why I see Crossfit as a big hit that will ruin functional lifting for the future. You have people trained by a coach that took a weekend class, now teaching a new person who craves success. Form is gone. It is taught to fit through the workout to get the best time you can possibly get. I mean a lower time than last means that you are improving right? No!

I went to a CrossFit gym not to long ago. The gym was $120 for 12 total classes a month. No lifting on your own. If you miss the class your are SOL. I saw the workouts. High reps of pull-ups, and clean and press. After a 30 minute group warm up of static and a little bit of dynamic stretching (none of which where am actual movement they were going to perform) they started. Low weight on the cleans. I did not see one clean that was done with proper form. People had arched backs, their knee’s were knees everywhere, their elbows wide and so on.

The pull-ups were not the “butterfly” pull-ups that are so effective either. It was like they were having convulsions and stokes all at one. Even a little bit of air running happened during the pull-ups were I guess you don’t have to go to the top of the bar. The coach was cheering them on the whole time. “Push harder” “faster” “don’t quit” you can do this” he would say. Not once did he say anything about the arched back RDL to reverse curls that were happening. Near the end everyone was cheering in the same manor for the rest to finish. My shoulders and back were hurting from watching. It was like torn shoulders were encouraged, but only after you finish the rep you could bring up the pain. Once everyone was done there was no cool down, but just sitting and laying down from the exhaustion they suffered. One girl was full of excitement as her new time was better than the last. Progress in her mind, she is better stronger and more fit than last.

It was like they were blind to what they were actually doing, and the only thing that mattered was to win. In a life or death situation, I would encourage this mindset. Please, do anything possible for the life of yourself or family. This though, is not that situation. This (fitness) is to make you better, athletic and more healthy. So in the end you are stronger and will live a better/ longer life.

The idea is amazing. But the flaw in the system is that the focus is on time. Not on form, not on listening to your body. The motivation and drive is what is hurting the CrossFit cult so much.

It was made to push those with an athletic background. I have no doubts that people who have power/Olympic lifted for years would benefit from this. But asking someone who has never done a snatch, or a clean to perform is as many times as possible in a set time is outrageous. It’s begging for injuring and to teach bad habits. I would never toss someone the keys to my car, have them drive around the block, then say “ok, do it 5 times as fast as possible!”

That is exactly what people are doing to the driven community begging to be fit. Same metaphor. Yet if I tossed a NASCAR driver my keys, he would succeed. Just like if I asked an Olympic lifter to do 50 snatches for time. The whole basis of Crossfit was not made for beginners or even people who have been lifting for a while. It was made for the elite.

I have been lifting for 6 years pretty seriously. I have done Olympic lifts the whole time and I still would not do snatches or drop clean presses for time as I know what a little error could cause. I played the Crossfit game for about 6 months a couple of years ago. It was competitive and I thought I was good (with my background in lifting and the fact that I was strong). I was crushing times and realized how easy it was. I had a friend actually tell me how bad my form had gotten. I got pulled in by the same drive, “Beat the last time! Fight for the reps!” It is a mindset that happens very quickly and you loose sight of what is important.

Now I’m sure Cam is going to assassinate me.