CrossFit Doesn't Hurt - Bad Coaching Hurts
The following is a guest post by Mike Tromello of Precision CrossFit:
This is a rebuttal to Josh Bunch's article, It's CrossFit and It's Going to Hurt:
I have mixed feelings about this article written by Josh Bunch. On one hand, I do understand what he is trying to say, but on the other hand what he is saying is completely out of line. I do not know Josh personally and maybe if I did I would have a better a grasp of his opinions. Therefore all I can go off of is his article.
First off, let’s be frank people, CrossFit is a sport. There is no doubt about it, and just like any sport out there injuries are going to be a part of it. However, CrossFit is also a way of life, an avenue for people to come together to share their stories, trials, and tribulations. It is a community far and wide that has become very powerful. Yet, due to this powerful community people see a means of financial gain.
I mean let’s face it - anyone can open a gym these days. There are no checks and balances. All you need is $4,000 to cover your Level 1 certification, and pay for your affiliation. Then blamo, you can open a CrossFit. Now don’t get me wrong the Level 1 training staff is phenomenal, and the cert is very well put together. However, in my humble opinion, it is only a beneficial certification if you already have other qualifications to add to it. It should be a building block to add to your pre-existing knowledge base, rather than a solitary qualification that for some reason justifies you to open a box. This certification alone does not prepare you to understand programming, modalities, movement patterns, periodization, mobility, proper lifting technique, etc. You need more education. It is a good cert to prepare you to work under someone, but not to open up your own box.
CrossFit has exploded in the past few years, and now it seems as if everyone out there is opening up his or her own gym. The product is getting watered down by these inexperienced trainers thinking they know what they are doing, when they know absolutely nothing. As I previously stated, CrossFit is a sport, however this is only for the 1%. For everyone else, CrossFit is a lifestyle. It is a means of staying healthy like any other fitness routine. Let me elaborate on this further.
If you walk into an experienced CrossFit with knowledgeable coaches you should know right away what you are getting into. If you are a beginner there should be some type of program set up for you to properly learn the movements. All of your previous injuries should be assessed and accounted for. For example, If you have a torn labrum from a previous time in your life, then why is beneficial for you to learn the snatch or kipping pull up, when you can get just as great a workout from doing cleans and push-ups? It really comes down to coaching knowledge. Maybe that person with the torn labrum over time, with lots of mobility and some basic strength training, can eventually learn the snatch and kipping pull up. An experienced coach will know when, and how to get this athlete there. Maybe this athlete could care less, but just want’s the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. It does not really matter, because either way you are teaching them.
All of us box owners who believe in the athlete first will do anything in our power to teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle: how to eat right, how to recover properly, how to mobilize before and after a workout, and how to do the CrossFit movements with proper technique. We believe in baby steps and that technique trumps all else. You must have a crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, and run before you can sprint mentality. You must communicate with that athlete, that you will not let them get injured, and that you expect them to listen to you. You want them to trust in your knowledge. The problem is there are way too many box owners out there with no experience looking to make a buck off of CrossFit. All they are doing is adding to the fire of the haters out there. They are giving them very good evidence as to why CrossFit is bad, because let’s face it, that is all they are looking for.
For those out there who want to take CrossFit to next level and compete. It is now a sport. Just like any sport out there injury is a part of it. Give me a sport out there where injury is not a part of the game. Even Tiger Woods has had knee surgeries, and one can definitely make an argument that golf is not a very intense sport. But apparently injury is a part of it, wouldn’t you say? If you are training to be great at CrossFit, and are looking to take part in it at that kind of level then intensity will raise - intensity in your workouts, intensity in the amount of days you train, etc. A raise in intensity at any level of sport always leaves one out there for injury. It is the nature of the beast. Now you have to be smart about your training. Listen to your qualified coaches and take great care of your body. Heck, you probably may even have to have physical therapist or a massage therapist that you see weekly to keep yourself healthy, but that is the choice you make if you want to compete. For the masses CrossFit is not dangerous. Bad, inexperienced coaching is dangerous, and it is everywhere, not just in CrossFit.
As I stated earlier I do not know Josh. It seems as if his article was written in a way to get some kind of a rise out of people. Maybe he wanted to create controversy. I am sure he is not a bad dude so there really was no need to ostracize him. Do I agree with his article? Not really, I think he gave box owners like me a bad rep and he played right into the hands of the haters out there. People hate what they cannot control or cannot take part in themselves for one reason or the other. CrossFit is one of those things. Josh just gave some people a reason to talk about it.
Do I think CrossFit hurts? Yeah, it hurts my soul when I see an article written like this for those to hate what I love. It hurts my lungs and legs when I push myself to my limits, just like the spin bike used to in my spinning days. My body hurts when I get out of bed after a competition, just like it used to when I played collegiate football. Yeah CrossFit hurts, but not in the manner in which Josh describes it. Are injuries a part of CrossFit? Only if you do not know what you are doing.
Photos provided by Miguel Tapia Images.