Getting Critical About CrossFit Critics, Part 3: What Can We Do?

By February 11, 2014 wod No Comments

In Part 1 of this series, I started ranting about our critics. In Part 2, I ranted about the experts. Today we’re going to go full circle with some advice on what we as CrossFitters can do about these… let’s call ’em people.

There’s one thing you’ve got to remember right off the bat when we talk about dealing with critics: the vast majority of them only know us by what we say and do. They haven’t set foot inside a CrossFit gym, they haven’t sweat alongside their fellow classmate, cheering and being cheered and collapsing into a heap at the end of it all. Yes, there are some critics who have tried it out, and usually they’ve been to one of those bad gyms that we mathed last time to prove are out there. But an overwhelming majority only know us from YouTube, Facebook and their own fevered imaginations.

Let’s talk about Facebook first. You probably have some friend who at some point has had a baby. Ever the proud parent, they’re suddenly clogging your feed with documentation of the new baby’s every second.

People doing CrossFit are like new parents, especially at the start. The only thing worse than a set of new parents is two sets of new parents and when you look back at the math we were mathing, you can see that suddenly someone’s feed is chock full of acronyms and weights and pictures of torn hands. Each day their feed is taken over a little more because once one friend has found CrossFit, they’re going to tell their other friends. One of them starts and tells their friends and there you go.

Holy shit. Maybe instead of a cult, we’re a virus.

When you put yourself in their shoes and see this seemingly massive encroaching thing taking over the lives of all of your friends, it’s easy to see why some folks could get quite upset, especially if they’ve already decided to be against Everything CrossFit.

How else do they track our progress? YouTube. For every person who talks about how technology is going to change the world and make people’s lives better, YouTube is the giant middle finger in their faces.

Yes, there are great videos out there. There is inspiration and amazement and learning to be found around every corner. But guess what’s right in the middle of all those corners? Utter dumbassery. This is another place where having a broadly inclusive definition of fitness hurts us. If there’s a barbell, box or rings anywhere in the shot of someone doing something stupid, we’ll take the hit for it. It can be a video of someone smacking themselves in the head with a controller while playing WiiFit and the inevitable “CrossFitters doin’ CrossFit” comment will pop up.

What can we do to help fight all this and help this thing we love so much?

I love CrossFit. That should hopefully be apparent in my cheery attitude when I’m coaching people in the gym that I own so CrossFit can be spread to the masses. The only thing I love more than CrossFit (aside from any of my loved ones who happen to be reading this right now, of course. Love you honey!) is my brain. You know what damages my calm and hurts my brain every time I get near them? Comment sections on the internet.

Stay away from comment sections. Let me phrase that a different way: stay the FUCK away from comment sections. Comment sections typically devolve into a completely partisan my-way-or-the-highway screamfest with everyone trying to convince everyone else how right/clever/funny/smart they are. Guess how many people’s opinions have been changed by internet comments. Zero.

Here’s a helpful reminder of that fact that you can hopefully remember in the heat of the moment. Hold your right hand up by your face with one finger pointing, representing the number one. If that represents one, we need to bring that finger down, so our fist now represents zero. Now take that fist and punch yourself in the face until you don’t want to wade into the flame wars any more. Better?

To some of you, it may feel like you’re conceding to the trolls and letting down This Thing You Love, but remember these words that Piers Anthony once wrote: “the opinions of worthless people are worthless.” If you wade into the fray on this, you’ll only be making yourself angry for no reason and proving them right. I’m all up for a fight when the cause is just, but this isn’t a fight. This is a collection of people farting into jars so they can relish the scent later.

Here’s something else you can do to help us all out:



Seriously, stop it. Just… stop it.

Look, I know all kinds of fun and interesting things fall under the umbrella of functional fitness. A lot of us like to emphasize the “fun” part of that phrase, and that’s great. A lot of us are doing things we never thought we could do and that makes us wonder what other things we could do and that’s great. A lot of us think we’re bad asses for being able to take the day-to-day abuse and we’re proud of our battle scars, and that’s great too.




You may be having fun and might just be screwing around and having a good time, but everyone else looks at what you’re doing and paints us all with the dumbass brush. For fuck’s sake, you can’t even do an olde-tyme strongman movement in a video without people absolutely losing their shit, so how do you think THIS is going to be received?


Does it look fun? Sure. Are these folks just screwing around and trying something one of ’em cooked up in a fever dream? More than likely. Should this have been recorded and put on the internet for the world to see? Hmmm… what was that phrase again? Oh yeah.



This can be applied to sooo many things too. Did you just do a crapton of pull-ups with a grip so poor your hands look like a couple of blobs of oozing meat? How’s about you approach that with the proper amount of shame and work on not having it happen again, rather than immediately taking a picture and posting it all over creation? You should be considered a bad ass because you finished the workout, not because you finished it after doing something stupid to yourself.



One last thing to cover that I might have mentioned in Part 1 (but the link is so far up the page, who has time to go back and check?) : what to do about the negative anti-CrossFit click-bait article. It’s a pretty simple that I’ve boiled down into a helpful infographic.

Seriously. Don’t click on the link, and for fuck’s sake stop sending the link to other people! This is a big reason why these articles get written: they know we’ll go apeshit and tell all of our friends who will also go apeshit. Don’t feed into the cycle! Poorly researched articles about CrossFit aren’t chain letters: if you break the chain, you’re not going to die of a mysterious disease. That’s reserved for the people who let uninformed opinions get in the way of trying something that could improve their lives and make them healthy.

Share the good, delete the bad. It works on the internet, it works in life.

Our Partners

  • crossfitjournal
  • tough