After nearly three years in, I have a love/hate relationship with Crossfit.
It’s mostly hate.
The majority of my 47 years were blissfully Crossfit-free, and I lived out my days happy and free of the dread associated with upcoming workouts and the soreness associated with past workouts. It was all good. (Except for the whole fat, weak, undisciplined, out-of-shape, crappy-quality-of-life part of it.)
And then, my do-gooder wife shamed me into it because she wanted to “lose weight” and “look and feel better.” Kicking and screaming, I went, lost 50 pounds, and had to listen to an incessant stream of I-told-you-sos. She’s now one of those annoying people who gushes on and on about how much she loves Crossfit and couldn’t live without it.
I’m not one of those people. What I love about Crossfit can be summed up quickly: I love it the second the WOD (workout of the day) is over. Everything up ’till then sucks.
With all that said, here’s the top 12 reasons — specifically and in no particular order — why this 47-year-old absolutely hates Crossfit.
- The trainers tick me off. I’ve had several of them and they’re all the same. First of all, they’re all built like Greek gods and goddesses. B, they always act like they “care” about me and are all concerned with my welfare, though I suspect it’s all an elaborate put-on, like the moon walk. Third, they never seem to buy any of my perfectly good excu- reasons why I can’t do something or complete a WOD. The fact that I could be my current trainer’s dad hasn’t earned me one modicum of respect or sympathy. What’s with these people?
- The Posting of the WOD. Every morning, my trainer posts the WOD on Facebook, and for some stupid reason, I read it. This is at around 6:30 a.m. I work out at 5:30 p.m. Using my fingers to do the math, that gives me 11 hours to dread the WOD. I can do it driving, while playing Candy Crush on my phone, working, sitting on the pot, giving a work presentation, just anywhere. I’ve become quite proficient at dreading the WOD and trying to figure out ways not to go to the box.
- My conscience. There are WODs where I really, truly believe that if I try to do one more pull-up, my arms will actually fall off. Or that my bleached skeleton will be discovered under the bridge at the 400-meter mark because I decided the run back to the box (what we call a Crossfit gym) was too much trouble and it was easier and more comfortable to go ahead and die there. It would be quite simple to just cheat and not complete all my reps or rounds, but for some reason, I rarely do. Don’t get me wrong — I might accidentally cheat a rep or two here or there — but I seem incapable of really letting myself off the hook. It may be that I’m afraid the Crossfit gods will catch me, send me to Hell, and program an eternity of “hero” WODs. And I ain’t going there, buddy.
- Young people. OK, I know that many people will say that at 47, I’m still a young man. But those people are, like, 92. My box is full of people who are actually young — 20s and early 30s and such. I marvel at them. I was watching one young guy, Phil, doing burpees the other day with the strength of an Olympian and the finesse of a dancer. Ten or 20 at a time without slowing, bouncing off the floor and into the air with an arrogant defiance of gravity. By comparison, I’m like a six-foot-five-inch sack of dog food repeatedly crashing to the ground and struggling to re-animate itself back into an awkward standing position, topped off with a pitiful hop that wouldn’t clear an earthworm. Young people suck. I hate them.
- Thrusters. Who the hell came up with this exercise, anyway?? Hitler? Thrusters involve doing a front squat — often with heavy weight — and then elevating into a push press at the completion of the squat. Rinse and repeat. Frankly, it’s rude and uncalled for. Aren’t we already in here working our asses off when we could be home on the couch like normal people? Must you squash our very spirit, too?? If the punishment for a felony was five years of 135-pound thrusters, I guarantee you, prisons would be unnecessary. There would be no crime.
- The music. So, we’ve established that there are young people in the box, right? Much to my displeasure, it seems that young people don’t want to work out to James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, or ELO. Quite the contrary. Hip hop music seems to be the sonic driver of fitness these days, and it’s actually educational. Yesterday, I learned some new words while doing hand-release pushups. Unfortunately, I can’t use these words unless I’m attending, perhaps, a drive-by shooting or a drunken frat party. (They might be a little harsh for the frat party, now that I think about it.)
- “Rounds-for-time” WODs. As much as I try to convince myself that I don’t have much of an ego, I have to admit that I really do hate always being last. RFT WODs, if you don’t know, are a collection of movements and reps that are repeated over a set number of rounds, usually five, until completed. All participants start at the same time and finish, well, whenever they finish. By contrast, AMRAPs — as many rounds as possible — are completed within a specified time range, usually 15 or 20 minutes. Everybody starts AND finishes at the same time, recording their total rounds at the end on the whiteboard. I love AMRAPs. I love them because I’m not left there trying to complete my workout in desperation while others have long since finished, stretched out, showered, dressed, gone home, gotten married, had kids, grown old, and died.
- Partner-carries. It is what it sounds like. As part of the WOD, you have to literally carry your partner some specified distance — perhaps 200 meters. I’ve done this once. My partner was my trainer, Nick, who is 28 years old, 240 pounds, and built like Tarzan. I’m 235 pounds, NOT 28, and NOT built like Tarzan. We had to do a bunch of other crap before carrying each other 200 meters apiece, as if that wasn’t insanity enough. I’m not sure which was worse — being the carrier or the carry-ee. Slung over Nick’s back like a bag of garden mulch, his shoulder jammed into my already-upset stomach, I was being rattled to pieces, upside down, out of breath, trying desperately to hang on and not puke all over me and him both. At one pitiful point, Nick scooped me up in his arms like a gasping, gangling, bald-headed, white-bearded, Benjamin Button baby and ran down the busy street, cars passing with aghast faces peering out in shock and people deciding whether or not to call 911. It was one of my crowning moments, let me assure you.
- The smells of the run. Most Crossfit boxes are in retail strip malls or in industrial areas. This makes running very interesting. My favorite parts are the smells I encounter along the way. On a 400-meter run, those of us at Crossfit Barefoot run a gauntlet of fragrances that waft from a Chinese restaurant, a Pep Boys auto shop, an exhaust-laden street, a pee-smelling highway overpass, and numerous dumpsters, cigarette depositories, and trashcans. I feel like Katniss in “The Hunger Games,” dashing to reach her bow in the cornucopia and not get slaughtered in the process, except my opponents are disgusting odors. Combined, these odors usually win. (By the way, you may enjoy this blog I wrote about attempting my first trail run. You decide: Daniel-Day Lewis or Jerry Lewis? Click here.)
- Handstand pushups. When executing a handstand pushup, you literally stand on your hands with your feet overhead resting again the wall. Then, you lower your head to the mat and back up again, like a pushup. That is, if you can do them. You first must be able to “get on the wall.” This is my problem — getting on the wall. Call me an elitist, but I prefer to walk on my feet. I’ve been doing it all my life and I’m good at it. I’m not a gymnast and one look at me will confirm this to everyone except, perhaps, Stevie Wonder. Me trying to get on the wall resembles a gawky 4th-grade girl attempting cartwheels in a city park, the difference being that gawky 4th-grade girls can actually DO cartwheels. I have yet to complete a single handstand pushup, but I’ve certainly mastered the art of the failed attempt. Nailed it!
- Encouragement. This, I know, sounds non-intuitive, but I really hate receiving encouragement. You see, when I’m the one offering the encouragement, it’s usually because I’m impressed with the person and their performance. “Hey, way to go, Alex! Great job!” or “Good job, Andrea! You’re killing it!” But when others encourage me, I suspect it’s because they are sad for me or they are truly afraid that I might die and they want me to go out on a positive note. “Good job, Mark! We’ll be sure to send your belongings home to your family members! Great work!” Encouragement sucks.
- Positive change. OK, I said these weren’t in order, but I actually saved this one for last because it’s the worst. I’m here to tell you, if you’re considering taking up Crossfit, for God’s sake, DON’T! It’s an insidious trap, because much to your eternal horror, positive changes will enter your life despite your best efforts. You’ll lose weight, get stronger, start looking like Tarzan (guys), and literally feel better, which is super annoying. If you’re like many people — my wife, for example — you’ll even enjoy the process itself and cherish the camaraderie and new friendships. And what will this mean?? Yep. You guessed it. You’ll have to keep doing it. More trainers, posted WODs, guilty consciences, disgusting young people, thrusters, hip hop, rounds-for-time, humiliating partner-carries, odor runs, thinly-veiled encouragement, and positive change. It’s a vicious circle. Run! Run while you still can!
Oh, and your do-gooder wife will keep telling you she told you so.
(I hate Crossfit…)
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UPDATE! Read my brand-spanking-new Crossfit-ish entry: The Top 10 Reasons I Might Not Work Out Today.
NOTE: This particular blog has resulted in hundreds of thousands (you read that right) of page views and an upcoming story in the September issue of “Men’s Fitness” magazine. Watch for it. Also, read my follow-up blog, “Crossfit and aging: The value is in the TRYING.”
Also see: “Top 9 Reasons why I should be the ‘Face of Crossfit’ instead of Rich Froning,” “The Top 11 Things a Crossfit Virgin Should Know,” “Top 10 Lame-Ass Reasons Not to Exercise”, “Top 11 Things a Warrior Dash Virgin Should Know,” and “I Know You’re Trying to Be Nice. Don’t.”