What I See When I Watch The CrossFit Games

I’m not a Cross Fitter. I’m going to put that out there first. I’ve never attended a class, and probably never will. But that’s not because I have anything against it, it’s just not my training style (and doesn’t exactly fit in my budget either.. minor detail).  I would say that most people in the world fall somewhere near either end of the CrossFit spectrum. Either they hate it and think that it’s only for gym-rat idiots who don’t care about form or technique, or they think it’s the best thing in the world; a way of life that’s practically a religion. I fall somewhere dead in the middle of these two — I can see the good and the bad in it just like any other fitness phenomenon.

The thing is though, idiots are everywhere. CrossFit gets a lot of hate but let’s be totally honest here. There are idiot power lifters, idiot runners, idiot triathletes and idiot couch potatoes. There are idiots everywhere, but just because some of them happen to do Cross Fit doesn’t mean that the whole sport is idiotic. There are some things about CF that can be unsafe, yes, but the same can be true for just about any sport in the world. There are some parts of Football that I think are completely idiotic and unsafe, but that doesn’t mean that I stop watching, does it?

Anyway, my point is that I’m coming into this with complete neutrality — I don’t gush over CF athletes like they’re the next coming of Christ, but I can appreciate the fact the people competing in the CF games are most certainly athletes. But beyond a group of freakishly-genetically-gifted and ridiculously-hard-working humans, I see beauty, strength, and the most beautiful thing of all — differences.

Watching the CF games this weekend, I found myself saying things like “LOOK AT HER ARMS” and “OMG THOSE LEGS” over and over again. These athletes, and the women especially, are physical specimens. Some people may call some of them “bulky”, but I truly find muscle on women to be beautiful. I’d take defined deltoids and quads of steel any day, but that’s just my personal opinion. I know that not everyone feels the same way and that’s fine. But one thing to truly appreciate about this sport is that even though, yes, all of these women are muscular, there are so many differences in their shapes and sizes, yet they’re all completing the same movements and the same weights. There are girls with stockier shapes cleaning and pressing right next to girls with taller, leaner shapes. There are girls who’s abs could cut diamonds, standing next to girls carrying a little bit more body fat. But they are all incredible athletes, doing incredible things. The beautiful thing about this is that these women are not out there to look good or look sexy, they’re out there to perform. And, might I add, they’re doing one hell of a job.

The women competing in the CrossFit Games are completing events that many of us could never dream of, even with dedicated training. These are athletes in every sense of the word, not just some kids going to a “box” to throw around some medicine balls and climb some ropes. These women (and men) are impressive, and let’s not forget that just because you may or may not appreciate the sport that they participate in.

It’s also worth mentioning that in every event I’ve watched, without fail when there is one last person on the field trying to finish, the rest of the competitors are there, cheering them on until they are done. In what other sport do you see that? When else will you see the opponents who just won, cheering on those in last place? It’s competition mixed with camaraderie, and it’s one of the best things I’ve seen in sports in a very long time.

Yes, CF may seem a bit silly at times to those of us who don’t do it. Really, can someone explain a kipping pull up to me and why you’d want to do those over a regular pull up? I’m genuinely curious.  And I’m really not sure about the safety of a “Clean Ladder” where the competitors are putting out multiple max attempts in the span of a few minutes, but I guess that’s no worse than 300 lb linemen ramming their heads into each other, is it? But in all reality, it’s a sport, and it’s a sport that has gotten a whole lot of people off their couches, joining communities, and feeling like they fit in somewhere in the fitness world. So how can you really hate on that?

Watching the CrossFit Games has not made me want to join my local box, has not made me want to be “one of them”, but it has truly made me appreciate what they do. As someone who’s career is working with athletes, I can tell you that the athletes I’ve been watching this past weekend are doing more than many “traditional” athletes out there. They work hard, they may do some funky movements, but they’re training their asses off, and it shows. To me, anything that makes the world a more active place is a good thing, I just ask that people who do CF use their brains, and don’t do anything idiotic that may land them on the injury list. But then again, I ask that of the general population too, so I guess that’s really no different.

Readers: Do you CrossFit? Have you been watching the Games lately? Can someone tell me what the deal is with a Kipping pull up? 🙂 

4 thoughts on “What I See When I Watch The CrossFit Games

  1. Totally agree with this! And I’m like you – not a crossfitter – so completely neutral (yup that budget thing!) A friend of mine who does crossfit has also spoken about how different everyone looks relative to ability – you just don’t know what people can do just by looking at them! Pretty incredible. Maybe one day I’ll have the guts and a little extra cash to try it out 🙂

  2. I love this so much!! I am a Crossfitter and I watched the CF Games all weekend. I had the exact same thoughts and I love that you stay so neutral! So many people hate CF without even trying it first.
    I am not an expert, but I think the point with kipping pull ups is, that the power comes from the hips and not from the arms. You kind of ‘swing’ yourself up to the bar and therefore can safe energy and strength in your arms, means you can do more and faster. Does that make sense? It’s only what I guess, I don’t know if I’m right.

  3. Wow. Steph, this is honestly one of my favorite posts I have ever read. No joke. Firstly, congrats on your wedding! I don’t think I have actually congratulated you so please excuse my late-ness 🙂 Anyways, I truly appreciate you writing this post and articulating things so beautifully. As you know, I am a CrossFit-er and do love it but everything you said is so spot on: from other sports having their issues to CrossFiter-ers living and dying by the sport. But of course your main message is the most impactful and one that I can finally say that I completely agree with. Seeing all of these athletes is not only motivating for me to continue to progress, but seeing them do so at all different sizes is what makes all the difference. Thank you for writing this. Yes, CrossFit is ridic expensive but it’s so positive for me that I indulge. As for kipping pull-ups (or dying fish), to my knowledge it is an efficiency thing in regards to keeping your muscles from fatiguing and being able to do higher reps in a shorter amount of time. The hip thrust in the movement allow you to use more of your leg muscles rather than just your arms. I am still working on it but I’ll get it soon! Oh my, sorry for the novel of a comment.

  4. Great post! I recently wrote a similar one, not as detailed and more just bringing up the recent controversy on the sport, and love hearing what others have to say about it. I, too, have not done CrossFit, but I’m not against it! I just prefer other means of exercise- to each their own, right?! I also mentioned that anything we do can be dangerous if we don’t use the correct form or don’t rest properly, etc. It’s all about what and how you put into whatever you’re doing.

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