Monday, November 26, 2012

In Which I Waste Time On A Hater ...

I wasted an hour today to respond to this critique.  I wonder if the author will post my response.

A Civil Critique on Crossfit

Summary of the author's argument:
1. Unless I specialize in running and body weight stuff, I don't get the results I value most.
2. I prefer a definition of fitness I found in a dictionary more than the one that CrossFit used to frame the methodology of CrossFit programming.
I suppose not everyone reads all the old CF stuff, but I did, way back when.  The point of defining fitness for Coach was that it wasn't defined in any useful way.  Somebody could claim fitness and mean anything.  Of course, folks did and do just that, and never bothered to define the term in any way that was subject to evaluation.  Coach's blinding flash of the obvious was "what if we defined it in a way such that training could be designed to achieve the end, fitness, in a way that is quantifiable."  So he defined it, published it, and strove to build a fitness system that achieved it.  The intellectual integrity of that approach is remarkable in a world of myth based marketing.
The desired outcome - fit for anything, fit for the knowable, fit for the unknowable.  Someone said above that CrossFit is about "excelling at being average."  That statement was intended as a critique, but it is just as much a compliment since the statement implies having no weakness.  CrossFit's founder wrote many years ago that CrossFit is about compromise - or as the old saying goes, "any strength to excess is weakness."
The author of this blog has made this completely uncontroversial claim: "if I don't specialize in running and body weight movements, I'm not as good at running and body weight movements as I used to be when I specialized at running and body weight movements (aka the Marine PFT)."
OK.  CrossFit says that too.
As for whether or not the CrossFit Games should be crowning the fittest on the planet, everyone has a right to their opinion, and each counts as much as the author's, which is zero except hopefully to yours and my friends and loved ones.
As for worthless anecdotes, I have several, but my PFA test scores for the highly unimpressive Navy PFA test were their best, as a forty + year old, after I found CrossFit (I only did better as a 25 year old officer candidate).  I did nothing but CrossFit, except I would practice the PFA 3-4 times prior to the test.
In summary, because the author didn't take time to fully understand the context of CrossFit's claim to fitness, he/she made a tedious, pointless critique, when all that needed to be said was "I tried CrossFit and the results of the CrossFit implementation I tried didn't match my goals."


  1. You overuse of comma's, terrible use of paragraphs, poor structure of sentences, clear misinterpretation of the blog post to which you refer, totally biased response (which took you a whole hour to write?????) coupled with the fact your obvously one of those Crossfit 'obsessives' and a CF / Glassman / Berger fanboy who is incapable of a balanced approach to any discussion on the matter means anybody with any common sense at all should not have posted your response (but he did). The fact you call your 'box' 'Fire of the Gods' is hilarious - how many 'front squatting with baby strapped to chest' white trash 'moms' (I use that word both lightly and with some irony) have you got at 'Fire of the Gods' - quite a few, I would assume!!

    Will you publish this?

    1. It's pretty funny to see critiques of punctuation and grammar that are so bad themselves that they make the underlying point of the comment almost impossible to discern. This comment was a real struggle. You know it's going to be rough when someone uses an apostrophe to denote plurality in the fourth word....

    2. As Dennis the Peasant said, "Oh what a giveaway"!

  2. Anon, your critique of my writing style and editing skill is devastating to me on a personal level. Please desist, I'm sure I cannot take such withering criticism much longer. As an aside, I appreciate your creative use of punctuation and other grammatical niceties.

    But, aside from your displeasure with my writing style, I am shocked, shocked I tell you to find that you think I am biased. All this time, I thought my opinion was the only one that mattered. Shucks, back to the drawing board.

    As to the time it took to respond, I read the entire list of posts between the two main protagonists in a vain attempt to understand the argument in play - not an easy chore, for a slow reader like myself. It was a wasted hour, mostly, as I said.

    I appreciate your utilization of the approach known as "ad hominem attack", and near complete avoidance of actual analysis in your response to points I may have tried to make. I know it is very old school to attempt what I think is known as a “summary and analysis”. Clearly, name calling and intention questioning require less effort and skill, and I should perhaps branch out in my rebuttals of mis-informed CF critics. Bummer, sorry about that. I'll try to revert to ad hominem next time.

    I'm not sure what to make of this statement: "The fact you call your 'box' 'Fire of the Gods' is hilarious - how many 'front squatting with baby strapped to chest' white trash 'moms' (I use that word both lightly and with some irony) have you got at 'Fire of the Gods' - quite a few, I would assume!!"

    We have female clients in our gym and they are mothers (we don’t “have got” anything, assumed that you meant “do you have”). Some were athletes their whole lives, some only recently. They are nothing like my idea of white trash. In fact, they are the antithesis of white trash. They trade their time, pain and sweat in order to exceed their perceived physical limitations. They suffer right alongside men, young elite athletes, and older, elite athletes. They exert, they apply courage, they attempt things that they believed were not possible, and they achieve. They are the epitome of what I love about CrossFit - people of all kinds who join in order to transform themselves through physical and mental and spiritual effort. If you would find out what happened when Prometheus stole the fire of the gods and gave it to the humans, you might see what a perfect analogy that myth is for a CrossFit gym. Coach Glassman has given us the fire to transform our lives, and we give it to those who train with us. People restore their health with us, make themselves strong and resourceful, and enjoy the company of others like themselves. This work is sacred to me.

    I'll assume until I have reason to believe otherwise that you are young and worked up about something and that you are not the kind of person who would insult persons of a low socioeconomic status, or mothers who are not accomplished athletes but who are striving to change that, in order to take a cheap shot at me (or some other complete stranger).

    You may be a troll trying to get me going, who knows. If on the other hand you are some elite fitness butt-munch who looks down own those not as athletically capable as you, it makes perfect sense to me why you don't like CrossFit. CrossFit is in general a filter for such people.

  3. I received 16 post in the filter from the bravely bold anonymous as what I suppose is a follow up to his (presumably a male, don't know for sure) initial little rant about my rant in response to the rant of a fellow who didn't understand CrossFit and decided the whole world needed to know about it. First thought upon receiving 16 posts from the same guy - why bother? I don't have any idea.
    Anon has very little voice of his own. Most of the 16 posts were cuts of other folks' opinions about CrossFit or some element of CF. Hopefully one day he'll get a load this thought, which pertains: "I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations; you're not in this world to live up to mine." (Bruce Lee) I thought about posting his posts, so anyone who cared to could see just how banal they are. Since Anon didn't put much about himself or his name, or explain why he thought I might care about the opinions he was cutting/pasting, I won't be putting his stuff up. But here's a summary:
    *Anon seems think CF is a cult, and he is good at namecalling. There are probably few 1st graders who are better than he is. He sticks to the shorter words like "jerk", "tards", "asshole" (two syllables!), "drunk", "dick", and such. I just wish he knew how cutting these words are coming from him. Oh yes, and he doesn’t think the people at CF HQ are the best humans on the planet.
    *Anon thinks opinion pieces can be "unbiased". He also thinks opinion pieces should be "unbiased". I don't understand what he thinks the word "unbiased" means.
    *He takes the time to find a blogger who thinks using CF to train for basketball is not a good idea, and I suppose thinks others should take note. As an idle question, if one person thinks CF is good to prep for BB, and another does not, what should we think of that? I would think that if you don't think CF is good for BB prep, then you shouldn't use it for BB prep. I know - it's a crazy world out there.
    *Anon attests loyalty to "Beast Modal Domains", a blogger who's chief claim to fame was humor - quite funny - directed mostly (from the few posts that I read) at belittling the accomplishments of others.

  4. *He has a low opinion of CrossFit Endurance, and its creator, and thinks I would care know to his low opinion. *He asserts the CF world is full of Glassman "yes men" who parrot what Greg Glassman says, and never disagree with him about anything. *He believes a tri-athlete is more fit than the CrossFit Games champ, Rich Froning, and also apparently thinks I may care what he thinks. Interestingly, he quotes some guy who claims that only the "bigger, stronger" guys will ever win the CrossFit Games. The top two competitors this year were 195 pounds and 210 pounds. Last year's second ranked guy was 155 pounds. There were two guys I can remember in the finals that weighed more than 210 pounds. Nuff said. However, let's suppose it were true that the CrossFit Games is "rigged" so only bigger folks can win - you mean, it's just like football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, sprinting, distance running and swimming in that certain body types do better than others? I shudder to think anyone thinks that. As for any person's opinion that tri-athletes are more fit than CrossFitters - first off, fine. Go compete in tri-athlon or watch tri-athletes on TV. That stuff is pretty doggone exciting eh? But more importantly, the test that is relevant to me is this: If you took a basket full of physical tasks, of which running long/slow was one or a few, and tested an elite CFer against the best tri-athlete in the world, the tri-athlete would easily win those elements of competition that include running, biking, and swimming for distances that require oxidative energy pathway mastery, to wit, long, slow races. Any events that require strength, sprinting speed, competence in body weight movements, jumping, throwing, kicking, punching, dragging, pushing, or weightlifting - your tri-athlete is going to look like a fish out of water. Now, if that's a choice that tri-athletes make with awareness of the compromises inherent in specializing at oxidative work at the expense of all else, what do I care? Go do whatever the heck you want to, it's your life, enjoy it. But if you think being good at working not very hard for a long time is "fitness", your definition of fitness means little to me. I prefer CrossFit's definition of "increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains", or "fit for the unknown and unknowable challenge."
    *He cites web sources which report Achilles tendon ruptures resulting from "high volume" box jumps. My response to that is that should he conclude an activity isn't safe, he probably shouldn't be doing it, but that's up to him. Ditto for double unders, wall ball shots and whatever else he thinks isn’t his cup of tea.
    *He reports that a guy somewhere tried what he thought was CrossFit and felt terrible, after which, he had a hard time competing on the mat in ju jitsu. The stunner here, as with most of what he took the time to post, is that he thinks that anyone would care about some guy who didn't like what he thought was CF. My advice is to not do CF if CF, or what you think is CF, doesn't help you accomplish what you want to do. However, "since you asked", I recommend you don't kid yourself that anyone will care one way or the other.

  5. Part 3:*He links to a HuffPo article which I suppose didn't like CF's ad with the punchline "cheat on your girlfriend, not your workout." FWIW, I didn't like that ad either. I guess he sent that to me because he thought I had not seen it - ? Can I get a "so what" people?
    *He links to a post from a person that didn't like CF's first "CrossFit for Hope" poster. Quite a few folks found that poster offensive. OK. CrossFit raised and gave over one million dollars to Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital, among many other charitable initiatives. Further, the "Fight Gone Bad" lawsuit mentioned was a simple legal defense of CrossFit's intellectual property, for which the other party requested a settlement. The "Fight Gone Bad" fundraiser received support from CrossFit UNTIL the group running "FGB" tried to obtain a copyright for the name "Fight Gone Bad" which clearly wasn't theirs. *He makes another post and explains he does like the fact that CrossFit defends its intellectual property, and proves once again he can namecall with the best of them in this post.
    *Anon, very bravely, as with all of his posts, cites a summary of the business relationship between Buddy Lee and CF from 2007. Scintillating stuff, Anon, the masses will certainly be entertained by that expose.
    *He cites a reference to the Makimba Mims lawsuit in 2008. I followed that closely as it unfolded. A guy did a workout of 90 total reps, using light weight, and took 20 minutes to do it, and then sued the CF trainer for what Mims claimed was rhabdomyolosis. Rhabdo is a common occurrence - detected in ~40% of military boot camp participants - but dangerous in only a very few cases. CF has posted articles since 07 or so to warn of the risk and how to prevent dangerous rhabdo. CF found, as I understand it, that the insurance company that covered the gym/trainer being sued did not plan to make an active defense in the Mims case. CF chose to taunt Mims to see if it could goad him into named CF as a party to the lawsuit, so that CF could make an active defense. The defense would have been among other things a video of kids doing the workout that Mims claimed was nearly fatal to him. It also would have included evidence, I suppose, that drug use, severe dehydration, and a few other things totally unrelated to working out can cause rhabdo. It would have been interesting to see how a vigorous defense would have fared. I have a hard time believing a guy with aspirations to professional wrestling could have been injured by a workout as moderate as the one Mims attempted. I suppose Anon saw the little cut about CF and Mims and again assumed someone would care. As a result of the Mims lawsuit, CF founded the CF RRG. The point of the RRG is to make sure that CF trainers can obtain insurance from a source which will aggressively defend them from frivolous lawsuits, and it has. It is the equivalent of a mutual aid society - IOW, profits were there to be any would be shared by the CF gym owners. *Anon cites a summary of a reported 2008 or so incident in which CF admin decided there could be no discussion of sexuality or sexual orientation on the CF message board. Imagine that.

  6. *Reports that 2009 Games winner Mikko Salo didn't use the workout (gasp) to prepare for his winning effort, nor did he use the paleo diet. I guess Anon has been under a rock or something, there's no one who's been around CF who would be surprised by this. Rumor has it that 2008 winner and perennial Games competitor Jason Khalipa ate Fruity Pebbles for breakfast before his 2008 win, and 2011-2012 winner Rich Froning eats, according to third hand info, something like PB&J and protein powder drinks. Is anyone supposed to care about any of this? Since Anon does not say why he thinks such a nugget is important, one could only speculate; but hopefully, not speculate too long. I conclude after review that Anon just doesn't know anything about CF, CF's history, CF principles, or much of anything else about why folks do CF. Nor should he. Nor should anyone who does not want to do CF.
    One note for all the folks who throw around the term cult. There's only one thing about cults that I would object to - and that is the practice of using sleep deprivation and food deprivation to create a manufactured conversion experience, and/or the rumored practice of coercive force to prevent those subject to such conversion experiences from interacting with their soon to be "former" friends and family. Other than that, if folks choose one religion or group over another, more power to them. I will point out that folks who join CrossFit do so with gusto and enthusiasm and with complete liberty not to do so. Folks can quit CF at any time. If all cults were like the CF community, the term would not have a bad name.

    I'm glad I took a minute to review Anon's complaints. I obviously love CrossFit, I love how much I can do for athletes of all ages and abilities. I enjoy every day how much I learned about strength and conditioning as a result of my CrossFit 'cult.' I've spent time with folks that have impressive credentials, and found they know little that is more useful to me other than what I've learned chasing excellence within the framework of CrossFit. I've learned not to expect the endurance crown, the oly lifting crowd, or the slow lift crowd to embrace CrossFit - but interestingly, some have (ever heard of Louie Simmons?). I expect to spend my life helping people to exceed their perceived limitations using CF. If Anon can't see the positive impacts of CF it hurts no one, with the possible exception of himself.

  7. Anon tried again to respond, but aside from calling me names, he does not have a lot to say. I feel for the guy. He feels strongly about something, but just can't say it, seemingly. The best I could get from his writing was that he seems to have some concern that I'm controlling all the folks in my gym, and preventing them from getting information that might lead them to conclude that CF isn't all that I say it is. Oh, and CFHQ is very much in control of me and what I say and do. He seems quite upset that I won't publish the 16 or so links he sent.
    So I'll offer this gesture: I'll publish your links on my blog if Anon can meet these criteria.
    1. No name calling, no one cares who you do or don't like, of what your opinion of their character or ability is.
    2. No speculating about other people's intentions.
    3. If you cite a link or links to other web sites, explain what you think those links mean, IOW, why would anyone care about this web site?
    4. Last and most important - what are you trying to say, to whom are you trying to say it, and why do you care? Are you concerned for other people? What people? Why do you think they need your special insight? Why do you think they are too ignorant to figure things out for themselves?

    Anon, I'm not a big confrontation guy. If you have something to say and say it in your own words without some petty ad hominem attack, I'll post your links. I draw the line at petty, name calling BS. You strike me as someone that knows next to nothing about CF but you've been hanging out reading BMD or similar stuff. It seems like you've never crossed paths with anyone that interacts about CF in any way other than juvenile "i'm right you're wrong" terms. I have no use for that here, but if you can say what you want my members to hear, the thing you think is in their benefit, keeping in mind the guidelines above, I'll post it pronto.