How To: Think Inside the Box
by Casey Douglas
Graphics by Deanna Klima-Rajchel
It's fitness' most controversial subject...The bane of many a bodybuilder's existence...The brand often called bulky, dangerous, cultish... You know it well.
It's CrossFit—the activity whose slogan is, "Forging Elite Fitness," an entity that claims to build the "Fittest Athletes on Earth" in threadbare gyms, called “Boxes,” across the world. This is the same lifestyle that Dom Mazzetti, comedic mastermind behind the "BioScience" YouTube Series, calls, "the ultimate in lightweight Olympic lifting."
All the controversy and mixed opinions aside, the undeniable and infallible truth is that CrossFit has caught on to the heartstrings of a global populace and melted into mindsets everywhere like few fitness phenomena have done before.
Now, I've done CrossFit. And I've done not-CrossFit. So before you immediately roll your eyes at me for not simply bashing the subject, take a moment to understand my angle. Like I said, I’ve done CrossFit on many occasions, but it’s not my predominant style of fitness, (all in all, I’m a boot camp girl at heart). I have grievances with the activity, but I’ll never engage in bad-mouthing it, and though I find the workouts enjoyable and the brand intriguing, I’m not as ravenous as those who chose it as their major workout style.
So, take my opinion as one of the few mid-lined views you’ll get on the subject. In other words, I’m neither Hillary nor Trump here.
To start, there are plenty of ways in which CrossFit can improve upon itself. I can’t fully invest myself in a sport that, in practice, often calls for speed over form. There’s simply a part of me that doesn’t believe in encouraging a “lift-as-much-as-possible-as-fast-as-possible mentality.” I don’t care how careful the judging is; I believe you can be “no-repped,” (or lose credit for a repetition with poor form) after incurring bodily damage due to the guerrilla warfare mentality of the programming. I also recognize the grievances of many power lifters and Olympic weight lifters and runners, who call out the barbell numbers the CrossFit athletes put up as lacking, coupled with leg speed that doesn’t compensate for the lessened strength.
But in a different light, the two-edged nature of CrossFit’s sword is also one of its most impressive features. When done right, it gives the prime opportunity to become an athlete with excessive endurance and a resounding overall fitness capacity. Many have cited CrossFit as the reason behind their weight loss, attitude overhaul or lifestyle transformation due to the vast and diverse results they see in their physicality and mentality. My favorite type of challenges and workouts involve pushing all different aspects of my fitness, so CrossFit satisfies my craving for dynamic adversity. In addition, there’s no denying the impressive feats the CrossFit athletes accomplish. Can you survive five days of intensive competition riddled with environmental adversity, heavy lifts and blood-curdling tests of stamina? Answer this before speaking poorly of CrossFit athletes.
But what I enjoy most about CrossFit is the mindset of its core, of its people. It’s not about just looking good or just training or just getting stronger, bigger, better, faster. CrossFit is a sport in which you work hard toward goals of all levels within a community that’s a unique conundrum: people athletically compete against one another—ferociously—but will never once let a comrade fall. CrossFitters push and support each other in a way unlike any other community of the fitness realm. It is not a self-serving lifestyle, rather, it is an intricate web of encouragement and pride, and it is a place where many find respect, camaraderie and pride amongst their peers. The workouts enticed me, but I return for the family.
I’m not telling you to get all kinds of cult-y- no addiction is a good addiction, and blindly following abstracts concepts and ideas gets the human population into implosion on a regular basis. But don’t write off the CrossFit box just because hating what’s “in” is “in.” Don’t downplay the accomplishments of its participants because they don’t hold mile or squat records. As with all fitness trends, I suggest you give yourself the chance to make an evaluation on your own accord. So try to think inside of the CrossFit “Box”—you never know what you might discover.