Crossfit Myths: Debunked

Almost immediately upon beginning my Crossfit journey in September, 2012, I realized that it is an insanely polarizing sport. Peeps either love it or hate it, and both parties seem to be equally vocal as to their reasons why.

Crossfit Myths

Wearing both my Reebok PWR pants and my fave pink Nanos.

Luckily for me, I fall into the “love it” category and am so glad I started to incorporate the workouts into my weekly rotation. However, I do get very frustrated when I see others unreasonably bashing the sport, making fun of it, or criticizing those who enjoy it. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat! I’ve personally experienced this on some of my social media platforms, and quite honestly, it drives me bonkers. For example, I had an Instagram follower insist my back injury was from Crossfit, even after I told him my doctor said it was congenital and unrelated to any form of exercise. He went on to call me “stupid” because I continued with the sport. First of all, he isn’t medically certified in the least, and second of all, he has never even tried a workout. Lastly, he really pissed me off. Hmm.

The more I think about it, however, I wonder if Crossfit is still a big unknown for many, and that’s why it is so polarizing. So, because of this, I decided to shed some light on a few stereotypes that concerned me before I began working out at Big Horn!

1. The gym is full of rock hard bodies and meathead mentalities.

Crossfit Myths

False. Granted, I can only speak for what I’ve experienced at my gym, but this is absolutely not true in the least. Our coach Brian is pretty beastly, but he is far more motivating than intimidating! Maybe it’s because Big Horn is a relatively new box, but most members are trying to get into shape or take their fitness to the next level. The gym has a “goal whiteboard” where everyone can jot down their Crossfit goals, and they range from a shrinking waist line to mastering an unassisted pull-up (Hello, that’s mine!) I see far more “meathead” personas at 24Hour Fitness than I do at Big Horn. Truth.

2. Crossfit leads to injuries.

Debatable, but I’ll call this one false because it depends more on the individual than it does on Crossfit. I don’t have any stats in front of me, but I’ve been continually told that there has been a rise in athletic injuries due to WODs. However, in my opinion, this will only happen if you can’t check your ego at the door. Sure, you’ll hurt yourself if you try to go too big too fast, but isn’t that the case with anything? I’ve had numerous idiotic running injuries from pushing the mileage too high, too quickly. Is there a difference?

3. Everything involves a weird acronym or sexy sounding word.

Crossfit Myths

See those skinny straps on my Reebok Crossfit Racer Long Bra Top? I’m convinced they make me look like I have back muscles. Fo realz.

True! I never thought I’d see more acronyms than I did in graduate school for my M.Ed, but Crossfit has proved me wrong. We’ve got EMOTM, AMRAP, RFT, DU, OH, KB, and 1RM to name a few. In addition, we’re talking cleans, jerks, snatches, boxes, and WODs. But you know what? It’s okay to laugh! I was too immature to contain my giggles last week when Brian was explaining a clean and jerk and stated, “You just have to jerk it!” But then he laughed, Will made fun of me, and all was right with the world. The acronyms take some getting used to, but they eventually start to make sense….

….but I’ll never stop giggling about snatches!

4. It’s hard to get a decent workout in less than 30 minutes.

Crossfit Myths

False. I definitely had this same question before starting at Big Horn. After all, I was used to 9 hour high altitude hikes and 2 hour training runs! However, it is possible; it’s just different! When I run for an hour, I burn around 500-600 calories according to my heart rate monitor. During WODs, I’ll typically workout for 30-45 minutes and burn 450-500 calories. At the end of the hour, I’m still burning the same amount of energy; I’m just doing it a lot more quickly during the Crossfit workout!

5. Crossfit hurts.

True. Hell yes it does, although not in the “I just injured my knee” type of way. Typically, the cardio WODs are less than 20 minutes but they push me to limits that were previously unknown. I try my best to be totally spent at the end of the workout, no matter how short it is, so the cardio period is brief but intense. Sweat will literally roll off my face (so much so that we have to clean the floors afterwards!), my throat will burn, and I’ve definitely contemplating puking a few times. However, this insane level of intensity has made other, less elevated cardio activities seem easier in comparison. By default, my running and hiking have improved because of my stronger muscles and because of my higher tolerance for pain. Score!

6. Crossfit is expensive.

True. This was my #1 concern with the sport before I began, and while it hasn’t disappeared, I’ve simply found ways to justify it to myself. I typically go to morning classes and quite frequently, it ends up just being Brian and me. In fact, this happens at least 1/3 of the time so it’s almost like I have a personal coach. Additionally, I’ve just decided that I love it enough that I’m willing to spend the money on it. I’m fortunate to have a stable job and enough income that I can afford the additional cost. However, I also don’t have a family or kiddos either! I realize not everyone is in the same position and I don’t mean to minimize that. For me, however, I have just made it work.

*********************

Are you a Crossfitter? What other stereotypes can you think of?

If you’re not, how do you feel about Crossfit?

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Comments

Crossfit Myths: Debunked — 80 Comments

  1. I think a lot of this negativity comes out of envy and a bit of jealousy. People want to do it but either don’t have access and/or can’t afford it. With it becoming so popular they want to keep up with Joneses but can’t…so instead they bash it. That’s just my take on it. And just like anything there are the certain individuals that only feed the myths by their tweets and posts of injuries, etc. But how many runners out there are doing the same thing….running way too many miles, not being smart, and hurting their bodies? It’s all relative. I for one hate the negative energy from either side of the coin. Can’t we just get along? I don’t know if it’d be my bread and butter but still would like to give it a whirl.

    • I don’t know if I think it’s jealousy. I think people do this with any sport that they don’t participate in. Like you said, how often do non-runners tell runners that they will “ruin their knees”? I think the backlash is worse with Crossfit maybe because it grew so popular, so fast?

      • I don’t know if it’s jealousy either, I think it’s partially that folks can be quick to hate on something they don’t understand. And yep, I’m with Heidi…any negativity is too much negativity for me, regardless of where it’s coming from. I firmly believe it’s close to impossible to form an opinion on something without trying it!

        And there’s so much more to CrossFit than just the workouts; it’s truly changed how I see myself, and I can’t imagine life without the friends I’ve made at my gym. It’s even harder to understand that aspect of the sport without experiencing it.

        I’m so glad you tried CrossFit, Heather, and that you love it so much!

  2. You should read T.J. Murphy’s “Inside the Box.” He does an excellent job breaking down the stereotypes, explaining just how effective CF is and how it helped him overcome his running injuries. He’s written a number of articles, too. (Confession: he also worked out at my first box, so they are featured in his book, making me slightly biased, but I also feel he does his journalistic/reporter duties on the topic.)

  3. Great post! I, too, get very frustrated with all the bashing! I think endurance sports and CF can exist in harmony. I did a 30-day Living Social deal at my local box and really liked it. It was a bit difficult to fit in with marathon training in that I couldn’t afford super tired legs when I needed to do speedwork, but I think at another time of the year, it could only enhance my running. I am bummed about the price, though, b/c we belong to a gym system here that we’ll never leave and just can’t justify both. I am putting together a bit of a home CF gym, and post marathon training, I’m all over it!

    • The cost was tough for me too. I still pay for my 24Hour membership but I have an insane corporate deal; otherwise, that would’ve been eliminated long ago. On the bright side, for me, paying for Crossfit ensures that I go. After all, that’s a lot of money to waste! :)

    • PS You may be interested in this: Billy Brown, a good friend and Founder of Trek Tech Blog, is doing an experiment over there by trying to train for a marathon solely using CFE. I’m interested to see how it turns out!

  4. I would totally do a quick, tough strength workout like crossfit, but unfortunately it is no where near in my budget. It’s honestly the biggest turn off. I’m actually curious why every box that I’ve looked into everywhere that I live is that expensive. Any thoughts on that?

    • I’d guess insurance risk is higher. At a regular gym you have a lot of people like walking/doing really low risk activities. I’d imagine it has a much higher premium/member for Crossfit. I have no idea if that’s true, but that’s what I assume I paid for.

    • I’m not sure! It could have a lot to do with what Carly mentioned below, re: insurance. There are a lot of big weights being thrown around! I could also see it having to do with the individualized attention you receive. Like I mentioned, I often work 1-on-1 with our coach and if not, the group is never larger than 3-4 people. Other than that, I’m afraid I don’t know!

      • I’m sure there are insurance issues, but there are also affiliate fees, rent for the gym space, utility costs, all of the equipment, all the certifications you need to be a good coach, gym owners paying other coaches, and gym owners paying themselves, regular costs of doing busines…if you have 100 members at a box and they each pay $150/month, that’s $150k to cover a whole ton of expenses. And that’s a decent sized gym!

  5. I am just finishing up a Crossfit Foundations class and…. it’s just not my jam. I love the WOD portion, I love the people, I love the funny sounding words but the olympic lifting part makes me want to stab my eyes out. It’s too expensive of an endeavor for me to not be totally into it BUT that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with Crossfit as a workout. I can definitely understand why people love it, it’s just not my “omg this is my favorite” type of thing. The coaches at the gym I went to were so good and I felt like the injury risk wasn’t any higher than at a more traditional gym. I just couldn’t get into it. I think people definitely need to try it before they decide if it’s the best or worst.

    • Agreed! I definitely think it isn’t for everyone just like yoga or running isn’t either. That’s kinda how I feel about Zumba or aerobics. I get a great workout in…but I would just prefer to do something else :)

    • I suck at home workouts! I just know this about myself and as much as I’ve tried to change it, I just can’t. I lack motivation when I’m in my living room and find ANYTHING to distract myself! I started push-ups the other day and ended up VACUUMING THE FLOOR. Who chooses to vacuum over working out?! :)

  6. Good info…
    I personally have much respect for Crossfit, seems like a super hardcore workout and it kind of scares me… that being said one day I hope to try it.

      • seems super intense… well i am a skinny girl and my workouts are mainly running and yoga and I feel like trying to lift or jump on boxes will hurt me, and also i wont make it through the first exercise… must try it though..

        • I too, am terrified! I don’t know why. My husband has been doing Crossfit (he used to do it in his basement) for ten years, and always wants me to get into it, but I keep thinking I wouldn’t be able to handle it!

        • Yanet, I’ve definitely heard this concern before! But one of the best things about CrossFit is that it’s universally scalable. Everything you’ll do is based around the idea that we need to do things like deadlift, squat, push things over our heads, and move our bodies in functional ways. If you can’t do a pushup, pullup, or full squat, there are plenty of ways to adjust the movements and loads based on your ability. We’ve had a lot of folks who can’t do full pushups start at my gym, and they’re able to do them now, but we always talk about how we’re all beginners at one point in our lives! I think you’ll find the community will welcome all abilities and all levels of experience.

        • If you can take running, you can definitely handle crossfit :) I understand that it looks scary, but as Katie mentions, it’s very scalable, regardless of your ability. You may be surprised by yourself!

  7. I have to admit to skipping over parts of different blogs when they’re describing Crossfit workouts. It doesn’t have anything to do with thinking the sport is dumb. I just don’t have the opportunity to participate, and, therefore, most of the descriptions are boring and don’t make sense to me. However, I would totally give it a try if I had the opportunity!

    • I can understand that! I like the sport, but if a Crossfit post gets too techy for me, I tune out. I think I do that with everything though– I don’t like blog posts that start analyzing running splits or cycling cadences either!

  8. OMsweetG I debunked myth 4 on sunday. It was my last personal training session and I got my ass handed too me. I thought I was going to pass out…yes the session was an hour but the main workout part of it was 10 minutes! I honestly am starting to hate having so much of my time dedicated to fitness, especially with a full time job and a house to run. I think crossfit is an awesome match to that…

    I start my first group class today and I am really glad for this post! I do feel like I am on the right track!

    • I feel like Crossfit still takes up as much time, if not more, for me just because I drive to/from the gym and am there for at least an hour. But, still worth it!

    • Very true! I just mean the $ amount as a whole is a lot. I’ve never paid for a personal trainer but I’m willing to pay for crossfit :)

  9. A lot of people hate on things that get really popular really fast ie: Crossfit, yoga, Zumba. I think a lot of people feel excluded for whatever reason and then hate on it. I personally think people should go into exercise with an open mind – we need to embrace physical activity instead of shunning it for petty reasons! Awesome post Heather. Hoping to try crossfit this summer (with a groupon haha)!

  10. Oh I can’t wait to jump on this band wagon! LOVE this post. So true and I totally agree with you on every single thing! Coming from an injured person. I’ve been in rehab for over a year. It’s all form baby. You have to check that ego. It takes a while to get that through your head. You are right I have seen some damage from a person’s OWN competitive spirit.

    I have also never seen a box that didn’t offer a class or two or three for free. It’s hard to judge Crossfit with just one try? No responsible trainer/owner would give a new person a full out WOD. Every person is at a different level.

    I think that the Crossfit games plays into a myth. I have not been to any box that has a group of people like those competing in the games. These are every day people achieving great things with their bodies. It breaks the male vs female myth. (I’ve seen stronger women but if a man sticks with it, he will progress very quickly). It breaks the age myth! I’ve worked out with people in their 50′s to late 60′s and they can run circles around some of the members in their 20′s.

    It has been my experience that every box that I have been to is very welcoming! Most Crossfitters are very humble. Why? Because one day you come in and and the WOD Gods are in your favor and every movement is for you! The next day you come in and maybe you have angered the WOD Gods and every movement that day is your weakness, you’re slow, everything is heavy…it’s just not working. No day is the same! It is not routine. That is perfect mix for me! :)

  11. Thanks for posting this Heather! I feel like a lot of active people need to prove “why my sport is better than yours” Hell, if we are moving and staying fit, who cares?! #5 is a HUGE factor for many and we are currently revising our budget to make it work. Ego most definitely MUST be checked! :)

    • You’re totally right! I think people just want everyone to love what THEY love because they have such a passion for it. It’s kinda like when you watch your favorite movie and want everyone to love it just as much as you ;)

  12. I was afraid of making a fool out of myself before I joined. The only CF I had seen at that point was from a local box running med balls around the block, it looked weird, hard and obtrusive to the neighborhood. When a friend and my husband convinced me to do it and months later I found myself partner carrying a 75# barbell around a block, I realized that I couldn’t care about what others thought and that I was getting into the best shape of my life. My husband and I have definitely figured out a way to justify the cost, and I’ve learned how to balance running and crossfit so that I don’t lose my love and my training for both.

    • I’ve done the same– I like mixing my 3x/week of crossfit with 3 days of running or hiking or whatever. And I TOTALLY remember being worried about embarrassing myself! I even picked a 4:30 class time for my first day because I assumed most people would still be at work!

  13. I’m not a Crossfitter, but I do have a lot of respect for those that can do it! Dude, you have awesome back muscles!!! It’s not just the tank!
    I couldn’t make it to the gym this morning because of the snow we got last night, I typically burn 400-450 being there for about an hour; I shoveled our driveway for 45 minutes and burned 481 calories this morning. The point is that being active and being fit is key, no matter what you’re doing :)

  14. As someone who prefers to take a nice long walk (sometimes run) on the treadmill I see the dedication of the folks who do CrossFit. I have had the pleasure to see many classes and different videos in my time at Climb On! and I can say I would be scared todo that intensive of a workout.

    I use my time working out to relieve stress from the days work but also even relax a little. Sounds kinda silly but it’s true! In the end, I really respect the folks who can do Crossfit (like my Aunt who founded Climb On!) however I don’t think it’s for me!

    ~Warmly.
    Will Reynolds Young

    PS: I did just get a Treadmill desk though so I am not sitting at work constantly!

  15. LOVE THIS post!!! What a great break down. and those straps aren’t making you look muscular….it’s your MUSCLES! HOLY COW!!!! you’re ripped chick.

    I was to do crossfit soooo bad

  16. First off, you DO have back muscles – awesome ones at that. I’ve definitely heard these stereotypes and I will admit that some of them kind of intimidate me from giving it a go. I know that they aren’t true and it’s mostly just a mental thing for me more than anything. I think that with anything that people are passionate about, you’re going to have haters. Thanks for putting this out there.

  17. Excellent post! Must say I agree with all of it! Started CrossFit mid November and I’m NOT turning back! Yes, it is expensive… luckily I’ve been able to justify the cost. I quit smoking. CrossFit was my reward. So the money I was throwing away on cigarettes is now keeping me healthy. :)

  18. So, I’m not anti-crossfit, but I also think it’s one of those things that is growing a little too fast. There are too many boxes with instructors who aren’t paying enough attention to the crossfitters, which can lead to injuries. And the concept that if you crossfit, you can do any other sport with little other training – I call BS. ;)

    But, I love the exercises they use, the focus on fitness and progress, the concept is good. So, like so many other things, it’s about picking the right box to visit. Just like you have to be careful with personal trainers though. :)

      • With respect to the last comment in the first paragraph, Heather, I think you’re right. But CrossFit isn’t designed to make you the best at other sports, it’s designed to make you generally fit for functional movements. If you want to run a 3 hour marathon, or swim a 5:00 500 yard freestyle, you’ll need to focus on being a running specialist, or a swimming specialist. It’s the same for any other sport. Were there specific sports you’ve seen folks say you’ll be an expert at if you start CrossFit?

    • I totally agree with this: “There are too many boxes with instructors who aren’t paying enough attention to the crossfitters, which can lead to injuries.”

      I started doing crossfit with a friend who is a crossfit trainer. Then I bought a Groupon for a box to try it out in a group setting and I totally see this. There are just too many people for the coach to check form. I was lucky enough to start one-on-one with a coach who concentrated on form, but if I jumped right into it, I’d be concerned about injuries.

  19. I’ve never done crossfit at a box, but my roommate’s boss is also a coach, and he leads lunchtime WODs on the beach for employees/friends when the weather is good. I’ve done those, and they are an amazing work out using almost no props in a short time. I also love the competitive aspect

    I keep waiting to see a Groupon deal for our local box, but until then, I spend enough money on gym/ski pass/yoga to justify the crossfit cost.

  20. This is great.
    I”ve been dying to try it; but, have been afraid I’ll love it & it’ll be so expensive.
    However, I mostly run & don’t belong to a gym, so that’s my justification.
    I”ve heard it’s so empowering & great for you. I really need to take the plunge & do it.
    It’s just so intimidating!

    • I was pretty intimidating visiting the gym for the first time too but I promise– it really isn’t bad once you are there! If you have your eye on a gym, just head over one day to check it out. I’m willing to bet you won’t be as nervous afterwards :) Then you’ll be able to determine whether it’s for you!

  21. I started CF a month ago and I love it! It pushes me each workout. Everyone at the gym is encouraging and motivating. I have a weight to lose and at the 24 hour it’s easy to give up quickly or feel pressured to stop because someone is waiting on you. At CF I feel I get one on one attention even in a group setting. Also, like I said, it pushes me further then I would ever take myself.

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  23. So I’ve personally never done CF and therefore don’t really have an opinion (except that I don’t feel it’s for me because I’d be too busy laughing at the fact that I was jerking and doing a snatch to actually focus on working out). I’m just turned off by the intense atmosphere, so many people are all “CROSSFIT IS THE BEST WORKOUT EVER” and in my face and so many blogs I used to enjoy I now just mark as read because it’s yet another detailed explanation of their WOD. I mean obviously it’s my choice to follow them but still. Being told to do something makes me stubbornly want to NOT do it so I think now the sullen teenager in me is like “NO I WON’T like CF and you can’t make me, SO THERE”.

    • Haha, do you know that I was this EXACT way about Crossfit last year? I have some friends that did it and they kept trying to get me to try and it drove me bonkers, so I totally turned into a sullen teenager like you said :) Once they laid off, I got curious and gave it a shot. But, like you said, I don’t think it’s for everyone and some people may hate the intensity. My mom tried one and HATED it because she loves the relaxation of her yoga workouts.

  24. I LOVE CrossFit, but the bashing does happen both ways. Thankfully not as much at our box, but definitely in social media channels. Bashing people for doing any other workout other than CrossFit. The Zumba bashing. The Triathlon bashing. The “Your workout is my warm up” slogans, etc. Wish those would simmer down. IMHO, if whatever someone is doing is getting them to move and stay active, then I am all for it for them! I choose CrossFit as my regimen because I love it, who wouldn’t stick to an exercise regimen they love? And I won’t be one to knock Zumba, before CrossFit I had done some Zumba and I thought it was so fun and definitely broke more than a mere sweat. i love dancing, too. I think the bashing can settle down on both sides.

    • Agreed! I’ve seen the shirts, etc with the “Your workout is my warm up” slogan and I really don’t like that either. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to stay active and that’s what matters.

  25. Love this! As far as the cost, I justify it with the fact that very often the classes are small and it is like having a personal trainer, and if I’m paying that much for it I make myself go. If it were $30 a month, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel so bad for skipping a WOD.

    • It does help! There are some days when I just don’t feel like doing anything but then I think about how much money I’d be wasting and that gets me out the door!

  26. I love this! I always have the same arguments with non-CrossFit people, and have finally started to convince some of them that CrossFit isn’t so bad.

    But yeah… we did clean and jerks on Monday and I still can’t stop giggling about the jokes we had. Good times. :)

  27. The only problem for me is that last one. Once I get rid of these pesky student loans I’d definitely love to give CrossFit a try! Until then I just try at home WOD’s in the comfort of my living room

  28. New to crossfit. In third week I love it! I have already experienced the benefits in my running. Love the variety in the wods. Totally worth the cost for the personalized coaching! Great pst

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