In defence of crossfit…

I love posts like this, passionate posts that challenge assumptions and defend the things they love. Laura writes brilliantly about something that has inspired her and pushed her to challenge herself, I don’t think you can argue with that, even if the very idea of it makes you want to hide under your duvet cradling a pork pie. There’s just something incredible about finding out just what amazing things your body can do if you ask it to, and something wonderful in reading about the joy Laura takes in doing just this. Personally, I can’t wait to try a post-Minilase handstand, just to see if my body can  do it (hint: I sincerely doubt it).

I am fairly new to CrossFit, so please don’t take my words as gospel or quote my subsequent ramblings as any form of authority, but I’ve been encouraged to write this piece by our very own Katielase and Siobhan after I had a little twitter rant the other day. You see The Guardian posted, what I felt, was a particularly mis-informed, ill-written and poorly researched piece on CrossFit. I got quite angry, then upset, and walked away from my computer for a while. How could they be saying such things about something which makes me so happy, makes me feel so amazing?

I could write and write for hours, picking apart that article but instead I’ll let you read it for yourself, and then hear what I have to say and make your own minds up. Both pieces, I think, will be at completely the opposite ends of the spectrum, but at least I’ve tried it. I don’t think the Guardian writer has stopped ‘spectating on people’s CrossFit obsessions instead of doing something useful with my life’ via blogs to talk to a real person. I understand that CrossFit sounds quite scary, and you definitely need to have some form of keen exercise drive to go. But if you like boot camps, or circuit training, then it might be right up your street.

There are big weights if you want to use them, it’s a lot of physical activity, and we call the gym we go to the ‘Box’. The moves are given weird names: ‘taters’ (potato what?!), ‘muscle ups’ and ‘pistol squats’ to list a few. We’re already thinking a boxing ring full of meat-heads throwing massive weights around right?

I started CrossFit because a local running team I’d joined in an attempt to make friends in a new city, really let me down and were very unwelcoming. It took a lot of bravery to get me to the ‘box’ that Monday morning, and as I stood there freezing my ass off (there is no heating, nor changing room at mine) very under-clothed, the coach met me with a massive smile on his face talked me through the plan for the session and did not leave my side once.

He laughed with me when I attempted my first handstand, encouraged me when I looked at the bar in horror, and cheered me on after I completed my first WOD (workout of the day). He checked I was feeling okay, if he could help me and if I had any questions. The more frequently I go, the more he steps back and lets me make my own choices about what I need to do to improve. There’ll be a ‘nice one Laura!’ shouted across the room when I nail a move, or he’ll correct me if I’ve got bad technique. There’s an entire army of coaches and trainers there, each with a smile and ridiculous abs, to show me the way. They’ve spent years training and studying to coach and you can tell. They will name that muscle you didn’t know existed when it begins to hurt, and they’ll write a plan on the board which is physically demanding but completely achievable for everyone in the room.

I don’t know where the Guardian writer gets her info but $200 a month membership? She’s clearly not shopping around (nor looking in the UK)! My box offers unlimited trials up to and including an induction before you are asked to sign up (you’re looking at over 10 sessions) and even then, membership is no more expensive than, say, a Virgin Active gym. The induction is between 3 and 6, 90minute sessions to teach you exactly what to do, where and when. Safety is of upmost importance. Personally, wandering aimlessly around a gym where I couldn’t get into classes was rather boring for £45p/m. I find CrossFit is worth every penny.

They say, if a runner has done a marathon, you’ll know about it. They’ll tell you within the first ten minutes of you meeting that they completed ABC marathon in XYZ time. The CrossFitters I’ve met don’t boast about their weights, or their time, or even if they compete. They might proudly tell you about another member who is currently hitting a PB, or tell you how sore they are from their last session. They struggle, they are humble, and they are quietly proud of themselves and their community.

I hope they can teach me to focus like they do, have the mental strength to keep technique perfect when my lungs are burning, and embrace everyone’s abilities for what they are. It doesn’t matter if you don’t finish the set, as long as you did everything to the best of your ability.

I hope they can teach me to be modest, to be happy with my own abilities and be less judgemental, to stop comparing myself. CrossFitters are the most supportive, kindest people I’ve met in this city, and I’m not going anywhere.

Of course, the abs are also a bonus.

Above all, I hope the Guardian writer, however intimidated or disgusted she feels with both men and women lifting some weights in a fit of ‘hairy-chested competitiveness’ takes a moment to try something before she next slates it. I openly invite her to come to a session with me, I guarantee I’ll be there will pom-poms, as will every other member, and she will leave feeling like she’s kicked this week’s ass, and can take on the world. She can even check my chest for hairs if she likes, I’m no prude.

Categories: Body Image, Health, Uncategorized
7 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Lexie
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Go Lauren! This sounds like a brilliant thing to do. I haven’t read the Guardian article, although I’m intrigued by what on earth they wrote about it! I’ve just got back into regular exercise, mostly yoga and Body Pump which I love. I say find the class/sport/gym that you like and go for it!

  2. Posted February 17, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I’ve now read the Guardian article, and I have to say any feelings of upset I have towards a form of fitness that allows you to teach after two days (and possibly no formal assessment? I can see no evidence of one on the Crossfit site) is completely surpassed by my feelings towards this Daily Mail-esque, lazy writing. Guardian, what has happened?? The age of online journalism has made everyone sloppy and nasty.

    I actually had a lot of time for Crossfit but it does seem to be another franchise with little vetting of instructors, just like Zumba? Speaking as someone who has spent years and thousands of pounds training properly, it’s a bit irresponsible, not to mention annoying from a professional point of view. As a discipline, and from a consumer rather than an instructor perspective, I think it sounds great. It’s really cool they’ve taken something pretty basic and made it engaging and challenging. I love that it’s not just a bloke thing – the first time I heard about it was back when I was fitness blogging years ago and it was the US lady bloggers doing it – which was refreshing and ace. I don’t see why the journalist has such a chip on her shoulder about more extreme forms of training. Nobody’s telling anyone else to do it! A better article would have been an exploration of how these fitness franchises work, and how they balance money making with a duty of care. Could have been great and really interesting. An opportunity wasted.


  3. ChirstyMac
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Ha ha, love this! I’d actually read the Guardian article at the start of the month – it was waved under my nose by the bloke, who is massively interested in CrossFit from a ‘terror parading as nonchalance from the side-lines’ stance. Your take is a billion times better a read :)

    There is a ‘Your Gym’ near us that does HIT training (same sort of deal, no? Or am I just showing up my ignorance?!) and it really does look amazing. I know I’ll never go – I’m not mentally strong enough to push myself and liable to burst into tears. A lot. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it looks fab and aspirational and that fantasy me (the me in my head that has bags of confidence and a dog and thighs like Beyonce) doesn’t do it all the time.

    Love that you’ve got a community from it too. And, sod the haters, I hope it continues to give you all the great stuff you’re obviously putting the effort in to get :) Pom pom cheer for Laura! X

    • Posted February 17, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      HaHa! I think HIIT is largely the same but without the power/Olympic lifting?
      I also aspire for Beyoncé thighs. One day… one day…


  4. Posted February 18, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Why is there so much negativity out there these days about fitness? Great post and a great read!

    It would be nice to see more compliments, more success stories, and more pats on the back to the training techniques – and the people who work very hard teaching/developing/practicing them – that genuinely make a difference to people’s lives. Every. Single. Day.

    I think that a bad workout is only something that is unsafe and/or something that you will not realistically be able to keep up with or practice regularly.

    I ought to read this Guardian article really, but is there an element of jealousy involved when people start slating workouts/diets? If it’s unsafe, then of course investigate further and say your piece. But very often, I find that the people slating these workouts (or anything for that matter), are the people who found it too hard and didn’t want to put the effort in to get better at it.

    Go Laura go!!

  5. rachel JHD
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I found this really interesting & think there’s a series in here. So often when I read a newspaper article about something I know lots about I realise the mistakes in it & then ponder all the other articles I read where I accept what’s written but then think hang on, but have no idea what the mistakes are. So AOW posts responding to articles, we’re then increasing our knowledge & empathy to. To journalists defence how can you know about everything deeply Even if the journalist had tried crossfit it would probably only have been once & what can any of us know doing something once?

  6. Siobhan
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I love this. I’ve always been more intimidated by the exercises than by Cross Fit. Most boxes I’ve considered joining list all the qualifications and years of experience of the trainers on their websites and emphasise getting form correct to ensure that no injuries take place.

    I’m still intimidated by the exercise but from everything I’ve heard it really is a community and that is what makes it work. You seem to have had that experience as well and I hope others do too. I think I might just try to give climbing a go again instead as for me that was how I found my community and my competition with myself and those things it seems to represent (though less of the total body workout element – or the burpees!)

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