Claire M. Burnett
5 Misconceptions About Crossfit
Updated: Nov 25, 2018
Killing your excuses not to try it.
For far too long I've heard people misrepresent CrossFit as a jocks-only club for crazy people that just throw around kettlebells, do muscle-ups, and half-assed versions of olympic lifting. I've had well-respected colleagues scoff at it as a patient(injury)-generating machine, and have had peers assume they'd never be able to do anything "as intense" as CrossFit.
Honestly…before trying it out, I even had misconceptions myself.
But since when did it become OK to have literally zero experience with something and be so against it?
Here’s 5 common myths I typically hear about CrossFit and my response.
(1) YOU'LL GET HURT
If you’re “into” the sport of CrossFit, you’ll probably get injured a lot, right? After all, it’s easy to understand how dangerous throwing barbells up the air and swinging your chin all over the place by the pullup bar could be...
EXCEPT...when you really look at some evidence (like, information that objectively looks at injury data across different sports. See: this article in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation or this blog post that outlines the injury rates between several kinds of sports), you will learn that participating in CrossFit probably poses no more injury risk than running or being a part of that pick-up basketball league at the local gym with your church buddies.
Dr. Zach Long of The Barbell Physio does an incredible job laying out the research on CrossFit injuries in this article (which you should definitely check out and read).
And look, injuries happen when we move. But I'll take my chances, considering that an inactive lifestyle leads to:
Type 2 Diabetes
the list goes on and on...
It's quite clear these days that the the most dangerous thing you can do is:
to NOT be active
to live a sedentary lifestyle.
So let's put that phrase to rest, shall we?
(2) IT'S FOR ELITE ATHLETES, MEATHEADS & YOUNG PEOPLE; A CULT
The amazing thing about CrossFit is that everything is scalable.
That means that every single movement can be modified to fit your fitness level. And I really mean ANY FITNESS LEVEL. The beauty of CrossFit programming is that the founder’s definition of “constantly varied functional movements performed at a high intensity” is a completely relative statement that can fit anyone, anywhere.
The cool thing? What matters more is the competency of the individual with a particular movement, and that he or she is working at the appropriate/prescribed intensity.
Objectively, there is no movement that is “too hard” for anyone that comes to a class, because a good box is going to have an unlimited amount of scalable movements to meet you where you’re at.
CrossFit facilities all over the world welcome & open their doors to any person that is looking to become better versions of themselves. While not all CrossFit affiliates are created equal, there’s probably not as much grunting, screaming, and bros gettin’ swole as you think.
My class at 4:30 p.m. is the coolest, eclectic group of people ranging anywhere from kids in college to grandparents. We’ve got solid regulars who are 50 +.
People who still think that young age and high fitness level are required to hang with the CrossFit crowd are just...well...wrong!
And also, last time I checked…no one is being held by chains in the gym. Come and go as you please!
(3) THE SOLUTION TO AN INJURY DURING CROSSFIT IS TO "JUST STOP" DOING CROSSFIT
Let’s face it. America is already full enough of healthcare professionals that prescribe “just stop doing that” as their solution to painful movements. That advice is a bandaid, and probably does more harm than good.
We know that participation in sport, exercise, fitness, etc has an incredibly far-reaching impact. And so “just stopping” removes us from an extremely positive social environment, from the metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of regularly elevating your heart rate, and from the psychological benefits of challenging yourself then overcoming, among other things.
I have worked with countless athletes and average Joes/Janes that benefit much more from scaling back a painful movement, working out the kinks, and then moving back into that same movement stronger and more resilient than before.
Complete avoidance of all painful activities is simply not always the answer.
There are certainly times where rest and stopping an activity is warranted (see: some fractures, illness, or the presence of serious pathology). But there are just too many important variables involved in sport participation to just issue a blanket cease and desist order when an athlete (recreational OR elite!) has pain.
Pain and injury do not mean you have to stay away from the gym. In fact, it probably will be better for your overall health if you don't entirely cut out that part of your life!
(4) IT'S CRAZY EXPENSIVE
This all depends on what you call “expensive” and what you call a “priority”. Membership to a CrossFit box is definitely more than LA Fitness. No doubt about it. But if you do a budget audit, I’d imagine many of us (including me!) could find some things we’re paying for that are LESS important than our health & fitness (Starbucks addiction, anyone else?).
You need to MAKE time for exercise and PRIORITIZE your health. It's something we all struggle with, myself certainly included. So I’m not going to say more.
Instead, here’s this list of “average” monthly budget items in America:
The average American car payment is $493/month.
The average working American spends $80/month on coffee.
The average American family spends over $230/month on restaurants and take-out meals.
So that $80-180/month on improving your health, losing weight, getting stronger, preventing injury, preventing or changing chronic disease, and potentially prolonging life...is it that unreasonable?
(5) CROSSFIT IS A GREAT SOURCE OF BUSINESS FOR PHYSICAL THERAPISTS, PHYSICIANS, ETC.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, in some way/shape/form: “Oh CrossFit - you know what that is? It’s a great source of business for me!”
But guess what? Times they are a'changin'...
CrossFit has contributed in such a major way to public health, addressing a wide variety of things from the growing tolerance for sedentary lifestyle to chronic disease. And it’s time for healthcare professionals to understand that and give credit where credit is due.
Now, more than ever, patients are starting to call B.S. on the whole “just stop” prescription. They won’t settle for it anymore. And they shouldn’t! As good medical literature continues to grow in favor of conservative options for injuries and pain (physical therapy, exercise) and lean away from invasive and medicine-based options...
Don’t be a hater. Try it out. Learn something about the movements in CrossFit and the language used, and stop dismissing it as a fad that causes injury and increases your paycheck. If you can’t keep up with those basics, then refer to someone who specializes in this kind of athlete.
-FELLOW CROSSFIT ENTHUSIASTS-
See a physical therapist or other healthcare pro that truly understands your sport and its’ demands. Work with a CrossFit Doc who knows his or her stuff...
Got a misconception that I didn’t address? Email me at email@example.com