Rebuttal: No, CrossFit Does Not Terribly Maim Or Disfigure

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A video released yesterday claims to be the "Ultimate Crossfit [SIC] Fails Compilation," during which you see a common theme of pain and worst-case scenarios in the gym. Problem is, that's not CrossFit, according to a company rep.

"The majority of it was not people doing CrossFit," says Russ Greene, a CrossFit spokesman. "So that just indicates that this [video] person—and people in general—are confused about what it is. And that's understandable."


In the video, there is a clip from a powerlifting competition. CrossFit athletes may do Olympic lifting, but that's a completely different sport. There's also a clip from American Ninja Warrior training. That's TV.

Really, Greene says, the video should be called "Workout Fails" or "Athletic Fails"—but that's not as catchy. CrossFit is more than a fitness regimen; it's a cult and culture, a popular but insular community that has only recently begun to explain itself to the world.


But the idea that CrossFit athletes are getting injured more—the underlying premise of the viral video—simply isn't true. You may have watched CF trainer Kevin Ogar sever his spine at the OC Throwdown (a non-CF competition) in January. But that's about as freak accident as you can get.

"The idea that CrossFit has a higher rate of injury, or that it is somehow categorically unique in creating injuries, there's no evidence of that whatsoever," Greene says.

And the video proves it, he says. CF's devotees don't work out alone, as do many of the people in the video. Also, there's always a coach present to examine and correct proper form. In most of the clips, you're watching a jackass and his jackass videographer.


Part of the misconception may come from intensity: No one goes for a "leisurely" CrossFit. It's intense, but just because it's intense doesn't make it inherently dangerous. Coaches are walking around examining and correcting form, and there's a thorough four-week introductory period for newbies to learn the movements before they're thrust into the GP. Workouts may be similar, but they're scaled to an individual's experience and strength.

Even so, injuries happen. But they also can happen in dog walking, beach volleyball, or the company softball game.


"Very safe? What does that mean? We can talk about numbers, we can talk about in relation to other fitness programs. No exercise program is 100 percent safe. There are injuries in every single physical activity and sport," Greene says. "That's not a CrossFit thing; that's a reality thing."

There are millions of people doing CrossFit every year. You probably know a few because they won't shut up about it. But the danger is taking a few anecdotes to categorize the whole.


Does the clip show any CrossFit gyms or athletes? Yes, Greene says, but many aren't. Regardless, there's a lot more to it than blindly box jumping and barbell-pressing.

"More people are learning about what it really is," he says, "rather than a caricature, which is not based on reality."