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BoxLife Magazine

You might be a CrossFit A-hole if… (5 Warning Signs)

By William Imbo

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May 15, 2014

Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’re a passionate member of the CrossFit community. And as a passionate member, you must be well aware of the constant stream of negativity that comes from various media channels and perhaps your friends that seek to denounce CrossFit as a ‘cult’, ‘dangerous’ or full of ‘obnoxious assholes’—to put it bluntly.

But are we the a-holes, or is everyone else?

I hope that you continue to do CrossFit because you enjoy it—perhaps even love it—and when you love something, it invariably becomes a part of your life, in some way. And when this happens, it’s human nature to want to share and discuss one’s passions with others. More often than not this is done through various social mediums. Sites like Facebook serve as a journal for a CrossFitter keen to note a particular milestone or post a video of a particularly epic snatch. Does this qualify as ‘obnoxious’ behavior?

If you were meeting a friend of a friend for the first time, and they asked you what you were interested in outside of work, what would you say? If you had a flair for painting or enjoyed travelling, your eyes would light up and you wouldn’t be able to shut up about a trip you have planned or a painting that’s in the works. So what, are we expected to simply say “I do CrossFit” and not say anything else as it may come across as obnoxious and annoy the person? SCREW THAT. You asked me what I was interested in, and now I’m telling you! If you assume that because I “do” CrossFit I must be an arrogant fitness know-it-all, then you’re not really worth my time.

HOWEVER.

And this is a big however (obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be in capitals), there is an argument to be made that CrossFit a-holes do exist and are among us—it may even be YOU. After all, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. There are some CrossFitters who take the lifestyle a bit too seriously and a bit too far. Much like an annoying salesman, there is a monstrous difference between sharing your opinion, and forcing it upon someone. So take heed, and watch out for these 5 signs that you may be turning into a CrossFit a-hole. If you hit all 5, it’s probably too late…

You might be a CrossFit a-hole if…

1. Critiquing everyone’s diet choices when they haven’t asked for your opinion
If you’re going grocery shopping with friends or joining them for dinner, and there has been NO mention of dietary advice, casually stating that they should stay clear of the pasta carbonara is going to make you sound like a dick. Yes, it is. You may know that that cheeseburger isn’t going to do your friend any favors, but do you really want to act like the food police and judge your pals based off of what they choose to eat or keep in their fridge? You might think you’re helping out, but alas, you’re probably coming across as an annoying tool. Just remember, unless they specifically ask for it, keep your opinion to yourself.

2. Hating on different forms of fitness
If someone is making a genuine attempt to better themselves through a fitness program or sport then they should be applauded for that—even if it doesn’t happen to be CrossFit. The fact that we know that CrossFit is such an effective training methodology for all around fitness doesn’t warrant you brining someone else down because they’d rather do Pilates, boot camps or simply go to a globo gym (shudder). We CrossFitter’s tend to think that CrossFit is the best because we continually see success in relation to our personal goals. With that being said, some people may have more specific fitness goals that warrant a different form of training. Others may have lifestyle restrictions, or simply prefer to stick to a form of fitness that they are comfortable with—and that’s OK. The important thing to remember is that the individual is taking steps to improve their health in the best way they see fit, and unless they ask you in which direction they should turn, there’s no need for you to sell them on CrossFit.

3. Turning every conversations towards CrossFit
Have you ever met your non-CrossFit friends at a bar for happy hour, and had a conversation that goes something like this:

“Hey guys, work sucked for me today, I have this project that I just can’t quite finish, I can’t seem to get over the hump.” “Oh, I know exactly what you mean! I’ve plateaued my 1 rep thruster at the box and it’s becoming really frustrating.”

Yep, you know what I’m going to say. Come on, lets be honest, I think we are all guilty of this one. How can we not be? If you’ve just had a magical day at the box where you PR’d everything, chances are that that news will make an appearance, regardless of the direction the original conversation is going in. Either you’ll carefully groom the discussion to a favorable point where you can make your announcement, or you’ll latch on to the loosest possible connection to interject and proudly exclaim your day’s work at the box like a victorious knight returning to feast at their castle. Only problem is, your friends have likely seen you do this one to many times, and they’re going to get annoyed pretty quickly. If you were meeting up with your buddies for a drink, would you want to talk and catch up on news that you can all relate to? Or would you want to sit through a friends monologue on insert unrelatable/boring topic here. The sad truth is that not everyone gets as excited about CrossFit as you do—even your best friends. So don’t alienate them by constantly talking about it. Save it for the really EPIC news—like getting a muscle-up. That’s just too cool to keep to yourself.

4. Thinking CrossFit athletes are the best athletes in all of sport
We all know how incredible Games athletes are, and if you need a reminder, just tune in to the on-going Regionals to see some amazing feats of athleticism. Because CrossFit is designed to test an individual’s abilities in multiple, varied domains of fitness, we tend to think that the best CrossFitters are the best athletes out there, period. And we’re not afraid to let people know that either. Your friends may marvel at the speed of Usain Bolt or the explosive power of LeBron James, so naturally you have to bring them back down to earth with photographic and video evidence of Rich Froning snatching 300lbs and doing weighted pistols. Problem is, just because you think CrossFit athletes rule all doesn’t mean your pals will too. They may just want to admire LeBron’s ability to get so high in the air when he’s throwing down a dunk, and this isn’t an invite to denounce him as a lesser athlete than Froning (I wonder how James would do at CrossFit?). Frankly, most people won’t care that CrossFitters are fit in so many different ways, and if you keep reminding them, pretty soon you’ll be watching the game at home—alone.

Honorable mention: Subconscious judging of fit-looking people
Have you ever walked down the street or sat in a coffee shop and noticed a particularly in-shape person walk by? You may at one time been jealous of their physique, or even admired it, but now the thoughts running through your head are a little more ridiculous. That guy doesn’t look like he could snatch more than me. Oh I could definitely back squat more than her, she’s got no legs. There’s no way he can do a handstand push-up. To most people, these would be the ramblings of a madman, but to the typical CrossFitter, they make perfect sense. You may start to notice yourself sizing up a random person now and again, and this might even extend to the box. Of course it’s natural to be competitive, but if there is one thing CrossFit has taught us it’s that fitness is relative and that every one of us has strengths and weaknesses in different areas. I suppose a bit of random judgment here and there isn’t too bad. It is subconscious, after all. The problems arise when you start going up to random people (even newbies at the box) and asking them what their Fran time is. So don’t do it. Compete with yourself instead.

William Imbo

About William Imbo

William Imbo is an Associate Editor at BoxLife magazine, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and holds an MPS in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University. He is an avid CrossFitter and loves film, music and travel, thanks to having grown up across Europe. A fan of the New Orleans Saints and Newcastle United, Will's favorite CrossFit girl is Helen-least favorite being Isabel. View all posts by William Imbo →

One Response to You might be a CrossFit A-hole if… (5 Warning Signs)

  1. Jack says:

    Randomly happened across this article while I’m waiting for a plane, realise it was written a long time ago now, but this will kill some time.

    We all know Crossfit is a really effective way to look fit, but let’s face it, as awesome as it is it’s pretty much just circuit training. Including Olympic lifts is not new. The genius of crossfit has been the marketing that suggests it’s innovative and exclusive and that the base concept hasn’t been around since the 70’s, so people like us now pay money to do it. But hey it works better than anything else I’ve done to look good so I’m not complaining!

    But that ‘exclusive’ mindset is one of the reasons why so many people hate us, and far more so than any other gym based group around. You know that saying “if you meet an a-hole, that’s unlucky. But if everyone you meet is an a-hole, well… you’re the a-hole”. Crossfit is competitive fitness. Period. So is competitive aerobics. Most people don’t really class aerobics as a sport, and they extrapolate the same mindset to crossfit. We don’t deal with that very well, and as a group get a bit butthurt and project an aura that not only are we special, we are better because we are “more functionally fit” than other professional athletes. Whatever that means. I kinda get the feeling we would get seriously owned if we rocked up to compete in the pentathlon at the olympics. We are extremely good at circuit training, but that’s about it, which in many ways makes us less functional than we think we are.

    I have been lucky to have met an Olympic gold medallist rower when he came to visit Canada, and I think they make a good example of well rounded athletes at least in the sense of how crossfitters think. I’m sure many other strength endurance athletes would too but I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them yet. He stood at 6’5 and weighed about 100kg, could do sets of 6x (proper, no-kick) pull-ups with 65kg on the belt, deadlift over 200kgs and bench press 150kg. None of these are world records by any stretch of the imagination, but not bad considering his large size and the fact that strength work only made up roughly 20% of his weekly training sessions and was viewed purely as an aside. He pulled in the 5:40’s for a 2000m rowing erg and could regularly ride 300km in under 9hrs (solo, no drafting). My body hurts just thinking about that! The point being he had outstanding explosive power, aerobic threshold power, and pure endurance. By all reports he was quite handy in a number of other sports as well.

    The thing is he was known for his mastery of a complex technical skill (there’s even a YouTube video used for teaching that is based on his technique) and his ability to perform it under intense pressure. Many of us would like to be able to do pull-ups like that or a rowing erg like that but will never come close, even in the absence of having to master other specific technical requirements. I thought I would have met a kindred spirit when I asked him about his training stuff. But the difference here was that he seemed slightly bemused by my enthusiasm – all that lifting and riding and erg rowing he did – that was all grind work that had to be done purely as a supporting activity to the ‘real thing’. He wasn’t dismissive, but I could tell he thought it was odd to get so excited about basic conditioning rather than performance, he was completely unmoved by my flattery over his numbers and changed the subject to something about me… Some talked about crossfit. I think this is why we behave so badly sometimes, we feel like our efforts need validation from others and get upset when they don’t, or indirectly that the lack of enthusiasm from the general public compared to Olympic/professional sport makes us feel like our hard earned fitness goals aren’t worthy.

    Lastly, like you have done above, I often hear other crossfitters say “I’d like to see how (insert athlete name here) would handle crossfit”. It might trouble you to know that the answer after just a few sessions would likely be “pretty damn well”.

    But put the shoe on the other foot – how well would we do in a rowing boat? A swimming race? A basketball game? The answer, in case you were wondering, is terrible. Absolutely terrible.

    We are good at crossfit. We look awesome. Things could be worse, so let’s just relax a little and not make them that way by making everyone hate us. Crossfit will only ever be for crossfitters, other people will rarely be excited about our efforts, we will never be bigger than tne Olympics. That’s life!

    And that’s my plane.

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