The Crossfit Criticism

As with any sport or workout program, crossfit receives a fair amount of criticism from multiple sources.  Because crossfit and I are basically in a long term relationship at this point, it is hard for me to imagine thinking anything negative about it. However, some of the criticism surrounding crossfit is warranted. Here are some of the post popular negative crossfit remarks.

  1. Girl: “If I lift weights like that I’ll get big.”
  2. “Crossfit? Nope. I will get injured. Like everyone else who does it.”
  3. “Crossfit gyms don’t even have benchpresses. Wimps.”



Almost all of my girl friends who never lift and focus on cardio all seem to share the same thought process.  Weights will make you look like the Hulk. Although the crossfit cover ladies do share a somewhat nauseating resemblance to the Hulk, they are the extreme cases, and I can almost 100 % guarantee that crossfit is not what is primarily making them look that way. In order to look like the Hulk, you have to eat like him too. Gaining and building muscle (and fat) is more diet and a little weight training. Although all girls’ bodies are different, we will never ever gain a lot of muscle by just doing heavy weight training. Some serious supplements would also have to be involved.


Crossfit injuries are a little trickier to deal with. In this category, some of the criticism is absolutely warranted. Unfortunately, crossfit is a sport designed to push a patron to his or her level of exhaustion. In some cases, this can mean injury.  However, the sport as a whole is hardly to blame for this. People who do crossfit need to realize that safety comes first, and performance comes second. May crossfit injuries are also due to bad form. Because it is a sport that is based on competing for time, in many cases (in order to get a faster time) people sacrifice form. This is where coaching come in. There is no such thing as an unsafe crossfit workout. The answer is simply an unsafe coach. A coach’s job is to correctly demonstrate moves and keep an eye out during workouts to make sure that form is not sacrificed to better performance.

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Lastly, the age old complaint about the crossfit gym: that it isn’t a gym.   If a regular person were to walk into the Wagner building (where we lift) he/she would not even know it was a gym. We have ropes, weights, bar-bells, pull up bars and then miscellaneous jump ropes, kettlebells and wall balls. It is hardly the typical gym filled with leg pressing machines and bench presses. Does that mean that crossfit is for the weak? Hardly. Crossfit focuses on mobility motions that are useful in daily life. These are referred to as Olympic lifts. Let’s be real. When is bench pressing ever going to be useful? Deadlifting, however, is the same motion you would use to pick up a heavy couch or rock. Crossfit is all about mobility and function. Not just looking good while doing it people!

The Wonderful World of Dinsey?

As little kids (yes, even the boys) most of us were part of the Disney “cult.”  We were avid watchers of the movies, played with the action figures and dolls and may have even made a trip or two to visit the famous Disney World. Parents, encouraged by the G rating of many Disney movies, encouraged the movies and the positive messages that came with them. Obviously, Disney had a profound affect on many of our childhoods. But was it really a positive affect?  After looking closely at the messages behind many Disney movies, many theorist have actually contributed Disney movies to the ideas of gender objectification beginning at a relatively young age.

At the age of 4 when given the choice between a male doll and a female doll and asked the question “Who cleans the house?” all 10 children pointed to the female doll. Similarly, when asked “Who raises the kids?” the children responded with the same response. Many who witnessed this survey found it shocking that gender objectification could occur at such an early age. Although the classic case of nature vs. nurture was ruled to have an effect, many of the scientists involved with the study also looked into the type of entertainment available to the children.  Unsurprisingly, all 10 children had hear of or encountered Disney in some manner.

After examining the early Disney princess movies, researchers made some shocking discoveries that let them to conclude that the movies were actually not appropriate for their target audience: young girls.  The princesses, who were all depicted with extremely small features, coke glass figures and who were all seeking husbands, only backs up the conclusions that the Disney movies were basically encouraging girls to “sexy, weak and married.”

For the few Americans who have not seen Ariel, Snow White and Cinderella, we all still know the story line. Three princess who find true love and live happily ever after. But is that really the case. The Little Mermaid: A movie that encourages girls to leave their families, change their bodies and abandon the one thing they love most to make the “man of their dreams” happy. Snow White: When beauty at first seems like a horrible thing (it almost gets her killed) it prevails in attracting a man for protection. Not only does this enforce the idea that women are fragile and have to be used for protection, but it also enforces the idea that beauty is the only thing men find attractive. Finally, Cinderella: If you are beautiful, maybe you can find a man wealthy enough to save you from your poverty. No hard work involved. Just marriage.   Even The Beauty and the Beast, a movie about an independent bookwork, also leaves young girls with the idea that if an abusive man cannot be changed with love and charm then she has failed and will never achieve her happy ending.

I of course grew up watching Disney movies. I still unashamedly have a “Disney’s Children Playlist” radio station on my Pandora radio, and in Disney’s defense, they have made an effort in recent years to combat the white, petite stereotype. Tiana, the first African America princess, was also the first to not be searching for a Prince and instead was searching for means of starting her own business.

Of course Disney is not the sole reason for female objectification, other social media outlets and sources such as Playboy are much more influential in portraying females as sex objects whose only purpose is pleasing men. Disney does, however, have a profound effect on children that is then carried into adulthood. Although banning Princess movies is hardly an option, maybe either watching newer (and more appropriate) Disney movies or parents talking to their children about the movies would help to reduce the resulting gender objectification.


The Fittest Man and Woman on Earth

As with any sport, there are a few figureheads that really become the spokespeople and examples for the rest of the community to follow. In crossfit, these people are generally determined based on their performances in the Crossfit Games, an event that has recently gotten more attention after appearing on ESPN.  The crossfit games amaze me partly because I am in awe of how far the sport has come (from the Games being a 20 person event in an open field to becoming a world-wide event on ESPN) and because of the amazing fitness prowess that is demonstrated by the crossfit athletes. And let me tell you, the fitness required to be in the top tier of these games is incredible. I cannot even begin to THINK about performing some of the lifts that the men and women completed in the 2013 games.

Due to the nature of the crossfit games, the winner of both the men’s and women’s competition is crowned the “fittest on earth.”  This may seem like an exaggeration but after seeing all the brutal rounds that these athletes are put through, I truly believe it to be true.  In this blog post, I just wanted to highlight the careers of the man and woman who won the Crossfit open in 2013. They truly are amazing and great examples to the Crossfit community.


The current fittest man on Earth is Rich Froning.  He is retained this title for the last three years as the reigning champ of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 crossfit games. He is a professional crossfit athlete who currently lives in Colorado. He is 5’ 9’’ and weighs 195 pounds. He has been known to create multiple crossfit workouts including the infamous “Bring Sally Up” (YOUTUBE IT).120712-M-2815I-003

The current fittest female on earth is Samantha Briggs. Not only is she 31 and from England, but she has also recovered from a year of no training with a knee injury. She used her time off to recover and then continued training, focusing on form and technique (two things that many crossfiters desperately need to work on).  After winning the games, she shared some of her training secrets with the world. Amazingly, they were pretty self-explanatory. “Rest Hard. Work Hard.” “Rest Actively.” “Work Your Weaknesses.”  Samantha is still a firefighter in her home England but is planning on taking a break and preparing herself for the 2014 games.

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Both of these athletes have a tremendous level of overall fitness. As the Open Games rounds begin in the next month, I cannot wait to see what both will do this year.


Moderator Notes



Overview (explaining the options)


Do you think that higher education is meant to teach values?

–          Should schools teach values or should life teach values?

–          Many kids do not have structured home so it could be a good thing. (but not this is right/wrong)

–          Higher education’s sole purpose should NOT be to teach values

–          Philosophy and Ethics classes should be mandatory (situations and how’d you deal with them)

–          Forces people to think what is right and wrong without the teacher really being the deciding factor (AKA IT SHOULD BE A CLASS DISCUSSION)

–          Currently a combination of parents and school that teach value and ethic

–          Teaching ethics is almost more important in college because the students are about to go to the job market where nothing is really black and white.

–          More discussions in class (major specific) about what is ethical and non-ethical


Value system to fix a divided country?

–          Polarized values rather than about ethics

–          Divided country is very non correct and no country could ever be perfect

–          Just because it is on the code of conduct does not mean that it is going to be followed bu the general populous

In education still having values being taught. What values?

–          Being there for people around rather than always focusing on the individual

–          Honesty (parents teaching and just to stay true to morals rather than being taught in college)

–          Teachers want to make you want to say no to cheating

–          Many schools have an “honor code” and there is mutual respect between the teacher and the student

–          Penn state is TOO BIG for that honor code

Thoughts on Higher Education

For me, higher education was not a given. I really had no idea that I wanted to go to college until junior year of high school. I was under the impression that in order to go to college, I had to have a clear view/idea of what I wanted to study and do with the rest of my life. Clearly, I have no idea whatsoever even after one semester at Penn State.  It wasn’t until I started doing research into the college of liberal arts that I really began to understand the idea of getting a more broad and generalized higher education that does not simply focus on the math and sciences (that high school primarily focused on).  In my opinion, college is clearly not for everyone as there are some people who studying and doing homework does not appeal to.  Colleges should not lower standards for people who really do not want to be there and should have moved to the work force after achieving a high school diploma.  For other, however, it is an investment in the future that will hopefully serve as a guide in determining exactly what field to join.  In regards to education after college, I have no real plan or idea what I am going to do. I think that will primarily depend on my college experience and what major I finally decide to pick.

Crossfit Vocabulary

quiz-obssesed-with-crossfitOne of the hardest and most confusing things about crossfit is, shockingly, the vocabulary. Part of the “cultish” judgment that crossfit has received is because participants speak a foreign language that many regular gym goers do not understand. For example, a crossfit workout on any given day could look like this:


5 minute AMRAP

10 DL

10 PU

10 BJ

25 DU


Confusing, right? I know. Written out in long form the workout would actually be

Workout Of the Day

5 minutes of As Many Rounds As Possible of

10 Dead lefts

10 Push ups

10 Box jumps

25 Double Unders


Some people might not understand the skills that crossfit involves (i.e. Double unders or dead lifts) but understand the vocabulary is the first step to understanding the sport. For your benefit, I have included a list of commonly used crossfit abbreviations and their meanings.

AMRAP: As many rounds as possible of a given workout in a given amount of time (aka…DEATH)

BS: Back squat

Box: Crossfit gyms are referred to as boxes because they are literally ALWAYS in the form of…a box.

CLN: Clean

DL: Deadlift

EMOM: Doing a specific workout for a specific number of reps every minute on the minute (aka…another form of death)

FS: Front squat

KB: Kettlebell

Kipping: a Swinging motion that is used to help propel the body with momentum during pull ups and hand stand push ups

REP: repetition.

PC: Power clean

RM: I rep max of a given exercise

SN: Snatch

WOD: Workout of the day


YBF: You’ll Be Fine

There you have it. Your very first crossfit intro. Of course all the skills require intros of their own before people understand the correct form etc. that is necessary to perform said skills.

One other somewhat confusing aspect of crossfit are the names given to some of the workouts. In crossfit, benchmark workouts are WODs that are meant to test an athlete’s improvement over a certain amount of time. These WODs are named after women in the crossfit community who have mastered crossfit. For example “Annie” consists of a decent of Double Unders (jump roping) and sit ups. “Cindy” is a fun one that consists of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats for 5+ rounds. Crossfit also has “hero WODs.” To honor American heroes. These WODs are extremely difficult. For example, there is a WOD to honor lives lost in 9/11 and also a WOD to honor Penn State graduate and diseased Seal Murphy.