CF can suck

Preface: I have several CF friends (all being well qualified at what they do) and have detailed my own experience in CF several times. In this weeks blog I pull no punches.

CF can suck.

Actually, it’s not so much CF that sucks, but rather the people running the training that cause things to suck. That said, CF typically gets the blame.  Things I’ve witnessed at various CF locations…

Allowing lifting form that bordered on obscene, if not outright dangerous. If allowed to continue the lifter will eventually pay the price for this horror show.

Trainers with dubious skill and education.  Based on conversations and observations of their actions I sincerely wonder if any certification, even a weekend one…was ever obtained.

Having clients perform exercises they haven’t earned yet. I’ve witnessed trainers do this with movements they couldn’t do very well themselves, or they could do it exceptionally well and forget that not everyone is them.

Training people at an intensity level that leaves them nauseous, or even to the point of passing out.

Trainers seemingly doing nothing beyond watching YouTube videos to “advance their education.”

Sidenote on YouTube: While nothing replaces true experiential learning, there is some quality educational material on YouTube.  The trick is in knowing who, or what to look for and the context of the information.


My suspicion that the workout was made up that day without any thought or reference to (a) The clients needs or (b) What the client has recently done.

The Near one size/One size fits all approach to training doesn’t work optimally when applied to an individual.  In a group of 5-25 people, even a well-designed workout might be perfect for 1-2 people and sub-optimal (or dangerous) for the rest unless appropriate regressions are given per person….and even then there are individual issues.

The “workout  of the day” may even be made up on the fly,and there may be no record of what the client has done in the past for reference. This in my opinion really doesn’t make it programming, much less training. It simply makes it exercise.

Sidenote on the Daily workout: Making adjustments to a session is a reality and one that all coaches should be capable.  You really don’t know what is walking in the front door and your best laid plan could change very quickly. The key is knowing where the person typically is, and which way they need to be going.

Those are some of the things that can make CF suck…or in some opinions its just another day of CrossFit right?

Actually, I was never referring to CrossFit.


You CrossFitters can stop typing the hate mail.

This is all too common in the Commercial Fitness personal training and bootcamps across the world. Everything the non-CrossFit trainers have accused CrossFit guilty of doing has been, and by all accounts still is on-going in the Commercial Fitness world.  There is even a population of trainers with no previous CrossFit education presenting themselves as capable in the method. I shall call this the Non-CrossFit CrossFit trainer.

An observation I’ve made over the years since CrossFit gained popularity is the rise of trainers trying to imitate the CrossFit model.  Less ethical trainers have even had the nerve to call what they do “CrossFit” when in reality it bears no resemblance.  Pre-CrossFit it was called “Circuit Training” and some of the methods used in non-CrossFit CrossFit are simply rebranded versions of such.

Why is this?  It’s speculation on my part, but I would wager the following: (1) CrossFit is a household word, the marketing of which has been exceptional.  (2) It typically gets things done fast and it can be done in groups. This can be very lucrative for the trainer and some people find enjoyment in group training. (3) A lazy or uneducated trainer can exploit some of the flaws in the CrossFit model and literally go day to day without a plan.

Furthering this observation, there is a growing trend of commercial gyms allocating space for “CrossFit like” training, which has to be called Functional training areas due to the fact CrossFit HQ would sue them for unauthorized use of the brand.  The space is being created for a few needs, one of which is lower cost to maintain and the other being something that draws people in the front door. On the flip side of that, walk into a CrossFit box and one thing you’re highly unlikely to see is a bunch of resistance machines.


A local commercial gym put the functional area in the middle of the gym. Names have changed but the gym used to be known for Bodybuilding (Where they got their start and still best known for), to being a garden variety Globo-Gym, to this.  The low cost/high volume/pressure sales/long term contract and and industrial era hiring practice is still in effect.

I don’t agree with everything CrossFit does,and there are a number of things they do that I find counterproductive, but nothing unique to them.  Still, it’s my opinion that the fitness industry owes CrossFit a level of thanks. No other fitness movement has changed the industries landscape the way that is has and Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, Gymnastics, Rowers and Mobility all gained new visibility thanks to the rub-off effect. My own business improved when I demonstrated the ability to work with ex-CrossFitters, or help current CrossFitters improve a specific fitness domain and entire cottage industries, thought leaders and subject matter experts have gained new followings.




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