The Cross Fit “Attitude” : A Disease

“Crossfitters” are sometimes (often?) praised for the attitude they bring to the table. The “go get em”, determined, persevering attitude. While this attitude assessment is accurate, it being praiseworthy, in this context, is another story.

As you might have guessed by my previous post on CrossFit, I am convinced this attitude is deeply misplaced. I believe it would even be accurate to say that the attitude as applied to what they do, is ridiculous.

It’s an emotional, intellectual, and psychological mess.

What I’d like to share today though, is the best verbal/video iteration of this “attitude” I have ever witnessed. The video comes from Kelly Starrett, who produces an abundance of outstanding videos on his Youtube Channel, some of which have significantly improved my own quality of life.

That quote is as follows :



I have selected the important part using TubeChop. Even further refined in text (my own transcription, which may or may not be 100% accurate, the video is hard to hear clearly at this point).

“… This is the cure for … don’t want to say it’s a cure, but, this would be like #1 treatment for kipping elbow, pull-up elbow … Olympic lifting, ring-hip elbow…”

It would be reasonable to assume that Kelly, consciously or subconsciously, quickly moved away from the word “cure”, because like most people, he associates it with disease (which he quickly decided was a mistake).

From Wikipedia :

“A cure is a completely effective treatment for a disease.”

Not exactly a radical definition.

But was it a mistake?

I think unknown to Kelly, his first label for the summation of his particular video, was and is the most accurate.

Kelly was right to make a cure for a disease, because in many ways, CrossFit is a disease. A disease of the mind, that by extension, heavily affects the body.

What is even more astounding is that Kelly, like so many others, can create (or consider, for those without a Youtube Channel) a cure for something where no cure should be necessary, and talk about it without batting an eye.

Exercise, unlike sporting, competitive, recreational, and leisurely activity, should absolutely not induce physical injury. Not acutely, not in accumulation, not ever.

Such is the frankenstein absurdity of CrossFit.

Consider for a moment if that every time you performed maintenance on your car, such maintenance posed significant short term damage to the car. Say, changing your oil for some reason risked putting holes in all 4 tires.

You would quickly come to the conclusion that you were doing something wrong. You would seek a better way to change the oil, or go to a new garage that was already competent to change your oil, without destroying your car.

The same is true that if every time you changed the oil in your car, it would be abundantly obvious that you were doing something wrong, if you had to in any way diminish the long term health of your vehicle.

Changing the oil is done for the purpose of keeping your car running in the best shape, and for the longest period of time possible.

Anything that contradicts these goals is nonsense and is avoided by anyone who gives half a crap about their car.


The reality is, your body is infinitely more important than your car. Why then, would you care much less about it?

Why would you ever perform an exercise under the pretense of better health, functionality, and so on, that resulted in acute or cumulative injury of any kind?

This is a question that most CFers avoid to the bitter end — injured and unable to continue CrossFit for some period of time.

Such is the attitude, and the disease of CrossFit. Ignore principles and exercises that are fundamentally flawed, blame the details, and stick a band-aid on until next time.

Until there are no more next times.

While I cannot claim that the following individual practices CrossFit, it without a doubt, depicts the kind of “attitude” that CrossFit has cultivated. And the deadlift is apparently popular among CF …

Image from

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

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15 Responses to The Cross Fit “Attitude” : A Disease

  1. Patrick O'Malley January 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Doesn’t this opinion fall on its face when looking at objective reality though? Aren’t you buying into CrossFit’s own marketing, by accepting it at face value, that it is an “evidence-based fitness program” rather than seeing clearly what those of us pro- and anti-CF don’t really argue about too much: that it is indeed a SPORT?

    You say: “Exercise, unlike sporting, competitive, recreational, and leisurely activity, should absolutely not induce physical injury. Not acutely, not in accumulation, not ever.”

    But CrossFit (and Olympic lifting and powerlifting and whatever that vomit-inducing thing going on in the last clip was) is sport.

    Structured and progressive barbell training (including proper deadlifting) and forms of resistance training, though, is exercise. And yeah, you don’t (shouldn’t) set yourself up for injury by undertaking exercise.

    A is not B, as you well know (hahah), so why treat CrossFit as exercise? Couldn’t this article be written about professional-level football?

    • Anthony Dream Johnson January 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Hey Patrick

      Thanks for the comment. I don’t think we are in real disagreement. Just look at official CrossFit literature

      “CrossFit is many things. Primarily, it’s a fitness regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades.”

      While many people erroneously take up a sport as a means of achieving better “health and fitness” (vaguely, if at all defined), CrossFit uniquely claims to be a fitness program.

      Here’s more

      “Today, CrossFit, the company, provides accredited training seminars throughout the world. We publish several websites providing extensive free content, including workouts, training and support for becoming fit, as well as a growing Journal of extended instruction. We have a worldwide network of more than 5,500 affiliated gyms and more than 35,000 accredited CrossFit Level 1 trainers. And, we have created the Sport of Fitness, known as the CrossFit Games, where we crown the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth.”

      None of this is true for golf, tennis, or even something as intense as football. Even if someone is naive enough to take up semi-pro local football as a means to getting fit, they are not advertising as such, and the “fitness” elements are widely acknowledged as a secondary benefit or reason for joining.

      The same is even true for the military. A fat person might join a military to “get fit”, but few disagree that the purpose of the military is to kill a chosen enemy, defend a country or state, etc. Some would even claim the military is for “humanitarian” purposes, but this is also complete hogwash.

      So no, the same cannot be said for football, or any other sport. Even if CrossFit is only and strictly a sport, they do not recognize it as such, and probably never will.

      I suspect the movement, the company, and the entire idea would collapse long before that happened.

      • Donnie Hunt January 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

        I don’t know about you guys but I just love taking part in an activity that makes me puke over and over lol! Hope the knee is still healing up nicely, Anthony. How goes your progress using the ARX?

        • Anthony Dream Johnson January 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

          Hey Donnie

          The knew is very well. I find knew depths in the ROM all the time =).

          I have been back home for a little while but have had very little time to use the ARX between work, the holidays, and the death of 2 people close to me =/.

          I did however have time to squeeze in a 90s static belt squat, which was an awesome contrast to the static wall sit I did while travelling for 5 weeks. As it happens, it was my second highest performance ever for the exercise.

          • Donnie Hunt January 11, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

            You have my condolences, Anthony. I read your post over on bodybyscience where you went into detail.

            I’m glad to hear the knee is healing up nicely 🙂

    • Jenni February 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      CF is not a sport.

  2. Michael Allen Smith (@CriticalMAS) January 12, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    CrossFit is the disease.
    HIT is the cure.

  3. Ken January 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Hi Anthony,

    I have such a big need for physical activity that I really can´t settle for one workout a week. I HAVE to work out at least 2-3 times a week to function at my peak.

    Even though I know this amount of workout can be damaging to my body in the long run, I have not been injured thus far. Still, I am seeking tips from you on how to handle this “lifestyle”? Are there any safe ways to train several times a week and still, by definition, be training?

    I know this is off-topic, but I did not know where else to address this issue…

    • Anthony Dream Johnson January 12, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

      Hey Ken

      First of all, for all we both know, you may benefit most from training twice weekly (full body). It’s even possible you would benefit most from 3, although you would be a hyper responder in that case. Chances are once or twice is best.

      Once a week is just where *most* people do best at. There are plenty of people well outside of that paradigm though … both more frequently, and even less (or way less).

      If you are a once a week dude, you can certainly split your routine up. Lower body could consist of a belt squat, single leg heel raises L/R, hip adduction, hip abduction. You could even add in some reverse lunges or a wall sit.

      Upper body would be “everything else”.

      I would also advise long term of not thinking of your workouts in terms of “per week”. Your body doesn’t know what a “week” is. Your body deals in hours/minutes/nights of rest. IE your ideal workout interval could be once every 5 days. Or once every 6 days.

      Forget weeks. Train however often turns out to be optimal.

      • Exurban January 14, 2013 at 1:55 am #

        Naaahhh, Crossfit isn’t a sport … it’s more like a cult. And like most cults, it collects money from the adherents.

        Total agreement on your last point. I believe I long ago read some advice from Mike Mentzner to the effect that you don’t work out out again until your body has fully recovered from the last workout. That (Mentzner wrote) might be two days, but it’s more likely to be three, four, five or even seven days. Unfortunately it took me a few years to start following Mike’s advice.

  4. Guy Sharper January 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    I stumbled here somehow while looking for psychology stuff haha. I read the article anyways so here are my 2¢.
    Anything can become sport or a sport. All it requires are two participants consciously competing against one another. This article appears more about being for or against cross-fit than actual analysis. Although very interesting point on a work out routine being a hijacking schema/meme; definitely worth a deeper look!

    Good luck to you and your site!

  5. Oliver Stevens January 30, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    Cross fit is great for people who are already in good shape but somewhat dangerous for those who are not. It’s not inherently bad like most HIT fans propose. If you fit and full of energy crossfit is a fun thing to do. Just like boxing and many other things are. Yeah there is some risk to most people don’t give a shit because the risk is fairly low and they enjoy the hell out of it.


  1. Top 10 Reasons NOT to Barbell Squat - April 8, 2013

    […] The Cross Fit “Attitude” : A Disease […]

  2. Am I Paleo? | Critical MAS - April 9, 2013

    […] CrossFit – I think CrossFit is both dangerous and unnecessary to achieve a high level of fitness. The fact it is so associated with Paleo troubles me. See my posts Help Me Understand CrossFit and Responding to a CrossFit Enthusiast for my thoughts. Also check out Anthony Dream Johnson’s post The Cross Fit “Attitude” : A Disease. […]

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