Last Saturday, karate. Yesterday, Monday, with the 7:30 AM class I did cleans and a WOD that had running, box jumps, push-ups, and 33 lb thrusters and cleans. I am not fast. Last night I went to karate and as usual struggled with roundhouse kicks. Maybe a few of them don’t completely suck… but only a few.
CrossFit champ and celebrity Annie Thorisdottir is featured in Vogue. It’s a well-written story. But it ends with this: “She also wants to inspire women, especially young girls, to focus more on what their bodies can do than on how they look. ‘I’m not preaching that everyone should try to become a CrossFit champion,’ she says. ‘But I want to show them that training can give them more confidence—and that being strong is beautiful.'” On one hand, strong is beautiful is a positive belief, but on the other hand, what happened to focus more on what your body can do than on how it looks? Teresa observed that Samantha Briggs seems more driven to be a champion at this point than Annie, so maybe the story should have been about her… BUT, she doesn’t look like a model as Annie does. Vogue is about looks, after all, and maybe Annie is planning a career as a model.
Meanwhile recently someone sent me a link to a promo video from a new CrossFit. It featured three extremely beautiful athletic women in tiny clothes, working out, high fiving, and doing some really cool looking training exercises. It was very well made. And for sure, who would not want to look like those women. Yet there is so much smugness in it. People have no perspective on things being a phase of their life that will pass, which is both bad (if you’re talking about youthful beauty and athletic prowess) and good (stressful times).They think women are just “starting to like CrossFit now,” which is ridiculous. Women made up half of CrossFit going back as far as the first affiliate, if not to the original CrossFit, and I have that information at first hand.
And then there’s the statement that “I can be strong physically but can still be feminine.” Duh. What is feminine? It’s everything that makes you a woman. Did you really think, before, that if you were physically strong, you’d be less of a woman? If so, you’re a cliché. What makes a woman feminine is everything that makes her female. Personal style has nothing to do with it. I’ve been training people long enough, looking at trainees as systems of levers and pulleys and shifting loads, that people look different to me than they used to. There’s nothing a person needs to do or not do to be feminine or masculine except, I suppose, refrain from taking the hormones of the opposite sex!
It’s true that CrossFit is extremely empowering for women. I love that men and women train and compete together. One of the good things about this video is that it wholeheartedly celebrates women, even though *some* of the ways it does it made me cringe. The worst is when one of these young, gorgeous women says “At one time, I’d look at a girl and think, oh she’s so pretty, I hate her. But now it’s like, ‘That bitch has got nothing on my overhead squat.'” … betraying that she’s just traded one shallow insecure judgement criteria for another.
Meanwhile it seems almost every strength coach and fitness trainer on social media is trying to differentiate himself/herself by cutting down CrossFit. For most of the past year or so it was very open. Now suddenly in the past few months, it’s very veiled. People talk about methods they don’t like, all their friends and admirers pile on / suck up about how right they are, and in the course of a comments thread it is transparent that they are talking about CrossFit. Recently this has been veiled by phrases such as disliking “metcon” or 5:00 AM “group training classes” (as opposed to personal training, which apparently is fine) or advising followers to “skip the kip” (the kipping pull-up that CrossFitters like). I can understand the frustration of trainers who see CrossFit as a magnet sucking up all the potential clients in the neighborhood (even though it’s probably not), but they should work harder to differentiate themselves positively.