The Evolution of CrossFit

For those of you who may not know, CrossFit is still a very “new sport” in the world. It was back in 1995 when Greg Glassman started the first gym in Santa Cruz, CA, and then created the actually business of “CrossFit” in 2000.

To put things in more perspective, the sport of Basketball was invented way back in 1891. It wasn’t until 1946 that the NBA (National Basketball Association) was established, which is 55 years after the first version of basketball was created. And, it’s obviously evolved since then.

It’s taken 128 years for basketball to reach the point it’s at today. Next time you’re sitting on the toilet, or can’t sleep one night and are just lying around in bed, look up the history and evolution of basketball.

It’s pretty interesting, and a great reminder to all of us that we are not exceptional in our time - The same way we look down on history and love to feel advanced and superior, our ancestors were doing the exact same thing during their time. And, our great grandkids will criticize us, too, someday. So, let’s get over ourselves, and just appreciate humankind for what it is.

CrossFit has only been around for barely 19 years, and as many of you who follow the Games are seeing, the sport of competition itself is still be molded. We are in the midst of a creation, and it probably won’t be for another 20 years until the sport of CrossFit is actually settled and established.

A positive way to look at it is - We get to be a part of CrossFit history! I get to tell my grandkids and great grandkids about the weekend I competed in the first CrossFit Sectionals competition in San Jose, before the Open and Regionals were even thought of.

Now, the other part of CrossFit you may not know is that it was never intended to be a competitive sport. Glassman created it to train his clients for life. Yes, it is a life-training program! It was designed to help anyone, at any stage of life, at any level of ability to get fit, and then to transfer that fitness into everyday life.

Just like anything new and exciting, though, when CrossFit became popular it exploded like wildfire, and we just couldn’t keep up. Gyms were opening up faster than Starbucks, and naturally the elites in the community created competition.

Now, the unique thing about trying to make CrossFit a “sport” is that because it is originally intended to train all 10 areas of fitness, there is a much larger learning curve. It is not specialized like all the other sports of the world. Basketball focuses on accuracy and agility. Marathon is an endurance sport. Olympic Weightlifting is strength and power. Gymnastics is balance and flexibility. These sports allow athletes to train and focus on specific areas of fitness so that they can truly master them.

CrossFit, however, does not necessarily allow for mastery, but more so a general knowledge and ability to do it well enough. You can imagine the monumental training program a CrossFit competitor must endure to get good enough at ALL 10 areas of fitness. They are literally training 6-10 hours a day!

Those of you who grew up playing sports understand the frustrations of learning CrossFit. Because we grew up learning and mastering specific skills, we are used to a much smaller learning curve. We are also used to being really good at it.

When we started CrossFit, though, we quickly realized how many holes we had in our overall fitness, and grew impatient with the ginormous learning curve. It’s why so many new CrossFitters jump into “Rx” too soon too fast. It’s why so many CrossFitters get injured and sidelined. We treat CrossFit like a sport, like any other sport, and it’s NOT.

It’s NOT like anything we’ve ever encountered. And even us coaches are still learning and evolving in how we program, scale, and train our athletes in CrossFit. Glassman himself, the Father of CrossFit, has fully admitted that he wishes he never taught the kipping pull up, and he now pushes for strict gymnastics FIRST.

We are still learning. Evolving.

So, just keep the big picture alive. Sometimes the blinders can give us tunnel vision, and we can lose sight of the overall mission, which is to get fitter and a little bit better each day. :-)

We are training for life. None of us are going to the CrossFit Games (sorry!). So, while a little friendly competition and push outside our comfort zones are great, always remember the bigger picture here.

CrossFit is still just a “pre-teen” in its life, and we get to help raise it.

In the wise words of Pat Sherwood,

“The goal is to get fit, make it the best hour of your day, stay safe, turn up the music, high five some people, and blow off some steam. So remember that. Relax. Have fun. Workout.”

Kara Purves1 Comment