Monday, September 30, 2013

"Crossfit's dirty little secret": My take on the new anti-crossfit article

An article recently posted on the website entitled, "Crossfit's dirty little secret" made the rounds on many news websites last week and created a firestorm on the internet.  Most people see it as the beginning of the end for Crossfit, but that's not how I see it.  If you haven't read the article, you can find it here.

Before I get in to the article, I must first point out that I am by no means a Crossfit apologist.  I can think of about 10 other more pertinent reasons why you shouldn't do Crossfit that are far more likely to happen than Rhabdomyolosis.  However, what this article actually points out isn't that Crossfit is bad. What it points out is that it is far too easy for any schmuck off the street to start training people and most people like lying to themselves about what it takes to be healthy.

Do you have any idea what it takes to become a Crossfit certified trainer?  It takes $1000 and 1 free weekend to attend a workshop on "programming" crossfit workouts.  That's it.  No formal education on exercise programming, no anatomy or physiology, no apprenticeship, no internship.  You probably think that is pretty shocking and outrageous that Crossfit is allowed to exist.  After all, most trainers have to do far more work to become certified, right?  Nope.

My first "certification" as a trainer was a 20 question test at a gym that any high school student who took a gym class could pass.  The first actual certification I took was online, by myself, with the materials they gave me.  I didn't use their materials and still finished it within 30 minutes and it included 50 multiple choice questions and 4 essays.  My final certification is considered one of the more prestigious certifications and qualifies me to work with athletes, the NSCA-CSCS.  It was a much more difficult test, was proctored, and required a college degree to sit for the test.  It gave me the knowledge about exercise, but it didn't make me qualified to train people.

Another problem is that the people who are looking for personal trainers have a skewed view of what they are looking for.  They are constantly bombarded on TV by trainers who are hacks.  I wouldn't let most of those trainers train my father's dog.  Anyone who would take a person who is 150lbs overweight and have them jump is as negligent as the Crossfit gym that promotes that "Go 'til you puke" mentality.  Why people venture in to fitness without researching it is beyond me, do you buy a house without researching it first?  I think part of it is that they don't respect the occupation, another one is that they are under the mistaken impression that they can continue what they are doing in every day life and just exercise 5 days a week to counteract that.  Newsflash: You can't and your trainer should tell you that.  I see clients 2-3 hours per week tops, and most of the hard work is during the other 165 hours in the week.  This isn't even taking in to consideration the fact that if you feel like crap during a workout you should stop and that's ultimately your responsibility.

The real problems addressed by the Crossfit article is that it is basically like the wild wild west out there when it comes to who you get as a personal trainer and most people are looking for something that doesn't exist.  Some personal trainers are very good and work hard to become better.  Some are terrible and really don't care about you.  Whether or not they are affiliated with a Crossfit is irrelevant.  If you don't care to put the time in outside of the gym, who's at fault?  In my state of NJ, there was a push a few years ago for required licensure of personal trainers that was voted down.  I didn't support that law because the organization that was going to do the licensing is terrible.  I fully support requiring personal trainers to get a license just as I believe massage therapists should get a license.  The problem is, what makes a good trainer?  We'll take a look at this topic in the next blog.

Six habits of a good personal trainer