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Why Are Americans So Fascinated With Extreme Fitness?


Why Are Americans So Fascinated With Extreme Fitness?

For time: 100 double-unders
115-lb. front squats, 21 reps
115-lb. push presses, 21 reps
100 double-unders
115-lb. front squats, 15 reps
115-lb. push presses, 15 reps
100 double-unders
115-lb. front squats, 9 reps
115-lb. push presses, 9 reps

Some would say the muscle-up is extreme.  Not us.

Some would say the muscle-up is extreme. Not us.

Why Are Americans So Fascinated With Extreme Fitness?

The New York Times is back at it again – writing lots of propaganda about CrossFit, its dangers, and about the crazy fitness-crazed extreme individuals who choose to do this style of workout every day.

Honestly NYT, this is getting old.

Check out the article here – Why Are Americans So Fascinated With Extreme Fitness?

Do you ever look at other fitness endeavors and think – “whoa, now that’s extreme, CrossFit is NOT!”?  How do you feel about your CrossFit experience in relation to what is published all over the media?  

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9 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    They might need to redefine “fascinated”… how fascinated are Americans, really, if the numbers of people with chronic disease related to an unhealthy lifestyle only increase from one year to the next. It is really too bad people are getting the idea that doing Crossfit leads to feeling like one is “going to die”… the health of Americans would be better served if they were (more properly) convinced that not adding some physical intensity will kill them faster.

  2. Googs

    I think “intense” has been conflated with “extreme” in many minds, for various reasons. For me, CF presented a whole variety of challenges — things I cannot (or could not) do, weights I could not lift (including my own body weight), and a whole bunch of people pushing and pulling me along to meet them. The intensity is very efficacious and the variety keeps things interesting, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. CF requires a dedication to broad improvement and perfection in order to do it well and not get hurt in the process. I think that’s all were doing, showing up at the gym every day and doing our level best; logging our workouts; learning about mobility and diet, etc. It’s called participating in a sport. It’s also a hobby, a social outlet, and even a meditation for this very non-meditative person. I believe there are some pretty shitty motives at work behind much of the “haters gonna hate” nonsense that gets published; ignorance, jealousy and laziness make a heady brew, and there is money in it, to boot, unfortunately. So, there you go.

  3. Eric

    I have no idea what the ditherings of that article were supposed to accomplish. Like much in the New York Times (and the media overall) there were a lot of words and not a lot of substance.

  4. Trevdean

    This article IMO was flat out embarrassing. Not even written tongue-in-cheek, it was simply an opinionated piece by someone who clearly hasn’t taken the time to attend an intro class or even just watch the flow of a WOD in a good gym. I suppose the old saying that even negative press is good press holds here.
    I wouldn’t write an article about how yoga was a strange cult of people sweating in a hot room chanting mantras and downward-doggin’ if I were watching it from a window, I’d at least try it.
    Bunch of folks sweating buckets on stationary bikes with loud EDM music in the background? Wacky. Run clubs meeting at the track and sprinting 400’s until people want to hurl? Insane. And every one happens on every Saturday in Boulder (and really most other towns too).
    But Crossfit gets singled out for some reason…and that’s ok. Would just like that reporter to do Riley, even scaled way back, along with some regular folks at Roots on a Saturday, and see whether the article would come out the same.

  5. shane

    What a dumb article. If her agenda were to really discover why Americans are so fascinated with “extreme fitness” maybe she should include actual interviews with some of the people that were participating! Is there anything in this article that is other than the author’s own opinion??

  6. Alejandro Soto

    Heater Havrilesky has been writing tongue-in-cheek snark since the early days of online media, beginning with her ‘Ask Polly’ column on (a site still sorely missed by those who read it, i.e., me). Once I saw her name on the byline, I immediately adjusted how I read this article. It’s another bit of snarky bait to rile people up. Either you enjoy these or not. Plus, it’s NYTimes Magazine essay so it’s inherently an opinion piece.
    The problem is that it sounds so much like the supposedly straight reporting on Crossfit that we see everywhere else. In all of this reporting, they keep emphasizing an environment that I have never seen. One of our fellow Roots athletes, who signed their name kjk, said it best in the NYTimes article comments: “Like this article, most describe the affiliates and members in terms
    of fervent, cultish pain factories. I have been working out at a
    CrossFit affiliate in Boulder (CrossFit Roots) for 5 years, and little
    of this is evident to me. The workouts remind me of the pre-season workouts I did for football
    and basketball in high school and college, they keep me fit so I can
    better perform the activities I enjoy (cycling, skiing, golf), and it
    keeps me healthy and strong.” I have now trained here at Roots and at Crossfit 626 in South Pasadena; in both gyms, kjk’s description is a far more accurate description of my experiences than any article I have seen in the press.
    All that said, I still cringe when I check out and see the blog entries are by “Pukie” and that there is a cartoon of this “character” floating around the web associated with Crossfit. It’s easy to see how an outsider might not get this humor (I don’t) and might over-conflate this tongue-in-cheek character with the principles of Crossfit. It’s the kind of symbol and attitude that does not translate well when an organization or group of people grow in size. Inside jokes usually fail in the long run.

  7. Interesting article- the author actually does raise some good points about the ‘extreme’ predilections of our culture (but without mentioning our equally extreme level of FAT and SICK- think there might be a correlation there??), but obviously gets Crossfit (or at least OUR Crossfit) totally wrong. Gyms are the new churches. 😉

  8. Melani Dizon

    Shane nailed it. I almost couldn’t make it to the end of that article as there was zero evidence to back up her sweeping claims. There should have been a footnote to the article that said, “No human beings were interviewed for this article.” I don’t think any hobby, profession, or area of interest can ever be understood or explained without addressing the personal preferences of those who engage in them. Individual people make up CrossFit and each person has their own reason for doing it. It would have been a passable article if she had tried to find out WHY people are drawn to sports such as CrossFit instead of just stating that they are. Incomplete and soft. Still not sure why these pieces make the cut.