CrossFit. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that people have strong opinions about it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rolled my eyes at the absurd and untrue things I’ve heard people say—CrossFitters and non-CrossFitters alike—about my beloved sport. By no means am I alone in this frustration. Coaches in every CF box encounter these untruths almost daily, whether it’s on social media, from their members, or from their non-CF friends and family members.
Below are twelve of the most ridiculous CrossFit myths my fellow CF coaches and I are here to bust once and for all.
1. Knee sleeves are a necessity
Vanessa Aaron, Great Lakes CrossFit, Bedford Heights, Ohio
One of Coach Vanessa’s biggest pet peeves is that knee sleeves are the be-all-end-all.
“Knee sleeves should not be considered cool; stretching and improving form should be,” she says.
Though many CrossFit athletes swear they cannot lift heavy without their sleeves, we’re here to tell you that though sleeves can help, they can also be a hindrance to the long-term health of the knee. Best practice is to work on your hip and ankle mobility, which will undoubtedly improve your form, thus improving your lifts. Best of all, no stinky sleeves to peel off after a hard WOD.
2. You pay for your friends
Dan Cronin, CrossFit Sixth City, Cleveland, Ohio
When Coach Dan heard a fraternity brother mention this opinion of CrossFit, he had to laugh, especially considering the irony of the situation. Yes, you pay a membership fee to join a CrossFit box, and yes, you will inevitably make friends at said box; however, one does not beget the other. Becoming friends with other members while working on making yourself healthier and stronger is just a bonus, which leads us to our next myth.
3. CrossFit is a cult
Nicole Bordenca, CrossFit 2A, Acton, Massachusetts
“This one kills me!” Coach Nicole says with a laugh, and I am right there with her. I promise you there is no initiation ritual, no extreme belief system, no compound in a remote western desert where we gather at the spring equinox. It’s fitness, plain and simple.
“You put a group of like-minded, dedicated people in a supportive community where they thrive off of each other’s energy and encouragement. It’s like being on a sports team as an adult!” says Nicole.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
4. Women will get bulky and/or men will lose strength.
Adam Daugherty, CrossFit Sixth City, Cleveland, Ohio
Anyone who believes either one of those canards has clearly never met a day-to-day CrossFit athlete. I’d also be willing to bet that they are basing their (completely wrong) assumption on seeing elite female athletes compete in The CrossFit Games or listening to all the bashing that male bodybuilders aim at the “sport of fitness.” I don’t have enough characters in this article to fully delve into the depth of stupidity of this myth. Need proof? Walk into your local CF box and take a look around. If you do CrossFit 3-6 times a week, you will get stronger, you will put on some muscle, and you will be much happier for it.
5. CrossFit is guaranteed to make you a fitter, healthier person.
Jeff Brannigan, CrossFit Sixth City, Cleveland, Ohio
You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would they want to bust a myth that sounds like a good thing?” Well, we’re not disproving this myth so much as amending it.
“You can have the best gym and the best environment, but CrossFit isn’t a panacea,” says Coach JB. As most of you well know, there is no “magic bullet” in the world of health and fitness. “If you don’t change your lifestyle outside the gym, you won’t see as much improvement. If your goal is to just get a sweat, CrossFit can be great; but the second you want something more, you will have to do more than just show up,” JB adds.
In short, “You get out of it what you put into it.”
6. It’s too expensive/not worth the price.
Megan Wolansky, CrossFit Sixth City, Cleveland, Ohio
Coach Megan has heard this one all too often. CF membership prices vary from gym to gym, and although they are typically more expensive than your average 24-hour or globo gym, you have to consider what you get for your money. In a one-hour class, you get expert coaching from start to finish. Coaches preview the moves with you, take you through the warm-up and keep a watchful eye on you while you make your way through your WOD. If you’re not ready for a certain weight or movement, the coach will scale the workout for you. You receive one-on-one instruction and constant encouragement. You are given post-workout accessory work and/or a cool-down workout. You train with a variety of special equipment. You’re given the tools to track and measure your own progress. And you will have fun while doing all of this. Trust me, it’s worth the price.
7. Kids shouldn’t do CrossFit
Jason Barnicle, Erie Shore CrossFit, Avon Lake, Ohio
Jason, who runs one of the few Kids CrossFit courses in the Northeastern Ohio area, knows firsthand that this myth is unfounded. Childhood obesity is a serious issue in this country. Encouraging our kids to be active and promoting healthy choices early in their lives will instill fit-driven habits for their future. If you’re worried about your child doing strength training, check with your pediatrician to learn more about how safe and effective it can truly be for a child’s overall fitness and health.
8. CrossFit is only for younger athletes
Shane Davis, CrossFit Luminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
“I’m too old to start CrossFit,” is a falsehood Coach Shane has heard several times in his career, and it is perhaps the easiest myth of all to bust. I started CrossFit when I was 36. Feeling broken after years of endurance training for triathlons, I walked into my first CF gym a complete skeptic and a little scared. So many of the members were 10+ years younger than me. However, working out side-by-side with those 20-somethings were 30-somethings, 40-somethings, 50-somethings, and even a few 60-somethings. Some of the best CrossFit athletes I know are in their 40s and 50s. There’s a reason why there’s a Masters division in the Games, and there’s a reason why the age range goes up to 60+. With the easy scalability of every movement, anyone can start CrossFit at any age and any state of fitness in their life.
9. CrossFit is easy/isn’t a good workout
Cody Lockridge, CrossFit CopperTop, Amherst, Ohio
“Typically, if someone says something to me about CrossFit, it’s that it’s dumb or not a good way to work out,” says Coach Cody. First of all, to call something “dumb” while having zero experience in it or knowledge of it is, well, dumb. CrossFit is by no means easy. Yes, as mentioned above, we can (and do) scale movements to suit the needs of our athletes, but ask anyone who’s actually a CrossFit athlete if they think it’s “easy” and you will most likely be met with a laugh. The people who hate on it “are scared to try it because they know it’ll be hard and/or they may get embarrassed by trying it,” says Cody. The old adage “Don’t knock it before you try it,” works really well here.
10. One hour isn’t enough time to get a full workout
Patrick Flannery, Great Lakes CrossFit, Bedford Heights, Ohio
This excuse is most often voiced by an athlete who already has a background in sports or exercising. “They believe they have to spend hours at the gym, and that it isn’t possible to get a full workout in such a short amount of time,” says Coach Patrick.
What many former athletes don’t realize—but quickly discover once they actually try CF—is that the amount of work you do in a typical one-hour class is equivalent to several hours in a regular gym. You are constantly moving, and what’s more, you are continually working several parts of your body at once. Take the CrossFit staple exercise, the Burpee. This movement alone not only works your cardiovascular system, but also your legs, core and arms. Pair it with some Pull-Ups, Squats and Sit-Ups and you’ve got yourself a hell of a strength-building, calorie-incinerating training session.
11. CrossFit causes injuries
Andrew Charelesworth, CrossFit Tuebor, Holly, Michigan
Coach Andrew isn’t alone in having to endure hearing this absurdity. We’ve all had to defend this annoying claim. Yes, you can get hurt doing CrossFit. You can also get hurt playing football, playing ping-pong, getting out of bed or walking down your driveway. My point: CrossFit doesn’t cause injuries. Bad form causes injuries. Being unaware of your surroundings causes injuries. Not listening to your coach causes injuries. In short, if you make smart choices, most injuries in any situation can be avoided.
12. Endurance athletes shouldn’t do CrossFit
Jennifer Britton, CrossFit Sixth City, Cleveland, Ohio
As an endurance athlete who has shaved minutes off her 5K, 4-mile, and 5-mile times since starring CrossFit, I challenge any endurance athlete on this myth. Before joining a CF gym, I thought it was nothing more than HIIT-style workouts; and though there is a lot of “high-intensity interval training” in CrossFit, there is plenty of aerobic training for die-hard endurance junkies. And I know the prospect of putting on weight is unnerving to a lot of endurance athletes. You want to remain as lean as possible so as not to carry any additional poundage throughout a race; however, with developed strength comes a developed ability to not only carry that newfound muscle weight, but to use it to your benefit when you need bursts of power and quick recovery.