And they’re right. CrossFit is dangerous . . . if you don’t know how to do it. You could get hurt.
But, then again, you could hurt yourself while driving a car. And firing a weapon. Or cooking. In fact, if I didn’t know how to handle my toothbrush and stuck it in my eye and brushed my cornea, I’d bet I’d be in a world of pain. (Note to self: be very careful after having a few beers.) It’s like that old Ani DiFranco line: “Every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right.”
But, with proper instruction, almost everyone can learn to brush their teeth or drive a car without hurting themselves or anyone else. And, theoretically, you could even take a woman who’s failed two weapons qualification courses and, within the space of one excellent lesson, make her proficient enough to shoot Expert with a .38 caliber revolver. (Not that that’s happened to anyone I know, or who looks exactly like me, and certainly not in North Carolina in 1992.)
Anyhow, my point is that education and training are key. Familiarity may breed contempt among humans, but familiarity with CrossFit exercises, as taught by a certified trainer, is really a helpful thing. Even the CrossFit trainers, when watched by other trainers at certifications, pick up details and form corrections that are invaluable: I may think I’m opening my hip fully in a thruster but have a 6-ft-tall Marine bellow “HIP!” in my ear and–boom!—my hip opens better than ever.
If you don’t have a Marine handy though, or access to expertise, you can still CrossFit safely. It will be fun and you’ll get in darn good shape. Will your form or your times ever be as good as if you worked out at an affiliate? Quite honestly, no. Probably not. No video camera or untrained eye can come close to the value of a trained professional who knows what to look for in a movement, how to correct technique error, and how to push a human to the absolute limits of their being. Also factor in the competitive drive present within a group at any affiliate and you begin to see why, as Coach Greg Glassman says, “The best athletes work out in groups and alone.”
Does that mean that you have to join an affiliate in order to CrossFit safely? No, not at all. CrossFit has a wealth of resources available for free: read the F.A.Q., watch the videos, peruse the CrossFit Journal articles, and frequent the message boards for even more information. And, if you’re having problems with a move or a technique, stop by your local affiliate and simply ask about it. Most of us are very willing to take a look at your form and give you a few pointers, free of charge. We may be busy people but we’re CrossFit trainers and affiliate owners because we love CrossFit, so taking a few moments to help you out is not a burden; it really is our pleasure.
Search for the word “dangerous” on Google and the top hits are going to be for Michael Jackson. (Well, they are actually for his 1991 album Dangerous but that detail is probably not needed: Michael is dangerous.) But you won’t find any proof that CrossFit is dangerous. Because it’s not, if you do it right.
Face it: you’re going to die some day. But not from CrossFit. So jump on in – the water’s fine.