Saturday, April 19, 2008
CrossFit vs. Globo Gym and the Stairmaster Nazis...
In this corner, weighing in at 5'10, 180 pounds, we have the reigning fitness champion, Globo Gym with his Stairmaster Nazis!!! And in the opposing corner, the challenger, weighing in at 6'2, 225 pounds, CROSSFIT! * ding ding ding* "I want a good clean fight. Now let's get it on!"
A little farfetched? Perhaps. But, to me it seems that there is a huge battle raging these days between traditional fitness and the not so traditional. The Post and the Times have picked up the C-word (and by C- word I mean CrossFit... you pervs! :P) a few times in the last weeks, and some of the things it had to say were right on, and some seemed a little undeserving. So, when one of my loyal readers (yay for loyal readers!) brought this up this morning, my mind got to thinking about the CrossFit vs. Globo Gym and the Stairmaster Nazis debate. I think it's time... oh yes. I'm going to weigh in here.
Now before I go any further I must make a terrible confession. I feel in doing so that I am letting down all my loyal fans and readers, but I feel I must cleanse my soul. Here goes nothing... I, was once... a Globo Gymer. Oh God! *hysterical sobbing* Phew, ok. I'm fine now, but it's true. Before moving to VA I was actually the assistant manager of a restaurant (shameless plug for them if you happen to be in PA... Watson Inn). My job allowed me to go into work at 2Pm (SWEET!) so I could roll out of bed and hit the gym. Most workouts took me between 1 and 2 hours, and usually after I left, I didn't feel satisfied with what I had done. I had a trainer who was a lovely woman, really... but I just never felt like I was really pushed. And let's be honest, after my 2 free sessions with her, I was on my own. Additional coaching would have cost me a pretty penny and I barely had two pennies to rub together at the time and was complaining every month about my $34 (ha!) gym membership each month. After extensive work with Jerry, I can tell you, my deadlift form was never right back in the day. And let's be honest, how many Globo Gymbers or stairmaster nazis realize that? Globo Gyming is difficult (easy...listen first) because of the exclusivity of it. You are on your own, and the ownus is on you. If you don't have perfect form, you don't know, unless the trainer tells you. Globo Gyms are more concerned with quantity of people working out than they are with the quality of the workouts people are having. I see it everyday at Jungle's when I look down from above from the almighty CrossFit room. I really do want to smack some of those people. And what's bad is that they don't realize that they are potentially injuring themselves with bad form, or that just because they read in Shape magazine that the exercise gives you a great butt, that it's not necessarily for them.
Now, here are some other issues I have with Globo Gyms. I know far too many "trainers". I'm using air quotes because I feel like these Globo Gym trainers try to sell you some prepackaged mumbo jumbo that really isn't based on you at all. They seemed convinced that a healthy diet of lat raises, kick backs, bench presses, a few squats and a little cardio will keep you in peak condition. Now, this is not to say all trainers are like this, because they are certainly not, but we're going to go on the average here. Remember, think Globo Gym... the Gold's etc of the world, something marketed for the masses. I'm sorry, but some people need a little bit more than this diet to keep their bodies in peak position. Thinking back to my workouts at the old gym, I hated going because it was the same thing all the time. Lat raises, kickbacks, dumbell curls, shoulder presses... blah blah blah. I think that workouts like this, and cardio on a treadmill, stairmaster etc, breed boredom and teach people that working out can't be fun. Hello! It can! Broaden your horizons and stop being bored to tears for thirty minutes while you pretend to walk up a fake hill! Now, I know some Stairmast Nazis right now are having a coniption because the Stairmaster is great for the buns, thighs, and hamstrings. Yeah, well, so are deadlifts, squats, squat cleans, and just about half the stuff we do at CrossFit, and they have a much higher degree of functionality in your everyday life. At some point, you will probably need to pick something up off the floor. Do you honestly expect in your life that you are ever going to walk up so many stairs that you will need to practice in order to make it to the top? Yeah... that's what I thought.
Furthermore, another huge issue that I have with Globo Gyms is that in many cases they encourage spot training. Let me 'splain. Sally Sedentary comes in and complains because she doesn't like her abs. So Tom the Trainer tells Sally to go start doing situps etc. WTF? Dude, for serial, if you want good abs, here's a big clue. It's not all just your abs. The trainers at the Globo Gym, telling you to hit cardio on the treadmill for thiry minutes and do abs, are so off base it's not even funny. Now again, not all Globo trainers are like Tom, but it seems that in my experience, that is the majority of what I run into. Your abs are complex and need to be worked in conjuction with your back. You should be be focusing more on core strength than ab strength. There is a difference... look it up, and get off the damn floor already! Abs in conjunction with other exercises yes are fine, but doing 500 bicycles a day is ridiculous, and tedious. Hello boredom.
Now, my final argument about Globo Gym. I can't tell you how disgusted I used to get with Globo Gym because of this next piece. I would get up to go workout, brush my teeth, throw my hair in a ponytail, and be set for the workout. Well, with clothes of course as well. But I would go workout and would see these women, with make up on and skin tight clothes, who were very obviously NOT at Globo Gym because fitness was important to them. They were there to scope out the guys with the biggest muscles and they would go flirt shamelessly with them. Ugh! When you are at Globo Gym, there is a certain understanding that you will be stared at. Whether you are a guy or girl, someone is going to stare at you and think about you in a way that is not fitness related at all. It's def very creepy, and not to mention, distracting. It's difficult to concentrate on putting your butt out and working your deadlift form when in the back of your mind you know someone is probably critiquing your butt and commenting on how big it is. Yes, theoretically we should have thicker skin about stuff like that, but be honest. How many of us are ok with someone thinking we have a huge ass? Globo Gym has become a meat market. Period, the end and I don't like it at all. In this category, CrossFit takes this hands down. I know damn well when I roll up into CrossFit, no one is judging my butt or thighs, and no one is there to look pretty. We work hard, we sweat, occassionally someone might puke. Attractiveness is not a thought. CrossFit in this respect is much better and allows you to focus on the workout, and not whether or not the creepy dude with his 85 pound bench presses is trying to check out your T&A.
Now, I think it's apparent what I think about Globo Gym and the Stairmaster Nazis. So I think it's clear who my winner should be. Hands down, CrossFit is it. Now, Washington Post says that you should consult with your doctor before attempting CrossFit because of how insane it is. Hello, if you have concerns about your heart/health... you should consult with your doctor about doing a lot of things, not merely CrossFit. Funny, but things like sex are included on that list since it can carry of risk of cardiac arrest. So sweetie... you better stop trying to mack on your spouse until you lose that 15 pounds(hmmmmm, wonder if they thought of that?).
CrossFit is intense, but it is varied and is designed, as Jerry puts it, to help us thrive in the chaos of normal daily life. Our workouts are designed to be tough, but to give us movements that are functional in real life. I can't tell you how many times I've put a tray over the my head at the restaurant and thought to myself silently how that movement mimics the push press EXACTLY. It usually involves head movement too since I'm usually trying to get out of the way if the tray is up that high. CrossFit is "Cross" fit. It crosses into your daily life. It's functional. Can you please tell me when or where tricep pull downs, or lat pull downs will ever help you in real life? They will make those areas stronger sure, but they themselves are not functional movements.
Now, people say CrossFit is too intense and is only for crazy people. No. Retards. Have you read about CrossFit? The beauty of CrossFit is scalability. Until you get the movements, until you can pick up the weights, we're not going to make you go all in. (contrary to what a certain Times reporter may lead you to believe...) But what we'll tell you is that even if you're only doing 5 reps, you should go for a perfect 5 reps. CrossFit can be for anyone, within reason. Obviously, if you are having health issues and have been seeing a doctor, moderate exercise is more the way to go. Obviously other health issues also can bring with them certain complications, so CrossFit may not be for people with those issues. But to the average person with a good bill of health and a good drive, CrossFit is much better for you and much more fulfilling than Globo Gym. Is it hard, yes, but that's what makes it fun.
Which leads me to my last reason that CrossFit simply smashes the crap out of those freakin' Stairmaster Nazis. I said earlier that Globo Gym is hard because the ownus is on you. Many of us have a hard enough time getting out of bed in the morning as is, so to have to get up to get on the treadmill, well that thought right there is enough to keep us in bed, instead of at the gym. With CrossFit though, while the ownus is on you to get out of bed, you know (unless you CrossFit on your own) that once you get to the gym, there are 10 or so other people there and waiting to share your pain. As I said yesterday, CrossFit breeds bonds in these hostile workout environments. Knowing there are people there who you want to talk to and see, and knowing that they will help you get through whatever WOD gets put on that board, is enough to pull you out of bed. Knowing you have a support system (and a fabulous coach) is far more motivating than staring down another day of kickbacks, pull downs, and bench presses. Globo Gym can't say that. You may also know that if you don't make it to the WOD, those same 10 people are going to be on your butt and want to know why you didn't make it today. (In a very loving way of course... ;) )
CrossFit becomes a true team. At Globo gym, no one cares that you just went from 35-40 pounds on an exercise. But at CrossFit, we celebrate PR's and successes everyday, because we know how hard you have to work to get there. As a community we understand. The idea of forming elite fitness, and elite community is true. And that community is supportive, and helps everyone find the best version of themselves. We celebrate success and foster pride and confidence. No Globo Gym can match what CrossFitters have. It's a uniquely dysfunctional yet still functional family. Give me a group of Stairmaster Nazis that have what we have, and maybe I'll quiet a smidge about how CrossFit is so superior (at least in a team sense), but since I know you can't do that I maintain that....
O'Doyle Rules! Er... uh... I mean, CROSSFIT RULES! ;)
PS- As an aside and afterthought... I went back and reread the Times article from March 23rd called "God's Workout." In the article, the author said that it was "disturbing" that on the particular day she looked at the CF site, they were getting ready to do the hero workout for "Valentine." So hero workouts are disturbing huh? Hmm... interesting thought. I think honoring fallen soldiers is a great idea. I now want to kick the author in the head.