Sunday, July 13, 2014

Not even just 'Frenemies?" CrossFit and the NPGL

The teams of the inaugural season of the NPGL. (adapted from
You ever notice how there are those combinations of things that just ought to be GREAT, but ultimately, just fail to stick together? Vinegar and oil. Mentos and Diet Coke. [Insert some trendy celebutant] and [Insert some other celebutant]?!

Who are these people?! (Just kidding, Ozzy rules!!)

I'd have thought, after 10 years of steady growth, of really enjoying the thrill of kicking pretty much the entire fitness industry in the collective nuts (1), CrossFit TM would enjoy a new bit of friendly competition. It certainly gives another aspect into the dominance they have over the performance fitness universe they ultimately built from the ground up (2). Or, given that seemingly 90+% of their on- and off-Grid talent is coming out of the CrossFit community, the NPGL would be eager (or at least not reluctant) to name what appears, at least for now, to be the very best way to get in shape for their new sport!

Instead, we get this weird radio silence. Which isn't EVEN as good as if there were outright hostilities, so at least we'd all know where we all stood. Nope, this is like when parents are fighting, but the shouting has stopped... and the house is now icily quiet. Every one keeps their heads down, tries not to drop anything, or in any way add to the tension...

I've watched two 2-hour NPGL competitions so far. Wall-to-wall in CrossFitters. I literally JUST watched some of them at the CrossFit Regionals this year. They interviewed them. The C-word never ONCE came up. I can ONLY assume they've been banned (or at least strongly warned) against using it, but why? Marcus Hendren is on the DC Brawlers, who just edged out the NY Rhinos (still not sure about the name, kids). Why do I know who the goober with the iffy hair who exercises really well is? CrossFit. His interview? "I'm here with the team, we're gonna try to work together, communication, Grid, opportunity, Grid, Brawlers.... blah blah blah." Not one mention of "I came in fourth place to some seriously god-like MFers at the Central East Regionals, which means *I'm* pretty much god-like, and I'm gonna rip some shit up and show people what CrossFittians can do!! Hendren SMASH!! "

"Hendren SMASH!!" If he didn't yell that, it was a missed opportunity. (

On the other hand, the NPGL commentators were reduced to having ***NOTHING*** to talk about. Where did all these ridiculously fit young (and slightly older) fitness athletes come from? Apparently vomited forth from the Grid itself, given there was NO background given for anyone. There was much talk about "generalists" vs. "specialists," which *I* know meant "well-rounded CrossFitter" vs. "powerlifter/gymnast specialist." Which again, would be OK if there was enough discussion of that actually means, in other words, who's made what trade-offs in their training. 10 heavy deadlifts coming up? Gimme a cockstrong deadlifter who can lift 10x as much, so can bomb through them! Need someone to knock out 20 bar over burpees? Apparently (according to the DC/NY match) a gymnast is what you need to bomb them out in 20 seconds... but WHY is that the case over a generalist? You know, and *I* know, but to whoever might be discovering the sport on their own... there's just NO background, no discussion....

"So, this guy comes to us from... uh, whatever. You know? Just... whatever, man. You're not my dad." (

From the other camp, CrossFit has seen fit to try to hype up EVERY big name convert to the sport.... but to very little effect, so far.  Footballer Discovers CrossFit. Basketballer Discovers CrossFit. Opera Singer Discovers CrossFit. Oddly enough (as awesome as each of those stories was), there's never any follow up. Why? Probably because when someone from an EXTREMELY skill-based sport, which is also EXTREMELY competitive just to make it to the highest levels, who has already completed 99.9% of the work to be at the top, adding in some CrossFit to the mix won't make that much difference.(3)

Granted, the CrossFit influence on the world of Olympic weightlifting have been (and will continue to be) massive, with record-breaking attendance numbers and participation... and some pretty impressive numbers being posted by CrossFitters in their debut meets. And NO ONE shies away from saying what gym a competitor lifts at, CrossFit or not.

But NOW, here's an entire sport LITERALLY grown out of the fertile land Coach Glassman tilled and sewed with his free online workouts for crazy people. (OK, can you have a *literal* metaphor? Bah...)  Nearly every single competitor is from a CrossFit gym, and if NOT, *that's* interesting, too. Who ELSE is creating athletes good at this? Don't we want to know? I do!! Are ALL former-college gymnasts bound to be good? Former collegiate football players? Some sub-set? Where do they train? How do they train? Maybe its just me being a coach and all... but to me, the training is as exciting as the final competition. Maybe even more so. That one-second fault for a bad tag doesn't mean as much if I don't have a good feel for which team seems like they *ought* to win, based on training and experience. Which means constant and repeated mentions for various CrossFit (and other) gyms. Which means free advertising for the Mothership. But I guess that's a... bad thing? Also, athletes being paid to be athletes, which is a model CrossFit has never once even dabbled with, so does it still count as competition? Again... is that a bad thing? How many professional "CrossFitters" are there? Rich and Samantha clearly made good cash last year... how many others made enough to live on? Any?

I guess when I started writing this, I was sort of hoping I'd stumble into some sort of epiphany about why things are the way they are between CrossFit HQ and the NPGL. (For the record, every time I use both names in a single sentence, I get a thrill of excitement. I sort of assume I'll get a letter from the Russels or mocked by Drywall. This paragraph is made of pure internet win... and or fail. We'll see.) In the end, I don't know. I just don't know. How is Crossfit not a sponsor of the NPGL? Is Reebok planning on swooping in? Their CrossFittian shoes ought to be just as stellar for Grid workouts, no?

Oh, Flying Spaghetti Monster, my eyes, MY EYES!! Somewhere, Coach (Baby) Mark just started giggling and he doesn't know why. ( review of the Reebok ATV 19x, and they apparently LOVED them... oof. My eyes.)

In the end, I got nothing. I ought to have two things to really like, without worry that, like bickering parents, there's suddenly going to be an all-out war and eventual divorce... which would suck for everybody involved.

(1) Yes, for all the powerlifters and bodybuilders, and basically everyone else who ALREADY had a gym obsession, CrossFit has been and always will be stupid to you, because it doesn't meet your goals. That's perfectly OK. In the same way that doing the same three lifts (and an infinite number of accessory lifts) and wearing 3-ply canvas underwear is stupid to me (it really is), that doesn't mean that what powerlifters do in pursuit of a 1,000# squat is any less valid. Its my opinion. Yours is yours. Opinions are like assholes. Mine smells like roses.

(2) Yes, some other names helped build the foundation and provided competitive support along the way. This isn't about them, and not having TV, I don't have to hear their annoying-as-crap infomercials anymore, so I can't even remember the names. Q-80-Z? Linsanity? Was that a thing?

(3) Now, those kids we're building from the ground up with massively improved General Physical Preparedness and solution sets... gonna be monsters. Go google the Martin kids from CrossFit Brand X. MONSTERS.

1 comment: