I was having a discussion with a client today about CrossFit. She had been warned to avoid CrossFit because it wasn’t safe or effective. I have an old friend who believes the same. These are both intelligent and educated people who know a great deal about science and fitness, yet they have formed this opinion without ever entering a box or reading a CrossFit publication.
Why would they form this opinion without experience? Maybe they’re predisposed to resist change, or maybe this “trendy” work out challenges a preference they have. More likely, they have heard things from friends, or they saw an article about research that “proves” the dangers of CrossFit.
This is the truly terrible legacy that will last for a generation. This is the result of the fraud perpetrated by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and called out by courts repeatedly since 2016.
What started the ball rolling was a 2013 “research” article by the NSCA in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and a 2015 lawsuit by a local box against Ohio State University (OSU).
A published claim by an OSU research team had stated a local box had participants drop out due to injuries, but OSU settled out of court when they couldn’t show any injured members.
In the same way, the NSCA had summarized that CrossFit was a modality of exercise that was dangerous, with 10/11 in their research study dropping out due to injuries. A court found that the conditions that prevented the participants from completing follow-up testing were not caused by participation in the CrossFit-related study. Furthermore, the court found that ALL THE DATA WAS FAKED. The NSCA was forced to retract the article. However, not learning their lesson, the NSCA turned around and sued CrossFit for defamation, hoping that would shut Glassman up. It didn’t, of course.
After numerous years and consistent wins, CrossFit has finally and completely won. To the tune of millions.
In fact the court stated that it had never seen such egregious fraud. The NSCA was made even to pay CrossFit’s attorney fees. And one final point made by the court: NSCA could never be trusted again.
So, what do you think? Is CrossFit dangerous? Maybe you’ll admit that the danger is “overstated” but it’s still something only an already strong young person should be doing, right? Because there are safer ways for the rest of us to get fit.
Safer than getting a torn ACL from kicking? Safer than getting a ruptured disk from bumping a bar? Safer than the dozens of people I know with joint and muscle injuries from basic exercise and movements? I get it. We’re all human. We’re tribal. It’s hard to give up being for your guy, your way, your beliefs…regardless of facts.
The discussion of this topic usually includes an expectation of compromise. You know, I’m supposed to end with something like “it’s all good” or “there’s good and bad in everything” or “some things work better for some people”.
I’m not ending it there.
I’m going to tell you that CrossFit is THE best fitness program. I’m going to tell you it works for EVERYBODY: fat, thin, athlete, deconditioned, old, young, differently-abled, etc. I’m going to tell you this, even though I spent most of my life performing and coaching gym-rat style strength training for apparently healthy individuals, the kind of training the NSCA advocates for and certifies.
CrossFit is the best methodology for fitness because it is entirely inclusive. Through its definitions, rubric, and extensibility, it allows for every kind of body and every kind of pursuit.
Don’t take my word for it. Visit your local box.
More Lawsuits on the Horizon
The establishment is doubling down.
Now, the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine (OJSM) has a paper that CrossFit wants retracted for false injury data.
The interesting thing about this paper is the authors’ own point that the subjects in their study are “self-identified as practicing a CrossFit routine” which includes people who work out at commercial gyms without supervision. As the authors admit, “The use of a trainer was not investigated in our study … Perhaps a CrossFit trainer would be able to identify any alteration in form and, thus, protect the athlete from injury.” Emphasis is mine, because what the fuck. This research is not actually researching CrossFit, but their title and abstract tell the reader it is.
This paper ALSO cites the retracted NSCA paper in setting up their hypothesis!
CrossFit, Inc. sued the NSCA after the NSCA published a “scientific” study containing false and fabricated data about CrossFit’s injury rate that was designed specifically to harm CrossFit’s business and reputation. Additionally, as elaborated in CrossFit, Inc.’s June 2019 request for terminating sanctions:
For the last five years, the NSCA has engaged in nothing short of a marathon of malfeasance: a consistent, intentional, and malicious pattern of discovery abuses designed to cover up the NSCA’s wrongdoing and to prohibit CrossFit and the Court from learning the truth about the NSCA’s fraud. The NSCA’s abuses, and efforts to conceal its abuses, are among the worst of any published case in modern history and include systemic perjury, evidence destruction, and evidence concealment.
Judge Sammartino agreed. In the Dec. 4 order, she writes:
[I]n twenty-five years on the bench, “[t]his is the first case that [the Court] ha[s] ever had that has gotten to this point.” … Having carefully considered the record, “[t]he severity and frequency of defendant[’s] bad faith misconduct is as egregious as anything this [C]ourt has ever seen or read. (Read More)