How to talk to someone who does CrossFit, if you really must

SAN ANSELMO, CA - MARCH 14:  Lita Collins does a deadlift during a CrossFit workout at Ross Valley CrossFit on March 14, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. CrossFit, a high intensity workout regimen that is a constantly varied mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics and Olympic weight lifting, is one of the fastest growing fitness programs in the world. The grueling cult-like core strength and conditioning program is popular with firefighters, police officers, members of the military and professional athletes. Since its inception in 2000, the number of CrossFit affiliates, or "boxes" has skyrocketed to over 8,500 worldwide with more opening every year.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
You've heard of it, but what is Crossfit?
02:36 - Source: CNN

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A beginner's guide to talking about CrossFit

Don't mention the "i" word

CNN  — 

Right now you surely know someone who does CrossFit. Whether it be your husband, wife, brother, sister, parent, coworker, friend, or acquaintance, you definitely know someone.

And that person talks about it. A lot.

Too much? Definitely too much. And now you’re reading about it? It’s all too much.

The fact you’ve read this far means that you are at least mildly curious about this fitness craze and the unwavering obsession it commands, in which case there are some things that will help you to understand this person you once thought you knew so well, but now talks only of muscle-ups, double-unders and WODs.

Who is this person? What are they talking about? What have they become?

The first thing to understand is that by signing up for CrossFit, your friend has made a costly and heavily time consuming commitment towards positive improvements, and with that comes a real sense of achievement. That alone should make you happy too, right? That’s how it works.

The second, and perhaps most important thing to understand is that they are learning new things on a near-daily basis. CrossFit is highly technical, using many gymnastic and Olympic weightlifting techniques which very few people will have ever done before.

Achieving your first handstand push-up, kipping pull-up or double-under (What do these things mean? Ask your friend) is really difficult and truly exciting once you get it.

When you do, you’re going to want to tell someone. Just as you did when you were a kid and you hit your first home run or scored your first goal in soccer.

So, cut your friend some slack. They know they’re talking about this all the time. But this is big for them.

Don’t mention the ‘i’ word

So, now you’ve accepted that talking CrossFit is something you do now, it’s probably best to know what to say to this particular friend-turned-cult member.

One good rule of thumb is not to immediately bring up potential injuries.

While injuries are always possible, CrossFit’s obsession with safety borders on the tedious. Most gyms require several weeks of beginner classes, teaching you how to safely pick things up, jump on things and carry things before you’re ever let loose on a class.

Once you have graduated from your starter course, you’ll find yourself repeatedly practicing moves with weightless pipes or empty bars before ever attempting to lift heavy weights.

Do you know what is dangerous? Every sport ever invented.

Do you know a soccer player who’s torn their ACL, or tennis players who has sprained, strained or broken their ankle? You have, right? Have you ever suffered from I-T Band syndrome after running? I have. It’s agony.

Sport is fundamentally dangerous, but these dangers can be mitigated when performed in controlled environments where trained professionals are regulating your performances. Places such as CrossFit.

The large misconception about CrossFit is born from youtube videos of guys lifting crazy-heavy weights and dropping them on their neck, back, etc.

While weight-related injuries are real and are frightening, these incidents are not indicative of CrossFit, and I’m willing to bet did not takes place in a box (What’s a Box? Ask … you know the rest).

Simply put, don’t make assumptions.

Crazy meatheads

I cannot stress how often I hear: “I can’t imagine you working out with all those crazy meatheads.” Yeah, me neither. I don’t. I can’t. I wouldn’t try.

Or, “I can’t do that!” Oh really, because one lady in my class is approaching 80. And she can, and does.

The CrossFit community is a broad based mishmash of people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds, and this is what makes it special.

It’s a community, all working together to help each other improve. Once the elite members of a group finish working out, they will help encourage the slower and weaker members of the class.

This seems to be universal. When you’re out of town, you can “drop-in” at a local box and feel totally welcome. You’ll even leave with a t-shirt branded with the local affiliates logo.

These things are a great commodity in the CrossFit cult. One girl at our box has a “CrossFit Reykjavik” T-shirt. How cool is that?

In essence, CrossFit is to the gym, what supper club is to eating alone. It’s just better with friends.

“The Open”

If you’ve made it this far, you’re clearly ready to take your conversations with your CrossFit buddy to the next level.

So, if you really want to impress your friend and make their day, I have one piece of advice: Ask about “the Open.”

The Open is an annual five week global competition that your friend/coworker is either participating in, judging, or actively watching his/her CrossFit friends participate in.

Either way, they are talking about it. A lot. If they’re not talking about it, they’re thinking about it, and really want to talk about it.

During the Open, many boxes host weekly events, where participants all compete together, with food and drinks on tap, creating an inviting family-friendly environment where you can watch your friends all but kill themselves in order to post and score among the hundreds of thousands of others on the global leaderboard.

It’s fun, and something your friend would delight in explaining to you.

For the truly elite CrossFitter, the Open is merely a qualifying stage towards the regionals or, ultimately, “The Games.” But you don’t need to know about this. You don’t know anyone who’s going to regionals or the Games. These people are a myth.