Thursday, November 26, 2009

My response to the message thread on entitled "The Black Box Summit Or How I Got Fired from the CrossFit Nutrition Certification"


CrossFit is currently experiencing it's biggest controversy so far, at least on-line. Fallout from the Black Box summit, and the evident firing of Robb Wolf from teaching the nutrition cert has sparked some lively debate:

Robb Wolf on Being Fired from Nutrition Cert

Greg Everett on what happened

Russel Berger on what happened

A rather balanced analysis of what happened

A very interesting take on what happened/is happening

I meant to write a brief, concise post on Robb's blog about this. Brevity, alas, is not my strong suit, and since writing it I had a few thoughts that I wished to include. Here is my opinion for any who care, for the record.

My response to the message thread on entitled "The Black Box Summit Or How I Got Fired from the CrossFit Nutrition Certification" (edited for clarity)

I have now read all 425 plus comments that came before this, and all of the source material.

I am an affiliate owner (CrossFit East Bay in Oakland CA) and I know or have met many of the principals here. Greg Glassman changed my life, and while I don't revere him as anything more than a fitness visionary, it is, to me, frankly ridiculous how little credit some people are giving him. I will post below his best response to such misunderstandings. For once, I largely agree with Barry Cooper, above.

I am a bit older (43) and have been into fitness since the 1980s. I used to read every fitness magazine I could get my hands on for, I guess, decades. I NEVER saw anything remotely like CF. I never heard of a double-under, a muscle-up, a kipping pull-up, a dynamax ball (or wall-ball), a thruster, a kettlebell, the zone diet, paleo, IF, tabata, etc etc etc. I was vaguely aware that rings existed and that these weird guys in tights lifted huge funny looking weights in the Olympics, and that a rower existed, but it never occurred to me to use these things. I never saw anything remotely like Fight Gone Bad, and I challenge anyone to point me to something like FGB that pre-dates CrossFit. When I discovered CF in 03 or 04 it sounded interesting, and I dabbled, but not until I trained with Josh and Keith at CFNYC Black Box, the 18th affiliate, was my mind blown.

As I said I am a bit older, and have an administration background as well. I am familiar with internecine disputes, and have mediated many. I am disappointed in what I am seeing here from all sides. There is a whole lot of dick-measuring and airing of grievances, old and new, going on. While there may have been some pent-up feeling that needed to be discharged, it has been done, the issues are out there, and, as an affiliate owner and member of this community I ask that we take a deep breath and dial it back a notch on all sides.

This community has experienced explosive growth, and I think it is silly to pretend there are no issues associated with that growth. As a community we have added, are adding, quality on the individual affiliate and regional level daily. It is questionable as to whether HQ is keeping up with or taking advantage of all of the great stuff that is coming out of our open-source fitness model. Simply put, there are some potential, or actual, quality issues. A med ball clean might not be the best progression to the clean. Teaching someone with zero experience how to snatch with a PVC pipe does not prepare them optimally to teach the snatch. The explanation that it is impractical to use barbells with so many people does not hold water. Inconvenient, yes, expensive, yes. Impractical, no. It is possible that the current programming template of .com could be improved. I'm not suggesting I know how, but this is fitness, not religion, and blind allegiance to the .coms is against the spirit of CrossFit. To quote Greg Glassman speaking to me personally: "the next big innovation in CrossFit will come from outside of my intuition". It is clear that a whole foods diet is healthier than Zoning Pringles, Coors Lite and Skirt steak (personally I think zone/paleo + milk is the way to go). The level 1 Cert is not as valuable a product as it was when Coach taught them himself (I have been to both versions). The .com only to prepare for the games is not optimal unless one already has perfect balance in all 10 areas of fitness. Even then training once a day to prepare for a multi-day multi-event competition would be insanity.

Recently one of my athletes started training the O-lifts with Greg Everett. This forced me to recognize that what I had learned so far in CF regarding the O-lifts was demonstrably inferior (but still an order of magnitude better than what I knew before CF, i.e. zilch). I admitted my sub-optimal teaching to my athletes and we are now working on improving our O-lifts, but not at the expense of GPP or not following a .com-like template.

Greg Glassman and CrossFit have given us all an incredible gift, for which I am truly thankful, but they have started a wildfire which cannot be easily managed or neatly compartmentalized. That does not have to be a bad thing. Another local product, eBay, was also started on a wing and a prayer - basically not even a beta product thrown out there. Subsequently, the owners started reacting to every piece of feedback they received and built a killer app. Their community base is the basis of their success and they jealously build, guard and protect it. CrossFit should do the same. Listen. Grow. Evolve.

I know Greg Glassman and I believe in him as a businessman, fitness visionary and really just a good down-to-earth guy. I have had my issues with HQ and I know this is not the kindest, gentlest organization on earth, but given what we do doesn't that make a certain amount of sense?

Now goddammit! Let's chalk to the elbows and get back to working out!

See you in the garage.

Maximus Bernard Lewin
Owner, Lead Trainer
CrossFit East Bay

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2 comments: Lindsey and Web Smith said...

Well said. Well said.

Jay Ashman said...

well said, Max.. Exactly what needs to be said.