Does CrossFit Injure People?

Did you know that if you eat bubble gum it sits in your intestines for 7 years after you eat it? What about that Van Gogh cut off his ear for a woman he loved? Well, you definitely have to know that CrossFit injures people more than any other fitness routine.

Well, if ya did know those things…they are all 100% false.

Bubble Gum goes right through you, Van Gogh went fencing and lied about what happened to defend a friend, and basketball leads to more injuries annually than CrossFit (check out THIS blog post to read more on that).

So, why do influencers and your uncle think CrossFit is dangerous?

The Start of CrossFit Coaching

When CrossFit started back in 2000, Greg Glassman was just teaching people foundational movements performed at varied intensities and time domains. CrossFit Santa Cruz was basically a personal training studio where Glassman would get a personal training client and help them achieve their individual goals with his methodology.

Over time he would find athletes that he trained 1-on-1 that had similar goals and interests and paired them together. He continued to do that until he had so many athletes that he started teaching CrossFit in classes. He started and started posting the daily workouts he had in his gym and people started completing them at home, then uploading the scores onto the leaderboard. Some of these people who loved the methodology so much decided they wanted to start their own CrossFit gyms. So, Glassman created a system to spread the CrossFit methodology.

All gyms bearing the CrossFit name must pay an annual (or monthly) affiliation fee to use the name and all coaches must receive the CrossFit Level 1 (minimum) to coach classes! It is this latter part that was the real game changer and put CrossFit in the crosshairs of some large companies with a vested interest in the fitness industry.

CrossFit Is A Danger…To The Status Quo

The CF-L1 is a fitness certification that is obtained by going to a weekend course that runs from 8am-5pm Saturday and Sunday. These seminars are taught by CrossFit HQ Seminar staff who have been vetted by the head of CrossFit’s training department to effectively teach other coaches. At the end of the weekend you take a test and if you pass the test, you become a CF-L1 Certificated Coach. 

In America this set a new, easier route to become a verified (the test is certificated by ANSI) trainer. Before, if you wanted to receiver a credential, you had to take a 4 hour test, pay for studying material, and must renew your certification every 2 years by getting continuing education credits, which were also purchased from the business you took the original certification from. Where as with CrossFit, the CF-L1 and CF-L2 are 5 year turn over. (L3 and L4 are 3 year and follow the same CEU requirements as they are Certified PT accreditations). 

For better or for worse, this change in proofing coaches drastically changed the industry and unsettled the death grip that major companies like the NSCA had on the education of the United States’ fitness professionals.

The Fight For Fitness Education

So, you’re a major company in the US that has had a major share of a market. What do you do? Well, you do what you can to squash the competition before they can get a major foothold.

In 2013, NSCA funded a study that was conducted by Ohio State University at Fit Club (A CrossFit Affiliate). The study followed athletes through weeks of training at this affiliate and concluded that CrossFit was dangerous due to 16% of the participants dropping out of the study following an injury.

The study was published, featured on 60 minutes, and routinely taught to their trainers going through their accreditation programs.

It was not long after that CrossFit sued NSCA and the case wound up in court.

By the end of the trial, CrossFit had won a 6 figure settlement and NSCA was also required to cover CrossFit’s legal fees for the entire process. Why?

Because the exercise science doctor conducting the study, Dr. Steven Devor, had fudged the numbers… a lot. In fact, only 2 athletes dropped out of the study due to injury or overuse (or about 3.5% of the study).

On top of this the NSCA was found to be with holding information from the court and being accused of lying on the stand by the judge presiding over the case. 

Does CrossFit Injure People?


But, so does going up stairs, playing soccer, and pillow fights with your kids.

When we look at more unbiased and well conducted studies, CrossFit on average has a higher risk of injury for participants when not coached in a safe manner. When coaches just say 3-2-1 go instead of teaching you the movements and having you work on form BEFORE you start slinging on weight. 

If you’re interested in reading more about this story, go ahead and read this story about the spokesperson who helped represented CrossFit in the case! The lawyer himself doesn’t represent our views on equality and inclusion, just like Glassman, but the story itself is very interesting. Check it out HERE!

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