The Gym Wars Need To Stop

I think there’s something called the “Gym Wars” going on right now. I’ve been noticing a proliferation of articles and blog posts, as well as overhearing and engaging in conversations with people, on how to work out. Everyone has an opinion on the best way to get in shape, and everyone believes that they are right. That shouldn’t be a problem; we’re all entitled to our preferences. Except that it is a problem…

There’s the CrossFit crowd (of which I’m part) that posts online detailed accounts of masochistic workouts in jargon that’s indecipherable to the uninitiated. They love their motivational posters and pictures splattered with messages that others (i.e. non-CrossFitters) find at the very least condescending, if not offensive:

I disagree. Fitness obsession IS a problem.


feelthepaindoitanywayThen there’s the rest of the fitness world that caters to people who don’t want to puke while exercising, who don’t want to do pull-ups to the point of not being able to extend their arms for a week, who don’t like feeling utterly ravaged by a workout. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I don’t blame them.


What I’m getting fed up with is the dichotomy that exists between different approaches to fitness. Here we are, all of us people trying to get in shape and be our healthiest selves, and all the while we’re spitting and snarling at each other like angry cats, as if someone else’s personal workout style is actually offensive to us. That makes no sense at all.

I’ve been known to sing the praises of CrossFit on this blog, since it has been fantastic for me, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of not wanting it to take over my life. I purposely don’t buy the unlimited monthly pass to the local gym, but restrict myself to the ‘pay-per-class’ system, which helps keep me at home on those additional days when my body feels guilty and wants to work out again, but my head is saying, “No, Katherine, go do something else.”

Admittedly, I get irritated by how often non-CrossFitters criticize CrossFit, writing it off with surprisingly bitter vehemence. I tell myself that they just don’t understand how effective it is, but then I reassess: their distaste for it is fully understandable! CrossFitters don’t do much to endear themselves to the rest of the world. Inherent narcissism goes along with CrossFit’s focus on personal records (“PRs” in ‘box’ lingo) and physical feats. Thanks to social media, it’s now in everyone’s faces, and — big surprise! – posting WOD details doesn’t serve so much to inspire as to make everyone else feel bad about what they’re doing (or not doing), while further entrenching the dichotomy and making CrossFit seem even more inaccessible and arrogant to others.

Please don’t get me wrong. I really love CrossFit, but I just want everyone to get along. I want the non-CrossFitters to stop hating us so much, and I want the CrossFitters to stop thinking they’re perfect and amazing and have got it all figured out. Competition within the chronometrical confines of a WOD is healthy and fun, but keeping it there is also a good idea. Let’s strive instead to respect each other’s individual style and celebrate the fact that so many people want to get in shape.

What matters is that we're doing it, some way or another.
What matters is that we’re doing it, some way or another.

Thoughts, anyone??

You might also like:
Why I’m Officially Hooked on CrossFit
The Bizarre Appeal of a CrossFit “Throwdown”
a WOD from hell


7 thoughts on “The Gym Wars Need To Stop

  1. You 100% inspired me to try crossfit. In my new town I got a twice a week pass, which is perfect for me. I have just had a small accident so I can’t cross-fit for a few more weeks still, so I will be doing less intense exercise for a while. I love the structure of the WOD, and mobility, and all that, but it’s definitely not the only way to be healthy. I also refuse to drink the paleo-is-the-only-healthy-way-for-everyone kool-aid.

  2. Absolutely. Do whatever suits you and your lifestyle. My mum doesn’t understand the appeal of all my ‘sweaty nonsense’ like running and circuits, but then her daily routine of good old fashioned stretches and a walk doesn’t do it for me. Either way, we’re both in good shape and feel good!

  3. One of the elements of crossfit is to keep trying new things. This is why you can be a jogger, a swimmer, a dancer, a yogi, a martial artist, a snowboarder, a rugby player (etc.) and also be a crossfitter. It’s easy to get caught up in the WODs because they are borderline evil, but activities outside the ‘box’ are just as important to overall training purely because they’re different. Anyway, that’s my reason behind trying the odd zumba class or joining a random local sports team here and there. Good work on maintaining a balance!

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I love crossfit but yoga really works for me too. I’ve had people scoff at both saying one was too insane and the other was not a workout (both are wrong!). I just like talking about workouts in general now (thanks to crossfit) and I am happy I found a workout that I enjoy. All I want for others is to enjot their workout as much as I enjoy mine.

    Thanks for writing this!

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