What a fun week it’s been in the “CrossFit” Community! I feel like the conversation about “Rhabdomyolysis” is at an all-time high in my history of being a CrossFit athlete. And to think this all started from one little article is amazing.
The article in question is entitled: “CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret“, written by a guy named Eric Robertson, and has CFers furious all over the world. You know those articles that FB tells you seventy-five of your friends have shared? Yeah, this is one of those pieces.
To summarize it poorly, I assume he is trying to bash CrossFit and say that they hide Rhabdo from its athletes, in essence, stating how unsafe and irresponsible the program is to follow. For those of you who have read the piece, do you think that’s a fair summary (without getting into the inconsistencies or simply false statements made)?
So, a few days later, one of the first “rebuttal” articles came out. This one from a woman named Ericka Andersen, and her piece was called: “CrossFit Doesn’t Have a Dirty Little Secret — You’re Just Irresponsible“. Ericka goes ahead and takes the exact opposite side of the coin. Her stance is that no trainer or gym owner should be held responsible for Rhabdo, rather the athlete should know themselves well enough to know when to stop pushing.
Here are two quotes from her post:
“Rhabdomyolysis — an extreme condition thwarted upon oneself — is not the fault of CrossFit. It’s not the sport, the organization or even the coaches. It’s your own fault.”
“But use your common sense! Don’t do something that will hurt yourself. Listen to your body. Go slowly when you start. Learn correct form. Don’t lift too heavy. Scale down if you need to. Take it seriously — weightlifting isn’t a joke.
Any good CrossFit coach will tell you these things. Of course, there are bad coaches! There are bad gyms. There are people who will tell you to do things that may be harmful. Be smart.”
My take on her article, is that Ericka puts a little bit TOO MUCH responsibility on the athlete. While I do believe that people need to be aware of their body, and know when to stop pushing, I also have experienced first-hand… HUNDREDS of times, that some people simply don’t know how to do that. Some folks that walk into the gyms where I coach have never worked out a day in their lives. Others were potentially elite-level athletes…. twenty, thirty, forty years ago, and truly believe their bodies can go back to that level of performance overnight. That’s not quite how it works.
While I absolutely side with Ericka if I had to pick one of the two articles discussed so far, I 100% put a large amount of responsibility on the gym owners and coaches to know enough about the human body, and their athletes, to try their best not to let people hurt themselves. One of my favorite parts of coaching is looking around a full class of athletes and knowing them well enough to be able to safely and correctly pick weights that they should use for strength training or workouts.
So there you have it, the two opposite ends of the spectrum on whose fault it is that Rhabdo occurs. Now, the gel to bring them both together. Mike Ray, one of the owners of CrossFit Flagstaff (who has been in the CrossFit game with his wife Lisa for a lonnnng time), posted his thoughts on the situation. I read his post and thought… perfect. He addresses the potential risks of CrossFit, of lifting, of working out in general, as one should. He also mentions the potential benefits of that type of training, when done right. He brings up the different workout styles associated with an individuals’ fitness goals. I mean, he touches on basically everything that I thought about when I tried to record the video below a few days ago.
The bottom line, if you want to read someone who is articulate and sounds intelligent covering “all of the bases” on this topic, and someone who I agree with basically 100%, please read this article: “Secret” Rhabdo. It’s beautiful.
Now, here’s my rambling attempt at addressing my thoughts on this situation. Before I started recording I had 5 or 6 talking points, but when the camera started rolling. It rambling at parts, misses some of the key points, but as it is, it’s taken me 3 days to post my thoughts because I wanted this post to be all-inclusive. HA! Anyways, there you have it, folks. Rhabdo discussed. I am incredibly interested in hearing what you guys think on this situation. Let’s discuss….