Do the CrossFit Games really find the “Fittest Man/Woman in the World”?

Levers – can Rich Froning do this?

We recently enrolled both my son and my daughter into classes at a well established gymnastics center. This place turns out some quality gymnasts. Who knows if they will eventually compete in gymnastics in their life or if these lessons will simply help them in future sports. I never wished I had taken gymnastics until I found CrossFit and the more I read about boys/girls that play sports: taking gymnastics early on is very supportive to excelling in other sports. The more you can move your body in space and control it in space lends itself so well to anything else you do physically in life.

The first thing I thought of when I watched my kids first classes was that the facility was being run like that scene from Enter the Dragon when Bruce Lee is on the island for the first time and all those guys are doing military like karate drills in large groups. This place has kids ranging from toddlers to high school age all over the gym in pockets. Some warming up, some doing tumbling, some on bars and some moving equipment around how I would imagine Marines moving boats or other larger equipment. The efficiency and coordination is pretty amazing. Very cool to watch.

As I watch the kids do things on the uneven bars and balance beams my mouth drops. As I watch some of these kids run and do multiple back flips and get on rings as easy as I get out of my chair, I am jealous. On top of teaching skills this place also highly emphasizes being in shape. Kids are doing sprints, core exercises, climbing ropes for pulling strength and so many other activities that would be fairly common in a CrossFit gym. It is easy to see that Greg Glassman’s background was in gymnastics.

Which starts to take me to the point of this entry: do the CrossFit Games really find the Fittest Person on Earth?

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Iron cross

Male gymnasts are stupid lean. Stupid strong and have crazy balance and agility. We in the CrossFit community are amazed when someone can get a muscle up, but boys that are five or six years old are already doing strict muscle ups. The muscle up is called “getting on the rings” to a male gymnast. Want to talk difficult? Let’s talk front levers and the iron cross – that’s tough. Getting on the rings isn’t even part of the judged routine.

So, you mean to tell me that since a gymnast cannot Olympic lift they aren’t the Fittest Person in the World? I mean, that is essentially what CrossFit is, right? Gymnastics mixed together with Olympic lifts. Calisthenics, running, gymnastics, weightlifting and Olympic lifting with some odd object work. That’s CrossFit in a nutshell. I would guess that a male gymnast has all of those tools with the exception of Oly lifting.

Best weightlifter in the world. Does he look fit?

Some might say the same about Olympic lifters. I wouldn’t simply because the vast majority of specialists in Olympic lifts do nothing to increase their capacity for long cardio type events. They need very short, fast outbursts of energy, nothing more than a few seconds at most. Running does them no good. In fact, it hurts them. Whereas gymnasts do need the ability to perform at a high output for a period of time longer than a few seconds.

And don’t get me started on a marathon runner. They are so limited in their abilities, other than long slow events, that many marathon runners would have a hard time jumping on a 24 inch box, much less squatting body weight, doing a pullup or any other activity. (Just watch the next “runner” in your CrossFit class and see how well they squat or jump.)

What about other athletes that specialize? Basketball players look awfully fit, to me. Look at linebackers or wide receivers or any football player other than a lineman in the NFL with their shirt off – they are definitely in shape. Decathletes are definitely in shape – same with sprinters.

Patrick Willis on the left. Try to tell him that he isn't fit. I wouldn't!

Patrick Willis on the left. Try to tell him that he isn’t fit. I wouldn’t!

You mean to tell me any one of the fittest of the fit from these sports isn’t the Fittest Person in the World?

No, they are not.

Why? Well, until someone else chooses to attempt to define “fitness” like CrossFit has, well, then this is our only test of “fitness”. Until someone else or some other organization chooses to test for “fitness” in another way, this is all we have. I personally think it is a pretty damn good test, too. Don’t you?

If the best male gymnast in the world thinks he is fitter than Rich Froning, well, he better make sure his strength game is up to par. He better make sure he can snatch nearly twice his body weight. He better make sure he can run for distance, deadlift a small car and carry a log for a mile if needed.

It is GAMES WEEK! Can’t wait to tune in tomorrow to start watching the kids and old folks compete!!

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