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CrossFit Confessions: “I am an Olympian. I will never do CrossFit.”

This judo Olympian says CrossFit has no structure

Hedge fund guys do CrossFit. So do cops. And construction workers, engineers, and professors. (Even rock stars, too!) Here are their stories.

Travis Stevens, 28, is a Wakefield, MA.-based athlete.

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I’m a two-time judo Olympian and a Brazilian jujitsu black belt. I’m actively competing in both sports. I’m going to Cuba for the judo grand prix, then Moscow for the grand slam. The world championships are in August, and then I have a tournament in November in Brazil.

I first heard about CrossFit a few years ago. I’ve seen a lot of CrossFit gyms run out of people’s garages, rather than out of a business front. A lot of the people who run CrossFit gyms aren’t necessarily certified strength and conditioning coaches. They just go on a website, find the WODs of the day, and put their clients through it.

If you think about gyms as school-system tiers, first there are the Ivy League and private schools: When I weight train, I work out at Mike Boyle’s—he trains the Boston Red Sox, a lot of NHL guys, and other elite athletes.

Then there’s the community college level. I’d consider LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, or Gold’s Gym in this tier—places you can go to get a decent workout.

CrossFit is so far down the line in terms of helping people. It’s like trying to get an education by going to a library to read a few books.

People have different needs for different sports, and not everyone in the room can do the same thing. Some people need to be faster, stronger, more explosive, or more flexible. At CrossFit it doesn’t matter: Pick up the ball, try to do what we’re doing, figure it out. There’s no structure involved. The idea is: pick up the weight, and as long as you get from beginning to end, it’s considered a win. I’ve heard stories of broken backs, pulled muscles, and other injuries.

Some of the exercises—I can’t fathom how they are good ideas. The kipping pullup? How do people think that’s real? Your chin doesn’t go above the bar; you’re jerking yourself up. I saw a video of a guy doing 106 in a 1:26. How is it possible to be impressed by that? Then there’s the weighted squat on a stability ball. How do people think putting weight on your back while standing on an object that’s not meant to stand still is a good idea?

Or maybe it’s popular for the same reason yoga class or spin class is popular. People like going to a class with their friends. Instead of going it one-on-one and learning things correctly, they’d rather be in front of 15 or 20 people trying to lift 180 pounds over their head incorrectly, and then get the gratification of everyone in the room. But honestly: I think CrossFit should be required—due to the number of injuries that come out of it—to have a warning label on ESPN when it’s on, saying, “Do not perform this at home.” —As told to David Wescott

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