Literacy Ethnography Final Draft
Post on 26-Aug-2014
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Alex Boyd 756059
Crossfit, the ultimate tool designed to forge your body into an elite fitness machine through a mixture of weightlifting, sprinting, and gymnastics. A way of life dedicated to knowing and testing the extreme limits of your body. This essays purpose is to educate people on the advantages of Crossfit as an alternate form of exercise and how the culture has shaped and influence a different generation of warriors. I want to shed light on the intricate communication system between Crossfit gyms and individual home gyms as well as how this new warrior type lifestyle is bringing people more in touch with their physical bodies. In addition to this, I would like to cover how Crossfit gyms use group exercise systems to increase motivation and strengthen the bond between athletes.
Currently, there are 3400 Crossfit-affiliated gyms worldwide, most of them in the United States (Schwechlerl 1). This number does not include the home gyms or people that practice Crossfit in standard Olympic style gyms. The gym I studied was Crossfit Eternal. Based out of Charlotte North Carolina, Crossfit Eternal serves North Charlotte, Concord, and the University area. This gym, as with the others, is based on the teachings of Gregg Glassman. Glassman developed Crossfit in the early 2000s and believed it to be more of an ideology or way of life than an organized sport.
When you walk into Crossfit Eternal you are greeted by the familiar scent of sweat, chalk, and gym equipment. To the left of the door is a small table with information on membership pricing, and the all-important medical waiver. The medical waivers are required to due to recent criticisms of the sport. Many critics believe that the sports high physical demands mixed with the accessibility of the workouts make it dangerous to beginners (Cooperman 1). The patrons of Crossfit Eternal who partake in the workouts of the day, or WODs, are highly motivated individuals. This motivation can be deadly; a condition known as rhabdomyolysis, where muscle tissue breaks down into the blood stream, poisoning the kidneys, can lead to hospitalization or even death. Lining the entranceway of Crossfit Eternal are t-shirts bearing logos of athletes doing Crossfit exercises and cartoons poking fun at serious issues such as rhabdomyolysis and puking during workouts. Above the main office is a small loft for the children of the athletes to play during long training sessions. This indicates a strong family dynamic involved within the gym and encourages a more social experience as the whole family can be involved. As you walk into the main workout area the right side wall is lined with chalk-covered pull up bars. The grip tape is well worn from countless repeated kipping pull-ups and feet to bar exercises. Coach Stephie, the head trainer at CF Eternal, explained to me how they incorporate one-on-one training into their group work out programs. Each member gets attention from the multiple trainers to aid in perfecting their form. For each station, and each individual exercise, they are all grouped together. This creates a team dynamic which is unusual in an individualized sport.
Crossfit is the perfect tool to expose holes in our movement, he says. A Crossfit gym is a lab: its a safe place to press boundaries, experiment, test and re-test, see what works and what doesnt work, and become better athletes. (Murphy 1) To the left, as you move towards the center of the room, you see the main workout area. Here you see the men and women of CF Eternal drenched in sweat, some lying on the floor near motionless after completing the grueling. The workout on that day, Cindy, had drained the athletes. I knew that I was next; I talked to many of the members about the upcoming workout to get some last minute advice before the 5 oclock group started our workout. It seemed that the most difficult aspect of the workout consisting of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air-squats as many times as possible in 20 minutes, would not be one certain exercise, but pure stamina. It amazed me as we did the workout the level of fitness in the room. Similar to the Special Forces, this mixture of soccer moms, CEOs, janitors, and chefs knew the ins and outs of every muscle fiber in their body. As you finish your workout you are invited to go into the clubroom and cool down by a fan, drink water, and relax while you reflect on the prior event. Here the members of Crossfit Eternal brag about their times, or complain about the harder aspects of the WOD, bragging rights seem to play a large part of this community.
Crossfit mainstay is there innovative workouts. A standard list of workouts allows athletes around the world to compete against each other everyday as the perform the same exercises.
One of the greatest assets you have inside the Crossfit arena is your peer. Communication plays a huge part in your success in Crossfit. As we went through our workout the trainers were constantly yelling. Similar to military boot camp, they use theyre voices to motivate patrons through the pain of the exercise (Shugart 2). As we moved on to the body squats the trainers began to bark out orders for us to squat lower and maintain a straight back. These orders were not just to make the exercise more difficult, but also to make it more effective and prevent injury. I was told before I started the workout that me being the new guy I would be heckled throughout the 20 min workout. This didnt just come from the coaches though, everyone chipped in, it was astounding the amount of reinforcement I received. The members of Crossfit Eternal truly act as a family. Arguably the most powerfully binding aspect of the Crossfit community, is derived from what are known as Hero WODs. These workouts, the most grueling,
intense, and painful of them all, are dedicated to men and women warriors who have fallen in battle. Murph, the most infamous of the workouts, is named after Lt. Michael Murphy (USN), a Navy SEAL who died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. There are currently 31 individual Hero WODs (Crossfit.com) and sadly more are added periodically. These workouts weigh heavy on Crossfit enthusiasts in more ways than just physical, they draw off the memory of the honored fallen to get through the grueling workouts so as to honor them with their blood, sweat, and tears.
It has been my pleasure to expound upon the culture of Crossfit Eternal. It is my hope, that with my first hand account paired with the research I have conducted, you now have a greater understanding as to what it truly means to partake in Crossfit. I hope you can see how this new sport is based on more than just physical prowess. Through communication, community, honor and respect, and an intricate knowledge of ones inner self, Crossfit has forged itself into the culture of todays elite warrior class.
Cooperman, Stephanie. "Getting Fit, Even if It Kills You." New York Times [New York] 22 Dec 2005, n. pag. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.
Ferestein, Gregory. "Crossfit: Where Navy SEALs and Pregnant Soccer Moms Help Each Other Get Ripped." Fast Company. Fast Company, 08 Feb 2011. Web. 11 Apr 2012.
Murphy, TJ. "Burning Runner: Inside the Crossfit Culture." Competitor. Competitor, 08 Aug 2008. Web. 11 Apr 2012. ~http://running.competitor.com/2011/08/burning-runner/burning-runner-aninside-look-into-crossfit-culture_34473
Shugart, Chris. "The Truth About Crossfit." T-Nation. T-Nation, 4 Nov 2008. Web. 11 Apr 2012. .