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(Oct. 31, 2016—Corrects to identify Josh Crosby as co-founder of the 50-minute rowing program Indo-Row.)

Jonathan Burns remembers the soul-sucking pain of a 2-kilometer ergometer test. His best score in his rowing prime was 5:56—an all-out effort that left him in a physical shambles, he said.

“I would be lying there recovering for two days after a 2-kilometer test,” said the former college and national-team rower and current owner of CrossFit Coeur D’Alene in Idaho.

“We would taper before them, and then you couldn’t do anything after. We’d be shot. Maybe we’d go for a light paddle the next morning, but that was it.”

All high-level rowers can relate to Burns’ experience. It’s incredibly difficult to recover from a 100 percent rowing effort, Burns explained, which is why most training days are spent working at intensity levels below an athlete’s capacity.

Burns remembers doing a common workout in training: three 2-kilometer pieces on the ergometer with approximately five minutes of rest between each. Burns said he would usually hold somewhere between 6:03 and 6:10 on the pieces. While the workout is challenging, it wasn’t that difficult to recover, he said. Often, it was even followed by a second row later in the day, he added.

Think about that: A 2-kilometer row in 5:56 left Burns a physical mess for two days, yet he could maintain a pace seven to 14 seconds slower for three consecutive pieces. And he could recover to train a second time that day.

If about 10 seconds is the difference...

Are you addicted to met-cons to the detriment of overall fitness?

Yes, we know you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything on deadlift day.

It’s very clear you’re unhappy that you are not out of breath and dripping with sweat.

We’re just going to lie here on the rubber with shaking legs while you head over to the corner to bang out 100 burpees for time.

We’ll even start the clock if you feel the need to hit a quick Fran.

But we’re wrecked from heavy day, so please don’t ask us to join you.

Here’s why: You’re part of a CrossFit program.

Conditioning is a big part of CrossFit. Many workouts done in CrossFit gyms and programmed on CrossFit.com cause you to sweat heavily, breathe hard and collapse on the floor at the end. These workouts range from relatively short tests such as Fran to longer challenges such as Cindy, and many Hero workouts take athletes into time domains past 20 minutes.

Among the benchmark workouts, you’ll find a CrossFit Total containing pure strength work in the form of three max lifts, but CrossFit’s most well-known benchmarks tend to be tests of conditioning more often than tests of absolute strength. Perhaps that causes many people to define CrossFit with the likes of Helen, Karen and Annie and actually apply the term “CrossFit workout” to any challenge that makes the lungs burn.

While it’s true that Fran is one of CrossFit’s signature workouts and great test of certain aspects of fitness, it’s...

Their goals were simple.

“Show up,” Marlo Brown wrote in silver-colored marker on the “goals” blackboard at Cloud 9 CrossFit in New Jersey.

Her husband, Phil: “Wear my shirt.”

When the couple first walked into the affiliate three years ago, Marlo weighed 430 lb. Phil weighed 502 lb. When Phil sat on one of the rowers, the machine bowed under his weight. Once they joined, Marlo was thinking she would try her damnedest to be there three times a week, and owner Chuck Makatura gave Phil an XL T-shirt—the largest he had. Phil wore a 5XL at the time.

Today, 49-year-old Marlo has the highest attendance of anyone at Cloud 9 CrossFit—including Makatura. And on June 2, 42-year-old Phil drew a line through “Wear my shirt” on the blackboard to the applause and high-fives of the rest of that evening’s 6:15 class.

At her heaviest, Marlo was 530 lb. at 5 foot 9; Phil was 570 at 6 feet tall. Now Marlo weighs 234 and Phil weighs 297.

Before starting CrossFit, Marlo had lost roughly 100 lb. through diet, but a three-night stay in a hospital scared her enough to want more drastic changes.

“I got an infection,” she explained.

It started as an allergic reaction to shampoo. But Marlo scratched her ankle so badly she broke her skin. Her poor circulation wouldn’t let the wound heal.

At his heaviest, Phil Brown weighed 570 lb.

When...

Weightlifting representatives: CrossFit’s popularity behind growth and understanding of Olympic sport.

Of the 14 women who train as full-time weightlifters at Waxman’s Gym outside Los Angeles, 10 of them began as CrossFit athletes.

“That tells you everything you need to know as far as CrossFit and weightlifting,” said Sean Waxman, owner and head coach of the California facility.

His gym reflects CrossFit’s effects on Olympic weightlifting as a whole. The training methodology’s popularity has helped drive growth and dispel misconceptions in the 125-year-old sport, said weightlifting representatives in Australia, Canada and the U.S.

“It’s a very symbiotic relationship, even at this stage where there’s no mixing of the organizations,” Waxman explained.

He continued: “It’s breathed life into my business, so I’m very happy for it and grateful for everything.”

More Athletes, More Talent

Over the course of four years, USA Weightlifting’s growth has been exponential.

Its Youth group, ages 13 to 17, now comprises 2,322 athletes—an increase of 140 percent from September 2012 to September 2016, according to USA Weightlifting (USAW). The Juniors group, ages 15 to 20, has grown to 1,183 athletes—an increase of 104 percent. But the largest gain has been among Masters, those 35 and older. That age group ballooned from 1,187 athletes to 3,344—nearly 182 percent.

“That’s where we’ve seen it—in the number of weightlifters,” said USAW CEO and General Secretary Phil Andrews. “We’ve seen a lot of impact from the world of CrossFit, and I think it’s been a part of—a big part of—the resurgence of the sport of...

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” —Mark Twain

For the last two years, masters and teens have performed the same workouts at the CrossFit Games, and the schedule puts the two groups in close contact throughout the competition. Our photographers were able to watch competitors from 14 to 64 perform the same movements back to back, and their images are a testament to the power of functional movement.

CrossFit allows its youngest athletes to set themselves up for a lifetime of fitness, and it allows its oldest athletes to maintain function and even high performance into their later years. While CrossFit is tied to data, these images make it clear that fitness is also a lifestyle and an attitude, not just a number.

Spotted barbell biceps curls and white A-shirts, with just a hint of oil in place of sweat?

Men’s Journal might have rethought the opening image for “When to Fire Your Personal Trainer: 4 Red Flags.”

Nothing wrong with barbell curls, of course, but if you’re writing an article on identifying quality personal trainers, leading with an oiled-up bro-session curl shot does little to set the table and create an atmosphere of professionalism.

Then again, the image will indeed alert careful readers that the article is full of nonsense. Take, for example, this completely unfounded statement: “Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) is the best certification.”

One wonders how author David Reavy came to that conclusion after it’s been shown that the company offering the CSCS credential—the National Strength and Conditioning Association—has no problem publishing false claims about competitors and can’t accurately instruct movement.

In the same section, the article suggests a trainer who provides nutrition advice isn’t helping the client but doing something shady: “If your trainer tries to give you nutritional or medical advice without the credentials, steer clear.”

Trainers who don’t give general nutrition advice are doing a disservice to their clients. Providing general nutrition advice is critical to client success, and good personal trainers have both the skills and the right to supply it. We’d suggest they also have a moral obligation to do so if they actually want to help their clients.

Trainers may not diagnose and treat...

What’s holding you back, and why do you let it?

The legless man in the wheelchair made a very strong point without saying anything.

On the way to the gym for a workout, I was bemoaning my situation and wishing I didn’t have to do a 5-kilometer run. My inner monologue alternated between bitching about my tight left hip and outlining the reasons I prefer power to endurance.

You know the drill. I longed for workouts involving movements in my wheelhouse, I pre-made excuses for a poor performance, and I thought about skipping the run in hopes of snatches the next day.

Then the guy in the wheelchair rolled by with a bunch of empty grocery bags as I was stopped at a light. No markets can be found in the area, so he was clearly buckling down for a long haul to his destination.

No bitching. Just getting it done.

After feeling like an asshole for a moment, I drove the final block to the gym with a much clearer head.

Of course the workout turned out to be exactly what I needed. What I suspected would be a lengthy period of suffering was actually a 5-kilometer cruise on a sunny day while surrounded—and lapped—by friends. I did my best, owned my time and got fitter. And I felt grateful that I was able to run.

As I soaked a sweat angel into the asphalt, I found it interesting that a man in a wheelchair had helped me lose my crutches.

Rusty Malinoski has been a professional wakeboarder for more than 12 years, and while many in the sport have retired by his age, Malinoski, 32, said his CrossFit training has put him at the top of his game.

Wakeboarders often blow out their knees or suffer other injuries because of the high-impact nature of the sport. The man nicknamed “The Bone Crusher” has broken the same arm eight times, and he works hard to strengthen his 200-lb.-plus frame so he can keep riding.

“Definitely ... the time I’ve spent in the gym off the water is what’s kept me in this game for so long,” says Malinoski, the first wakeboarder to land a 1080 in competition.

Kyle Rattray, owner of Florida affiliate Clermont CrossFit, says founding partner Malinoski is a testament to the efficacy of CrossFit.

Rattray claims Malinoski is in better shape now than he was five years ago.

“If he’s in better shape, I don’t really know what he’s going ... to be capable of in four or five more years,” Rattray says.

Video by Sean Kilgus.

6min 49sec

Additional reading: “The Angry Surfer” by Hilary Achauer, published Aug. 17, 2013.

On the night of Sunday, Nov. 13, a fire broke out just a few blocks from CrossFit Westmount in a three-floor commercial structure that housed two restaurants and the 1,000-member Victoria Park Health Club (called Vic Park).

The four-alarm fire brought more than 100 firefighters to the scene in Westmount, a suburb of Montreal, Canada. Everyone was safely evacuated, but the businesses would be closed for months. According to the Montreal Gazette, workers doing clean-up the day after the fire said the fitness facility was under 24 inches of water.

When he heard about the destruction, CrossFit Westmount owner Tom Schabetsberger picked up the phone.

He told the owners of Vic Park their personal trainers could use his space free of charge to train their clients. Schabetsberger offered his small space for their group classes as well, telling them if they could be flexible with their schedule, he’d try to make things work so their members could continue to be active.

Tom Schabetsberger, owner of CrossFit Westmount.

Schabetsberger had taken over CrossFit Westmount in July 2016. The 3,500-square-foot affiliate was struggling at the time—membership had dipped to 50 members. Schabetsberger bought the affiliate and began the hard work of connecting with the community. He visited local coffee shops and took time to get to know the people in the area. In four months, membership...

Lucie Hobart is 56 years old and says she has no idea what age means anymore.

“I started CrossFit when I was 52,” she says, “but here I am … four years later, so I’m 56, and I know I am the healthiest today that I have ever been in my entire life, which really blows my mind.”

Mother to James Hobart, CrossFit Games Affiliate Cup competitor and a member of CrossFit’s Level 1 Seminar Staff, Lucie says her perspective on aging has changed since she started CrossFit.

When James noticed his mom was complaining about more aches and pains as she got older, he knew it was time to help her make a positive change.

“What CrossFit … can provide for masters athletes is perhaps the single most important piece of information that we have to offer,” James says. “I think that’s who CrossFit is really meant for.”

Now, Lucie has achieved things she never thought possible—such as getting her first strict pull-up.

“That has to be so far probably the biggest milestone in CrossFit,” she says. “To be able to pull up my own body weight.”

Video by Michael Dalton.

9min 30sec

Additional reading: “For the Ages” by CrossFit Media, published Oct. 16, 2016.

The individual PDF articles published in November 2016 are collected here in a single download.

The video and audio posts are not contained in the PDF.

The articles included here are:

“CrossFit Lifeguard: Brandon Justice” - Cecil
“Down the Hatch, Miss a Snatch?” - Achauer
“Why Some Sweat More” - Achauer
“Chronic Disease and Medicine: Prevention Doesn’t Pay” - Saline
“Programming Better Competitions” - Warkentin
“As Prescribed: Santa Cruz” - Cecil

A recent paper in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that increased bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) in childhood are positively associated with time spent doing high-impact physical activities (PA), even for those with a genetic risk of low bone mass in adulthood (1).

A concern over BMC and BMD generally arises in those over 60 years old, when low bone mass and osteoporosis can occur. However, the time of maximal bone mineral accretion occurs as puberty begins reaching a maximal rate in females at 12.5 and males at 14.1 years old (2). This period also corresponds to a time of maximal height velocity (2). Therefore, actions that can affect this process during this window of opportunity are important to consider; indeed, “the magnitude of peak bone mass attained in young adulthood is an important predictor of osteoporosis later in life” (2).

The National Osteoporosis Foundation published a position statement in 2015 listing the factors that can influence peak bone-mass development throughout life (2). The most direct is an individual’s genes, explaining 60-80 percent of the measured differences (2). The remaining 20-40 percent include factors such as macronutrients, micronutrients, unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking, etc.) and PA (2). Despite years of research, the foundation concluded that only PA and calcium have a “strong” body of evidence behind their relationship with skeletal health; vitamin D is listed as “moderate” (2).

Thirty days after a stem-cell transplant, Timmon Lund joined CrossFit St. Paul.

“I wanted to get healthy again.”

Nine months earlier, at 33, Lund had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer limits the body’s ability to fight infection as it progresses. Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments; stem-cell transplants are not.

CrossFit, he said, was a way to get back in shape.

But Lund only made it through the third week of the Minnesota affiliate’s month-long on-ramp program before he noticed a constriction in his neck whenever he so much as put a PVC pipe overhead. For nearly a week, his head would get swollen and he would feel dizzy. It was August 2013.

“When I relapsed, I knew it (before I saw the doctor) because I felt it.”

At that point, Lund had already endured two chemotherapy treatments—one in December 2012, the other in March 2013—before being approved for the autologous stem-cell transplant, requiring stem cells from his own body.

That constriction in his neck turned out to be a new tumor squeezing his windpipe and blood vessels. Lund began chemotherapy treatment for a third time. Doctors hoped for positive results so the former railroad supervisor could be approved for an allogeneic stem-cell transplant, requiring stem cells from a matching donor.

Treatment was every other Friday. Immediately after each session, Lund went straight to the box for a “little piece of normal.”

He said: “I threw...

Brian Riley was exposed to CrossFit while serving as a Marine, but an injury overseas forced him to relearn everything. Now he’s putting his experiences as an adaptive athlete to good use at CrossFit Del Mar in San Diego, California.

Riley was stationed in Afghanistan when he took a medium-machine-gun round to the lower left leg. The injury resulted in a below-the-knee amputation.

After returning home, he began attending CrossFit Del Mar’s free Wednesday classes for Wounded Warriors.

“It was kind of an eye-opening experience ... how much the biomechanics change when you don’t have an ankle, and then how much stays the same,” Riley says.

The coaching team at CrossFit Del Mar soon realized that Riley had much to contribute to the community. They sent him to a Level 1 Certificate Course. He became a Level 2 Trainer soon after.

Now he’s using what he’s learned about himself to help other adaptive athletes discover what they’re capable of.

Video by Eric Maciel.

4min 33sec

Additional reading: “Warriors on the Waves” by Andréa Maria Cecil, Dave Re and Naveen Hattis, published April 19, 2014.

Welcome to weird.

That’s how Santa Cruz, California, is known.

For more than a decade, the sleepy Northern California beach town of 63,000 has used the same branding campaign to encompass its idiosyncrasies: “Keep Santa Cruz Weird.”

The city is a mere 30 miles south of Silicon Valley, home to the likes of Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Intel, Netflix and Tesla. But it couldn’t be more different.

As the San Jose Mercury-News once described, Santa Cruz’s branding “seems like a diagnosis more than anything else.”

Hippies, drum circles, a man walking around town in pink women’s clothing—it’s weird, all right. But Santa Cruz is more than its eccentricity. It teems with life: from outdoor activities among the towering Redwoods, along perfectly carved cliffs and on the Pacific Ocean’s pristine beaches to homegrown eateries offering fresh, local fare.

Plus, it offers CrossFit athletes something other cities can’t: insight into the methodology’s history.

To read the entire article, click here.

If you determine the size of the field before programming the events, you might be putting the collars on before the plates.

“I’ve got 100 athletes, 10 solid judges, 5,000 square feet and nine hours to run as many events as I can.”

How many organizers have said something like that when planning a fitness competition?

I’d suggest what they’ve really got is a programming nightmare.

Local Limits

One of the best parts of the CrossFit Games is that organizers have the freedom to do just about anything they want. Within reason, Dave Castro and the Games team are free from concerns about space, judges, equipment, scheduling and other issues that are front and center when programming a competition at the affiliate level. The Games certainly have some limits, but the boundaries are hazy fences near the horizon and leave a lot of room for creativity when finding the Fittest on Earth.

On the other hand, local fitness competitions are often hamstrung by a host of factors, though some larger multi-day events are less encumbered. Of course, the mandate of these events is not to find the fittest athlete on Earth; that’s the job of the CrossFit Games alone. But these local throwdowns are often intended to find the fittest person who competes, yet their format won’t actually allow them to do so.

A question: How many people have programmed a competition and chosen a max snatch over a max clean and jerk simply because less plates are involved?

Another question: How many...

Why your doctor only wants to see you after something has gone wrong.

Dr. Stephen Schimpff calls it the paradox of American medicine.

“We have really well-trained, well-educated providers. We are the world’s envy for biomedical research. We’ve got excellent pharmaceutical (and) biotechnology companies and diagnostics (tools). But the paradox is on the other hand we have a terribly dysfunctional health-care delivery system,” said the retired CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Despite our technology, education and wealth—in 2014, total national health-care expenditures hit US$3 trillion—chronic disease remains the nation’s top killer, with seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 stemming from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. In 2010, 86 percent of all health-care spending was attributed to chronic disease—conditions labeled preventable by the Centers for Disease Control.

So why are we still so sick?

“America does not have a healthcare system; we have a ‘disease industry,’” Schimpff wrote in a 2010 article. “We focus on disease and pestilence and do a good job of caring for those with acute illnesses and trauma. But we certainly do not address health well and we are not good at caring for chronic illnesses.”

It’s an industry based on one fundamental problem, Schimpff said.

“We don’t put our money where we could have a huge impact, which would be prevention and wellness.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Hilary Achauer investigates the science of sweat and busts the myth that fitness alone determines liquid loss.

At the end of your next CrossFit class, look around.

You’ll see some people soaked in sweat, a telltale puddle under the bar. Others who just completed the same workout in the same environment are almost completely dry.

Everyone sweats, but why do some people sweat so much more than others? Do heavy sweaters need to hydrate more than those who merely glisten?

We tend to associate perspiration with fitness, and it’s not entirely wrong to do so. Exert yourself for an extended period of time, and it’s likely you’ll sweat. From the 1980s through 2014, a number of studies showed fit people sweat sooner and more than their sedentary counterparts.

Recently, scientists have taken a closer look at these studies and discovered although exercise and sweat are correlated, improving your fitness will not make you sweat sooner, more efficiently or in greater quantities. And for heavy, salty sweaters, flooding the body with liquid, including sports drinks, is not the best way to replace lost electrolytes.

To read the entire article, click here.

MeiLin McDonald, 17, suffered a severe concussion during a basketball game as a child.

The injury caused her eyes to become permanently dilated and left her unable to focus. McDonald’s physician suggested surgery to explore the possibility of inner-ear damage. Unfortunately, complications during surgery made her symptoms much worse and left her unable to walk.

When she came to CrossFit Wilsonville, McDonald was in a wheelchair. The coaches were in awe of McDonald’s story and were ready to begin helping her on the journey to recovery.

The first task was simply to walk 8 feet. Once McDonald mastered that, the goal was to do it faster.

Now, McDonald has new goals: “I would love to do a triathlon,” she says.

She has some advice for anyone dealing with a debilitating injury:

“There’s always hope. Keep fighting. It may suck, but as soon as you say you’re done, everything ends and you don’t get to see the impact you have on people.”

Video by Jesse Kahle, Sevan Matossian and Tyson Oldroyd.

7min 20sec

A look at the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on fitness and health.

A few years ago I stopped drinking alcohol Sunday through Thursday.

I’ve never been a heavy drinker, so it wasn’t a difficult transition. For me, two drinks is letting loose and three is really getting wild, but a few nights a week I’d have a beer or glass of wine while making dinner. Once I started CrossFit, I wondered about the impact of those five or six drinks per week on my health and performance in the gym.

CrossFit was hard enough, I figured, so why make it even more difficult by adding alcohol to the mix? I was so careful about every aspect of my diet, and I worried alcohol was sabotaging those efforts. So I ditched the alcohol in favor of sparkling water and kombucha and saved the drinks for Friday and Saturday nights.

It turns out my years of partial abstinence may have been pointless. More and more studies suggest moderate alcohol consumption can improve cardiovascular health, and recent research suggests a few drinks have no negative impact on athletic performance. Still, alcohol has significant effects on the body, especially when consumed in excess.

To read the entire article, click here.