How to Explain CrossFit to Your Mom

I don’t think my mother understands CrossFit. (Or, for that matter, neither does my father. Or most people who don’t CrossFit.) I’m pretty sure they think I throw around barbells with no regard to form, narrowly avoid rhabdo, and possibly chant and blood-let over communal Paleo meals.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as all of us CrossFitters know. To make things easier for those of us who have to explain what CrossFit actually is, I’ve prepared a few talking points for curious parental units, family members, or acquaintances.

Need to explain CrossFit to your mom (dad, colleague, acquaintance)? Here are a few talking points that will either help them understand or send them screaming.

CrossFit is…

  1. Unlike anything you’ve ever done before. You have to set aside anything you’ve learned about fitness from gym class or workouts at the Y. (My mother was a big fan of aerobics in the 1980s. I believe Jane Fonda tapes were involved.)
  2. Different every day. The workouts at CrossFit gyms are like snowflakes: no two are exactly alike unless you’re doing a named workout or a hero workout.
  3. A bunch of different disciplines. It’s not strictly cardio; it’s not strictly weightlifting. There are gymnastics movements thrown in. The idea is to be good at a bunch of different types of fitness, not just one.
  4. Great for competitive people. Mostly, we just compete against ourselves and try to lift heavier, run faster, or scale the movements less.
  5. For everyone. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to do CrossFit. Every movement can be scaled and modified to an individual’s abilities.
  6. A community-building experience. We’re all doing the same workout at the same time. It’s a high-intensity environment, so we’re not only pushing to do our best but also cheering on our classmates. The person who finishes the workout last gets the most cheers.

CrossFit is not…

  1. Dangerous, unless you have a bad coach or don’t listen to your good coach. A good coach – and there are plenty of good coaches – will explain movements and advise you against overtaxing yourself.
  2. A cult. I promise there is no chanting and blood-letting. We do have a different language, the language of EMOMs and AMRAPs. We tend to eat differently (Paleo, RP, Zone, whatever) because we want to fuel our bodies appropriately. And yes, some of us do find out that CrossFit is the one thing that gets us through tough spots, and we can’t imagine life without it.

Some other points to note: CrossFit won’t make you look like a man (if you’re a woman). Not everyone is doing this for weight loss (I won’t go into that rant, but let’s just say that the person who told me I don’t need to exercise that much got a fantastic education about the importance of movement, strength training, and staying healthy). And for a lot of people, it really works.