Thursday, 26 November 2009

Focus on Fitness

According to John Robb, the best way to defeat an open-source insurgency is to divide it.

Could any point be more relevant to the CrossFit open-source fitness insurgency?

I am not in a position to judge the personal aspects of the dispute first portrayed on I do not have enough background information to analyze these actions, nor, most likely, do you.

On the other hand, I am very aware of the immediate negative impact that this event has had on the CrossFit community.

Robb Wolf came into this conflict with an impressive grass roots following. He has helped thousands of people, in person and online, many of them for free. Even a brief glance at the comments section of his blog reveals fan after fan thanking him for an email he sent or a seminar he gave. Robb’s online community centers around the Performance Menu journal and website and the aforementioned blog Robb also runs a successful affiliate, CrossFit Norcal, and until this week he ran the CrossFit Nutrition Certs as well.

CrossFit HQ has similarly served the CrossFit community since its inception. It leads a loosely-controlled though heavily-intertwined network of affiliates, trainers, and athletes. HQ is responsible for the certification seminars,, the CrossFit Journal, the CrossFit Games, the affiliate network, the legal defense of CrossFit and more. This community would not exist without CrossFit HQ.

What we have is two social networks that at once overlap and compete for support. Though many CrossFitters use both sources of information, most that I know have a preference.

This dispute, therefore, is much larger than the several men involved. Robb Wolf and the Performance Menu have represented a significant subset of the CrossFit community for several years. They have argued for prioritizing strength development, detailed study and practice of the Olympic lifts, generally lower carbohydrate intake than the Zone recommends, and prioritizing Paleo food quality over the Zone diet’s emphasis on quantity. These disagreements over methodology are evident in every depiction of the events of the Black Box Summit that I have seen so far, from Russell Berger’s to Greg Everett’s.

The CrossFit community is the strongest and fastest-growing social network in the fitness industry. It represents a much-needed opportunity to spread effective training and nutrition to the masses. This is the big picture.

As CrossFitters we all have are changing lives, communities, and countries, yet people are getting angry about Paleo vs. Zone when MOST OF US DRAW HEAVILY FROM BOTH SOURCES OF INFORMATION.

Our next article is going to feature Jerry Summers, a man who showed up at CrossFit Ranch this summer weighing 370 lbs. and unable to run more than 25 yards or do a full squat. Jerry has since lost 75 lbs. and can now run half a mile at a time and deadlift 360. This is a bigger story than any verbal dispute.

CrossFit will do for millions what it has done for Jerry if it remains a strong and diverse social network.

Evolve Your Fitness will continue to pursue CrossFit’s definition of fitness: work capacity across broad time and modal domains. We will use whatever methods that the available data suggests to be effective. Loyalty to any particular methodology, source of information, or personality is a recipe for mediocrity. We’re too passionate about fitness to follow anything other than performance data. We hope that the rest of the CrossFit community remains focused on performance as well.

The pursuit of fitness brings us together. Let’s not allow personal disputes to tear us apart.


Jay Ashman said...

beautifully written... I agree 100%. Not many of us can take sides because we are not personally involved. The only thing I can say is I respect Robb a ton, respect Catalyst a ton and I also thing HQ is doing well for their affiliates.

Let's carry on what we all are meant to do, create superior athletes using any means necessary to get there.

Regardless of personal disputes, at the end of the day, we are all Coaches.

traucer777 said...

wait, what happened?
there was a disagreement?

Patrick Haskell said...

It is the loyalty issue that is the very problem. It is an admirable personal trait, but fails when it is the norm in a diverse and dynamic community. HQ expects loyalty. Greg and Robb are offering strongly stated alternate points of view on some key issues, and HQ (or at least some of them) feel threatened and lump them in with the CF detractors. Unless the organization remains open to criticisim and thus open to continued improvement, it will cease to be elite.

Russ Greene said...


Get back to your books. We'll debrief you when you're done with finals.


I am concerned with the loyalty issue on both sides. I see many people telling Robb that they're "on his side" or "got his back" etc. While it's good for Robb that he has a lot of friends, I fear that people will allow personal disputes to color their judgment on nutrition and training.

Efficacy is not personal.

mfromano said...

I think that by "siding with Robb" people are siding with "constantly working to improve programming/nutrition". HQ's unwillingness to accept criticism in any regard (training or nutrition) is childish, imo, even if their programming is ultimately superior.

Rich Vos said...

Reading about the dispute over on Robb's blog really got me down for a day or two. The accusation that HQ is unwilling to let new info in was new info to me. It's sad to see a divide and hopefully it's superficial, with both sides coming back together to share information and progress toward better fitness and coaching.

The open-source concept is what I love about CF... the ability to pick up whatever is better and adopt it. Even if that proves your previous assertions wrong. Instead of parting ways here, there should be a bigger debate over Paleo vs. Zone and why both or either is more or less effective.

We're here for IWCABTMD, not a soap opera.

Best of luck to Greg, Robb, and especially the community.