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CrossFit Inc.
Industry Fitness, sports
Founded Santa Cruz, California, United States (2000 (2000))
Founder Greg Glassman
Lauren Jenai
Area served
A woman doing a kipping pull-up.

CrossFit, Inc. is a fitness company founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai[1] in 2000.[2][3] Promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman, and other exercises. It is practiced by members of over 10,000[4] affiliated gyms,[5] half of which are located in the United States,[6] and by individuals who complete daily workouts (otherwise known as a "WODs" or "workouts of the day").[7][8]


Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai founded CrossFit, Inc. in 2000.[9][10] The company was conceived a few years earlier, in 1996, as Cross-Fit.[11] The original CrossFit gym is in Santa Cruz, California, and the first affiliated gym was CrossFit North in Seattle, Washington; there were 13 by 2005, and today there are more than 10,000.[5] Coaches associated with CrossFit include Louie Simmons, John Welbourn, Bob Harper, Mike Burgener,[12] and Lindy Barber.[13]

Glassman retains complete control over the company after a divorce resulted in his estranged wife, Lauren, attempting to sell her share in the company. Glassman was able to obtain a $16 million loan from Summit Partners to buy out her share.[14]


CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, calisthenics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weight lifting.[15] CrossFit Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as "constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains,"[16] with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as "work capacity across broad time and modal domains."[17] Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or "boxes", typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity "workout of the day" (or WOD), and a period of individual or group stretching. Some gyms also often have a strength focused movement prior to the WOD. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.[18]

CrossFit gyms use equipment from multiple disciplines, including barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, plyo boxes,[19] resistance bands, rowers, and various mats. CrossFit is focused on "constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement,"[20] drawing on categories and exercises such as these: calisthenics, Olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, Strongman-type events, plyometrics, body weight exercises, indoor rowing, aerobic exercise, running, and swimming.

Tyre flipping during a crossfit competition

CrossFit programming is decentralized but its general methodology is used by thousands of private affiliated gyms, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and military organizations including the Royal Danish Life Guards,[21][22][23][24] as well as by some U.S. and Canadian high school physical education teachers, high school and college sports teams, and the Miami Marlins.[9][25][26]

"CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains," says founder Greg Glassman in the Foundations document. Those domains are: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.[27]

CrossFit appeals to both men and women alike and a recent statistical analysis showed that CrossFit participants were almost equally 50% male and 50% female.[28]

Business model[edit]

CrossFit, Inc. licenses the CrossFit name to gyms for an annual fee and certifies trainers.[29] Besides the standard two-day[30] "Level 1 Trainer Course",[31] specialty seminars include gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, running and endurance, rowing, kettlebells, mobility and recovery, CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Football, and self-defense and striking. Other specialized adaptations include programs for pregnant women, seniors, and military special operations candidates.[32] Affiliates develop their own programming, pricing, and instructional methods. Many athletes and trainers see themselves as part of a contrarian, insurgent movement that questions conventional fitness wisdom;[33] besides performing prescribed workouts, they follow CrossFit's nutrition recommendations (adopting a paleo and/or zone diet[34]), and favor minimalist footwear.

CrossFit makes use of a virtual community Internet model.[35][36] The company says this de-centralized approach shares some common features with open source software projects and allows best practices to emerge from a variety of approaches,[37] a contention that is disputed by some competitors and former affiliates.[27]

CrossFit Games[edit]

Main article: CrossFit Games

The "CrossFit Games" have been held every summer since 2007. Athletes at the Games compete in workouts they learn about only hours beforehand, sometimes including surprise elements that are not part of the typical CrossFit regimen. Past examples include a rough-water swim and a softball throw. The Games are styled as a venue for determining the "Fittest on Earth," where competitors should be "ready for anything."[38]

In 2011, the Games adopted an online format for the sectional event, facilitating participation by athletes worldwide. During the "CrossFit Open", a new workout is released each week. Athletes have several days to complete the workout and submit their scores online, with either a video or validation by a CrossFit affiliate. The top CrossFit Open performers in each region advance to the regional events, held over the following two months.

The Games include divisions for individuals of each gender, and for a number of Masters age groups.[39]


A 2010 U.S. Army study conducted during a six-week period produced an average power output increase of 20% among participants, measured by benchmark WODs. The average one repetition maximum weight deadlift increased by 21.11%.[citation needed]

A 2013 study by exercise scientists at Ohio State University revealed that participation in a CrossFit program significantly improved VO2 max and decreased body fat percentage in both males and females across all levels of fitness.[40]

A 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's exercise physiology program monitored 16 healthy and fit volunteers as they completed two separate CrossFit WODs. They found that the men burned nearly 21 calories per minute, and women burned just over 12. Each routine took various times to complete, however all participants maintained an elevated heart rate and reached approximately 80 percent of their VO2 max, satisfying fitness industry guidelines set forth by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) for improving cardiovascular endurance.[41]



According to Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, the risk of injury from some CrossFit exercises outweighs their benefits when they are performed with poor form in timed workouts. He added that there are similar risks in other high-intensity exercise programs but noted that CrossFit's online community enables athletes to follow the program without proper guidance, increasing the risk of improper form or technique.[42]

In 2013 an online survey of CrossFit discussion forum members conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that out of a total of 132 respondents, 97 (73.5%) reported sustaining an injury during CrossFit training.[43] The most commonly injured area reported was the shoulder (31.8%) which exceeded that among competitive Olympic weightlifters. This was thought possibly to be due to CrossFit's frequent use of Olympic style overhead movements which involve "placement of the shoulder in an at-risk position of extreme flexion, abduction and internal rotation" for high volumes of repetitions leading to poor form from fatigue. The overall injury rate calculated from these surveys was 3.1/1000 hrs, compared to a rates of 2.4/1000 among elite weight lifters and 2.7/1000 among elite power lifters in a 2002 study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine, and 2.63/1000 among elite gymnasts in a 1999 British Journal of Sports Medicine study. [44]

Inadequate training application for sports[edit]

A 2014 article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning asked for the opinions on CrossFit from a panel of Strength and Conditioning Coaches at NCAA DI-II athletic programs. The panel praised CrossFit for its role in exercise promotion and for improving general fitness, but found it poorly suited as a training method for competitive sports. Criticisms included not involving any initial assessment of the requirements of the specific sport or the individual athlete, which prevents tailoring it to improve performance in the most important areas for a given athlete in a given sport. It was also noted that CrossFit's low resistances and high repetition ranges would classify it as a muscular endurance activity and fail to meet the training load principle for strength and power development, limiting its benefit for power sports. In addition, CrossFit's simultaneous focus on all elements of an athletes performance at once was considered a limitation on his/her longterm potential, and less effective than individually maximizing strength, power, speed, agility, and endurance first- "When the physiological requirements that make up success in power sports are combined in programs, such as circuit or CrossFit training, the potential for development is compromised." [45] In 2013 a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that the incidents of injury are consistent with weight lifting, power lifting and gymnastics—sports with many movements and exercises in common with CrossFit.[43]


Makimba Mimms, who suffered injuries while performing a CrossFit workout on December 11, 2005, at Manassas World Gym in Manassas, Virginia, under the supervision of an uncertified trainer,[46] claimed that CrossFit poses an elevated risk of rhabdomyolysis. He successfully sued his trainers and was awarded $300,000 in damages.[47]

In 2005 The New York Times documented rhabdomyolysis associated with the culture of CrossFit in an article entitled "Getting Fit, Even If It Kills You". "There's no way inexperienced people doing this are not going to hurt themselves", a sports medicine specialist is quoted in the piece.[48]

Since May 2005,[47] CrossFit has published several articles about rhabdomyolysis in CrossFit-specific journals[49][50][51][52] in their online CrossFit Journal (which is not peer-reviewed). Three of the articles are included in the CrossFit Manual provided to all prospective trainers.[53] In a further attempt to raise awareness of the problem, CrossFit, Inc. also used to sell "Uncle Rhabdo" T-shirts (featuring a cartoon clown dying in a dramatic fashion—hooked up to a dialysis machine, with his kidneys and intestines falling on the floor).[54]

A study in 2013 showed that out of 132 participants there were no reported cases of rhabdomyolysis. Also, the risk of rhabdomyolysis is found to be far less prevalent when an athlete is exercising under supervision by trained coaches.[43]

Quality control[edit]

Bloggers on many websites allege that CrossFit exercise sequences are illogical, random, and lack periodization. Those same blogs allege that CrossFit lacks accreditation standards for trainers.[27][55][56][29]

A 2014 editorial published on also noted a lack of accreditation standards and quality control for trainers.[57]

Facebook post controversy[edit]

On June 4, 2014, CrossFit uploaded a "parody video to their Facebook page" made by The Kloons, which included a portrayal of Jesus, and featured concepts such as the "Holy Trinity of exercise".[58] Yasmine Hafiz, in The Huffington Post wrote that some viewers were "outraged at the disrespectful use of a Christian symbol", with one user asking "on what planet is it comical or encouraged to mock someone's belief"?[58][59]

Twitter Coke/Diabetes controversy[edit]

On June 29, 2015, CrossFit's Twitter account posted a doctored illustration of a Coke advertisement, with "Open Happiness" replaced by "Open Diabetes" and CEO Glassman added "Make sure you pour out some for your dead homies."[60][61] Despite a firestorm of criticism, the company refused to alter or delete the tweet.[62] [63][64][65]


In 2014, Chloie Jonsson, a post-transition trans woman, pursued a $2.5 million suit against CrossFit, claiming she was barred from competing in the female division of the 2013 CrossFit Games after her transgender status was anonymously revealed. CrossFit's attorneys have released a statement saying that transgender athletes are "welcomed with open arms", but that Jonsson "still has the genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women" and CrossFit's policy is needed to "ensure the fairness of the competition".[66]

CrossFit has also stated that Jonsson was eliminated from the competition for her poor athletic performance.[67]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soifer, Jason. "Co-founder of CrossFit workout program opens gym in Prescott". The Daily Courier. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ Glassman, Greg. "Nutrition Lecture Part 2: Optimizing Performance". Crossfit Inc. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ "CrossFit Inc: Private Company Information - Businessweek". Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ Herz, J.C. (June 17, 2014). "The 3 Reasons People Are Obsessed With Crossfit". Time Magazine. Retrieved February 16, 2015Accessed via the Academic Search Complete Database at LSU 
  5. ^ a b Friedman, Jon. "Success and the Bull's Eye". The CrossFit Journal. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Official CrossFit Affiliate Gym Locator". Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ "CrossFit". CrossFit, Inc. 
  8. ^ "CrossFit Affiliate Map". CrossFit, Inc. 
  9. ^ a b Sanderlin, Rebekah. "Commando-style workout has cult following". Fayetteville Observer. 
  10. ^ Stephanie Cooperman (December 22, 2005). "Getting Fit, Even if it Kills You". New York Times. 
  11. ^ "Original 1996 CrossFit Founding". Scribd. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The WOD Club - What is Crossfit". Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Our coaches". Four Barrel CrossFit. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  14. ^ "CrossFit wins court case, avoids corporate takeover". Vox Media. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  15. ^ Hines, E. "Crossfit in Paris". Expatriates Magazine. EP. 
  16. ^ Glassman, Greg. "Understanding CrossFit" (PDF). The CrossFit Journal. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  17. ^ Sibley, Benjamin A. (Oct 2012). "Using Sport Education to Implement a CrossFit Unit". JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 83 (8): 42–28. doi:10.1080/07303084.2012.10598829Accessed Using Academic Search Complete at LSU 
  18. ^ "Prairie Crossfit". Prairie Crossfit. 
  19. ^ Brigham, Lincoln (2006). "Crossfit journal: Plyo Boxes" (PDF). Crossfit. p. 4. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  20. ^ Glassman, Greg. "Understanding Crossfit". Crossfit. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  21. ^ Wallack, Roy M. (2009). Run For Life: The Anti-Aging, Anti-Injury, Super Fitness Plan. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-60239-344-8. 
  22. ^ Svan, Jennifer H. (January 13, 2009). "CrossFit Workouts are Rarely Routine". Military Advantage. 
  23. ^ "Welcome to The Royal Life Guards Sports Association". Royal Danish Life Guards Sports Association. 
  24. ^ Mitchell, Bryan (June 25, 2008). "CrossFit workout craze sweeps the Corps". Marine Corps Times. 
  25. ^ Rodriguez, Juan C. (March 2, 2010). "Florida Marlins: Cameron Maybin’s improved swing/miss numbers encouraging". South Florida Sun Sentinel. 
  26. ^ Stewart, I.A. (December 14, 2007). "UCSC Notebook: Men's rugby getting fit for the season". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. 
  27. ^ a b c Shugart, Chris (November 4, 2008). "The Truth About CrossFit". Testosterone Muscle. 
  28. ^ ""Latest CrossFit Market Research Data."". Rally Fitness. N.p.,. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  29. ^ a b Spandorf, Rochelle B.; Brockett, Jennifer L.; Buono, Anna R. (Spring 2014). "Certification Programs: Franchises or Not?". Franchise Law Journal 33 (4): 505–524Accessed via the Academic Search Complete Database at LSU 
  30. ^ "Certification Courses". CrossFit. 
  31. ^ "CrossFit Courses". Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  32. ^ Scott, Paul (October 23, 2007). "A no-nonsense look at the often nonsensical world of fitness clubs" (PDF). Best Life. 
  33. ^ "More financial news". The Boston Globe. August 24, 2009. 
  34. ^ CrossFit dietary prescription
  35. ^ Walsh, Bob (2007). How People Blogging Are Changing The World and How You Can Join Them. Apress. ISBN 978-1-59059-691-3. 
  36. ^ Godin, Seth (2009). Tribes. Piatkus Books. p. 160. ISBN 0-7499-3975-3. 
  37. ^ Velazquez, Eric (May 2008). "Sweatstorm". Muscle & Fitness. 
  38. ^ Murphy, Celina (September 19, 2013). "Meet The Fittest Woman On Earth". Ireland Independent. Retrieved February 16, 2015Accessed via the Academic Search Complete Database at LSU 
  39. ^ "What is CrossFit?". Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  40. ^ Smith, Michael; Sommer, Allan; Starkoff, Brooke; Devor, Steven (Nov 2013). "Crossfit-based high intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27 (11): 3159–3172. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318289e59f. PMID 23439334. 
  41. ^ "CrossFitTM: New Research Puts Popular Workout to the Test". American Council on Exercise. Retrieved April 9, 2015. 
  42. ^ Dube, Rebecca (January 11, 2008). "No puke, no pain - no gain". Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  43. ^ a b c Hak PT; et al. "The nature and prevalence of injury during CrossFit training.". Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  44. ^ Am J Sports Med. 2002 Mar-Apr;30(2):248-56.
  45. ^ Strength & Conditioning Journal. 36(2):56-58, April 2014.
  46. ^ "Gym's High-Intensity Workout Left Me Disabled, Man Testifies". The Washington Post. October 7, 2008. 
  47. ^ a b Mitchell, Bryan (August 16, 2006). "Lawsuit alleges CrossFit workout damaging". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved August 16, 2008. 
  48. ^ "What CrossFit doesn't want you to know". NewsComAu. Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  49. ^ Savage, Phil. "The Truth About Rhabdo by Dr. Michael Ray - CrossFit Journal". Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  50. ^ Ray, Mike. "CrossFit Induced Rhabdo by Greg Glassman - CrossFit Journal". Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  51. ^ Glassman, Greg. "Killer Workouts by Eugene Allen - CrossFit Journal". Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  52. ^ Starrett, Kelly. "Rhabdomyolysis Revisited by Dr. Will Wright - CrossFit Journal". Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  53. ^ leeshouse. "Crossfit Instructor Manual v4". Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  54. ^ "BALLnROLL - CrossFit 101". Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  55. ^ Jason Munn (July 19, 2010). "Firefighter Strength and Why Crossfit Sucks!". Nunn's Performance Training blog. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  56. ^ Robertson, Eric (2013) Professor of Physical Therapy @Regis University
  57. ^ Fainaru-Wada, Mark (27 July 2014). "CrossFit's big growth fuels concerns". ESPN. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  58. ^ a b Martin, Cath (June 7, 2014). "The CrossFit by Jesus parody that takes the concept literally". Christian Today. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  59. ^ Hafiz, Yasmine (June 5, 2014). "CrossFit Posts Jesus Parody On Facebook Page And The Comments Explode". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
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  66. ^ Gremore, Graham (March 6, 2014). "CrossFit Won’t Let Transgender Woman Compete In Upcoming Games Because "She Was Born With A Penis"". Queerty. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  67. ^ Olson, Samantha (May 20, 2014). "CrossFit Claims Transgender Athlete’s Allegations Are False". Medical Daily. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 

External links[edit]