Spierings’ Echo combines bespoke speakers with removable tubes made of different materials that can be used to alter the properties of the music played by the system.
Described as a “soundscape that makes acoustics visible and tactile”, the system features tubes in different lengths made from three different materials – ash wood, fabric-covered foam and brass.
The tubes can be attached to a 3D-printed speaker module. The speakers are connected to a computer running the music program Ableton, via an amplifier and an audio-splitter, which directs them to play audio in response to a tube being placed on top of each one.
The speakers each have their own sound, which is then altered by the tube placed on top. Activating multiple speakers allows the user to create layers of sound.
Spierings worked with the DJ Nicky Liebregts to create the audio for the prototype of the system.
“Echo invites you to interact with material and melody – the performer is a composer, musician and designer at the same time,” Spierings told Dezeen.
“Every material has its own characteristic (like density), which lets the sound resonate through the tube in a different way,” she explained. “Wood creates a deeper tone, brass makes it purer and foam has a muffling effect. Of course you can use many more materials to play with.”
Created as her graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven, Echo is the culmination of the designer’s research into using sound to define space, which initially began by looking at how people pass through airports.
Using tactile interfaces could help users understand some of the principles of sound manipulation, she said.
“When I started to make tactile tests with sound and material, I came across something far more interesting and I focused on this,” she said. “For me, sound used to be quite a vague subject, but by approaching this topic in a tactile way, I got to understand and enjoy [it].”
Jackson Maine — — er —, uh, Bradley Cooper — signed up with Lady Gaga onstage Saturday night for a surprise efficiency of “Shallow,” the duo’s hit tune from A Star Is Born.
Cooper remained in the audience for Gaga’s Enigma residency in Las Vegas, and the crowd took pleasure in a good surprise when he popped onstage for the duet. (There might be 100 individuals in a space, however just one Bradley Cooper remained in A Star Is Born.)
Yes Mark, you’re right; Facebook turns 15 next month. What a long time you’ve been in the social media business! We’re curious as to whether you’ve also been keeping count of how many times you’ve been forced to apologize for breaching people’s trust or, well, otherwise royally messing up over the years.
It’s also true you weren’t setting out to build “a global company”. The predecessor to Facebook was a ‘hot or not’ game called ‘FaceMash’ that you hacked together while drinking beer in your Harvard dormroom. Your late night brainwave was to get fellow students to rate each others’ attractiveness — and you weren’t at all put off by not being in possession of the necessary photo data to do this. You just took it; hacking into the college’s online facebooks and grabbing people’s selfies without permission.
Blogging about what you were doing as you did it, you wrote: “I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of some farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.” Just in case there was any doubt as to the ugly nature of your intention.
The seeds of Facebook’s global business were thus sewn in a crude and consentless game of clickbait whose idea titillated you so much you thought nothing of breaching security, privacy, copyright and decency norms just to grab a few eyeballs.
So while you may not have instantly understood how potent this ‘outrageous and divisive’ eyeball-grabbing content tactic would turn out to be — oh hai future global scale! — the core DNA of Facebook’s business sits in that frat boy discovery where your eureka Internet moment was finding you could win the attention jackpot by pitting people against each other.
Pretty quickly you also realized you could exploit and commercialize human one-upmanship — gotta catch em all friend lists! popularity poke wars! — and stick a badge on the resulting activity, dubbing it ‘social’.
FaceMash was antisocial, though. And the unpleasant flipside that can clearly flow from ‘social’ platforms is something you continue not being nearly honest nor open enough about. Whether it’s political disinformation, hate speech or bullying, the individual and societal impacts of maliciously minded content shared and amplified using massively mainstream tools you control is now impossible to ignore.
Yet you prefer to play down these human impacts; as a “crazy idea”, or by implying that ‘a little’ amplified human nastiness is the necessary cost of being in the big multinational business of connecting everyone and ‘socializing’ everything.
But did you ask the father of 14-year-old Molly Russell, a British schoolgirl who took her own life in 2017, whether he’s okay with your growth vs controls trade-off? “I have no doubt that Instagram helped kill my daughter,” said Russell in an interview with the BBC this week.
After her death, Molly’s parents found she had been following accounts on Instagram that were sharing graphic material related to self-harming and suicide, including some accounts that actively encourage people to cut themselves. “We didn’t know that anything like that could possibly exist on a platform like Instagram,” said Russell.
Without a human editor in the mix, your algorithmic recommendations are blind to risk and suffering. Built for global scale, they get on with the expansionist goal of maximizing clicks and views by serving more of the same sticky stuff. And more extreme versions of things users show an interest in to keep the eyeballs engaged.
So when you write about making services that “billions” of “people around the world love and use” forgive us for thinking that sounds horribly glib. The scales of suffering don’t sum like that. If your entertainment product has whipped up genocide anywhere in the world — as the UN said Facebook did in Myanmar — it’s failing regardless of the proportion of users who are having their time pleasantly wasted on and by Facebook.
And if your algorithms can’t incorporate basic checks and safeguards so they don’t accidentally encourage vulnerable teens to commit suicide you really don’t deserve to be in any consumer-facing business at all.
Yet your article shows no sign you’ve been reflecting on the kinds of human tragedies that don’t just play out on your platform but can be an emergent property of your targeting algorithms.
You focus instead on what you call “clear benefits to this business model”.
The benefits to Facebook’s business are certainly clear. You have the billions in quarterly revenue to stand that up. But what about the costs to the rest of us? Human costs are harder to quantify but you don’t even sound like you’re trying.
You do write that you’ve heard “many questions” about Facebook’s business model. Which is most certainly true but once again you’re playing down the level of political and societal concern about how your platform operates (and how you operate your platform) — deflecting and reframing what Facebook is to cast your ad business a form of quasi philanthropy; a comfortable discussion topic and self-serving idea you’d much prefer we were all sold on.
It’s also hard to shake the feeling that your phrasing at this point is intended as a bit of an in-joke for Facebook staffers — to smirk at the ‘dumb politicians’ who don’t even know how Facebook makes money.
And here you are again, ironically enough, mansplaining in a newspaper; an industry that your platform has worked keenly to gut and usurp, hungry to supplant editorially guided journalism with the moral vacuum of algorithmically geared space-filler which, left unchecked, has been shown, time and again, lifting divisive and damaging content into public view.
The latest Zuckerberg screed has nothing new to say. It’s pure spin. We’ve read scores of self-serving Facebook apologias over the years and can confirm Facebook’s founder has made a very tedious art of selling abject failure as some kind of heroic lack of perfection.
But the spin has been going on for far, far too long. Fifteen years, as you remind us. Yet given that hefty record it’s little wonder you’re moved to pen again — imagining that another word blast is all it’ll take for the silly politicians to fall in line.
Thing is, no one is asking Facebook for perfection, Mark. We’re looking for signs that you and your company have a moral compass. Because the opposite appears to be true. (Or as one UK parliamentarian put it to your CTO last year: “I remain to be convinced that your company has integrity”.)
Facebook has scaled to such an unprecedented, global size exactly because it has no editorial values. And you say again now you want to be all things to all men. Put another way that means there’s a moral vacuum sucking away at your platform’s core; a supermassive ethical blackhole that scales ad dollars by the billions because you won’t tie the kind of process knots necessary to treat humans like people, not pairs of eyeballs.
You don’t design against negative consequences or to pro-actively avoid terrible impacts — you let stuff happen and then send in the ‘trust & safety’ team once the damage has been done.
You might call designing against negative consequences a ‘growth bottleneck’; others would say it’s having a conscience.
Everything standing in the way of scaling Facebook’s usage is, under the Zuckerberg regime, collateral damage — hence the old mantra of ‘move fast and break things’ — whether it’s social cohesion, civic values or vulnerable individuals.
This is why it takes a celebrity defamation lawsuit to force your company to dribble a little more resource into doing something about scores of professional scammers paying you to pop their fraudulent schemes in a Facebook “ads” wrapper. (Albeit, you’re only taking some action in the UK in this particular case.)
Funnily enough — though it’s not at all funny and it doesn’t surprise us — Facebook is far slower and patchier when it comes to fixing things it broke.
Of course there will always be people who thrive with a digital megaphone like Facebook thrust in their hand. Scammers being a pertinent example. But the measure of a civilized society is how it protects those who can’t defend themselves from targeted attacks or scams because they lack the protective wrap of privilege. Which means people who aren’t famous. Not public figures like Martin Lewis, the consumer champion who has his own platform and enough financial resources to file a lawsuit to try to make Facebook do something about how its platform supercharges scammers.
And even in the Lewis case, Facebook remains a winner; Lewis dropped his suit and Facebook got to make a big show of signing over £500k worth of ad credit coupons to a consumer charity that will end up giving them right back to Facebook.
The company’s response to problems its platform creates is to look the other way until a trigger point of enough bad publicity gets reached. At which critical point it flips the usual crisis PR switch and sends in a few token clean up teams — who scrub a tiny proportion of terrible content; or take down a tiny number of fake accounts; or indeed make a few token and heavily publicized gestures — before leaning heavily on civil society (and on users) to take the real strain.
You might think Facebook reaching out to respected external institutions is a positive step. A sign of a maturing mindset and a shift towards taking greater responsibility for platform impacts. (And in the case of scam ads in the UK it’s donating £3M in cash and ad credits to a bona fide consumer advice charity.)
But this is still Facebook dumping problems of its making on an already under-resourced and over-worked civic sector at the same time as its platform supersizes their workload.
In recent years the company has also made a big show of getting involved with third party fact checking organizations across various markets — using these independents to stencil in a PR strategy for ‘fighting fake news’ that also entails Facebook offloading the lion’s share of the work. (It’s not paying fact checkers anything, given the clear conflict that would represent it obviously can’t).
So again external organizations are being looped into Facebook’s mess — in this case to try to drain the swamp of fakes being fenced and amplified on its platform — even as the scale of the task remains hopeless, and all sorts of junk continues to flood into and pollute the public sphere.
What’s clear is that none of these organizations has the scale or the resources to fix problems Facebook’s platform creates. Yet it serves Facebook’s purposes to be able to point to them trying.
And all the while Zuckerberg is hard at work fighting to fend off regulation that could force his company to take far more care and spend far more of its own resources (and profits) monitoring the content it monetizes by putting it in front of eyeballs.
The Facebook founder is fighting because he knows his platform is a targeted attack; On individual attention, via privacy-hostile behaviorally targeted ads (his euphemism for this is “relevant ads”); on social cohesion, via divisive algorithms that drive outrage in order to maximize platform engagement; and on democratic institutions and norms, by systematically eroding consensus and the potential for compromise between the different groups that every society is comprised of.
In his WSJ post Zuckerberg can only claim Facebook doesn’t “leave harmful or divisive content up”. He has no defence against Facebook having put it up and enabled it to spread in the first place.
Sociopaths relish having a soapbox so unsurprisingly these people find a wonderful home on Facebook. But where does empathy fit into the antisocial media equation?
As for Facebook being a ‘free’ service — a point Zuckerberg is most keen to impress in his WSJ post — it’s of course a cliché to point out that ‘if it’s free you’re the product’. (Or as the even older saying goes: ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’).
But for the avoidance of doubt, “free” access does not mean cost-free access. And in Facebook’s case the cost is both individual (to your attention and your privacy); and collective (to the public’s attention and to social cohesion).
The much bigger question is who actually benefits if “everyone” is on Facebook, as Zuckerberg would prefer. Facebook isn’t the Internet. Facebook doesn’t offer the sole means of communication, digital or otherwise. People can, and do, ‘connect’ (if you want to use such a transactional word for human relations) just fine without Facebook.
So beware the hard and self-serving sell in which Facebook’s 15-year founder seeks yet again to recast privacy as an unaffordable luxury.
The best argument Zuckerberg can muster for his goal of universal Facebook usage being good for anything other than his own business’ bottom line is to suggest small businesses could use that kind of absolute reach to drive extra growth of their own.
Though he only provides a few general data-points to support the claim; saying there are “more than 90M small businesses on Facebook” which “make up a large part of our business” (how large?) — and claiming “most” (51%?) couldn’t afford TV ads or billboards (might they be able to afford other online or newspaper ads though?); he also cites a “global survey” (how many businesses surveyed?), presumably run by Facebook itself, which he says found “half the businesses on Facebook say they’ve hired more people since they joined” (but how did you ask the question, Mark?; we’re concerned it might have been rather leading), and from there he leaps to the implied conclusion that “millions” of jobs have essentially been created by Facebook.
But did you control for common causes Mark? Or are you just trying to take credit for others’ hard work because, well, it’s politically advantageous for you to do so?
Whether Facebook’s claims about being great for small business stand up to scrutiny or not, if people’s fundamental rights are being wholesale flipped for SMEs to make a few extra bucks that’s an unacceptable trade off.
“Millions” of jobs suggestively linked to Facebook sure sounds great — but you can’t and shouldn’t overlook disproportionate individual and societal costs, as Zuckerberg is urging policymakers to here.
He also repeats the spurious claim that Facebook gives users “complete control” over what it does with personal information collected for advertising.
We’ve heard this time and time again from Zuckerberg and yet it remains pure BS.
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg concludes his testimony before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg, 33, was called to testify after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Yo Mark! First up we’re still waiting for your much trumpeted ‘Clear History’ tool. You know, the one you claimed you thought of under questioning in Congress last year (and later used to fend off follow up questions in the European Parliament).
Reportedly the tool is due this Spring. But even when it does finally drop it represents another classic piece of gaslighting by Facebook, given how it seeks to normalize (and so enable) the platform’s pervasive abuse of its users’ data.
Truth is, there is no master ‘off’ switch for Facebook’s ongoing surveillance. Such a switch — were it to exist — would represent a genuine control for users. But Zuckerberg isn’t offering it.
Instead his company continues to groom users into accepting being creeped on by offering pantomime settings that boil down to little more than privacy theatre — if they even realize they’re there.
‘Hit the button! Reset cookies! Delete browsing history! Keep playing Facebook!’
An interstitial reset is clearly also a dilute decoy. It’s not the same as being able to erase all extracted insights Facebook’s infrastructure continuously mines from users, using these derivatives to target people with behavioral ads; tracking and profiling on an ongoing basis by creeping on browsing activity (on and off Facebook), and also by buying third party data on its users from brokers.
Multiple signals and inferences are used to flesh out individual ad profiles on an ongoing basis, meaning the files are never static. And there’s simply no way to tell Facebook to burn your digital ad mannequin. Not even if you delete your Facebook account.
Nor, indeed, is there a way to get a complete read out from Facebook on all the data it’s attached to your identity. Even in Europe, where companies are subject to strict privacy laws that place a legal requirement on data controllers to disclose all personal data they hold on a person on request, as well as who they’re sharing it with, for what purposes, under what legal grounds.
Last year Paul-Olivier Dehaye, the founder of PersonalData.IO, a startup that aims to help people control how their personal data is accessed by companies, recounted in the UK parliament how he’d spent years trying to obtain all his personal information from Facebook — with the company resorting to legal arguments to block his subject access request.
Dehaye said he had succeeded in extracting a bit more of his data from Facebook than it initially handed over. But it was still just a “snapshot”, not an exhaustive list, of all the advertisers who Facebook had shared his data with. This glimpsed tip implies a staggeringly massive personal data iceberg lurking beneath the surface of each and every one of the 2.2BN+ Facebook users. (Though the figure is likely even more massive because it tracks non-users too.)
Zuckerberg’s “complete control” wording is therefore at best self-serving and at worst an outright lie. Facebook’s business has complete control of users by offering only a superficial layer of confusing and fiddly, ever-shifting controls that demand continued presence on the platform to use them, and ongoing effort to keep on top of settings changes (which are always, to a fault, privacy hostile), making managing your personal data a life-long chore.
Facebook’s power dynamic puts the onus squarely on the user to keep finding and hitting reset button.
But this too is a distraction. Resetting anything on its platform is largely futile, given Facebook retains whatever behavioral insights it already stripped off of your data (and fed to its profiling machinery). And its omnipresent background snooping carries on unchecked, amassing fresh insights you also can’t clear.
Nor does Clear History offer any control for the non-users Facebook tracks via the pixels and social plug-ins it’s larded around the mainstream web. Zuckerberg was asked about so-called shadow profiles in Congress last year — which led to this awkward exchange where he claimed not to know what the phrase refers to.
EU MEPs also seized on the issue, pushing him to respond. He did so by attempting to conflate surveillance and security — by claiming it’s necessary for Facebook to hold this data to keep “bad content out”. Which seems a bit of an ill-advised argument to make given how badly that mission is generally going for Facebook.
Still, Zuckerberg repeats the claim in the WSJ post, saying information collected for ads is “generally important for security and operating our services” — using this to address what he couches as “the important question of whether the advertising model encourages companies like ours to use and store more information than we otherwise would”.
So, essentially, Facebook’s founder is saying that the price for Facebook’s existence is pervasive surveillance of everyone, everywhere, with or without your permission.
Though he doesn’t express that ‘fact’ as a cost of his “free” platform. RIP privacy indeed.
Another pertinent example of Zuckerberg simply not telling the truth when he wrongly claims Facebook users can control their information vis-a-vis his ad business — an example which also happens to underline how pernicious his attempts to use “security” to justify eroding privacy really are — bubbled into view last fall, when Facebook finally confessed that mobile phone numbers users had provided for the specific purpose of enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) to increase the security of their accounts were also used by Facebook for ad targeting.
A company spokesperson told us that if a user wanted to opt out of the ad-based repurposing of their mobile phone data they could use non-phone number based 2FA — though Facebook only added the ability to use an app for 2FA in May last year.
What Facebook is doing on the security front is especially disingenuous BS in that it risks undermining security practice by bundling a respected tool (2FA) with ads that creep on people.
And there’s plenty more of this kind of disingenuous nonsense in Zuckerberg’s WSJ post — where he repeats a claim we first heard him utter last May, at a conference in Paris, when he suggested that following changes made to Facebook’s consent flow, ahead of updated privacy rules coming into force in Europe, the fact European users had (mostly) swallowed the new terms, rather than deleting their accounts en masse, was a sign people were majority approving of “more relevant” (i.e more creepy) Facebook ads.
Au contraire, it shows nothing of the sort. It simply underlines the fact Facebook still does not offer users a free and fair choice when it comes to consenting to their personal data being processed for behaviorally targeted ads — despite free choice being a requirement under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
If Facebook users are forced to ‘choose’ between being creeped on or deleting their account on the dominant social service where all their friends are it’s hardly a free choice. (And GDPR complaints have been filed over this exact issue of ‘forced consent‘.)
Add to that, as we said at the time, Facebook’s GDPR tweaks were lousy with manipulative, dark pattern design. So again the company is leaning on users to get the outcomes it wants.
It’s not a fair fight, any which way you look at it. But here we have Zuckerberg, the BS salesman, trying to claim his platform’s ongoing manipulation of people already enmeshed in the network is evidence for people wanting creepy ads.
The truth is that most Facebook users remain unaware of how extensively the company creeps on them (per this recent Pew research). And fiddly controls are of course even harder to get a handle on if you’re sitting in the dark.
Zuckerberg appears to concede a little ground on the transparency and control point when he writes that: “Ultimately, I believe the most important principles around data are transparency, choice and control.” But all the privacy-hostile choices he’s made; and the faux controls he’s offered; and the data mountain he simply won’t ‘fess up to sitting on shows, beyond reasonable doubt, the company cannot and will not self-regulate.
If Facebook is allowed to continue setting its own parameters and choosing its own definitions (for “transparency, choice and control”) users won’t have even one of the three principles, let alone the full house, as well they should. Facebook will just keep moving the goalposts and marking its own homework.
You can see this in the way Zuckerberg fuzzes and elides what his company really does with people’s data; and how he muddies and muddles uses for the data — such as by saying he doesn’t know what shadow profiles are; or claiming users can download ‘all their data’; or that ad profiles are somehow essential for security; or by repurposing 2FA digits to personalize ads too.
How do you try to prevent the purpose limitation principle being applied to regulate your surveillance-reliant big data ad business? Why by mixing the data streams of course! And then trying to sew confusion among regulators and policymakers by forcing them to unpick your mess.
Much like Facebook is forcing civic society to clean up its messy antisocial impacts.
Europe’s GDPR is focusing the conversation, though, and targeted complaints filed under the bloc’s new privacy regime have shown they can have teeth and so bite back against rights incursions.
But before we put another self-serving Zuckerberg screed to rest, let’s take a final look at his description of how Facebook’s ad business works. Because this is also seriously misleading. And cuts to the very heart of the “transparency, choice and control” issue he’s quite right is central to the personal data debate. (He just wants to get to define what each of those words means.)
In the article, Zuckerberg claims “people consistently tell us that if they’re going to see ads, they want them to be relevant”. But who are these “people” of which he speaks? If he’s referring to the aforementioned European Facebook users, who accepted updated terms with the same horribly creepy ads because he didn’t offer them any alternative, we would suggest that’s not a very affirmative signal.
Now if it were true that a generic group of ‘Internet people’ were consistently saying anything about online ads the loudest message would most likely be that they don’t like them. Click through rates are fantastically small. And hence also lots of people using ad blocking tools. (Growth in usage of ad blockers has also occurred in parallel with the increasing incursions of the adtech industrial surveillance complex.)
So Zuckerberg’s logical leap to claim users of free services want to be shown only the most creepy ads is really a very odd one.
Let’s now turn to Zuckerberg’s use of the word “relevant”. As we noted above, this is a euphemism. It conflates many concepts but principally it’s used by Facebook as a cloak to shield and obscure the reality of what it’s actually doing (i.e. privacy-hostile people profiling to power intrusive, behaviourally microtargeted ads) in order to avoid scrutiny of exactly those creepy and intrusive Facebook practices.
Yet the real sleight of hand is how Zuckerberg glosses over the fact that ads can be relevant without being creepy. Because ads can be contextual. They don’t have to be behaviorally targeted.
Ads can be based on — for example — a real-time search/action plus a user’s general location. Without needing to operate a vast, all-pervasive privacy-busting tracking infrastructure to feed open-ended surveillance dossiers on what everyone does online, as Facebook chooses to.
And here Zuckerberg gets really disingenuous because he uses a benign-sounding example of a contextual ad (the example he chooses contains an interest and a general location) to gloss over a detail-light explanation of how Facebook’s people tracking and profiling apparatus works.
“Based on what pages people like, what they click on, and other signals, we create categories — for example, people who like pages about gardening and live in Spain — and then charge advertisers to show ads to that category,” he writes, with that slipped in reference to “other signals” doing some careful shielding work there.
Funnily enough Zuckerberg doesn’t mention those actual Facebook microtargeting categories in his glossy explainer of how its “relevant” ads business works. But they offer a far truer glimpse of the kinds of labels Facebook’s business sticks on people.
Nor should regulators be derailed by the lie that Facebook’s creepy business model is the only version of adtech possible. It’s not even the only version of profitable adtech currently available. (Contextual ads have made Google alternative search engine DuckDuckGo profitable since 2014, for example.)
Simply put, adtech doesn’t have to be creepy to work. And ads that don’t creep on people would give publishers greater ammunition to sell ad block using readers on whitelisting their websites. A new generation of people-sensitive startups are also busy working on new forms of ad targeting that bake in privacy by design.
And with legal and regulatory risk rising, intrusive and creepy adtech that demands the equivalent of ongoing strip searches of every Internet user on the planet really look to be on borrowed time.
Facebook’s problem is it scrambled for big data and, finding it easy to suck up tonnes of the personal stuff on the unregulated Internet, built an antisocial surveillance business that needs to capture both sides of its market — eyeballs and advertisers — and keep them buying to an exploitative and even abusive relationship for its business to keep minting money.
Pivoting that tanker would certainly be tough, and in any case who’d trust a Zuckerberg who suddenly proclaimed himself the privacy messiah?
But it sure is a long way from ‘move fast and break things’ to trying to claim there’s only one business model to rule them all.
The 22-year-old tried her guts out and made it further in her home grand slam than any Aussie woman in almost ten years.
But that still meant getting knocked out in the quarter-finals.
And yes, yes, she beat Maria Sharapova along the way, but the Russian has come back from her drug ban a shadow of her former self. That’s not to say beating the ex-world number one is to be dismissed out of hand, but Barty has a higher ranking than Sharapova – she was supposed to win that match.
The reality check came in the form of a straight-sets smackdown courtesy of Petra Kvitová.
Alright, but what about Alex De Minaur!?
Well, um, yeah, what about him?
One of Fox Sports News’ anchors asked their reporter on the ground at Melbourne Park: “Geez, wouldn’t it have been a boilover if he’d beaten Rafa Nadal?”
Yeah, it sure would have. Except De Minaur didn’t so much as bother Nadal, the Spaniard dispatching our local hope in straight sets.
A boilover was never even remotely on the cards – it was about as worthwhile as asking, “Geez, wouldn’t the world be a different place if the planet was actually flat?”
So the Demon was sent packing in the third round.
That was also the case with De Minaur’s fellow teenage-hopeful Alexei Popyrin, and our other wildcard entry, Alex Bolt.
Popyrin and Bolt received a bit of hype on the back of their wildcard status – and, to be fair, the third round is a respectable showing – but the excitement was fuelled more by the fact that they played after De Minaur had already been knocked out, and thus were our last hopes in the men’s draw.
So while we cheered throughout the first week of the Australian Open, we were left without a local hope pretty early on in the second.
Now, I don’t want to be the tennis Grinch here, and I understand that when the global game’s attention is directed towards our shores, it’s important we put our players in the spotlight.
But I wonder how excited we’d be about any of these players – mostly youngsters who have potential, but are a long way from turning it into grand slam trophies – were it not for the calibre of personality we’ve had served up in recent years.
Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios were our great hopes for big things, but it’s become abundantly clear that neither of them will live up to their potential.
While both are still relatively young, the attitude they’ve shown over the years ensures they’ll never fulfil their immense promise.
As for the Aussie women, when it comes to the trophies that matter, Sam Stosur’s 2011 US Open victory is actually the country’s most recent grand slam title.
The last one an Aussie claimed before that was Lleyton Hewitt’s 2002 win at Wimbledon, which was preceded less than 12 months earlier with his victory at the US Open.
And that’s been it for the 21st Century – three titles of a possible 77 (and that’s including the year 2000, which will be controversial among calendar experts).
So it’s probably not unfair that for so long, Stosur and Lleyton – especially Lleyton – were held up as our best chance of turning that into four titles.
But as retirement and the sheer weight of disappointing performances made it clear neither were going to win another one of tennis’ four major tournaments, we shifted expectations to the next generation – mainly Tomic and Kyrgios.
And how did that pan out? Yeah, so well that at the age of 26 and 23 respectively, we’re already looking at the next next generation.
So when teenagers De Minaur and Popyrin, as well as the 22-year-old Barty showed a bit of fight, got some decent results, and didn’t act like complete tools, we went a little bit nuts.
(AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
And with time on their side, as well as what seems to be the ethic and attitude required to make the most of their obvious talent, one of these players could very well claim Australia’s fourth grand slam title since the year 2000 (1998 really, since that was Pat Rafter’s last win at Flushing Meadows).
But not get too far ahead of ourselves in the meantime. Because y’know which other men made the third round of the Aussie Open? Scott Draper, Wayne Arthurs and Sam Groth.
And which women made the quarters? Alicia Molik and Jelena Dokic.
All of them were solid professionals who made a decent career on the court, but they’re blasts from the past rather than legends of Aussie tennis.
And at this stage, that’s all our next wave of talent have managed.
So while we’re right to get behind them, let’s also keep a lid on things until they show us whether they’re champions like Stosur and Hewitt, or decent triers like Groth and Molik.
Or – heaven forbid, but there’s still time – wankers like Tomic and Kyrgios.
Lamb of God guitar player Mark Morton is on target to launch his launching solo album, Anesthetic , on March 1st, and now, he has a slate of trip dates in assistance of the release. Morton has actually revealed a co-headlining kept up Light the Torch that will start March 13th in Richmond, Virginia, and go through a March 26th date in Phoenix, Arizona.
While Morton is visiting in assistance of Anesthetic, Light the Torch, fronted by previous Killswitch Engage vocalist Howard Jones, are promoting their newest release, Revival. Moon Tooth will open on the run. The complete travel plan is below, with tickets and VIP plans readily available here .
Morton’s Anesthetic functions a bunch of visitor looks , consisting of late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington on the track ” Cross Off” , plus Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy, Arch Enemy’s Alyssa White-Gluz, Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix, and previous Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan, to name a few. No word yet on how vocals will be managed on the trip stops.
” I’m enjoyed reveal the very first live dates in assistance of my brand-new album, Anesthetic,” Morton stated in a declaration. “The reaction to the brand-new tunes has actually been fantastic up until now and I’m delighted to get them up and running in a live setting. I’ve got a badass band created and I’’ ll be associating my buddies in Light the Torch and Moon Tooth for these programs. Get there early and remain late!”
Light the Torch vocalist Jones included, “We are beyond delighted to strike the roadway as soon as again in assistance of Revival, so anticipate much more brand-new tunes in the set this time around. We’re likewise stired to be sharing the phase with Mark Morton on this run. Exploring with a real skill and a good friend is the dish for a great time, so come join us! And ensure to arrive early to capture Moon Tooth.”
Mark Morton and Light the Torch Co-Headlining Tour Dates with Moon Tooth:.03/13 —– Richmond, VA @ Broadberry.03/14 —– Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts.03/15 —– Toronto, ON @ Lees Palace.03/16 —– Montreal, QC @ Astral.03/18 —– Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall.03/19 —– New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater.03/21 —– Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge.03/23 —– Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep.03/25 —– Los Angeles, CA @ Roxy.03/26 —– Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red
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If you have friends or coworkers that enjoy working out, you might have even heard them talking about the newest CrossFit “box” (gym) that just opened up down the street.
You see CrossFit themed Reebok shoes.
You see Crossfit on ESPN.
And you’re wondering:
“Hey Steve! What the hell is CrossFit, and is it for me?”
If you ARE wondering that, my response is “Wow, I’m good at reading minds.”
If you WEREN’T wondering that before, you are now…which means I’m good at mind control.
You see, either way I win.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Anyways…I’ve been talking with Team NF’s Staci (a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and our head female instructor for our 1-on-1 Coaching Program) about how we couldn’t find a decent “Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit” anywhere on the Internet that wasn’t heavily biased – in either direction.
On top of that, any time there’s an article that mentions the word CrossFit, a quick trip to the comment section reveals so much support or hatred that it’s almost comical.
Well, rather than wait for that beginner’s guide to CrossFit resource to get written, I figured why not write it ourselves? (Note – if you already worship or loathe CrossFit, this article won’t change your mind.)
Let’s figure out what CrossFit is, who it’s for, how it works, and if you should join your local CrossFit gym.
WARNING: At 6,000 words, this is the longest post that has appeared on NF to date. If you have NO interest in CrossFit, check out our Strength 101 series.
By the way, if you’re interested in CrossFit but are worried about looking foolish, or you’re unable to find a great CrossFit gym in your area, you’re not alone!
As you’ll see in this article, CrossFit can either be AMAZING or TERRIBLE! It depends on how you like to be motivated, if there are competent coaches around you, what your goals are, and if you actually enjoy exercise.
If you are excited about the idea of getting started with weight training but overwhelmed or nervous or unsure, we have a 1-on-1 online coaching program where you get paired with a member of the NF Coaching staff who builds a workout program and nutritional strategy just for you.
You can book a free consultation with our team by clicking the image below to see if our coaching program is right for you.
Now back to CrossFit!
What the Hell is CrossFit?
CrossFit is advertised, in four words, as “the sport of fitness.”
With constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements, CrossFit is a training philosophy that coaches people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness in a hardcore yet accepting and encouraging environment.
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
CrossFit contends that a person is as fit as they are proficient in each of ten general physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.
Or, in nerd speak – CrossFit is a training program that builds strength and conditioning through extremely varied and challenging workouts.
Each day the workout will test a different part of your functional strength or conditioning, not specializing in one particular thing, but rather with the goal of building a body that’s capable of practically anything and everything.
CrossFit is extremely different from a commercial gym…and not just because you won’t find any ellipticals, weight machines, or Zumba.
I’ll explain what makes CrossFit different later in the article.
Who is CrossFit for?
According to the CrossFit site:
This program “is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.”
What that means is that every day there is a particular workout prescribed (you’ll often see this written as Rx’d) for everybody that comes to CrossFit.
Rather than having one workout for older women and another for hardcore athletes – there’s ONE workout each day that is completely scalable based on your skill.
For example, if the workout calls for squats with 135 pounds but you can only do squats with the bar (45 pounds), then that’s where you’ll start.
If you’re injured and can’t do squats at all, a similar movement will be substituted, and if the number of reps is too many for your current ability, that will be reduced. As you get stronger and more experienced you’ll work your way towards eventually doing the workouts as prescribed.
Now, although CrossFit can be for everybody, it certainly ISN’T for everybody. In this blogger’s humble opinion, CrossFit is perfect for a few types of people:
Beginners to weight training – If you have NEVER weight trained before (or trained only on machines), CrossFit is a great place for you to start (provided you have a great coach, which I’ll cover shortly). You’ll learn how to do all of the important lifts in a super supportive and nonjudgmental environment. You might even find that…GASP…you love strength training!
People looking for support and community – This is the appeal to CrossFit for me: every CrossFit gym has a really tight-knit community feel to it. You’re not just a membership payment to them; you’re a person that needs support. When Nerd Fitness gyms start popping up (don’t think it won’t happen!), I’ll be drawing a lot of inspiration from CF as to how members are so supportive and inclusive of each other.
Fitness fanatics – You know those people that love to work out every day and feel like something is missing if they don’t? The way CrossFit is structured, you are working out with regular consistency. The general protocol is 3 days on, 1 day off, but many CrossFitters end up at the gym more frequently. It’s addicting.
Masochists – I mean that in the nicest way possible. CrossFit often rewards people for finishing workouts in the least amount of time possible. This means that you’ll often be in situations where you are using 100% of your effort to finish a workout, exhausting yourself, and forcing yourself to push through the struggle.
Former athletes – CrossFit has built-in teamwork, camaraderie, and competition. Almost all workouts have a time component to them, where you either have to finish a certain number of repetitions of exercises in a certain amount of time, or the time is fixed and you need to see how many repetitions you can do of an exercise. You get to compete with people in your class, and go online to see how you did against the world’s elite CrossFit athletes. There is even an international competition for those that become truly dedicated.
There are a few people for whom I don’t think CrossFit would be as beneficial, but this doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it:
Specialists – CrossFit prides itself on not specializing, which means that anybody who is looking to specialize (like a powerlifter) will not get the best results following the standard CrossFit workout schedule. If you want to be good at a specific activity, that’s where your focus should be.
Sport-specific athletes – Like the specialists, if you are an athlete training for a sport, you’d be better off finding a coach that is trained in getting great performances out of athletes in your specific sport. Every sport has special movements that require certain types of power in specific muscles. CrossFit prepares you for everything, but won’t improve your specific sport skills unless you are training for those specific sport skills! Many athletes choose to combine CrossFit with sport-specific workouts (see things like CrossFit Football) in their off-season for conditioning, but that’s up to each sport’s coach.
Solo trainers – Some people, myself included, love to work out alone: my training is my meditative time each day. CrossFit is group training, which means you won’t have that opportunity to get your stuff done on your own.
Is CrossFit dangerous?
In short, yes it can be.
But that could be said of literally any sport or exercise. Or driving a car.
In the wrong situations, with the wrong coaches, and a for person with the wrong attitude, CrossFit can be dangerous:
1) During a CrossFit workout, you’re often told to complete a number of strength training or endurance exercises as fast as possible, or complete as many repetitions as possible in a certain amount of time. For that reason, it’s REALLY easy to sacrifice form in exchange for finishing the workout quicker. If you don’t have somebody spotting you or telling you to keep your form correct, then you’re in trouble.
When it comes to strength training, improper form (especially at high speeds with heavy weights) is the FASTEST way to get seriously injured. If a CrossFit gym is run by inexperienced and unproven coaches – which definitely happens – then things like this happen and they happen frequently.
2) CrossFit attracts a certain type of person – namely folks who push themselves so hard they actually do bodily harm. Ask any CrossFitter if they’ve met “Pukey the Clown” and they’ll probably tell you yes. Due to the nature of competition, the motivating atmosphere, and people’s desire to do well, many people in CrossFit often push themselves beyond their personal limitations (which can be a good thing)…but oftentimes they push themselves too far.
I totally get it.
In my first CrossFit experience three years ago, I almost made myself puke because I wanted so badly to finish with a good time. Last year, I did another CrossFit workout that I hadn’t properly prepared for and cranked out 100 pull ups quickly…and I ended up walking around with T-rex arms for a WEEK because I physically could not straighten them. Not kidding.
3) In some extreme cases with a VERY small portion of CrossFitters, an incredibly serious medical condition called rhabdomyolysis can take place. When people push themselves too hard, too much, too fast, their muscle fibers break down and are released into the bloodstream, poisoning the kidneys.
At CrossFit, some coaches refer to this as “Uncle Rahbdo,” though it’s not something funny or enjoyable. You can read all about the condition and issues it can cause here. This typically occurs with (primarily male) ex-athletes who have not exercised for a while and come back trying to prove something, and end up working at a higher intensity than their body can handle.
So, like with any activity, you can have people that like to push themselves too far, too hard, too fast, and too often. Unfortunately, due to the nature of CrossFit (where this behavior is often encouraged and endorsed), you can end up in some serious danger if you don’t know when to stop or have a coach that will tell you when to stop.
Personally, I find these issues to be more with individual people than with the CrossFit system as a whole, but it is the nature of CrossFit that attracts these people and encourages them to behave dangerously.
I’ll let you make your own decision here.
If you like the idea of strength training, but are a bit worried about starting with CrossFit, I hear ya.
It’s why we made our massive Strength Training 101 guide so you know exactly how to get started and even provide you with specific workouts to follow! Get it free when you sign up in the box below and Join the Rebellion!
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Everything you need to know about getting strong.
Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
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What’s a CrossFit class like?
Let’s say you’re interested in joining a CrossFit class, but you don’t know what you’re getting into!
Practically every CrossFit gym around the world will let you come in and try out a class for free, so contact your local gyms and find out what dates and time they’re having newbie sessions. This is how the classes are usually structured:
Introduction class – For people who have never tried CrossFit before. Usually there’s a quick overview, and then a basic body weight movement workout, and then they talk to you about joining. These are usually free.
On Ramp/Elements – If you’re interested in joining the regular CrossFit workout, you’ll most likely be required to go through the On Ramp/Elements course. The purpose of these is to teach you the nine foundational movements of CrossFit and all about proper form. No matter how experienced you are, these are valuable and worth the time and money. Even if you think you have perfect form on your squats, deadlifts and/or overhead presses, it’s amazing what can be fixed when you have a trained set of eyes watching you do them.
Regular classes: This is what you’re probably used to seeing or hearing about. A regular CrossFit class takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Everybody starts at the same time, there are instructors walking around helping out and keeping track, and everybody is supporting each other and probably swearing a lot.
Most CrossFit gyms will split their classes into three or four sections:
Dynamic warm up – Not jogging on a treadmill for 5 minutes, but jumps, jumping jacks, jump rope, squats, push ups, lunges, pull ups. Functional movements, stretches, and mobility work that compliment the movements you’ll be doing in the workout that day.
Skill/Strength work – If it’s a strength day, then you’ll work on a pure strength movement (like squats or deadlifts). If it’s not a strength day, then you’ll work on a skill and try to improve, like one-legged squats or muscle ups.
WOD – the workout of the day. This is where you’ll be told to do a certain number of reps of particular exercises as quickly as possible, or you’ll have a set time limit to do as many of a certain exercise as possible.
Cool down and stretching – Either as a group, or you’re allowed to stretch out on your own. This would also be the time for people who pushed too hard to go puke in a trash can and stretch their stomach muscles.
How to find a CrossFit Gym
So, let’s say you’re interested in trying out a CrossFit class or maybe joining a CrossFit gym.
Other than picking the one that’s closest to you, why not put a bit more thought into it? This isn’t like picking a commercial gym – the community and coach are so freaking important.
First and foremost, you need a gym with competent, experienced coaches.
You should be able to see through that particular CrossFit gym’s website – not the main CF site – who the coaches are and how long they have been teaching, including their certifications.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what you might see from coaches:
CrossFit Level 1 – an ANSI-accredited certification. This means the person went to a weekend-long course and passed the exam. You’re taught the basic movements, how to scale each movement, but not really much more. There are no specifics on how to deal with injuries, anatomy, etc.
CrossFit Level 2 – This is the next level up from Level 1, and involves far more in-depth training in coaching.
Certified CrossFit Level 3 Trainer – This is for coaches who have passed both the Level 1 & Level 2 certification courses as well as a CrossFit-specific exam.
Certified CrossFit Level 4 Coach – Given after an assessment/evaluation of a coach’s abilities, and the highest certification level available.
Specialty Seminars – These are one- to two-day courses on specific topics like gymnastics, Olympic lifting, and running.
Other non-CrossFit certifications from personal training organizations, powerlifting programs, kettlebell programs, etc.
There’s big money in CrossFit these days, which is why so many gyms are opening up all over the country. Make sure to do the research on who your coaches are, and if they have actual coaching experience.
The other important thing to check out is PROGRAMMING! CrossFit programs can be truly random, and an inexperienced coach can accidentally program back-to-back workouts that use the same muscle groups in the same way, not giving you enough time to recover.
On every CrossFit gym’s website, there’s usually a blog where they post the workout of the day. Look over this for the gym you want to check out and see what they typically do. If they do high-rep cleans three days in a row, they obviously don’t program well. Or if you see every day for a week with heavy shoulder movements, be wary!
Remember, most CrossFit gyms will let you attend one class for free. If you have a few in your area, try out each of them once before making your decision.
Go to each one and make note of the other members there – are they supportive of each other? Did they introduce themselves and welcome you?
Were the coaches nice and hands-on with their advice during the workout?
If you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness, you know how important a good community can be for success. CrossFit gyms are no different.
Can I do CrossFit at home?
Every day, CrossFit.com puts out the workout of the day (or WOD), which can be done at home, in a commercial gym, or in a CrossFit gym.
Every CrossFit gym will put out their own WOD as well, which can be different from the CrossFit.com site – if you happen to find a local CrossFit site that you enjoy but don’t attend full-time, it’s more than okay to follow their workouts.
The best news about this is the workouts are posted free of charge to anybody that is interested in doing them. CrossFit gyms are often expensive, so if you love CrossFit but are looking to save money, you can follow along at home or in your office gym provided you have the right equipment.
Many times, you’ll run into situations where you can’t complete a particular workout because you don’t have the right equipment – do the best you can with what’s available to you, and keep track of how you made your modification for tracking purposes.
Now, there are a few issues with following CrossFit at home or by yourself in a gym:
Nobody is checking your form – CrossFit requires many incredibly specific movements; if you start by yourself at home, you’ll never know if you’re doing them wrong and could severely hurt yourself as you increase the amount of weight with which you work.
Nobody is cheering you on – A HUGE part of CrossFit is the supportive community aspect that comes with each gym. I guarantee you’d finish a workout a few seconds (or minutes) faster if you had 50 people screaming your name and cheering you toward the finish line.
You probably don’t have all of the equipment – If you’re working out at home, you probably don’t have a full squat rack, bumper plates, kettlebells, medicine balls, and so on….so you’ll often be creating your own workouts that are modified versions of the online versions.
You will want to buy all of the equipment – The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it properly. This might not cost as much as an actual box, but it will cost you.
Even with all of these negatives, it could save you quite a bit of money each a month by not joining a gym, so I don’t blame you – just be smart about it.
If you’re somebody that does want to train at home or doesn’t have access to a CrossFit gym you can trust, the biggest pitfall I see are people that don’t know how to do certain exercises and build up months of bad habits – or they give up because they have no personal accountability (somebody to check in on them and cheer them on).
We’ve rectified both of those problems with our 1-on-1 Online Coaching program, where our coaches work with clients to build workout programs specific to their situation and goals, do form checks on each exercise with their clients via video (to make sure they don’t hurt themselves), and even help with nutritional strategy too.
If having professional accountability, expert guidance, and personal attention sounds like something you want to learn more about, you can book a free call on our Coaching Sales page to learn if we’re a good fit for each other!
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One of my favorite “first time” CrossFit workouts is a benchmark workout named Cindy.
It’s a simple bodyweight circuit and can be done practically anywhere – the only equipment you need is a pull up bar. It’s a favorite for travelling, and shorter versions of it (3 rounds) is often used as a warm up.
Cindy is 20 minute AMRAP (“as many rounds as possible”):
What this means is that you put 20 minutes on the clock and then do as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats before the time runs out. There is no scheduled rest in between rounds – as soon as you finish your 15 squats you start on the pull ups again.
Now, let’s look at each movement and how to scale it down if necessary.
5 pull-ups – You’re allowed to kip these (which is a useful skill any time that your goal is not pure strength). If you can’t do regular pull ups, you can do banded pull ups, chair assisted pull ups, or jumping pull ups instead. Don’t have a pull-up bar? Do bodyweight rows.
10 push-ups – The standard CrossFit push up is chest to the deck, but if you can’t do that, you can substitute knee push ups or wall push ups.
15 squats – this is a basic air squat, with no weight.
There are also other variations of this workout for beginner athletes. Some examples are:
While you are getting strength benefits from this workout, the goal of this workout is more metabolic conditioning, so making the movements harder (like switching to divebomber push ups) isn’t something you would want to do here.
You can find some of the other benchmark workouts here.
Frequently asked questions:
Why is it so expensive? CrossFit has group classes. Think of yoga classes – they are typically $10-20 each. It’s not like a normal gym where there are hundreds of members who come in, use the elliptical for 20 minutes and go home – there is a coach teaching the class.
Is it just classes? If I want to workout in addition to my CrossFit classes, would I need a separate gym membership? At most CrossFit gyms, yes – it’s just group classes. Some CrossFit gyms have “open gym” hours – but not many are open for use 5am-11pm like your local commercial gym.
Do I have to eat paleo if I do CrossFit? Absolutely not. Paleo is the diet recommended by CrossFit and a lot of CrossFit gyms have paleo challenges – but you don’t have to (and I’ve never had it pushed on me).
What is a kipping pull-up? Isn’t that cheating? A kipping pull-up is a form of pull-up where you swing your body and use the momentum and a hip drive to get your body to the bar. It’s not cheating because it’s not meant to be the same exercise as a dead-hang pull-up. Some workouts call for a dead-hang pull-up – and in those you would not be allowed to kip.
Will CrossFit make me lose weight? If you work hard and change your diet. Diet will be 80% of success or failure, but combine a healthy diet with CrossFit and I’d bet anything you start to look better, get stronger, and feel better within 30 days.
However, if you eat like garbage and do CrossFit, your results will vary. It’s why we preach focusing on your nutrition above all else!
What’s with the girls’ names for workouts? Why do people say things like “We’re doing Mary at CrossFit today!”? CrossFit has what are called “benchmark workouts” with female names (they also have “Hero WODs” named for fallen military/police/fire personnel). CrossFit’s reasoning is this:
“…anything that leaves you flat on your back and incapacitated only to lure you back for more at a later date certainly deserves naming.” (CF Journal – Issue 13, September 2003)
GREAT community aspect. Unlike a commercial gym, you actually get to know the people at your box. Most gyms will have outings that a LOT of people show up to. There’s always that feeling of teamwork and camaraderie.
Constant coaching and support – In a commercial gym you have no clue if you’re doing an exercise right or not. While it’s not 1:1 training, you have a coach with you during every workout to help out.
If you don’t show up, not only do people notice, but they call you and ask where you’ve been. The only time that happens in a commercial gym is when you miss a session with your overpaid trainer.
Leveling up – Because you get to keep track of how much you’re lifting, and you know how many reps and sets you’re doing, you get to see constant improvement. You also get to advance at your own pace, slowly working your way up towards doing the workouts as prescribed.
Humbling yet encouraging – Yeah, you might end your workout lying on your back, but you have a sense of accomplishment when you finish a workout faster than last time.
Competition – It’s amazing how much further you’ll push yourself when surrounded by other people cheering you on and competing with you.
It introduces SO MANY people to weight lifting, especially women who would have never ever attempted to get off the treadmill and strength train. It’s like a gateway workout – you learn what you love and can specialize further from there.
It’s a good outlet for former athletes who like to compete. After playing competitive sports through high school and college, all of a sudden there’s nothing left to compete in – CrossFit gives people that outlet.
You get to find out what you’re made of. CrossFit can be miserable, but it can also teach you how to push through mental barriers, build mental toughness and more.
It builds hot bodies. While so many women say they want that “toned” look and try to get it with hours of cardio, those bodies are being built every day in CrossFit gyms. Seriously, while their goal is performance rather than aesthetics, take a look at any serious CrossFit female athlete and tell me she doesn’t look incredible!
It builds good muscular endurance and all-around fitness – your body is prepared for pretty much any athletic situation through smart CrossFit programming.
Not great for specialization – You kind of get good at a lot of things, but not great at any one particular thing. If you want to be a great powerlifter or athlete, you’d be better suited finding a sport-specific coach.
Lack of consistency – You rarely do the same workout twice, which makes it incredibly difficult to track your progress. You might go down one week on squat strength and be disappointed, but it’s because you destroyed your legs two days earlier with 150 “wall balls.”
Odd programming – As you’ll read in another critique later in this article, I don’t agree with some of the workouts that are prescribed at some CrossFit gyms. For example, some workouts might call for high reps of snatches; these are an Olympic lift that require perfect form in order to be done successfully. Doing 30 reps of them is a sure-fire way to sacrifice form and dramatically increase the risk for injury.
Price – CrossFit boxes can be two or three times the monthly cost of a commercial gym, and this is just for the group classes, not use of the facilities any time you want.
A bad coach can REALLY cause problems – You’re doing advanced moves that often take months of learning to do right; with heavy weights, this can lead to horrible injuries. Make sure you have a great coach that doesn’t rush you into anything!
Almost everything is for time or most reps possible, which means form starts to slip in order to finish quicker. This can be fixed with a coach…but I still find it to be an issue.
You start to talk a language nobody understands – talking to a CrossFitter is like talking to somebody in a foreign language. CrossFit people oftentimes forget that nobody outside of CF understands what half the stuff they say means, so they shout out achievements or accomplishments and explain how quickly they did specific exercises…but they don’t realize nobody really cares!
You can get addicted! This can go in either Pro or Con depending on how you look at it, but I know many people that started going to a CrossFit and now all they do or talk about is CrossFit. After a month or two, for better or worse, you might find yourself married to your CrossFit gym and community.
Some CrossFitters drink WAYYY too much “kool-aid.” You’ll run into CrossFit people who think CrossFit is the be-all, end-all training solution, and anybody that doesn’t do CrossFit is a wuss. If you can do 20 pull ups, they can do 22, and do them faster than you, after doing 25 handstand push ups and running 400 meters. I tend to dislike elitists no matter what they are elitist about, and CrossFit is no exception.
Other Critiques and Articles
If you’re new to CrossFit, you might not know that it is an INCREDIBLY polarizing topic.
If you have 15 minutes to kill, a quick look at this anti-Crossfit timeline (created by a person who truly dislikes CrossFit) will explain why so many people are pissed off about it.
We’ve tracked down a few other articles, some biased, some not, that explain a lot of the background and why CrossFit is the way it is.
I LOVED this critique of CrossFit by 70’s Big, which I found to be incredibly fair and very objective. The fact that the author starts with “Note: Read ALL of this before attacking me” goes to show you how hardcore some CrossFitters can be.
Although long, this article does a GREAT job explaining why CrossFit is the way it is, coming from a guy who has a CrossFit II certification and spent a few months following the main site workouts. This paragraph sums up the appeal of CrossFit:
CrossFit can be fun, especially if you’re a person who hasn’t done anything physically challenging since playing sports, or ever. Athletes enjoy it because it because it provides that difficulty that their training did. Unathletic people like it because it makes them feel athletic.
People who never had good social group experiences like it because, even if they are crazy, CF communities are always positive, supportive, and good-natured. CF brings people together and makes them compete every day in a society that shies away from competition. The challenge creates a heightened sense of self worth that develops into being an elitist..
…The forum addicts are proud of the fact that they think other populations can’t do what they can do. They revel in the fact that they got injured doing CF. They want to push so hard that they vomit. This only reflects a certain percentage of the CF population, yet the worst part of any population will create the stereotype.
I have a few problems with CrossFit. The conditioning often doesn’t apply an optimal stress and it’s superfluous. It doesn’t have any real element of consistent strength training…It has entirely too much frequency at high intensity and almost always results in injury.
It doesn’t follow a logical application of stress to induce adaptation…but CrossFit gets people to do something rather than nothing. It also gets the exercising population to do something better than 45 minutes on the elliptical.
…It’s a nice gateway into other forms of training and the people are always great.
This T-Nation article also does a solid job of explaining the potential pitfalls of CrossFit and tracks down some big names to give their input:
Alwyn Cosgrove notes that this “all over the place” programming can be dangerous: “A recent CrossFit workout was 30 reps of snatches with 135 pounds. A snatch is an explosive exercise designed to train power development.
Thirty reps is endurance. You don’t use an explosive exercise to train endurance; there are more effective and safer choices.
Another one was 30 muscle-ups. And if you can’t do muscle-ups, do 120 pull-ups and 120 dips. It’s just random; it makes no sense. Two days later the program was five sets of five in the push jerk with max loads. That’s not looking too healthy for the shoulder joint if you just did 120 dips 48 hours ago.”
Mike Boyle adds, “I think high-rep Olympic lifting is dangerous. Be careful with CrossFit.”
First, I’m obviously a fan of CrossFit. I do it on a regular basis and have my CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certificate, but I didn’t start out with CrossFit and it’s not all I do – so don’t think I’m completely biased here 🙂
I think if you find the right box, CrossFit is an awesome choice for a lot of people.
It’s different every day, so it’s never boring, someone is writing your workouts for you so you don’t have to think about it, and it’s fun.
When I don’t show up, people notice and ask where I was.
It gets you to do things you wouldn’t do on your own. I would never go running or rowing on my own – but if it’s in the WOD, I don’t have a choice.
Also, I’ll go and do things that I would never do before (such as yoga classes, or spending a Saturday afternoon doing hill sprints) because I know it will help me get a better time on a WOD later on.
My biggest issue with CrossFit is that it has no quality control across the boxes – all you need to start an affiliate is to pass the CF-L1 course and pay a $3000 affiliate fee, and once you are affiliated there are no check-ins or anything; you just have to pay the fee every year.
I have now been to 13 CrossFit gyms in my travels and while most of them were great, the quality of a few of them scared me. I would absolutely love to see CrossFit take some of the money they are making now that it’s becoming more mainstream and invest in a quality control system.
I personally struggle on a regular basis because I’m much more interested in heavy strength training than anything else – and I’m one of those people who really likes seeing very linear graphs and results to my training, and I do want to specialize. I have a very hard time creating workout plans because with CrossFit, you never know what’s coming next.
I’m lucky enough to have a coach that will work with me and will also let me do my own strength training and work the WODs around that.
Does it work? Well, what’s your goal? If it’s to get in better shape or to lose weight, then yes, it works. However, it’s not some cure-all magic pill – as with any other training program, you will get out of it what you put into it.
So do I think you should try it? Of course, if you want to and aren’t afraid of putting in a little work to get what you want.
And here are my thoughts. I’m just a nerd who happens to love strength training and is the goofball who wrote this article:
I understand the appeal, and I love the community aspect of it…but it’s just not for me.
I like feeling like I just had a great workout, but I don’t enjoy feeling like I want to die at the end of each workout – I know that’s how I’d feel at the end of each CrossFit workout because of my competitiveness.
The biggest reason for me why I’m not a CrossFitter? Well, other than my crazy travel schedule… I LOVE working out alone. I know at CrossFit I’d be part of a team workout and constantly ripping myself for not being as good as the guy next to me.
From a programming standpoint, I don’t agree with some of the workouts (mostly the high-repetition Olympic lifting), but I understand that there are GREAT CF trainers that create amazing programs.
For those of you keeping track at home (thanks Staci for reminding me), CrossFit does in fact pass all rules of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion!
I love that it gets people started with barbell training and heavy lifting, because nothing makes me happier than watching guys doing proper squats and women doing deadlifts 🙂
Like with anything related to fitness, a good coach can be the difference between a great CrossFit experience and a dangerous one.
I wish it wasn’t so prohibitively expensive, but I understand why it is (everything is groups taught by coaches). Even so, most CrossFit gyms have no problem filling their classes. I’d guess a HUGE portion of CrossFitters would cut out anything else in their life other than give up.
I think everybody should try it (your first trip will be free) and decide if it’s for you. If you decide it isn’t for you – that’s okay! I’ll admit that CrossFit isn’t for me and I have no intentions of ever joining a CrossFit gym, but I don’t have any problems with others doing it if they enjoy it and they’re safe.
However, when the day comes that I open Nerd Fitness gyms (and it’ll happen), I’m going to be taking a LOT from CrossFit on how to build a great, supportive gym environment and community…something you won’t find at any commercial gym.
My final advice: If you’re interested, give it a shot. If you can afford it, and you enjoy it, keep doing it. If you don’t or can’t afford it, don’t. And don’t feel like less of a person because of it 🙂 I’ll still like you.
Any More questions about CrossFit?
Good lord that took a while.
Thanks for taking the time to get through it, as it took Staci and I a few weeks of research, hours of writing, and LOTS of back and forth conversations to put this post together.
If you have read this far, I commend you.
If you are currently thinking, “I like the idea of CrossFit and strength training, but I don’t know if I’m ready to jump in,” I got you covered.
There’s nothing worse than hating exercise, or wondering if you’re even exercising correctly!
You just read 6,000 words about CrossFit which means you’re probably serious about taking your physical fitness into your own hands, and you want to make sure you get results to match your efforts!
It’s the reason we launched our online coaching program, where we pair NF Coaches with busy people like you: we create your workout programs, we provide video form checks so we can make sure you’re doing each movement correctly, and we help you get your nutrition in order to line up with your goals.
You can book a free call with our team over on the coaching page by clicking the image below to see if our coaching program can help you safely and enjoyably reach your goals!
[“Overwhelmed and not sure how to get started? Get a hand-crafted workout plan and nutritional advice made for YOU from the NF Coaching Program”]
If you’re a longtime fan of the Backstreet Boys, you’ll ever love or truly hate this.
The longtime boy band joined Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show to promote their just-landed album DNA on Thursday night.
But of course, most fans will know the BSB from their back catalogue of hits, in particular 1997’s “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).”
Watching AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell dress up in chicken suits as the “Bawkstreet Boys” to cluck the words of their iconic pop song will either delight, enrage or sadden you. But the dudes look like they have fun, and I guess if you can’t laugh at yourself… Read more…