CrossFit as Church?!

By | September 3, 2019

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello, everyone. Welcome, welcome, welcome. It’s so lovely to
have you all here. My name is Casper ter Kuile. I’m a fourth year
graduate student here at the Harvard Divinity School. So welcome. If you’ve never– who’s never
been to the Divinity School before? Wow. What a lovely thing
to have you all here. Yeah, that deserves
a round of applause. I see [? Lindsey– ?]
yes, welcome. It’s great to have you all here. For those of you who don’t know,
bathrooms are just downstairs. If there’s a fire or
some sort of emergency, we all have to go out that side
of the building onto the green. Yes. Here we are. I’m going to let Angie do some
general kind of background to this event, and then
I’ll introduce Greg. But I just wanted to
say a quick thank you. We’ve had an amazing
team bring together not only this event,
but everything that’s happening this weekend. So thank you to Lou
and Amanda, Katie, [? Lindsey, ?] and [? Sarah. ?]
I think that’s everyone. But I’m going to hand over to
my colleague and friend Angie to kind of give a
little bit of background as to why we’re all here. Thank you. Can you all hear me? OK. So to provide some
context for this event, more than two years
ago, Casper and I started mapping a landscape
that we didn’t have a name for. And the vague language
we were using for it was communities where
people are finding a meaningful
experience of belonging that are not religious. And we started populating
this spreadsheet over the course of a year. And then we started
having conversations. And we had conversations with
about 25 community leaders. And at a certain point,
we turned to each other and we said, we have to
share what we’re hearing, because what we’re
hearing is so consistent. Across communities
that are doing things from supporting each other
through grief and loss, to art space
community development, to physical fitness, we are
hearing about the same six themes. And those themes were, broadly,
personal transformation, social transformation,
accountability, creativity, purpose finding, and community. Did I forget any? No, that was all six. OK, amazing. And so we gathered a
lot of that information and put it together
in this little report called “How We Gather.” And throughout
that whole process, the community that came up
again and again and again was CrossFit. And so we’re really
thrilled to be able to have Greg here today. And also, as Casper
mentioned, we’re having a gathering
this weekend with 50 of the leaders of
the communities that were both in “How We
Gather” and that we’ve come into a relationship with since. And so it’s really
exciting to be able to kick off that weekend
together with this event. So I hardly need to
introduce CrossFit, because I can see the
kind of muscly arms in the audience,
which, trust me, is not usual for
the Sperry Room. And it’s a little intimidating. I am– my boyfriend
and I signed up to start CrossFit in
about three weeks’ time. So hopefully in a couple– like, give me a couple months,
and then I’ll be with you. But it’s– I kind
of– so nonetheless, for those of you who
don’t know the story, I’ll just give you
a little glimpse. Greg Glassman is the
co-founder of CrossFit, a fitness movement now
of 13,000 affiliate gyms, or boxes, as we
should call them, and at least 4 million
people working out together every week. So this is no small thing. Greg opened up the first
gym in 1995, in Santa Cruz, in California, and
started, where the workout of
the day is posted. So this is a workout
everyday that everyone all over the world does together. So you can start to see the
kind of liturgical elements. That was set up in 2001. And you know, Greg speaks very
often about fitness and health, and even the kind of
business, organizational side of the work that he does,
but not often enough, I think, about the community. So that was one of the
reasons he was happy to come, because even on the
website, CrossFit says, “CrossFit is also
a community that spontaneously arises when people
do these workouts together. In fact, the communal
aspect of CrossFit is a key component of
why it’s so effective.” And I recently
read Greg say this in an interview, which really
struck me, because there’s the stereotype, right? CrossFit, you’re kind of
evangelical participants. And Greg said, “Well, we keep
being asked, are you a cult? And after a while I
realized, maybe we are. This is an active, sweating,
loving, breathing community. It’s not an insult
to a CrossFitter to be called part of
a cult. Discipline, honesty, courage,
accountability– what you learn in the gym
is also training for life. CrossFit makes better people.” So I thought we’d
start with that. Greg, welcome. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for coming out. You know, I– is it my turn? Yeah, it’s your turn. You go. I told friends,
family, staff, that I had been invited to come speak
at Harvard Divinity School. And I got the same
response from everyone. It was three quick questions. What? You? And why? It was easy. What? I’ve been invited to
Harvard Divinity School. And you? Yeah, me. The why part, I don’t– I’m not so sure. That one is– that’s harder. But I think it’s
important that I’m here. And I really wanted to be here. I want to start with this. I thought this was brilliant– really, really important. And if you don’t have it,
you’ve got to get one. It’s “How We Gather.” These are the authors. So they challenged me. And they also leveled
a wonderful compliment. They said that
CrossFit epitomized three of the themes– and that was your
word, epitomized– well, they all did. Each of your test
cases epitomized. But CrossFit epitomized
a combination of personal transformation,
accountability, and community. And I thought about
that, because, see, when people write
about us, I read it, and then kind of
in the background, I’m trying to find out– I want to show that you’re
wrong, you don’t understand. Well, you did. You got it. You nailed it. And I thought that
was really cool. But something happened next. Because I’m a competitive
guy, I wondered why we didn’t get the other three. What about creativity,
purpose finding, and social transformation? So I went through and looked
at the others that had that and just hated on them. [LAUGHTER] And so one of the
things I want to do is I want to pick up the
creativity and purpose finding and social
transformation, so we’re the only one that has all
six, because I think we’re perfect candidates for it. I really do. So and you said in
this thing that you wanted to start a
conversation with those leading the organization. So yeah, here I am. Here I am. And thank you for that. You said that we hope that
these organizations begin to see themselves as part
of a broader cultural shift towards deeper community. OK. Yeah. I think that’s happening. I think that’s happening. And I appreciate you
suggesting the potential there. You said, as it becomes
increasingly popular to build mindful, values-driven, socially
responsible organizations, we hope leaders
recognize the importance of striving to master
these skills themselves. And I appreciated that,
too, very much so. Something happened wonderfully
here, for all of us, for the CrossFit community. And the healing, I think,
is at the heart of it– the wellness, the improved
physical capacity, the increased bone density,
the decreased body fat, the reduced resting heart rates,
all of these wonderful things that you can metric. And then there’s even maybe
the more wonderful things that you can’t metric, right? Mood and confidence and all
of that, and the community. But in dealing with
looking at this and looking at your challenges
and coming to see who we are, a couple of things hit me. And one is is that those
of you who know CrossFit know we’re locked in a
legal battle with the NSCA, trying to expand it to the ACSM. And all these people are
soda funded, and soda funded very handsomely. And we’ve become the
anti-soda people. And we’re leading the
anti-soda movement, and we’re proud to do so. So thank you. Yeah, that deserves
a round of applause. [APPLAUSE] Soda is a toxin. It’s a pediatric toxin for sure. The science is solid on it. And the American
Beverage Association is lobbying and legislating and
perverting science, academics, and industry. And we’re making
it a corporate goal to drive the American
Beverage Association and its constituent members
out of the health sciences, out of sports medicine,
out of fitness. And it’s– and this is me
answering your hope that we would take these organizations
and address other issues. So I want to get this social
transformation merit badge. Tick. OK. Now we’ve got four. When you win, Greg. When you win. Well, you know what? We are winning. I tweeted first about the
Global Energy Balance Network on the 15th. We were the source for Anahad
O’Conner’s story in the New York Times. I mean, we’ve really
tipped something over and got it rolling here. And we’re going to
be feeling out– we’re going to do an amicus
curiae for the American Beverage Association versus
The City of San Francisco. And we’re working with the
University of California, San Francisco Medical School,
and the City of San Francisco Department of Health. And we’re going to attack
the soda companies. We’re going on a nine-stop
tour in key Senate districts in the state of California,
and bringing all the affiliates to bear. And we’re going to support
California Senate Bill 203, which is going to put
a label on the can that says that the contents of this
can produce obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes. And so they’ve earned that. It needs to be on there. And when it happens in
California, and it will– it might take a few years. Maybe we can do it this year. But we’re making nine stops
in critical Senate committee staffers that are on
the fence on this issue. We’ve got to get it out
of the Health Committee. If it gets out the Health
Committee, it’s going to pass. And after that, we’re going
to come to Massachusetts. And we’re going to be
looking for help from people that think that there’s
something wrong with the soda deal. But something else has
happened, interestingly, that I want to
share, that I think is exactly related to this. And to do so, I’m going to
introduce Dr. Axel Pflueger right here. Put your hand up, sir. Dr. Pflueger is a
PhD pharmacologist. He’s a board certified
heart surgeon. He’s board certified
in internal medicine. He is board certified
in nephrology. He was director of
diabetes treatment and chronic disease at the
Mayo Clinic for 16 years. I think 14 of those
years, you were number one in the world for
diabetes care and treatment. He’s quickly become
a dear friend. He contacted me a few
months ago and he says, I have a proposal for
you that I think you’re going to find very interesting. And I told him, well, doc,
you had me at nephrology. Our anti-soda thing
has made us friends with a lot of
nephrologists very quickly. I thought maybe he had a
commercial project, something that was a business proposal. I wasn’t sure, but
I wanted to hear. But he didn’t. The news he came with,
what he wanted to tell us, he wanted– it started
he gave us a crash course in chronic disease. And I’m going to
give it to you now. And I hate to have to share
your thoughts in front of you with everyone here, but I think
I can do it reasonably well. Chronic disease is the cause
of about 70% of the deaths globally. It’s true of the United States. It’s true of developing nations. It is a trend that’s
happening everywhere. So we’re going to lose 1.5
million Americans next year. 1.2 of them will die prematurely
from chronic disease. And this includes diabetes,
obesity, coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s,
and some cancers. Fair enough, doc? Am I close? He says, here’s what
the science shows. And this is CDC, World
Health Organization. All the science is
perfectly clear on this. There are only three known
causes to chronic disease. Three– smoking,
inactivity, and a poor diet. And he says, but
that’s the solution– that’s the problem, right? We’ve got to fix that. And but the problem is that it
requires some lifestyle changes that people won’t make in solo. They’re unlikely to,
sitting by themselves. And what was needed, and
been needed for a long time, was a fitness movement
that formed community that would grow virally. That was his hope. And he found it,
and he came to us. And so again, for my social
transformation merit badge– [LAUGHTER] –I’m going to harness the
energies of our community, all my lovely affiliates
and trainers here, and we’re going to take on
chronic disease headlong. And we’re going to
shift the discussion from how many
affiliates will there be some day, to me trying to– I have no sense of that. I’m not trying to
build affiliates. If there was never another
one, I’m OK with that. If people don’t
have the interest, they don’t have the interest. It’s not– my soul isn’t tied
to how many affiliates we have. But we’re going to do this work. We’re going to make
this difference. And where the question
reframes, and now it becomes, we need more gyms until the
chronic disease is gone. How long would it take
to reduce that number? Instead of 70% of
deaths, make it 30%. And how many– and I do believe,
and the doctors helped me see this now– I’ve said it before, but
now I really feel it, that the CrossFit
gyms are perfect. They’re perfect chronic
disease fighters. I mean, it’s an ideal set-up. I wouldn’t change the exercise. I wouldn’t change the
dietary recommendations. I wouldn’t change
the camaraderie, the community, the support
network, nor the fees. It all is just working
perfectly well. And so Dr. Axel Pflueger,
that’s exciting to me. Now, purpose, the other merit
badge that we didn’t get– clearly, with the
goal of doing what we want in fighting soda and
fighting chronic disease– and look, what we’re
fighting is the net result and the single largest
purveyor of it, right? But in the everyday box,
what happens in my gyms– affiliates hands up. Yeah. I know almost all of you. Let me tell you something
about these people. They are having an impact
on their membership that very few professionals
will ever have. It is profound. And we impact every
aspect of our clients’ being, every aspect– physical, psychological,
social, emotional, spiritual. It’s all impacted and
all impacted favorably, in a way that your psychiatrist,
your physician, your dentist, your doctor, your lawyer,
clergy are unlikely to match, unlikely to match. So I know what it’s like
to unlock those doors and have that impact on people. And the purpose,
I was explaining to Angie that it accumulates. You know, your first six
months with your doors open, you get a little weight loss. And you know, people
are feeling better. But with our affiliates that
have had their doors open five years, there’s
about an 85% chance that you’ve had
100-pound weight loss. And that’s a miracle
of a transformation. Talk about personal
transformation. That’s one that hardly anyone
could imagine that hadn’t been through it themselves. And then the last merit
badge, creativity, that’s going to be a hard one. But I do think that there
is enormous opportunity for creativity. And I want to find
better and better ways to engage the community
and do the kinds of things that we need to do, given
the goals that we have. I came up with
one just recently. The people at UC San
Francisco Medical School– we were there at UC San
Francisco Medical School Department of Public Health,
Global Health Initiatives Division. And that includes Dr. Lustig,
the esteemed pediatric endocrinologist. But we were there
working with them, and they were explaining to us
the effort at UC San Francisco to remove soda from
the broader campus. They have 65 buildings
and 30,000 employees. And they were selling
$5 million dollars worth of soda pop every year. It took two years
for these people out of the school of
medicine to get the soda out, but it’s gone. You cannot buy a Coke
at any of the hospitals, any of the units, any
the dorms, anywhere. There is no place where
you can buy soda now. And they’re really
proud of that. I talked to my pediatrician. I think this is creative. I talked to her about it. She went and told Harry
Rady, who is the– it’s Rady’s Children’s
Hospital in San Diego. They’re huge, a lot of
locations, big buildings. And he’s ready to take
soda out of his hospitals. And so I’m going to have this
pediatrician travel around to every children’s hospital
in the United States, and we’re going to
get the soda out. And that’s such an easy
thing to do, such a fun thing to do, I think, one at a time. And their argument
goes like this. I mean, this was the
simple discussion we had with Dr. Rady– that it’s hard to believe that
sugar is a pediatric toxin when you can buy it in the cafeteria
at the children’s hospital. But it is a pediatric toxin, and
so you can’t sell it anymore. And I don’t think anyone’s
going to fight us on that. I think we’re going to
be able to get that done. And for those that
don’t want to play, we’ll just run full-page
ads and explain to everyone what they’re doing. Right? That’s the accountability. Yeah. Right. Right. Hey, accountability was
interesting on there. And again, I’m just trying to
have the conversation with you. But you would talk about
one’s self and others to define goals. It’s interesting. For us, that the accountability
is a little different. We’ve quantified
the performance. And that has an accountability
in the sense of accounting, that I can give specific
force, distance, and time. I can give numbers
to your efforts. You did this workout and
you took this much time. And the accountability
looks like, no, Casper, that was 20 reps, not 21. And where were you yesterday? I’ll be thrilled if I
get 20, let me tell you. Oh, you’re going to do fine. You’re going to do fine. Where are you going? Where are you going to join? Well, now that I know all
the affiliates are here, I’m going to see who
gives me the best offer. [LAUGHTER] What else? Well, one– well, Angie, I think
you had the first question. Oh, sure. Well, following on
what you just said, I had a good conversation
with Brian right before we were up
here, and he was saying how in the
CrossFit boxes, you’re not trying
to change beliefs, but you are changing behaviors. Yes. And you and I were talking
about belief a bit, and the way that belief operates in
religious communities, in your view, and the way
that it functions at CrossFit. So I’m wondering if you
could share a little bit about the status of belief. Yeah. You know, I would
have the client that has me sitting down– there’s the type that
you’d have to explain about delta-5 desaturase and
omega-6 fatty acid metabolism flowcharts, give the detailed
justification for everything you’re doing. And that’s the kind of
person, do you have a card? No. Well, let me get
your number down. And you run into
them six months later and you have to do
the same lecture. And it’s like, it’s
never going anywhere. They’re never going
to come to the gym. So after a while, and
someone would say to me, what’s CrossFit? I’d be like, well, what do
you do on Monday morning? I want to show them. And I want to say as
little as possible, other than just getting to know
you and have that interaction and get you moving. But what’s really
interesting is that in our community,
what happens is that the rationale, the
belief, the understanding comes on the trail
of the results. And you don’t have
to do any twisting or convincing at that point. So once a guy has
lost 50 pounds of fat and picked up 20
pounds of muscle, he feels a self-anointed
expert on omega-6 fatty acid metabolism flowcharts,
and you know, inflammatory versus non-inflammatory
eicosanoids, and they actually start
lecturing on that stuff, which is really funny,
because no one ever came to the table because of that. And the talking’s too much. And so we– what is CrossFit? Well, it’s constantly varied,
high intensity functional movement. And if you’d say that to
someone in an elevator, you’re blowing it, because
it really conveys nothing. Right. Right. But once you’ve been
CrossFitting a few years, it has deep meaning to you. You understand it. And the same people
do the same thing. They didn’t come into
the explanations. They got tricked by a
friend, lured by a trainer, someone saying
just come with me. Or then there’s those
that like, I want a body like hers or like his. You know, I’m
seeing what’s going. I never liked that
girl, but look at her. Wow, I’m going to the gym– you know, some of that stuff. I don’t know where
this is going. Well, I think you leave
us at the point where I want to jump in, which is if
I was someone who was thinking critically about what
you were just saying, and, OK, so people
are changed physically and they build community and
they might find a purpose, maybe taking action
around the soda issue. Let’s say my mom passes away. Am I– who– am I going
to call the trainer? Like, how much of church
can be replicated, and is that even what
you’re trying to do? There’s no attempt,
and it’s there in a huge way, a huge way. And you know, with
13,000 affiliates, we’ve seen a lot of tragedy. We’ve had affiliates– I’ve
had two affiliates murdered in their gyms. I’ve had– we’ve had
a couple of suicides. It’s the nature of 13,000
small businesses, right? We had an affiliate in
Hawaii that hung herself on her pull-up
bar, been troubled with depression her whole life. And the membership hit us up,
like, we don’t know what to do. You know? And so we bought new equipment
and rented them a space and set them up down the road. It was really neat to be
in a position to do that. But no. This community is tight. The tribes are closely allied. And but within the tribe is
where all of the love is. We had an affiliate where the
trainer, as a 45-year-old, had had a– 45-year-old female had
some kind of spinal infarct that left her with a
significant amount of paralysis. And it happened while
she was driving. She crashed her car
and was hurt there. By the time we found
out what was going on, the membership had
gone to the school and picked up her
15-year-old son, were there at the hospital. They had bought her a new car. And they wanted us
to come out when she came back into the gym. You know, this is a– and all my affiliates,
everyone here, knows exactly what
I’m talking about. I think it’s something
we love and it’s something we appreciate,
but we take it for granted, because it’s just who we are. There’s a powerful selective
force on the community, on the 4 million people
that do CrossFit. The holy grail for my
industry has, I think, always been five minutes a
day and without really getting your heart rate up or any sweat,
you’re going to get fit, right? The Thighmaster notion–
while watching TV. And well, it’s BS. It doesn’t work that way. To get supremely fit,
it’s extremely hard. It’s extremely uncomfortable. For the most part, it’s
fun only when it’s over. That’s the truth of it. And even if you don’t come in
through the door understanding that, you learn that. The physical domain,
the physical province is the ideal place to
teach tougher lessons. The things I can teach
you in the gym– you know, if you have trouble
making it to the gym and trying some
pull-ups, you’re going to find emotional control,
spiritual control, intellectual control–
you know, I think the journey to
self-mastery begins in the physical province,
because that is the easiest place both to impart
essential lessons of success and it’s the easiest
place to absorb them. You just– for
like, kids, I mean, that’s what PE class should
be about– kids, about them getting activity and learning
about success, learning how to achieve. And where does
achievement come from? Blood, sweat, tears,
and other bodily fluids, and lots and lots of
frustration, exasperation. And the CrossFit community,
the CrossFitters, they’re pre-selected for some
of that, I believe. But certainly over time,
they get it beat into them. And so a CrossFitter is more
likely to want to study physics than, say, pick your favorite
fun major at the party school. And they’re more likely to– they’re not looking
for the easy way out ever, because they
know that good things only come through the hard way. And so all the thieves are gone. We don’t have any
thieves in our community. Every year at the game,
someone loses a wallet. Every year at the game,
the wallet is found. The cards are there
and so is the money. So when I heard this time– I tell the [INAUDIBLE],,
I want to know when someone’s lost a wallet,
because I want to tell them it’s going to show up. And it does. It does, every time. We can leave
valuables in our gym. Any of your members have keys? A third of my
membership had keys. Anyone that wanted a key
to the gym could have it. The thieves are gone. The people looking for
short cuts are gone. It’s a beautiful community. I’m really proud of everybody. Awesome. Well I know there are lots
of questions in the room. So let’s open it up. I’m going to ask if Lou
has that roving microphone. Thank you so much, Lou. Well, you’re right next to
Lou, so let’s start with you. What a fantastic idea. Is this on? Just give us a
second for the mic. You’re talking a lot about the– I’m a CrossFitter
for three years. And I find, more
than physical, I find it almost
like a meditation, because of the
counting that we do. It’s one hour of the day that
I don’t think about anything but what I’m doing there,
because you have to count. Yeah. Yeah. [LAUGHTER] No, it’s true. You know more than anybody. Because if you don’t count
four push-ups and 16, and how many rounds,
you are lost. Yeah. It’s, for me, I go every
day at 6:30 in the morning. And I make myself take
a day off once a week. But for me, it’s like going
to a church or something. I go in the snow, in the ice. It’s fabulous. I’m the oldest one in my box. Thank you for that. They love you, too, don’t they? I know they do. But isn’t it part of your– I mean, why did you do it
with the numbers, counting? Did you have a purpose? No. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, I just got lucky. I had never had– you
know, like the 21, 15, and nine kind of
things, and you know– We count all the time. Yeah. Yeah. Look, you know, human
performance is movement. All movement has– if
you’re going to make sense, if you’re going to
talk sensibly about it, you need to resolve it
to the fundamental units of kinematics. You have no choice–
force, distance, and time. To do that correctly
requires counting, or we won’t be able to
resolve the thing down to kinematic fundamentals. You’ve got to be
able to count reps. It would help to
know what you weigh. And it would be nice to know
what the bar and the plates weighed. It would be nice to know
what the range of motion was on the activity, and
how long did it take. And I’m out of
things that matter. And so the numerical part
is an essential feature. Look what we’ve replaced. We’re replacing body building
and/or long distance effort. The long distance effort
was always judged, how many miles did
you do last week? And check it out. You know, I ran 15
miles last week. Was that over 15 hours? 40 hours? You know? I still don’t have any
valuable information. It’s kinematically incomplete. And the body builders
are over there measuring biceps and their
waists and stuff, you know? And we’re not doing
physics there yet. So both of those things
were technically, scientifically,
profoundly misguided. And so the result of
that, two things happen. One is that you
get better results, and the other thing
is you have to count. Yeah. Thank you for what you’re doing. Hi. Thank you so much for coming. So– What’s your name? Excuse me. My name’s Karen. Hi, Karen. So a lot of
criticism of CrossFit sort of entails
its risk of injury, this timed notion to what
is very high intensity, highly functional movement. And of course, I
know how important form is, things like that. But I’m wondering if you think
that such a strong community can play a role in maybe pushing
someone past their limits? And in this
competitive nature, do you think that someone
might try so hard to fit in that they get a herniated disk? Things like that. What role do you think
community plays in that? I think that’s
entirely possible. I think it’s also likely
that on Thanksgiving Day, you can grab the
basketball and go out in the front yard with a
bunch of cousins and uncles, and someone to break
a leg, you know? And it might be the same
thing– you overdid it. You know? But the truth of
the matter is this, that we have done 50
seminars at Fort Stewart for the 3rd Infantry Division. And the number of
people that we have run through in our
spec ops, SOCOM, and other communities,
this program has been implemented
officially in scores of military organizations. And I’ll just use the language
of General Abrams, who just got his fourth star, and
has a million and a half men in his command. He says, we use
CrossFit to fix people. And that’s exactly right. Can someone get hurt
through an activity? Of course. But I don’t have the injury
rate of the marathon. I don’t have the injury
rate of a triathlon. We’ve had no EAHE deaths. I’m not seeing anything like
what we see in football. We’re saving lives, and
saving a lot of them. 350,000 Americans are going to
die from sitting on the couch next year– from sitting on the couch. You know? That’s dangerous. The TV is dangerous. Squatting isn’t. You know? So– Amen. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. I just want to pick up
on the military thing, and then let’s go– And I want to add one
thing to that, too. Someone said to me,
I had a reporter, they go, well, you know,
I just, I don’t believe– and I know you’re
going to say otherwise, but I don’t think
CrossFit is for everyone. And I said, hm, OK. But this is true–
it’s for anyone. What do you mean by
that difference, Greg? Everyone means that
the lazy people that want the short path,
they won’t be there. But I don’t care if you– congenital, quadruple
amputation, and Kyle Maynard, or you know, I mean,
we’ve seen it all. If this is something you want
to do, we’re there for you. We’re there for you. I want to emphasize
what really struck us when we were kind of
researching the landscape was the way in which
people were bringing their kids to their box, or
the way that different workouts of the day were
named after soldiers who had died in battle. So there’s all of
these things that you would expect to see in a
church, in some way– you know, remembering the dead,
through some sort of ritual, intergenerational community. As you said, if your
car breaks down– people had stories of meeting
their partner in the box, and moving to be closer to
the box because of that. You know, the parallels
are so striking. And the first place they go
when they move to a new place is to go find the box
in that local area. I had a young lady tell me
that she was an army daughter, and she had tragically
been to four high schools. And she said moving used
to be really hard on her. But she says now what she
does is when she finds out she’s going to move, she finds
the box she’s going to go to and goes right in there. And she goes, within a
week, it feels like I’ve lived here my whole life. Here’s a powerful testimony
to how the fitness is maybe the glue that’s holding
everyone together, but there’s something
even more cohesive, even a stronger glue
than the fitness. One of my favorite
CrossFitters is– who’s our artist
in the wheelchair? I can’t believe I’m
blanking on his name, because he’s a childhood friend. Tommy Hollenstein. He’s a quadriplegic,
but he’s a CrossFitter. And he can kind of use one hand. And from what he
saw at the games, he’s building an apparatus
to work that hand. And he’s all excited
about CrossFit. And he can just do this. He paints with his wheelchair
and does amazing things– an electric wheelchair. But he’s as much one of us
as Rich Froning is, you know? And I love the idea that
I’ve got an artist that’s doing corporate art for us. He painted our floor in our
main office with his wheelchair. And his dog’s footprints
are there that does his– it’s his companion,
his service dog. And I think it’s great
that, if the spirit’s there, even the physical
part doesn’t matter. That’s a quote. We had a gentleman in the
green t-shirt over here. And thanks for bearing
with us with the mic. It just means we can
capture it all on video. Hey, I’m Chris. Thanks. Hi, Chris. Lots of things get cool
very fast for a short period of time, and then flame out. What is going to have
to change for CrossFit to be sustainable long term? I have no idea. And on some level, and
my staff will tell you, I don’t care, either. Why don’t you care? Look, you know, I’ve
got 13,000 affiliates. The first one was
someone else’s idea. The second one was
someone else’s idea. The third one was
someone else’s idea. Now what I’m going to do
is just not screw it up. And so what we do,
what staff does, is we shoot down destructive
ideas all day long. Most of them have some
kind of revenue stream tied to them, something
that I’m going to do to you affiliates
or the trainers to squeeze some revenue. And those ideas just
don’t quit coming. But I want to make
the point, again, that we’re the stewards
of something that was quite spontaneous and natural. And I’m perfectly happy
with what it’s doing. I mean, the miracle will
be surviving this growth. And so I certainly
don’t want anymore. And I don’t need a flood of– I don’t think that a mass
conversion event that brought a flood of new
talent into the boxes would do my affiliates any good. I think you absorb them
at a natural rate that preserves the culture, and
you’re actually bringing on– you don’t want all
newbies in the gym. There’s not much teleological
in what we’re doing. There really isn’t. Yeah. I’m not a traditional
business guy. Say something, Chris. What do you think– [INAUDIBLE]? I mean, you– Can you use the microphone? Sorry, Chris. Thanks. Maybe a better way
to put it is, if you feel like there’s this
unbelievable impact, what– and maybe the short
answer is nothing– what are you doing as an
organization, or as a leader, to make sure that you accomplish
that impact that you do want to have? Because I understand
you don’t care if there’s 26,000 versus
13,000, but you don’t want soda. So you do want to accomplish
something long-term. Oh, you know what? What’s happening in the
boxes is nothing less than a miracle of
physiology and community. That, I’m perfectly
convinced of. And we’re the fastest
growing chain on Earth. And so largely what I
want to do is nothing. You know? I can’t imagine it growing
faster without being dangerous. And I can’t imagine more healing
than what we’re currently seeing. You know, we’ve got one of
the only services you ever offer where my affiliates,
the smart ones, do not even get close to
describing the benefit that’s about to come your way. If I gave you the
list of the things that I know is going to happen,
you wouldn’t believe it. And so I don’t. I wait until you come
tell me, and then I act like I’m surprised. So I think– you know,
look, maybe we’re doing everything wrong, but
I think everything’s perfect. [LAUGHTER] Lady just behind you. Yeah. You get that, Chris? A smart idea could sink us. And especially,
it could be like, it keeps getting described
to me that I could own– the supplement
industry or equipment is just ours for the taking. All I have to do is
require that my affiliates use CrossFit-branded gear. I’d lose some and
I’d sell a whole lot of CrossFit-branded gear. But you know what? It wouldn’t be as good as Rogue
gear, and it would hurt Rogue. And that would make it a sin. And so I’m not going to do that. And so maybe in that respect,
we’re a little bit different. But you know what? I’ve got an essential
relationship with Rogue. And I don’t– as far as I
know, we don’t have a contract. An essential relationship with
them– they’re an affiliate, by the way. They’re an affiliate. It was a guy that was welding
equipment in his garage for his gym, and then started
doing it for other gyms. Now it’s a $350 million
a year business. How do you like that? But this is really important,
because you’re actively choosing to forfeit
huge amount of profit to maintain the rigor and
the special something that is in the community. And I met Greg when he was
speaking at the business school. And it was all about the
case in terms of when– I mean, the whole background
is a little hazy for me. But essentially, where you had– That’s where you
had the co-founder. Right, exactly, the
co-founder situation, where you kind of had to
aggressively buy them out at real financial risk, but
doing it because they wanted– they had a different vision for
selling all sorts of products, as you were mentioning, which
would undercut what was sacred. We were in negotiation
for a purchase of my ex’s half of the community
property, CrossFit, Inc. And we got hoodwinked into a
sudden appearance of Anthos, the venture capital group. And basically what we
had was three weeks to raise $20 million, which
was an absolute impossibility. But it turns out it’s not,
if you’re willing to pay back $36 million. [LAUGHTER] You can get 20 overnight. You know? I want to get to
this lady’s question. Yeah. Hi. Hi. My name’s [? Christie. ?]
And something I think about as a coach a
lot is how to create culture within my gym. So my affiliate’s a
little bit different. It’s all women, here
in the Boston area. And I know each affiliate has
kind of a different culture, or like, stereotype to them. And I think about how that
builds different community. I’m wondering, from
your perspective, what do you think about when
each affiliate is thinking about their culture, how
should we approach that, so that we build the
strongest community we can? You know,
[? Christine, ?] I don’t want to call what I’m going
to tell you a recommendation. I’m not going to go that
far, because you know more about the culture in your
box than I’ll never know. But I can speak to
what I did in my box. And I can also tell
you that I think that’s what almost
everyone else is doing that’s finding success. My clients were my friends. And I blurred that
professional distinction. And a beautiful thing
about being a trainer is that you can blur
that distinction. The things that would be wrong
to do as a shrink, an attorney, or an accountant, we do. I mean, my trainer’s
date their clients. Sorry, but just, it happens. They marry them, too,
and have kids with them. But I lived and hung out
and breathed and played. You know, we would do
weekend bike rides. Every Sunday, we had a bike
ride that was about seven miles and very steep. And it was the least capable
would get up there in, I think it was 45 minutes, and
the most capable in half that. But at the end, we
all met at the top and went down the
hill, the seven miles. That happened very quickly. And we all went to a
local Mexican restaurant, and it was margarita time. And that was the Sunday deal. And I’d say the turnout might
have been 50, 60 people. We just crushed this restaurant. But it was a– give it
your name– a congregation, a club, a community. These are friends. These are friends. And I don’t think that
can be improved on. You listen to the people talk
about the relationships they have in their box, and
they’re not wishing for something different. It’s happening already. So I imagine, I’m going to guess
you already have the answer. Right? Maybe. Are you hanging with them? I mean, do you still feel–
are these like your sisters? Are these your best friends? Yeah, some of them. Definitely. Yeah. I have a couple of them
sitting next to me. Forgive me. Lou, would you be
willing to– there’s a man at the very back
in that corner, which is a little bit of a
workout, but he’s very keen. And after that,
I’m going to come to a particular
Presbyterian minister who’s sitting over there, who
I’m just interested to see what he has to say. I’m not a Presbyterian
minister, but I’m a 2006 grad of this institution,
and a CrossFitter since 2009. And about 4:07, I was
sitting in a coffee shop across the street,
on actually Mass Ave., and I saw that my
box owner, Brian, who is sitting over
there, had just posted that he was going to be here. And I discovered it. And I think I was here
by 4:12, because it’s my prophet at my seminary. However, having said that, I
was never a very religious man until I did CrossFit. And it was problematic, because
I’m also a Jesuit historian. I studied the Jesuits. And I could really
never really get into the spiritual exercises
until I [INAUDIBLE].. And I now am able to see
how that structure functions in a way that I wasn’t
able to do before, because for some reason,
I’m a sort of barbarian when it comes to religion. And I see it. I see that for other
people, the symphony is really quite incredible. But you know, I like to
observe it, but I’m not quite– I don’t quite get in the same
level as some other people do. However, through
physical exercise, I’m capable of doing it. That’s a long way around of
saying that I have one concern. And one concern–
and that concern, it comes also from sort of
American religious history, and that has to do
with competition between local churches,
and the notion that you get the– you
know, religion in America is so vibrant because churches
have competed for a long time. And I definitely– I mean,
community within boxes– I’ve been to member
[INAUDIBLE] to– you know, for two,
three years a member in three different
boxes in three different states, countries. And it’s been a really
important thing for me to join as soon as I’ve
arrived in a new location. However, I am– I’ve noticed– and
perhaps not as much here. It seems like relations are more
amicable between boxes locally. But this is my biggest concern. In the last two locations that I
was at, there were definitely– you know, there was
little love lost for the other
competing local box. And that’s, I think,
in the long term, I’m wondering what
can you do about that? Is there an institutional fix? Because people are
making a living. And that’s the sort of
local situation, where the profit motive comes in. And that’s like, my
sort of biggest concern over the long term. It’s great when you
are in your own box. It’s amazing when you find a
new box somewhere elsewhere in the world or in a country. But the trickiest
situation, I think, is just the relationships
between the local affiliates. What can you do about
that in the long term? Let me just start by
acknowledging the problem. I see it. It’s interesting. My Hawaiian affiliates
hate each other– probably shouldn’t
have said that, but that’s what it
seems like to me. We keep having to settle
Hawaiian affiliate nonsense. Ones in Santa Monica
got something kind of epic going on, too. In Edmonton, Canada, they
honor each other’s memberships, and it’s working for everybody. Yeah, but Canada. [LAUGHTER] Right? Yeah. But you know what? Like, it makes sense. It makes perfect sense. The little guy gets
a flood of people. The guy that’s overcrowded gets
some reducing, some breathing room. And it really has been
good for everybody. That’s how I would roll. I liked other trainers
around me, always. There was no better
way for me to show how good I was than to train
next to someone, anyone else. And so when I have
a landlord tell me, don’t worry, I won’t put a
fitness gym in this complex, I’m like, put up nothing
but that in here. You know? And if I can’t take your
clients, and take them– what? They watch me train and go,
I’m not getting what I could. If I can’t take
your clients, I need to learn something from you. And if I do, you need to
learn something from me. But I wouldn’t– I can’t
imagine fearing the competition. I also know this is true. Everyone can– you
know, you’re very rare to get into a new town, I’m
going to find a CrossFit gym. That’s a veteran, you know? Your boxes are
full of people that were drug in by the other
people that were in your box. That’s where they come from. People drag their friends
and family and loved ones. Bosses, employees,
they bring them in. And a gym will max out at a
couple hundred, 300 people. You’re really, really busy. You’ve got a lot going on. You have a very serious
business underway here. And so yes. How many– and everyone
in there was brought in. And so you can have as
many boxes, I think, as you could Boy Scout
troops, or even churches. And there would be a– it’s just a poverty
of spirit that would have you hating the
guy across the street. You know? But I’ll tell you, too,
I’ve known so many examples where there is friendship
and camaraderie and a healthy competition,
entirely different spirit with the guys across the street. We have an affiliate
in San Diego that’s a church affiliate. And then there’s the non-church
one across the street. And they compete and
play, and it’s really fun. But I’ve heard this story. There’s so many
boxes in my town, and they’re not qualified. They’re not doing good training. They’re getting people hurt. And they’re really busy. And that’s why I don’t
have any clients. We go and look, and what we
find– here is– first of all, I’ll just tell
you what happened. The person’s just
no fun and no one wants to be around them, OK? They’ve learned to blame other
people for their mistakes. They think that the guy
that’s really popular is popular because
he’s hurting people? You know? No. No. What we see when
we hear that, it’s a wildly overestimated sense
of your own capacities. You’re generally no
fun to be around. And it’s probably best if you
just didn’t stay in business. That happens. I’m not going to make a
parallel with ministers and their colleagues, at all. You can’t help but make it, huh? Yeah. [? Burns, ?] I want
to come to you. My name is [? Burns, ?]
and I am, indeed, a Presbyterian pastor. I confess, right there. And did not know a
lot about CrossFit until Casper and Angie
began educating me. I’m fascinated by it all. And I, too, am fascinated
by the merit badges. You know, I want those
as well, I guess. All six. And it may be that
my question has something to do with
the inner connection. I know that as a pastor,
I’m very, very interested in how individuals
develop, and their growth. And I’m not talking about some
of the same metrics you’ve got, but still growth, and
their own benefit. I’m also very, very
much concerned with how they care for each other. And I hear you talk
about the community that happens in these boxes. There is this other piece
where I’m very, very interested in their growth and their
care for others that goes to neighbor,
any neighbor, whoever that might be– you know, the
story of the Good Samaritan. It sounds like you share some
of that concern in your heart. I am curious about
the connections you see between
personal development, caring for people in
your tribe, caring for others not in your tribe. I mean, I hear you commenting
on where you see it or where you don’t see it. What are the connections? What are the connections
you see, in your own box or are others? Like, my development,
what does that– how is that connected
to my community? How does that make possible
further, or get in the way of, love of neighbor? I’m just interested
in those connections. There are two common
testimonials I’d get. One is, I had a
rocky relationship, and since I’ve
been CrossFitting, we’ve patched it up. It’s good. It had been on a bad path,
and now it’s on a great one. Thank you. And I’d get about
an equal number of, I was in a bad relationship,
and I finally left. And I wouldn’t have done
it without CrossFit. And in both instances, it
sounds like a really good thing has happened. I’m sorry, in the corner
there, what was your name? Larry. Larry? Yeah. Yeah. I was hearing from you a kind
of refined version of my belief that the more advanced,
most important lessons can best be taught
in the physical province. I think you did that
to yourself, perhaps. I have operators that tell
me of worst case scenarios– spec ops guys, you know,
Delta Force, SEALS– talking about being on ops where
things are going just wrong. And they are writing
me to let me know, I thought of CrossFit and
you, and it made me laugh. And I’ve heard
that so many times, that there’s something there. There’s some kind of
stress inoculation that comes out of
the [INAUDIBLE].. So I would expect there’s a
hormonal component to this. The doctor might even have a– do you hear this, Axel? What are the relationships
between a healthy body and a fully functioning brain? It has to be immense, right? It can’t be that this
is the only organ system that it isn’t
dramatically enhanced through activity. In fact, we know it’s not. Yeah. I think you alluded earlier,
the thieves are gone. I mean, I think that
speaks for itself. I mean, it makes people, in a
sense, grow in good attributes. And you know, I can’t
comment how that reaches out for the nonmembers or– but I think that is
a strong testimony. And I think what I’m curious– and I think we want
to measure that, the mind development of people
and the spiritual satisfaction. So I’m curious to know,
when somebody starts to become a CrossFit
member, to start it, like Casper may do
in three weeks, what are the goals from the starting
point, on different levels? Not just physical fitness,
but also mind fitness, emotional intelligence,
personal satisfaction, social satisfaction,
professional satisfaction. I think it would be very
interesting to know how all these measures– they are
individual and they may be different by each
individual person– but how they change if a person
is in a structured exercise program and they feel better. Medically, they sleep better. I hear that from my patients. They sleep better. They lose weight. They become better spouses. They become better parents. They have more time. Even so, they have to carve
out an hour from their day to do the exercise. But they say– I hear
this from many people, they get more achieved
in the remaining hours than they do without
the exercise. And I think that’s fascinating. I think the biggest challenge,
what I see as a clinician, is for people to make that step,
to start an exercise program. And I think if somebody
does it in their own house, going on a treadmill, they’re
depending solely on themselves. And they can then
have that struggle. Are they going to end up
on the couch watching TV, or are going to go on the
treadmill watching TV? And I think what Greg
mentions, this camaraderie and team, that’s kind of– you know, we
mentioned yesterday, peer pressure, which has a
bit of negative sound to it. But I think it’s
more a motivation. There’s other people. They want to see you. And they may reach out
when you’re not showing up. They will reach out. Yeah, right. But I don’t see it with the
negative connotation as a cult. But I see it as an inspiration
to help each other grow on the strong attributes. And I think that’s
easier achieved in a team or in a community than if a
person is all by themselves. [? Burns, ?] I have a
parlor trick of sorts that I’ve encouraged my
affiliates to perform for their new members,
in which you tell him or her is that I want you
go home tonight and write down everything that would
make you a better person. And don’t let it just be
blood pressure and cholesterol and skinny– not the gym kind of
stuff, but reach deep into some things that
really matter to you. And then you tell them, and
I’m never going to look at it, and no one else is either. This is just for you. But I want you to write
down a list of things. And take a half hour. Think of all those things that
could make you a better person. And you’re going to hide it. And you’re going to do
CrossFit for six months, and you’re going to
go look at it again. And I want you to
give yourself a score. And what I know is that
anything you put on there, if it made any kind
of sense at all, if it’s anything that we
would all think, yeah, that’d make you better– like
a better dad, a better boss, kinder to my neighbors– those things on your
list, you’re going to say, it’s happening. It’s happening. And so exercise, performed in
a community at high intensity, makes people better. And I don’t get to be the judge. You can, for yourselves. And I know all my
affiliates in here know exactly what
I’m talking about. So that’s pretty cool. There’s something magical there. We are in possession
of something more profound and more
impactful than was in the design or in the creation of this. Look, all I knew was
that the whole world was working out wrong. I didn’t know what the price was
for not working out correctly. We’re only coming
to terms with that now by taking several
million people and putting on an
entirely different path. And what’s really interesting
to me is that there is a divergence of CrossFitters
and those that don’t. And with each passing
year, the CrossFitters are getting fitter and
fitter, and the sedentary are getting sicker
and sicker and sicker. And pretty soon, you’re
going to be able, from a mile away, just sort the
CrossFitters out in Disneyland. And by the way, Maggie and the
kids were just at Disneyland, and they saw like six
or seven Rogue shirts. And the Rogue shirts were
outnumbering the CrossFit shirts at Disneyland. We put our brand on the people. And so we can sit at a
Starbucks or a Whole Foods, and just ID CrossFitters. Look, there’s one– her. Look at the shoes. You’ve got sores on the hands,
that’s my girl right there. And the body is unmistakable. This is all new, stuff that
has never happened before. Greg, If you’ll
humor me for this. As we move into our last
half hour, I just want to– we’ve been using a
lot of language that has a religious relationship– congregation and sin and
miracles and healing. And the one that I’ve heard
come up the most is spirit– poverty of spirit,
spiritual transformation. And I’m just wondering for
you, given the sort of elephant in the room of
“CrossFit as Church?!”– a lot of people, they hear
church and they hear God. And not speaking for
CrossFit, for you, when you say spirit,
what do you mean? For me, it’s a
bucket that I’m going to put all those things that are
hugely important that I can’t quantify, prove, demonstrate. It’s the stuff that
really matters. I gave you the example early. I can’t– there’s no
mathematical model, and I believe there’s no
physical model that will support your belief
in having free will. But you can’t function
sanely without it. And you know, my love
for my kids and my wife, I mean, I can’t
prove that to you. Or here’s a CrossFit line
that’s a little bit harsh, but hey, it’s who we are. I said, if we’re going to
have a debate on free speech, on the First Amendment,
I’m coming with a rifle. I can’t give you
a logical reason why it is that a person
should have the right to speak their mind freely. It’s just– it’s like free will. It’s like loving my daughter. Those are the most important
things in our world. They’re more important than
the stuff I can measure. It’s more important
than my cholesterol. It’s more important
than my [INAUDIBLE].. And so what do we– I think this is the problem. I think this is where your
unaffiliated kind of thing came from, that
you’re like, man, there’s stuff hugely
important to all of us, that what they speak to your
refinement as a human being, to your culture
and your kindness. I mean, so much is so important. And we don’t have any
way to measure it, or it’s even hard
for us to talk about. Right? Because you do things like ask,
what do you mean by spirit? You know? What do you mean? It’s tough. Come to divinity school. We’ll talk about it. Yeah. I want to get some questions
from this side of the room. I was wondering, like, I
just asked Jeff [? Cane. ?] We have our professor. And we were talking
about divinity school. And I think I know
what divine is. And I said there ought
to be a sublimity school, for studying the sublime. Dean Hempton, take
that on board for the– yes, just over here,
lady in the black top. Thank you so much. My name is Annie
[? Selick. ?] I’m a member of Forever CrossFit,
as well as a Catholic minister and a theologian. And I study the church– Perfect. –and what is the church. So this is my jam. But one of the
things that I’ve– and I’ve been writing on this
and been trying to think. And the thing that keeps
floating in my head that I can’t quite figure out
the parallels or not parallels is the connection
between Sabbath and rest. Right? So rest is a very
important part of CrossFit. Your muscles need to
rest, need to grow. Sabbath is also a deeply
theological concept– depending on the religion
depends how deep that goes. So I would just like to
hear your thoughts on that. I don’t even have a
specific question. But what does– when I say
Sabbath and rest and CrossFit, what happens in your
brain about that? Listen, I would think that
they may have common origins. Right? Fair enough? But I don’t know. I’m kind of a
[INAUDIBLE] in the sense that I would be loathe to
disrupt effective organizations and cultural traditions. You know? You could find out why by
getting rid of it, right? I know what happens
when you don’t rest. I think that’s already happened. I mean– Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s interesting to me, though. I mean, I’m intrigued. But I don’t see
them as different. Can you talk a little
bit more about– Yeah. I mean, I– I mean, like, what’s– because the
theological– what would you think is the
theological difference? Like, how is resting
from working out different from Sabbath
time from the everyday? I’m not sure how
they’re different, and I do think there’s
a common origin. I remember one of the things– I gave a good answer. Yeah. I think you did a great answer. When I first joined
CrossFit, one of the things that
baffled me the most is that hardly anyone
has classes on Sundays. And I looked at it,
and the minister bell started going off
of like, OK, well, I don’t think this is so
people can go to church. Why is this? But I also think your example
about the Sunday bike rides, I think a lot of boxes have
similar things for that. So whether intentional
or not, I think the way that’s being used
in CrossFit communities is this sense of being
together, building community in a different way, other
than the typical way that we’re together. So I think that
would also– it would be almost the exact opposite
parallel in churches, where you think Sundays are times
where you come together for worship. And then you’re together
for religious education or men’s group or women’s
group or Bible or this or that. And so I think it’s similar
ways of how are we together, how do we gather together,
what is different about this, but how do we still
build community in that and express who we are. You know, it’s always
cool to decontextualize group relationships and get
the group outside of where it does its group thing always. And so it’s really fun
to get 12 people in a car and go to Moab
with mountain bikes and do something, or get
away from home, away from– and we live that with staff. I’ve got to a couple
of dozen staff that I’ve been to
80 countries with. I’ve just got to say,
when you walked in, there was like a posse– Greg with the 12. [LAUGHTER] These are my best
friends on Earth. And we’ve been– That’s the first apostle
analogy I’ve heard [INAUDIBLE].. What does that make you? [INAUDIBLE] Judas– Yeah, what’s the
Judas– oh, god. I think I have an answer
for that, for your– remember that
church, in many ways, has now become a
weekly thing, right? There’s one day of Sabbath. But CrossFit is like
six days of Sabbath. I mean, we’re breaking
bread together, so to speak, six days, five days a week. We’re in the box
together, working out. And you almost need–
we get the opposite. Our Sabbath, our rest day
is to get out of the box and maybe spend a
little time resting or with yourself, or
maybe your nuclear family or maybe some other
friends outside of the box. But you do need some
time for yourself. And so to me, the rest days
and the days off from the box– and I’m in the box– I’ve been a CrossFitter
for 10 years. But I’m in a box
for the first time. I belong to a box. And it’s a neat experience. You know, Halloween, we’re all
dressed up and doing workouts on a Saturday in our
Halloween costumes. But you know, we
also need some time off from that to take care of
things at home and all that. And so it feels to
me those rest days are the time that we need
to maybe recharge away from all of our– the people that we’re communing
with every day and sweating with, and working with. You know, you need a
little time for yourself. And so I don’t– it doesn’t strike
me as odd at all. You know what’s interesting? I don’t know that I would
recommend anything seven days a week. That’s probably wise. It’s kind of
interesting, you know? I want to get a couple
more questions in. We’ve got– great. Fantastic. Let’s go to this
gentleman over here. Hi. My name is Jim, and
I’m an older person. And that’s my perspective. That’s the perspective
of my question. My sense is that most older
people going to church these days go with a
different purpose than the few younger people that go
to church, that remain going to church these days. And my other sense is that never
having been to a CrossFit box, it’s probably flipped. There’s probably a
lot of younger folks and very few older folks. So my question is this– if an older person
comes to CrossFit, what are they being offered? Or what are they looking for? What are they looking for? Let me start with our
understanding of the physiology of the exercise response. What we teach at
the level ones is that the needs of Olympic
athletes and your grandparents, they differ by degree, not kind. One wants functional
dominance to win gold medals, and the other wants
functional competence to stay out of the nursing home. And I use the same exercises
to get you a gold medal that I’d use to keep you out
of a nursing home in 15 years. And that would be squat,
deadlift, et cetera. These movements are
built into your DNA. They were invented by no man. No one can say, look at this. I invented this. No, you’re lying. You just stood up. [LAUGHTER] No one invented picking
something up off the ground. No one invented putting
something overhead. And yet, if you
don’t do CrossFit, you don’t stand up
normally correctly, the way that you
were designed to. You won’t pick things
up off the ground– it’s very unlikely that the
approach by which you pick something off the ground
is mechanically sound, is the match that it
could be, should be, and used to be for the
genetic hard wiring that makes those movements part
and parcel of who we are. Your functional independence
is the most important thing you have. And it’s more important than
not getting heart disease and not getting cancer. You know, the horrible thing
about cancer or heart disease would be that loss
of your independence. Loss of life is one thing. But loss of life is certain. We’re all going to
die, everyone here. What you don’t want to do, and
I think this is where I’m afraid medical science has taken
us, that one day we’re going to live to be 150, but
you still go to the nursing home when you’re 75. So you’ve got 75 years of Oprah
and Jell-O on plastic spoons. I’m not interested. Theodore Dalrymple, the
physician and editor for the Wall Street
Journal, years ago, pre-internet, was
writing that he’d been studying centenarians. And he said the amazing
thing about them was what remarkable
health they’re in, and yet their life
expectancy is 2.5 years. And what happens
to centenarians is they’re remarkably free
of chronic disease, but they experience
an accelerated demise. And what he explained is that
that’s the best case scenario. And so my goal for you would
be to get you, eventually, to take as long as we can
to an accelerated demise. I’d like you to turn 100
and be in perfect health. That’s as good as it gets. What Dalrymple also
said in that article is that this can only happen
through diet and exercise. It wasn’t going to happen
through medical discovery or advance. So you need to squat, sir. You need to deadlift. And very much so. If I can take young
ladies and seniors and put two fingers
on their shoulders, and they can’t do this–
they can’t stand up past it. So their marginal
capacity to stand is about 50 pounds
away from being gone. And that will take
only about 50 years. If you’re 65 and I can hold you
down like that, what we can do is we can teach you how to
squat so that in a year, I can wrap myself around
you, and you’ll stand up with me holding onto you. And that makes the difference
between whether you can live independently or not. Let’s get a couple more. At the very back. Good answer, right? Is that working for you? Yeah. I mean, it’s very real. The work we’ve done with
seniors has been spectacular. And there was a wonderful story. I can’t remember–
was it on CBS? An older woman in New York– a wonderful story. She was in her
late 70s, I think. 76. 76. She was about to, I think,
have to move into a home. She had lost her husband. And I think that was one
half of the answer, which I heard in your question. I think the other half was about
the community that supported her through that kind
of recovery process, and that even though
she was significantly older than the average
age in the box, that there was a real welcome,
which is great to hear. [? Lennon? ?] Hi. I’m [? Lennon. ?] And thank you. I was really excited to come
in and be a super skeptic, and now I’m going to
look into CrossFit. So I could be kind of
screwed in this question, because I don’t know a lot
about religion or CrossFit. What brought you here? One of the people
for this gathering– Is it a mistake? –who were also in the report. And you know, it was
a surprise, a kind of landing probably similarly. But I guess my question
is, if you start from the basic premise that
a lot of faith traditions ultimately boil down
to, love each other, it strikes me that in
what you’ve described, and I think a lot of questions
and people in this conversation has been kind of circling
around it, that you figured out somehow a Trojan horse mechanism
to get people to that end, starting with a goal
that’s about fulfilling your genetic potential,
and going out and being your best
possible sense. But then in the
end, people really do love each other
a lot, and show up. And their behaviors kind of
show up in that particular way. So I guess my question is, do
you see CrossFit as a mechanism for inculcating a certain set
of values through the backdoor? And if so, what
are those values? Or is it a mechanism
through which people with very different
values come to love each other? The assumption in your question,
the preamble, was brilliant. And I’m glad you came
here, because I think you have it exactly right. And yes, yes, yes, and yes. Yeah. Even on the [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah. I like all of that. I like all of it. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. Yeah, you got it. Tell me about your skepticism,
because I like the skeptic, because I don’t have–
you know, I’m that guy. Well, I want to push you,
Greg, on that question, though. Is there a set of values
that you want people– Well, sure. What I’m telling you is that– I want to repeat that I think
that the strategies, paradigms, successful mechanisms are
best imparted and received in the physical province. And that includes
a lot of things, like commitment and
honesty and camaraderie. There’s another
element here, too, and let’s just get right to it. There is something that may be
a corollary to the Stockholm Syndrome. I had an army captain
call me up all excited one day, a fascinating man. He said, I figured
out something huge. He goes, in the special forces,
everything’s camaraderie, camaraderie. We use the word
loosely and constantly, and it’s hugely important. He goes, I just figured
out what it’s made of, what its constituent elements are. And he says, it’s agony
coupled with laughter. And I was like, I know. I know what he’s talking about. You got a lot of laughter
going on in your gym? We do all the time, every day. I mean, it was hilarious. And it was often pointed, sharp. It was, you know, some of
it nasty, all of it fun. But there was a lot of laughter. Right? Jimmy, didn’t you, in yours? Oh, heck yeah. I don’t think any of the
big numbered boxes don’t. People are having
both the worst time of their life and the best. And that does something
very different to you. Egos leave, you know? There’s so much that
keeps us from being who and what we could
be to each other. Especially from the guys,
that comes from ego. And from the gals,
it comes from mood. Mood’s an interesting thing. Let me just share some of
my biases here with you. A woman will get up and want
to go, I’m in a bad mood. And you go, oh, thanks for that. I appreciate the heads up. I’m going to be over here. Guys don’t recognize
mood in themselves. And what a guy will
think is happening, he’ll think the universe
changed overnight while he was sleeping. And so the guy’s just
in a shitty mood, right? And I go, what’s wrong? He’s like, Ross owes
me $10, and he’s not– is this that same
$10 from last year? Yeah. And the traffic was bad. Like, dude, the traffic’s
bad every single day. And so I have to tell my
male athletes and clients that if the world changed
overnight while you slept, you probably got it wrong. It’s probably you. Probably you. Yeah. And a lot of the moodiness
and the ego that I think makes a lot tough
for us is eliminated. Let me speak to
our example, what we’ve learned as a company
with virtual offices. I used to say that we
were a virtual company. My tech guys hated it. The company’s real, the
offices are virtual. I go, you’re right, then. He’s the tech guy, right? We were a global brand
before we had a headquarters. And I was– so I’m
running virtual offices. I want to learn
something about it. So I went to the
business literature, and there was nothing of value. And what was
interesting is that much of the little that was there
was fundamentally wrong. The concern seemed to be, with
virtual offices, of shirking, people not doing their job. Nonsense. With virtual offices,
shirking is impossible, because everybody
is only identified by their work product. And so the person that
shirks, you don’t get emails. You don’t see them
doing anything. And you know, what does she do? Nothing. It’s just how it is. In the brick and mortar
world, the shirkers are the first ones there and
they’re the last ones to leave. And every time you
go by their office, they’re looking at the monitor. Right? And so it’s hard. You can be confused
by other elements. Here’s the downside
to the virtual office, and it is a significant problem. And it’s that about a
third of the human race won’t treat people
decently that they don’t have to see on a regular basis. And that really irks me. And so we have a collegiality
uber alles kind of mindset here. Get along or hit the road. Incompetence, I can
muster forces and fix it. So we can hire people that need
a break, that need a chance, that life hasn’t been what it
could have been for them, that don’t have the best of skills. We’ve brought them in on
staff and everyone else can pitch in– [INAUDIBLE] –and make it go. But I’ll just say it, the no
asshole rule, those types, that’s communicable. And it just takes one to make
other people the same way, and it will just rip
through an organization. Greg, we’ve got about
two minutes left, and I want to ask
the final question. Is that OK? Do it. Every movement– well,
nearly every movement– has a charismatic founder. What happens when you die? I’ve got a wonderful
cadre of senior execs that are about half my age. And they’re beautiful
and they’re charming and they’re talented. And they’re going to
have no trouble carrying the mantle– not at all. No fear of that. I’ve got a better bench than
any leader in any organization anywhere. I know that. Listen, most of my people,
nine years without a paycheck. They worked for me for nine
years without getting a check. I got a lot– most
of the people that worked for me worked for free,
and then a business erupted, and they got jobs. And so we know where we’ve
been, we know who we are, and we know each other. And it’s inseparable. Well, we’ll end on that note. Thank you so much
all for coming. Thank you. Big thank you to Greg. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING]

32 thoughts on “CrossFit as Church?!

  1. Scott Beharrell Bono Post author

    Brilliant video, with some great exchanges and ideas. Loved it, thanks for sharing.

  2. Jim Giant Post author

    Crossfit is certainly like religion, for once Greg and I agree.

  3. Your Pal Post author

    Crossfit is the religion of throwing money at Greg. Praise be to god! Yea and verily he said let the gin flow like a river into thine gullet and thou will be blessed with labrum tears and a plague of rhabdomyolysis that shall be welcome because grr thou art hardcore. Amen.

  4. Eric Cartman Post author

    CrossFit and a church both require believing in something that science can't support. CrossFit could be supported by science but Glassman won't allow – studies sponsored by CrossFit 0! Scientific studies authors sued – many.
    And BTW this is Harvard, not some gym/box, put on a proper shirt!

  5. Parker Harris Post author

    This is profound! Grateful for sharing this message 🙂

  6. Justin Rice Post author

    Parts of this discussion are very idiotic.  In no way does CrossFit parallel the Church (Body of Christ).  If you are not a born again follower of Jesus then you are not a part of His Church.  CrossFit is great for what it is,  but it is definitely not the Church.  Any comments are welcome.  I'd love to discuss.

  7. 38tripleK Post author

    The Crossfit prayer, "Meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, Amen."

  8. Baby Mammoth34 Post author

    The Church of Crossfit? Flagrant arrogance on a whole new level. This man here is obviously exponentially insane and is a dangerous so-called guru. His ego and doctrine, in fact, is writing checks that his minions and athletes (including cops and soldiers) can't cash with their bodies. Not in the long term. A truly bizarre and disturbing fitness cult. Further, he often doesn't even follow the "wondrous" paleo lifestyle that he presents. Or even crossfit exercise itself. Senor Glassman, you ought to be ashamed. You ought to be….but I can see that a rugged sociopath like yourself doesn't know what shame is.

  9. Hvens Fury Post author

    Crossfit is taking fitness to a new level. You who are willing to rise above mediocrity will always have the nasty voices of the lame and uncommitted throwing sticks and stones as you seek for excellence. Remember, true friends will cheer you on. Those who sit in their desk chairs spewing negative type do so because your efforts for greatness reveal the 'haters'. They are self loathing, laziness and uninspired, living ambiguous existences to everyone looking. They are not willing to change and not willing to accept responsibility for their lives. They are Victims… and seeing someone who has power over his own life and fearlessly uses it, causes them to wail and nash their teeth like demons in a dark abyss who have had the firelight of intelligence thrust at them. They have nothing to offer, pay them no mind and continue rising to where they can never reach!

  10. Radu-Andrei Zaharia Post author

    anyone knows where I could find glassman talking at Harvard Business School ?

  11. DEE DUBZ Post author

    What you put in your body, goes to the mind people…member dat!!

  12. Joe Szabo Post author

    This guy looks like every used car salesman I ever talked to .

  13. James Lilly Post author

    the same could be said of martial arts. I moved a couple times to be near a particular art to study, they also do fund raising for the homeless, benefit seminars for various causes such as cancer, food collection for the less fortunate etc.

  14. colordyes Post author

    CEO of CrossFit, Greg Glassman drinking talking about a poor diet and San Pellegrino owned by Nestle and Starbucks. Crossfit as a church? not really is a cult which a bit different

  15. Pam Conboy Post author

    I’m 72 and just joined a fantastic box two mo this ago. Overweight, out of shape with bad knees.I wanted fitness and community and I have found it.Everything is scaled to my ability, my form is carefully observed and corrected and I can feel a huge difference already, both in ability and confidence. Nutrition guidance is available and I took advantage of it and that is making a big difference already.

  16. PoptheBubble ChartLeaks Post author

    So does this only have to be about CrossFit or just about exercise communities in general? That opening quote is horrifying.

  17. Mike Orsini Post author

    Crossfit as Cult would be a better identifier.

  18. Scott Landis Post author

    CF has become like the most closed, fundamental, arrogant church. Say for example Baptist or other hard line church. When humans believe that they are the best ones the ego dominates. The claim that they are ‘elite ‘ ‘fittest ‘ ‘ dominance ‘ is to point. The arrogance is profound in the community. They disrespect all others. Classic example of the worst of the human condition. I am fitter than any CFer I have met. CFers leave our gym because it’s so tough. Yet they believe that they are the ‘elite ‘. It’s offensive and arrogance. Ego Mr. Glassman? You people can use a learning lesson. It’s why people hate CF similar to what makes people hate extreme religion. The arrogance is profound in CF.

  19. jonh malkovich Post author

    I think that everything is good without any sort of focused arrogance. In Africa crossfit is to remain Alive every second.

  20. jonh malkovich Post author

    We are too much bored to do something its good to illuminate our existence.

  21. D180 Post author

    A lot of people who join communities, particularly fitness communities are looking for two things: Acceptance and identity. Rich Froning confessed that crossfit became his identity and eventually his idol. He later renounced this idea in his mind and used crossfit to express his faith. Further, a lot of people have been hurt or broken by life. They find solitude in outlets like crossfit, bodybuilding, sports, music.


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