How to Talk to Friends About CrossFit

Michelle verbally berates Mandy until she cries

Talking about CrossFit with friends and family can be daunting. Fitness and nutrition can be like religion. Most people have their own particular flavor that they practice. Most people think their flavor is 100% correct. Efforts to describe your chosen flavor are seen as an attack on theirs. A direct attack on their flavor could instigate a volley of bitch slaps. It’s a minefield. Here’s some quick tips for getting the most out of a conversation about CrossFit with friends and family.

Know your audience.

Don’t geek out on somebody that isn’t a geek. They probably already know that CrossFit is difficult. The quickest way to scare them off is to make it confusing as well. If somebody presses for detail, give it. But paint your picture with broad brush strokes. My favorite lines are, “We do something different every day, so it never gets boring. We train to be good at everything, so we do all kinds of stuff: weightlifting, running, jumping, throwing…Oh, and we keep workouts short and intense.”

Speak from your personal experience.

Nobody can argue with your experience. It happened to you, and you know it best. Just tell your story–the Cliff’s notes. Tell them the changes you’ve seen since starting CrossFit. Don’t quote the change in your Fran time. That won’t mean anything to them. Talk in big picture ideas. Tell them how you learn new things each week. Tell them how much stronger you are and Bitch Slapwhat activities it enables you to do better than before. Tell them how many sizes or pounds you dropped.

Don’t ever agree when they say they can’t do CrossFit.

It’s important you not reinforce this negativity. Clear it up by giving some examples of the people you work out with everyday that have similar limitations. You won’t likely get very far with the phrase “infinitely scalable,” so translate that concept into real world examples of how you’ve scaled your workouts.

It’s OK that they think they already do “something a lot like CrossFit” even though they don’t.

Many people know that CrossFit is difficult and CrossFit is not your standard exercise routine. Therefore, when exposed to any program that is both difficult and not their standard exercise routine, people naturally assume they are doing something like CrossFit. It’s OK. It’s not accurate, but don’t try to argue with them. You’ll only invite defensiveness.

Don’t talk down their current program.

Just like religion, we all think our exercise program is the best. If we thought there was a better program, wouldn’t we change to that better program? But using this tactic invites someone to step into debate mode, where your friend will take everything you say and ardently search for a counter-point. They won’t even really listen to what you’re saying. They’ll be pre-occupied thinking of clever retorts. Go back to your story and what you like about CrossFit. Stick to that.

These quick tips can help you navigate a CrossFit conversation more easily. But each encounter is unique, so don’t be afraid to adapt. What successes or failures have you experienced when talking about CrossFit? Do you actively initiate the conversation, or do you just answer questions when asked?

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