Reader Dan sent me an article from Huffington Post called “CrossFit Bashers, Can You Be More Constructive?” The piece is written by a Eva Selhub, a “ ” who does crossfit, in response to those who believe that there are issues with the safety and efficacy of crossfit (like this, for example).
Unfortunately the first point that the she chooses to make is “I’ve been practicing medicine for close to 20 years and none of us have figured out a way not only to get people motivated to exercise and get fit, but to stick to it. CrossFit is not the problem folks, obesity is.”
Then, as is usually the case when “obesity” gets used this way, she goes on to quote a bunch of “everybody knows” statistics that aren’t supported by actual evidence. I’m going to go go a bit off topic because this is just a terrible argument – first of all crossfit isn’t the first workout with a – let’s call it enthusiastic – following and it won’t be the last. In the past she might have written the same thing about Step, Spinning, Tae Bo, Zumba and any number of other fitness trends and yet fat people still exist, including those of us who did, do, taught or teach those workouts including crossfit. Crossfit is hardly the only type of workout that people find motivating. Not for nothing but maybe if doctors stopped lying to people and telling us that movement will lead to a specific body size, and that if we’re not getting thinner we’re not getting healthier, people might be less likely to only engage in activity to try to manipulate their body size and quit when they don’t get thin but that’s a whole other blog.)
People are allowed to do crossfit, I haven’t researched it extensively and I’m not making an argument for it either way. That’s not my issue with this. The problem is that “obesity” is not the opposite of “crossfit”, and “obesity” is not the opposite of “longterm motivation and fitness” and responding to arguments from fitness professionals about issues they perceive with the safety and efficacy of crossfit by pointing and yelling “BUT FAT PEOPLE!” is irresponsible, illogical, and does nothing but try to distract readers by calling upon, and adding to, the tremendous amount of stigma that a group of people face in society for how we look.
If the detractors of crossfit to whom Dr. Selhub is directing her piece are correct that there are issues with the safety and efficacy of crossfit, no number of fat people who exist will change that. There is no number of “obese” people, that is people whose weight in pounds times their height in inches squared times 703 is greater than 30, that will change the safety and efficacy of crossfit. The existence of fat people does not justify a workout that isn’t safe and/or effective.
It’s not just this misguided doctor and her article defending a workout that she likes. This is the same logic that’s used to justify recommending intentional weight loss to fat people, even though the research shows that it has the opposite of the intended effect the majority of the time. It’s the same argument that’s used as justification to force completely untested interventions on kids to try to manipulate their body size. Sometimes it’s done for profit, sometimes for power, sometimes for justification, sometimes for bullying, sometimes all four and more, but it’s always bullshit.
To co-opt an adage, many people seem to have decided that when the facts are on their side, they argue the facts. When logic is on their side, they argue logic. When the facts aren’t on their side and logic isn’t on their side, they shriek “I SEE FAT PEOPLE, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE” and hope everyone forgets that they don’t actually have a cogent argument. Fat people have the right to exist without shame, stigma, bullying, oppression or being used as a distraction, including and especially by people who lack a cogent argument.
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