Newsflash: People Lifted Weights Before CrossFit

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Two quick stories – both of which serve as the impetus behind this post.

1. I can’t tell you how long I resisted the whole Lululemon phenomenon.  Mind you:  I’ve always been a big fan of their work. All apologies to my gay guy friends, but I have a Y chromosome  – so sue me for appreciating the finer points of yoga pants on a female’s body.

In fact, if I had to make a list of three people who’s hand I’d like to shake it would look something like this (in no particular order).

– Optimus Prime

– Han Solo

– Chip Wilson – the founder of Lululemon.

Half of my girlfriend’s wardrobe is from Lululemon (have a I mentioned I’m a fan?), and while I love it when she wears her yoga pants to go grocery shopping, I’d be lying if I said the Darth Vader theme music didn’t reverberate inside my head every time her and I would be walking around in the city and happen to cross paths with a Lululemon store.

Because inevitably she’d want to walk in and then try to convince me to put on a pair of something. Dudes DO NOT wear Lululemon.  In my head, as far as masculine things to do, it ranged somewhere between peeing while sitting down and watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Fast forward to about a year ago when I noticed many of our pro-baseball guys walking into the facility with their Lulu pants on.  When I brought it up to one of our guys – Oliver – and asked what’s up, he just responded with “they’re the most comfortable things, ever!”

When I dug a little deeper and started asking a few more questions, he just put his hands on my shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “DO IT.  You won’t be disappointed.”

It took a while, but eventually I relented and tried on a pair of their Kung-Fu pants.   And OMG – ammmmmmaaaaazzzziiiiiinnggg.

In fact, Lisa bought a pair for me this past Christmas and I Tweeted the following picture to Oliver with the caption:  I did it!

So now walking into a Lululemon store isn’t quite the chore it used to be.

But a funny thing happened a few weekends ago.

Lisa and I were doing our Sunday “routine,” you know, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Home Depot, squeezed in a little West Elm, when we happened to see a Lulu store.  Lisa beelined it in and I followed suite.  I wasn’t quite as “beeline(ish),” but I wasn’t tossing my face into a cement wall as I would have in the past.

As she was perusing the sales rack, I was standing near the front of the store adjacent to the men’s section.  I wasn’t necessarily looking at anything, but rather just waiting in the area where all the other boyfriend’s waited.  We’re like a little club.

A salesperson approached me and we started chatting me up. She told me all the sales going on – I don’t remember, I kind of blacked out – and then asked what I like to wear to the gym.  I told her that I own one pair of the Kung-Fu pants, but that I’m a strength coach and that I don’t wear them to work because they’d get torn and beat up.

She then pointed to the right at all their men’s shorts, and said “a lot of our CrossFitters like to wear those.”

Wait………huh?  My inner dialogue was like….“Did she just refer to me as a CrossFitter?

Don’t get me wrong:  I didn’t take offense to it or anything. I mean, she was making a compliment that I actually look like I workout.  But did she not just hear me say that I was a strength coach?

Which leads to story #2.

2.  My internet buddy and intermittent guest blog contributor on this site, Emily Giza Socolinsky, sent me a message the other day.

Long story short:  Emily used to be a Barre instructor and after switching to the dark side – Ie: strength training – and after seeing the results she not only received herself but with her own clients as well, she opened up her own gym.  And she fucking dominates!

Check it out HERE.

She’s long been an advocate of helping to promote people goals – whatever they may be – she doesn’t believe in only ONE way to train, but she’ll be the first to admit that everyone – in particular women – should strength train in some form or another.

And yes, in her own words that does mean “picking up some damn weight.”

Every so often she’ll get a comment on her blog from someone who, *coughs*, is not happy with what she has to say.  Case in point, Emily wrote a fantastic blog HERE a while ago on why she feels Barre classes aren’t the answer for most women.  Mind you:  this was written by a someone who was formerly a very accomplished Barre instructor herself.

Anyways, she ruffled a few feathers when she originally posted that blog post.  And to this day, she still continues to get snarky comments from women.  Like this one:

“Wow, you certainly seem to have a chip on your shoulder toward women who do care about not bulking up!

I’m 42 years old and have been a lifetime runner. For years, I went to the gym and did traditional heavy weight programs (I even leg pressed nearly 3 times my body weight).

I tried the cross fit thing. For me, these programs resulted in injury and chronic pain in my knees and shoulders.

I’m a tiny person and I didn’t really bulk up, but I didn’t look feminine either.

Barre 3 and Bar Method have provided wonderful results for me.

I run faster and I have more endurance because my knees don’t hurt at all anymore! I am still very strong and in fact I can now do 50 push ups with good form. And I’m not embarrassed to admit, I love how how I look. Any women who doesn’t admit they don’t mind having a lean body with feminine muscular toning is lying to themselves and everyone else.”

Emily wrote back a very professional and considerate response – something I would have had a hard time doing – and ended with this:

“Congratulations on how you feel. It is very important for women to love how they look. But my reasoning for the article was to let women know that there are better ways to achieve one’s goal that will actually make them stronger and feel better about themselves. I would be lying to them and to myself if I told them them that barre classes are the way to a stronger body. Thank you for your comment.”

Lets ignore the whole leg press 3x bodyweight comment, or the “50 push-ups with good form” comment. I feel like my eyes have never rolled so hard in my life when I read those.

What I was most interested in was the “I did the CrossFit thing” comment.

Hello??!?!?!?  Since When Is E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G CrossFit??????

Correct me if I’m wrong, but people were lifting weights and doing “strength training” long before CrossFit came into the picture.  No where in Emily’s original post did she mention CrossFit.  In fact, what she was referring to was everything CrossFit isn’t (more or less).

What she was advocating was a well-structured, coherent, planned, approach to strength training based off of one’s needs, goals, and health/injury history.

I don’t want to make this into some CrossFit bashing diatribe – that’s not the point.  And for those reading who feel that’s what I’m doing, take a deep breath, relax, do some handstand push-ups or something, and read THIS.

There’s actually a lot about CrossFit I like and advocate.

But I just find it comical that, in the eyes of the general public, everything involving lifting a weight is now somehow lumped into CrossFit.

Much of that has to do with the marketing genius of CrossFit – there’s no doubting that.  For what it’s worth I applaud it.  A LOT more people are getting their asses off the couch and exercising now.

But what did people from the dawn of man to about ten years ago call weight training?  I’ll tell you what it wasn’t called:  fucking CrossFit.

Just a little rant for the day.  I feel better now.  Carry on.

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  • Harlan Siegel

    Great post Tony. Love it.
    On the first point: I actually own a pair of Lululemon pants, and they are very comfortable. I actually used them for Yoga for a while, until one of my dogs ate them.
    Second point is spot on. Everything strength related is CrossFit these days. Most people think that CrossFit invented Kettlebells, Olympic Lifts, Prowlers/ Sleds, Barbells and just about everything else. Very annoying.

  • Great post/rant! I was at a seminar this weekend and actually asked a PT where he got his pants–which I prefaced with, “This sounds weird coming from another guy, but…”. Very professional looking Lululemon pants but they don’t make them anymore.

    On the second point, every time a new person comes in and sees the ropes, boxes, kettlebells, bumber plates, etc, they ask me, “Oh, do you do Crossfit?” Thought it was just me.

    Brilliant marketing on their part. They have commandeered exercise.

  • Justin Sorbo

    I have those kung fu pants. All the ladies at my studio were very amused. They are definitely nice as sh*t.

  • Bob Hautala

    while I agree the lulu pants are somewhat comfortable…when my son saw them on me…his first words were…”those are g..!”…and of course I have no problem with that…lol…but they do have a certain feminine fit to them…I only wear them in the house…lol…I don’t mind their running shorts…but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay almost $100…for shorts…they’re not that good…

  • Ace Casiano

    Tony, I was just drafting a post along your second point. Me and my business partner just opened our strength conditioning facility and without fail, we get questions along the lines of “Oh, is it a CrossFit gym? Is that what you do?”

    Of course, I’d have to calmly respond and avoid punching a wall explaining to them what we do: not CrossFit.

    Strength training as basic as it gets when I tell them, is that we want to make you stronger, and not through crossfit.

    On a different note, Kung Fu pants sounds awesome but I have yet to try them.

  • Barath

    Provocative dance in the name of warm up yesterday. Posing with tight-butt girlie pants today. What the hell’s going on here Tony?

  • JW

    You are getting soft. You used to post about battling a 600 DL and crushing 25 egg omelettes now you are talking about Lulu pants?

    I appreciate the free content you’ve provided me over the past 5 years but there have been too many “referral” posts lately and it seems like your content is a bit watered down now for my liking. This post just pushed me over the ledge. Maybe I’m just no longer your target audience.

    • Barath

      Ah come now, JW, don’t be like that. It’s fun to digress once in a while and we get to make fun of how girly TG has become. What’s not to love about this? The “referral” posts also have great content, and not everything has to be tied to a 600 DL. Just my two cents.

      • TonyGentilcore

        Sorry to hear that JW. A few paragraphs on Lululemon and you’re willing to walk? When you write as much as I write: this blog (4-5 posts per week), T-Nation, BodyBuilding.com, Stack Magazine, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, etc – sometimes I have to go off the beaten track. I sincerely hope you stay, but if you decide to leave, thanks for the support for five years.

        • Dunkman

          Keep up the great work. Some people get their kicks by criticizing others. Personally I appreciate your blend of serious, fun and yes even the entrepreneurial aspects. In my mind that is the American dream – sharing your passion and making a living doing something you love. We should all be so lucky.

          • JW

            I apologize if my feedback felt more like an attack. I assure you that I didn’t intend that. While this isn’t a perfect analogy – I personally value constructive criticism from my boss much more than praise. I’m not trying to criticize, merely trying to regain the blog that I once used to look so forward to reading each day. I’m not breaking up with you, just haven’t been reading as religiously as I used to.

            As I’ve said I’ve been a fan for years and have made many “great post!!!” etc comments in the past. I am a fan of to your blend of serious/fun, that’s not the issue. I can only point to this lulu discussion as a tipping point.

            I have also purchased several products from Cressey Performance going way back to MM (although not necessarily “your” products). I don’t blame you for the referral posts, but they are personally a turn off in most instances. Make your money, but realize these come at a risk of being off-putting. You could easily say “buy my shit” but then you would have zero readers. So you can’t really say that.

            I could also just stop reading without saying anything….is that really what you want?

            I agree you to write a ton…..but I’m sorry I’m not going to let you off the hook on that one. Martin Scorsese doesn’t make 50 movies a year and say well sorry some of them were stinkers. He puts out one great flick every few years. Look who I just compared you to – respect.

          • JW

            I also realize that leading with “you are getting soft” may be considered aggressive for an internet comments section. I assure you I intended it as a good-natured barb.

          • TonyGentilcore

            It’s all good JW. Loved the Scorcese analogy – can’t say I disagree with you. KInda. He’s not making movies for free is he?

            In the end you’re entitled to your opinion and I respect that. I “get” where you’re coming from, but I feel that my approach to “referral” posts is a far stretch from what others implement. I don’t feel I’m nearly as “is your face” as some of my colleagues. It’s not a knock against them, just not my preferred approach.

            Then again I drive an Elantra when some of them drive MUCH nicer cars. Shit. Maybe I do need to change my approach…..;o)

            Either way I do hope you still stick around.

    • Sam Rockwell

      Referral posting is part of the game in the fitness industry but a lot of these guys( and girls) who cross promote each other are reputable and knowledgeable like Eric Cressey, Dean Somerset, and Ben Bruno. Glad to see Tony that you aren’t linking up with internet marketing spammers marquarading as self proclaimed fitness gurus like Vince Del Monte and Rob King(I see Bret Contreras linking Rob’s work and it makes me sad)

  • PJ Striet

    Tony:
    I own 3 pairs of Kung Fu pants. Unreal. I also own 8 pairs of Lulu core shorts, which are damn near the best thing ever (I love the camo ones). No sham in Lulu brother.

    • OBoile

      Sorry PJ, but there’s a lot of shame in Lulu.

  • Becca S

    Great article, as usual! But before you fall totally in love with Chip Wilson, you should know that despite how great some of their stuff is, he’s a total jerk, and is no longer their chairman because of it:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/dec/10/lululemon-athletic-wear-chair-quits-over-firestorm/

    • TonyGentilcore

      Hmm, well, that changes a few things.

  • Ky

    Well I like your blog when it is a little of this and a little of that. There are only so many “how to squat” posts you can do and I enjoy the variation!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Exactly! Thank you!

  • Emily Steezy

    I noticed recently on the Lulu website there was a picture of a guy leaving a crossfit class, and it stuck me as odd, since I’ve never seen Lulu actually endorse any sort of hard work before. But maybe lulu “approves” of crossfit, because, you know… it’s trendy and all, and that’s a big market to let Reebok dominate. Maybe they train their sales associates to refer to weight lifters as “crossfitters” to try to identify with and win over the crossfitters. I guess actual strength training not cool enough to get the Lulu seal of approval!

    • TonyGentilcore

      I wasn’t shitting on Lulu for not referring to me as a strength coach – I’ve been referred to as much worse. I was just making notice of an observation that EVERYONE seems to think that weight training = CrossFit. And that’s just not the case.

  • Nate Brosey

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! You hit the nail on the head, even with the Lulu store comment. My wife and I get that EVERY TIME we go in there. Even the waitress at our favorite restaurant (which happens to be directly across from a CF Box) gave us the special “paleo” options on the menu because she was so confident we were crossfitters. How do you politely tell someone who is just paying you a compliment that you are among the “enlightened” who strength train for a purpose other than getting really good at exercising?

  • Kellie Davis

    Point one: My husband owns THREE pairs of Lulu shorts. I own no Lulu. And he is very masculine. And I am very cheap.

    Something that has totally baffled me (and this is apples to oranges, so don’t read too much into it) is that when KO was injured my new feed blew up on FB. Not discrediting his injury to say the least. Totally devastating. But this past weekend the legendary Brandon Lilly suffered a brutal injury at the LA Fit Expo– and watching the video his knee break was lucky compared to what could have gone wrong on his decent– and I did not see a single thing about it on FB. Nothing. From anyone, polarized or otherwise.

    Crossfit is the Miley Cyrus of weight lifting, I guess. Strength training is Billy Ray, the sad ol’ has been.

    Last night Conan O’Brien interviewed Josh Hopkins of Cougar Town (I had to look him up) and he was talking about his experience with cross fit. I hope that I can find footage of it soon because the interview was priceless. A real treat.

  • Luke Serwinski

    Tony, I actually went to archery practice for the first time a few weeks ago with some clients from the gym who bow hunt. Some guy at the range heard us chatting about me being a coach and all he said was one word…”Crossfit?”. I thought the same thing…..why was Crossfit his first association with strength training. I should have put an arrow in him.

  • AliMinton

    Long time no comment! Unfortunately the vast majority of the people (mostly women) from the 2 populations (that oftentimes are one in the same) that you describe really didn’t know that weight lifting existed or that women can AND SHOULD do it before they heard of CrossFit as a craze. Sad but true.

    Don’t worry – lots of us actually lifted heavy (and had lulu pants) BEFORE Crossfit. 🙂

  • Lauren L

    Yeah it’s pretty annoying that Crossfit is trying to copyright stuff that’s been around for forever.
    I’ve noticed some Zumba and Barre hateration lately. I’m both a personal trainer and a dancer. It’s obviously very important to do Crossfit- I mean strength training (:P). But I love to teach my Zumba and Barre classes and also take ballet and salsa classes at a local dance studio. I 100% agree that Zumba and Barre classes are not the answer to people’s fitness needs, but it bugs me that Zumba has become shorthand for a stupid, pointless work out. The real problem is the people thinking it is a viable substitution for strength training, not the fact that it’s a dance-based exercise class. I hope that makes sense. You probably aren’t even saying that, I just felt the need to chime in about it 🙂

  • Brent

    Barre article was great. Here is a big issue though. I’m willing to bet if you polled 100 women, and asked them which body they would want..Gwyneth Paltrow vs. Negar Fononni, 90% which choose the former, not because they necessarily perceive it as healthier but because the media has shoved down women’s throats for years that a Paltry Paltrow body (clever me) is what women need to feel worthy and wanted by the opposite sex. It’s been pretty much conditioned into most women’s head through the ridiculous anorexic cover models on popular fitness mags, that to feel worthy they need to look a certain way. Frankly, there is some serious underlying self-esteem issues going on here that is a whole ‘nother topic in itself, but the media exploits this to a tee, all in the name of profit. It’s really incredibly sad actually. The amount of women who have undiagnosed eating disorders must be out of this world. And then to throw gas on the fire we have nutrition ‘experts’ telling people what they should blacklist from their diet cuz you know, its toxic. I’m gonna go eat a lectin and a sugar cube now and go wait to die a painful death. I really want to believe it will get better. Thank god I have a sister who has high self-esteem. Can’t say the same for other females I know. ps – your gonna have to start banning me from commenting on your blog Tony. It’s all that lectin I’ve been eating. It’s making me type weird things! ahhh!!! 🙂

    • TonyGentilcore

      That’s actually a VERY fair point.

  • Paul Manfre

    God Bless You Tony! I am so tired of everything being Crossfit!!!!!

  • Susan ILikeyourface Clayton

    Emily’s my trainer and my since I started strength training, my butt looks better in my Lulu’s!

  • John R

    I don’t usually comment but since we have another cross fit posting; I sort of had to throw in my two cents. Been reading the blog for maybe 3 to 4 years, maybe 3 years ago or so was an online distance client of the guy who writes this blog for say 12 months or so. Learned a ton. Did a lot of spinning in addition to following monthly programs. Eighteen months ago I joined a crossfit. In the first two weeks there I could overhead squat a bar (45lbs) one rep, I could press 65lbs one rep, back squat around 150, front squat around 95, but could deadlift 300 with a trap bar thanks to my programming. I also went into crossfit with a ton of knowledge as to how NOT to hurt myself. A year and half later, my numbers are like 95lbs on the overhead squat, 115 on the press, 220 on the back squat, 160 on the front squat and 340 on the Deadlift(straight bar). Okay I know these are not impressive but for a 6’ 180 guy who is 59 years old, I can live with them

    The problem with crossfit is that you want to go back every day. Despite walking in every day and slamming the crap out of yourself, you want to go back. People get into it like no other exercise class that I have ever taken. You have to make yourself stay home a few days a week to recover. I have made more progress in the last eighteen months than I would have ever imagined.

    The other problem with crossfit is that the level of instruction in HIGHLY varied. I have been to 10 gyms (I travel some around the country) and some are way better or worse than others. Mine is decent but I constantly see stuff that would make Tony barf in an instant.

    Crossfit in not for everyone, is clearly not right for certain type of athletes, but for getting people to the gym, its way better than anything else out there.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Great points all around John. You absolutely can’t beat the camaraderie that CrossFit has instilled amongst its member; and it’s done a superb job of getting barbells into people’s hands. I’ve long championed that that is what makes CrossFit great.

      This post wasn’t meant as a knock against CrossFit per se; just more of a open-ended braindump at an observation I’ve made.

      Congrats on your progress, and I am very happy to hear you’ve found something you enjoy doing!

  • Great post Tony. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels weird in the store. But they are pretty awesome pants and shorts. Couldn’t agree more about the perception on everything being Crossfit. Good for them in how the brand has exploded, but I still prefer strength or hypertrophy training.

  • DaMarr Easton

    I love this. People just did S***,they lifted heavy S***,Women were strong and did S***. They did work and then some. Crossfit has some good things about it but it aint for everybody. Bottom line is , you have to lift something and that something needs to be a little heavy sometimes. Don’t be scared Step back into the light and lift. Remember , Crossfit aint the be all end all, we lifted a lot of weights and got real strong. We will continue to lift and get it done when crossfit is gone.

  • Monica Moehring

    I might have to suggest the Lulu pants to my boyfriend since he recently asked me if they make Uggs for men….ha! I’ve just recently been reading your blog since I found it around Twitter, but love the humor & great content. Keep it up!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks Monica. Hope you stick around.

  • Justin bates

    Amen!!! Well said!

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