Short post here gang.  I was collecting the final clips needed for the upcoming vid and watched Gary Taubes' appearance at CrossFit just today.  OMG people.  Is it just me?  Or does the CEO of CrossFit make you a little ... umm ... uncomfortable?

Paging Dr. Davis!  I mean, really.  I'm no physical specimen myself.  But I'm also not Founder & CEO of CrossFit either!  Promoting Gary Taubes and how CrossFitters have been behind him for a long time.  Ummmmm....  Especially fun was after the intro how Gary (looking pretty fit if you ask me, or at least lean) lamented being the least fit person in the room. 


I don't know much about CF & the Paleo roots and whatnot.  I've learned a little more of late, but please realize I'm pretty much totally out of the loop and don't even really know what CF is specifically.   So when I see stuff like this it does make me gasp and wanna shake some people!  Really man ......... :-(


Here's the master dropping more of his brand of science in the NYT today. This time on salt and how, you guessed it, everything we thought we knew is wrong again:
Anonymous said…
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Lerner said…
That criticism has been voiced through the years and I've read the claim that so-called Coach Glassman has some unspecified health problems.

The awful irony of Taubes + CrossFit is surprising if you know the story of Wolf and The Zone and VLC.
Unknown said…
There is an enormous back story here--google black box summit crossfit. Glassman, by all accounts, is an *interesting* character. I was watching some Crossfit regional vids a few weeks ago and he was so scruffy, among all the coaches and athletes, he literally looked like a homeless person had wandered into the regionals.
Anonymous said…
Coach aka Couch has been a chunky womanizing money grabber for as long as the internet can remember.
Lerner said…
The irony of salt: the Cochrane group carries on its front page a glowing recommendation from The Lancet. Then there came the Cochrane review on salt, which said it wasn't so bad. Next came a scathing critique of the Cochrane review, unusually quickly, rushed into online publication so as to ostensibly counteract the inevitable coverage in the popular press. That scathing critique was published in... The Lancet.

So there is controversy. But if Taubes says that it is perfectly safe then I now think we ought to keep it in the type of containers used for spent nuclear fuel.
Anonymous said…
Now, just because gary goes off the deep end of carb stuff, deosnt mean that everything he writes is garbage.

The evidence that is behind salt and cardiovascular disease is as depressingly low quality as that behind fat and cardiovascular disease.
CarbSane said…
Hey JC, This is what's so frustrating about Taubes. Too much BS makes it impossible to tease whatever good from the nonsense. If he would have walked his way back on TWICHOO I could respect that. But no.
CarbSane said…
WOWZA!! Lots to catch up on there, thanks for the Google hint Emily. And here I thought LC land was where all the drama started ;-)
Anonymous said…
Don't forget that crossfit's official diet is the ZONE - Barry Sears... The apex of dietary pseudoscience.
Mike said…
While there's an awful lot of drama behind Crossfit, Zone and Paleo, I must say that my wife and I both love our Crossfit gym. She's been going for almost 2 years doing Crossfit workouts and I joined about 6 months ago to do some olympic weight lifting (most boxes do both since there's a lot of overlap).

There's a genuine community feel behind these gyms. People will cheer on the owner when he squats 385 lbs, but they'll also cheer me on when I struggle to do 85.

There are plenty of valid criticisms of Crossfit as a workout regimen and the nasty politics in Crossfit corporate but the community they gave birth to is amazing.
Mike Howard said…
Crossfit has some good attributes: Their gyms are near-perfectly equipped - barbells, kettlebells, gynastics rings, etc. They have taken a traditional "commercial gym" approach and turned it on its head.


The requirements to become CF "certified" is laughable considering what they ask participants to do. At those intensities and with the technical proficiency required to perform many of the lifts, CF coaches should know how to screen somebody.

There are also fundamental flaws in their programming, to wit: no semblance of periodization (everything is very random), multiple reps of highly technical lifts (olympic lifts should NOT be performed for high reps),kipping pull-ups (ugly for the shoulder joint).

Lastly there is a superiority complex and a cult-like mentality attached to CF. Many of their proponents are way off their rockers and refuse to believe any other system measures up. (sounds like other cults we know of here.. hmmmm.)

As for Couch Glassman - the man is a piece of work. Doesn't seem all there at times and makes very brash and oftentimes untenable claims.
Mike Howard said…
Here's a primer on Glassman and Crossfit:
LeonRover said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
LeonRover said…

Viscerally plump Glassmann (it a gas, mon) is fronting CrossFIT ?

Clearly, he does not see what a counter-example he is to the clients of his business. His employees MUST be sniggering quietly behind his back.

Maybe even a Fixx-like irony in the making??

As for GT - this latest article is a return to what he writes well about - failures in scientific speculation.

However, having spent 80-90% of "the dietary delusion", he let himself propose ANOTHER delusion. He put himself in his own firing line. Oh, dear.

"O wad some Power the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!" Robert Burns

"If he would have walked his way back on TWICHOO I could respect that." Evelyn Kocur

As for BS Barry, his dietary composition %ages are a variation of Gannon & Nuttall's LoBAG diets.

Muata said…
Evie, here's a great read and criticism of CrossFit by one of mentors, Steve Maxwell, that I think you'll find interesting:
Unknown said…
I am strictly "old school" when it comes to exercise but I sure would like to have a set of rings at my gym
Thomas said…
I'm not sure it's fair to judge Crossfit by the shape of its founder. Clearly many Crossfit disciples look very physically fit (is it because the athletes tend to gravitate toward Crossfit or that Crossfit makes people more fit?). I think Crossfit as an activity has its shortcomings; mostly that it isn't very safe and that 90% of the population shouldn't be doing such loaded technical stuff.

Interestingly, the antithesis of Crossfit, the high intensity training, machine based crowd (of which I am more a part of), is also very fond of paleo and low carb and also loves GT. Many do IF and love to workout in the fasted state.

If you want to find a group of exercisers that isn't into low carb, you're going to have to look at the runners/marathoners I think.
Tonus said…
Fitness is as commercialized as diet, if not more so. As comical as it is to see that the CEO of any fitness company or product is out of shape, it's almost as absurd when the owner or pitchman for an exercise product looks like Mister Olympia, with his bulging muscles and sub-10% body fat. Yeah, using a rudimentary ab-crunch machine gave you that body, Adonis...
Mike said…
Far all its flaws, Crossfit/Paleo is a potent recipe to transform a couch potato into a fit person. You get a fitness program, a support community and a diet plan all wrapped in a single package.

They have a recent series of videos called "Killing the Fat Man" where a forty something year old fat guy takes up the challenge. It's a bit of a time investment, but quite entertaining and inspiring.

You'll also get an idea of what the workouts are like, how they scale the programs according to fitness level, etc.

Here's the first episode:

Killing The Fat Man Episode 1
ProudDaddy said…
You might want to expand your view. I, too, do HIIT, IF, machines (safety for an old man), but my carb intake is far from ketogenic. More importantly, the serious guys in the weight room with me are far from lo carb. They use more carbs in their post workout shake than I eat all day!

And I certainly don't subscribe to GT's simplistic war on insulin. If I did, I'd never get enough protein to avoid sarcopenia.
Swede said…

That was an incredible article. I have never thought of fitness and strength from that angle. Very interesting to hear about the various presidential administrations lamenting the poor fitness state of the youth even back in the '50s. Imagine what they would think now!
bentleyj74 said…
It can be problematic to assume qualification or expertise in any given field from the ceo of a company. I knew a ceo whose inherited company manufactured gun parts but who personally had a BA in journalism and spent what seemed an inordinate amount of time worrying over the font on the catalogs. The smart ones hire people who are competent in the needed areas to manage them and stay way in the background. I'm not very familiar with crossfit or it's ceo but if he's putting himself out in front he's not a very smart businessman.
Lerner said…
He's actually the founder.
Swede said…
Excellent article.

SPAM ate my previous comment?
Tsimblist said…
Ditto on the article.

@Swede: I saw your earlier comment and later it was gone with no explanation why.
yaktipper said…
I've tried at various times to figure out what was wrong with Greg Glassman with no luck. Hints of a gymnastics injury perhaps, but no solid sources. Greg Glassman deserves credit in my personal journey for introducing me to an expanded definition of fitness and a different perspective on the limits of intensity. On the flip side I learned to guard against overuse injuries and cult-like thinking.

Seeing how many CrossFit followers are practiced defenders of the faith, expect to get an overwhelming number of comments here at some point in the near future.
Swede said…
Absorbed by the internet collective body?

I though it was interesting how prior US presidential administrations were lamenting the poor fitness state of the youth. That was in the '50's?

If only they could see us now.
Craig said…
CrossFit is pitched as "the sport of fitness". They invest a lot of time, money, and marketing in the CrossFit Games. Glassman has claimed that exceptional athletic achievements are synonymous with exceptional fitness and health (a point of view that many reasonable people will dispute). And he likes to go by the nickname "Coach". From that perspective, one may indeed be an exceptional coach without having been an exceptional player. In fact, exceptional players rarely make good coaches.

On the other hand, to the extent that he views CrossFit as a lifestyle choice for fitness and health, then his own non-compliance to the program is a bit of a fail.

I have seen two excuses offered: (1) He has a bump knee and a limp, from a gymnastics accident; (2) As CEO/Founder of a successful business enterprise, he doesn't have enough time to do the workouts regularly.

Unfortunately, these excuses reinforce some of the criticisms of CrossFit: too dangerous, takes too much time.
Unknown said…
There are people in wheelchairs who work out in my gym so I'm not buying the bum knee excuse.
Mike Howard said…
Glassman did a good job of packaging what we know of now as "CrossFit" but he certainly didn't create this type of workout - which has been mentioned in magazines as early as 1974.

I'm surprised the cult-fitters haven't swarmed here too!
Sanjeev said…
> He's actually the founder.

I feel a commercial coming on, a la Cy Sperling; some version of

"I liked the beer belly so much I bought the company"
ItsTheWooo said…
The "least fit person in the room" comment sounds like his opening joke he had been rehearsing in the mirror the night before. Gary Taubes looks a thousand times better than glassman.

Throw a chunky gold chain and a windbreaker on glassman and you have yourself an extra from The Sopranos.

Or, maybe he looks more like a recent release from the state bin. Posturing/thought content says "I am coming off a mania"; belly says "I take a LOT of seroquel".

Let this be article of evidence 385009 that "paleo" is a silly little cult.
Anonymous said…

Glassman's metabolic syndrome tells us nothing whatsoever about paleo as CF as a franchise model business or exercise philosophy has never had anything at all to do with Paleo.

Paleo diets were simply adopted by CF enthusiasts and box owners as a quite reasonable alternative to the Zone.

Glassman's gut is to CF as Jim Jones' drug addiction was to the People's Temple.....
ItsTheWooo said…
The popularity of crossfit tells us a lot about the mentality of "paleos".
...Kind of like when I'm working nights and religious patients have the televangelist channel on, where some runty little sheister speaking in rhythm and rhyme, ranting/shoving the sickness out of people for a fee.

It shows those devout are gullible, will believe anything that is popular/hyped, even when there is a good reason to be doubtful. In other words, Krusegate and food reward mania and so on.

The moral failings / deceit / lies of religious / cult leaders are not exceptions, but the rule. Morally bankrupt people often become very good at manipulating people with words; sometimes they can become very charismatic cult leaders. Your example is ironically spot on.

It's not the fact this man looks like a manic depressive in convalescence or that his main food source is a 6 pack of budweiser daily... it's the fact he has basically bullshitted his way into mass popular hysteria, and suckers are eating it up. Certainly it is possible he has TEH SECRET! for fitness, but if this guy can't even manage to look minimally healthy (I don't mean super fit, but at least healthy for his age group) what are the odds he knows what he is talking about? Why should I listen to him again, other than the fact he's got an awesome ponzi scheme going and weaker nervous system types are drooling lobotomized zombies at the bottom fueling it?

I'll be the first one to argue we shouldn't assume a person knows what they are talking about just because they are thin / trim / attractive ... however, I DO think we can assume a person probably doesn't know what they are talking about if they are offering health advice, but happen to look like they have had several CABG's and a random blood sugar will be over 140. It doesn't work in reverse. If you look like a corpse, like utter *crap*, like your body is ridden with metabolic disease, you probably don't know how to control or prevent it... or at least, you don't know ENOUGH to attempt to lead / guide others hoping to make changes in their own lives that they can sustain forever.
CarbSane said…

What I find sad about Zone is that it's a pretty good diet for a lot of people, but as I recall based on a lot of theories made up out of thin air.
Renee Lee said…
Short answer: Robb Wolf, paleo guru and all-around great guy, was one of first folks in the Crossfit fold. Robb pushed paleo, crossfitters ate it up. Then this happened:

Yay drama. I can't believe that was almost 2.5 years ago. Feels like yesterday
Muata said…
@Swede - One thing I appreciate about "Coach" Maxwell is that he not only practices what he preaches, but he's a good writer too. I think his criticism of CF is spot on and also the whole "fitness industrial machine" too. As far as CF is concerned, I have on anecdote. I have a colleague that joined a local CF box. He was very excited about joining, and when I asked him what they had him doing his first couple of workouts, I just shook my head. They had him doing overhead squats and box jumps his second day there! Now, this guy is not overweight, but he's clearly not in the condition to do this type of training.

So, when I saw him limping down the hallway a couple of weeks later with a cast on his foot, I wasn't surprised. He had a stress fracture (I forget exactly where), and thus ended his CF career. Now, I know that every CF box is different, and that there are competent coaches out there, but this is just one story I've heard from people who join CF.

The only shining light about the CF hype I can see is that more people are becoming interested in learning the Olympic lifts ... so much so that Reebok has actually put out a new Olympic lifting shoe.
Lerner said…
Aye, there's the rub... CF officially had The Zone, but Wolf wanted to teach VLC Paleo, so Wolf is out of CF. But wait, next Wolf semi-abandons VLC, but CF is now seemingly dumping The Zone in favor of VLC Taubes and also for Paleo.

Surrounding all of this is the specter of Gary "exercise is counterproductive" Taubes giving a talk to the hyper-exercising CFers... the same hyper-exercisers who have mostly abandoned post-workout carbophobia.

As a side note and to top it off, I did see a video talk by Dave Castro (the anti-Wolf from CF and involved in the whole dustup), and in that video he seemed like a very nice guy, too. Very reasonable presentation about exercise, also.
S SD said…
Maxwell is genius
Eric said…
One problem I can see right away is it's hard to conflate low dietary sodium with increase risk unless you did continual workups to see if they are precisely the people that should be eating less sodium because of family or personal risk factors.

Personally I think the literature is not as cloudy as many might think. Doctors recommend lower sodium diets for those who are salt sensitive, most of whom have risk factors for heart disease. As a society we are looking to reduce excess sodium from foods but, as was noted in the article, there has been little change in sodium intake for the general population.

Taubes steps up and makes it sound like adding a salt lick to your house will be protective against heart disease and I think that is irresponsible.
Woodey said…
"Far all its flaws, Crossfit/Paleo is a potent recipe to transform a couch potato into a fit person."

Oxymoron? Something that flawed can't be that potent. On a side note I am all for killing fat men and fat chicks for that matter, such ugly people tarnishing society.

I can't wait for the day when I can wake up and all I see are skinny muscular beautiful people. Maybe we can get lucky and all those people with glasses (killing the four-eyed man) will be gone as well. All those loathsome people with perceived imperfections gone, dare to dream. It didn't work for Germany in the 1930-40s, but that's ok we can always try again. If at first you don't succeed try, try, try again.

On another side not the female trainer was damn hot. I've always had a weakness for brunettes. There's just something about dark curtains that turns me into an insatiable carpet bomber.
Mike said…
"Something that flawed can't be that potent."

I don't agree at all. I think the Biggest Loser approach of chronic cardio and fat phobia is deeply flawed, too, but there's no doubt that it's a remarkably potent method.
Woodey said…
TBL is nothing more than a gimmicky reality show designed to make money at the expense of desperate people wanting to lose weight. Putting people through extremes is not healthy nor is it safe, not too mention that many of the contestants gain their weight back. Nothing remarkable about the show, except maybe its ability to get people to think it has the answers to obesity.
ItsTheWooo said…
Just curious why you think protein deficiency is necessitated by GT's ideas or even a rational/sanely executed VLC diet?

If you take insulin control to the logical extreme of "any insulin is bad" then yes, your conclusion makes sense. Unfortunately, no sane person thinks this because without insulin you would be super dead super quick. Adequate protein intakes stimulate insulin, and are also absolutely essential to health.

On the other hand, a bag of starch (e.g. tater) offers nothing of value for an extremely fat person, a diabetic person, or similar sick individual and anyone who thinks eating this is just as good as a ketogenic diet is kidding themselves to put it bluntly.
ItsTheWooo said…
PS I always find it amusing when I show people my pictures // talk to them IRL and they say something like "yea well wait till you get older/fat - that diet will catch up to you!!"

LOL I"m 30 fricken years old in a few wks, and I already WAS fat. My skin that resists aging and youthful appearance and low body fat is a RESULT of my diet. I look early / mid 20s BECAUSE of my diet. I have the body of a teenager BECAUSE of my diet.

If I never went on ketogenic diet at 20 I would probably be an obese aged hag by now, like pretty much everyone else in my peer group.
CarbSane said…
Hey Gang! A little behind on the comments here but wanted y'all to know I've read them all. Certainly I need to follow more discussions on the back stor(ies) with CF & paleo as some of that explains a LOT about what happened recently as well. I don't know enough about CF to comment on the program. I was always under the impression that the central control is loose and local QC varies -- therefore as a brand, I personally would be a little wary, but if we had CF out here I wouldn't be averse to checking it out. I just know that at this point in time CF is not for me. The only thing I'll ever discourage about exercise is overdoing it -- and I really am surprised there aren't more injuries on TBL.

I was more just shocked at the physique of the founder and CEO. Craig's "excuses" comment hits home. It's just another example of hypocrisy, and it looks to me like you can't out exercise or diet a drinking problem (?). Then again, many coaches' physiques leave far more to be desired. It's just that this guy was up there on stage extolling the virtues of Taubes who has never been paleo (though revered by many), and Zone is too high carb to fit TWICHOO either.

Yeah, Wooo, practiced jokes should always be reassessed though ;-)

Welcome to the Asylum Renee & yaktipper!
bentleyj74 said…
Now that Razwell has been removed my post looks weird.
CarbSane said…
Scrubbed the spam. Sigh. Sent your stray comment to spam so it doesn't look like you were naughty :)
Woodey said…
Weird is funny though and its the new "cool".:)
ItsTheWooo said…
Just want to correct you: GT has never said exercise was worthless for health/fitness in fact he emphatically states he believes exercise contributes to health. GT himself exercises regularly.

GT has argued exercise makes you slim, reduces body fat long term, in absence of co-occurring diet change. I have no idea why so many people get off misrepresenting the very practical and reasonable arguments GT has contributed (i.e. smashing the myth that exercising more will cure obesity), meanwhile they turn a blind eye to the RAMPANT ABSURD QUACKERY that passes for obesity therapy (i.e. "the biggest loser", which is nothing but a freakshow, and has no relationship at all to what it really means to long term control the disease of obesity, merely an exercise in ridiculing/mocking/parading around freaks for our entertainment... but JM has the audacity to attack taubes. Oh TEH IRON-E).
CarbSane said…
Wooo, if you've read or listened to Gary Taubes he has honed his arguments. Carbs make you fat and exercise is useless for weight management. Nobody is misrepresenting him on either count.
LeonRover said…
Yeah, Gary does reference Newburgh and Hugo Rony in some decades old studies on exercise - but chooses to pump iron.
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