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8/3/2012 1:50:06 PM -
You didn't build that business...

I’m going to do something highly unexpected here: I’m going to defend CrossFit. No, it’s not what you think. I’m still not the world’s biggest fan of their whole culture and the way CrossFitters train, but there’s an aspect of what they do that I’ve come to understand, and there’s a point I want to make here.

If you’ve ever dealt with CrossFit’s upper management, and I have, you’re aware of how they’ve come by their reputation of being “difficult.” No matter what, they pretty much toe the party line, and if you attack them – or if they perceive themselves as being attacked – they’ll come at you like a pack of rabid dogs.

You know what? I get that. I really do.

Think about it. Take anyone in the fitness industry who’s made it big with something. You can use Dave as an example here, too. When you come up with a concept and bust your ass for a decade or so to build a business around it, you’re eventually going to make a lot of money if you’ve done it right. That’s what Dave has done with EliteFTS, and that’s what Craig Glassman has done with CrossFit. Disregard, for the duration of this article, any disagreement you have with what they actually do. You cannot possibly argue with the fact that Glassman had a great idea for a business, he worked very hard to get his business to where it is, and he’s made a stunning financial success out of it. He’s also made a lot of money for a lot of other people.

Seriously, who would have thought you could take a bunch of people doing Olympic lifts, muscle-ups, Glute-Ham Raises and sprints, competitively, and get the thing televised on ESPN? If you pitched me that idea ten years ago, I would have laughed at you. But CrossFit did it, and they’ve done it well.

Now, CrossFit gets a bad reputation with rank-and-file fitness people because their members act like they’re part of a brainwashed cult. We’ve all seen that. Okay, no problem. They also get a bad reputation among other people because they’re so fiercely protective of their brand. If you even say CrossFit in a public forum, and they don’t approve, you’re going to be contacted by someone from their organization telling you to cease and desist.

I agree with this practice, and I know why they do it.

I haven’t built anything myself, and I’ll be the first to admit that. I haven’t come up with a signature training system like 5/3/1, or a signature nutrition program like Carb Back-Loading, so I’m definitely not speaking for myself here. I have, however, seen other people do this. Friends of mine. It’s a played-out phrase, but I know people who were in this business, “in the trenches” and “under the bar,” doing their thing for a decade or more before they figured out what they know. It’s that level of time commitment and work that provides the sweat equity for their intellectual capital – not to mention the inspiration behind finding some kind of hook that differentiates their system from all the others.

With all that, however, comes what I call the “latch on” – the people who, for whatever reason, decide to ride the coattails of the more successful guy. They’ll do this either by falsely identifying themselves as some kind of associate of the original guy, or in some cases by blatantly plagiarizing his work with little or no credit given to the guy that spent the past ten years developing the information. I’ve even seen people write articles for popular sites simply regurgitating information from other people, slapping their picture and personal touches on the piece, then directing people to come to them for more information.

This astonishes me, because 1) I don’t think these sorts of people are aware of (or even care about) the amount of work, in terms of time spent in the field and experience, that goes into creating something, and 2) These people don’t think about the money they’re conceivably taking out of someone else’s pocket – especially when you identify yourself with whatever you’ve latched onto, but you don’t pay the proper homage to the originator.

So, CrossFit? Yeah, I get why they are the way they are. If you come up with a good idea, and you put in the work to make a living off it, you have to defend it to the death, I guess, and that’s what they do. I have a better understanding of that now.

Angry Coach

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