I recently came across this article in the New Yorker, “Kettlebell Poetics: The Culture of Crossfit,” and I just had to share it. It’s not often that you read such elegant prose paired with an inelegant workout like CrossFit. Also, the author – Thomas Beller – a crossfitter, offers a compelling defense for the sport without actually defending it; or addressing the concerns raised by some in the media.
Here are a few lines that I enjoyed. You can read the full article here.
I first saw the kettlebell at the gym. Amidst the mirrors, the gleaming weight machines, the whir of ellipticals and treadmills, it looked conspicuously medieval, primitive, even a bit sinister, as though it were part of an intricate and now obsolete system of weights and measures, or a weapon used by the barbarians when they stormed Rome. And yet, there was something comforting about the pleasingly round shape, like a potbellied stove or a witch’s cauldron.
Joining CrossFit is similar to joining a gym, but the spaces, called “black boxes,” are barren, utilitarian, almost willfully ugly. There are no mirrors. There is a faintly post-apocalyptic vibe to the culture, as though it were training for survival.
Or was I just instinctively trying to loosen my body to the point where I could squat down beside my children, where I could hover effortlessly for a long period of time, seeing the world from their point of view? And when the time came to stand, could I rise without collapsing, and even, if circumstances called for it, lift them up with me so we could survey the world together?