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Sunday
Apr142013

Inside the Box: How CrossFit Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body by T.J. Murphy

What a fun, inspiring and fascinating book Inside the Box is. More than anecdotal history of the early years of CrossFit (yeah, many of you just discovered CrossFit, and sure, it’s less than a decade old, but there are definitely ‘back in the day’ times, people and events), Inside the Box brings the reader right into the skin of author Murphy. As a veteran magazine editor, in the triathlon field no less, T.J. recounts with gleeful abandon and honesty his careful, then free-fall, immersion into CrossFit. I enjoyed every page.

As a writer, Murphy knows how to set the stage. His re-telling of a 2010 experience at L.A. Fitness, witnessing what turns out to be the first CrossFit workout he’d ever seen, is compelling. As a personal trainer in a similar globo-gym, yet a member of a CrossFit affiliate, I realize and understand how surprised and full of wonderment he was, watching what proved to be a seven-minute beat-down (workout), all bodyweight, no machines. Author Murphy was on a treadmill at the time. And he was hooked.

As a “student” of CrossFit, yeah, a geek for the sport, I was fascinated by the re-telling of the early days. Greg Glassman receives a lot of attention, as surely he should, and I found much of it compelling. The personalities of the founders, the early ‘fire-breathers,’ the first affiliate boxes - they all come alive through interviews and the experiences of everyone Murphy came to know. He found himself at the epicenter of CrossFit’s founding mothers and fathers, unaware at the time. 

Reading Inside the Box is similar to having the YouTube videos from the first years of CrossFit come alive on the page and in the reader’s head. Murphy’s background as a competitive marathoner and triathlete is essential to his unraveling the attractions and mysteries of why CrossFit turns the switches in so many people, builds such community,  and takes on such a major role in so many lives.

Many fine books about CrossFit are yet to be written; this is the first. Murphy is active today in the CrossFit media world; he’s co-host of the new Metcon Radio podcast, and the subject of the inaugural episode. Inside the Box, ostensibly about his first year in the sport, is really the chronicle of Murphy’s new life in sport. Nicely done.

VeloPress, $18.95

Saturday
Apr132013

Why CrossFit?

I've written and posted many reviews, columns, interviews and articles relating to CrossFit on this blog over the last three years. Look for them under "Stuff I Like." Last year a bunch ran on the games.crossfit.com site as well, from the beginning of the Open to the Games. This year I was asked to write for the site once more but my personal training business, writing for myself, and life crowded it out. 

Much of my time is spent working with people about food and nutrition. I have made my living as a personal trainer for years, in a large commercial gym. More and more, I find that for optimum health, fitness and performance (in life, not merely in the gym), it's all about what one puts into their body, when, and what doesn't go in. All of this is fascinating to me.

CrossFit is a big part of my life. More than a style of exercise, more than a competitive athletic endeavor, it's glue in my life. My wife brought me into CrossFit years ago; sharing this passion is beyond special. One of our daughters has competed; two have been to CrossFit affiliate workouts. It's a running joke that nearly all our friends, our social life, are composed of people from CrossFit.

Our idea of a Friday night out, after a long, draining week, is the 5:30 WOD perhaps with some prowler pushes afterwards! Later at home while relaxing with dinner (almost always the same meal, with red wine), we'll watch the CrossFit Games Update show, or other videos. Each week we discuss with each other our favorite moments and fine points from the current episode of Wodcast Podcast!

I'm a life-time gym rat, 58 years old, slowly training my body to effectively work through Olympic lifting and whatever level of gymnastic moves I can attain. Decades of traditional strength training, bodybuilding and powerlifting built a strong body with limited range of motion. Slowly it's yielding to stretching and training.

Why am I running on about this? Because I have so many new readers, so much recent exposure, and want to share my passion. CrossFit, for me, is as much about the passion, community, and sense of accomplishment as anything else. Do not let age, injuries (like Eddie Ifft, I'm always injured in some way, but unlike Eddie, I didn't run track!) or a busy life stop you from trying for your personal brass ring. Don't even begin to tell me you're too busy to prepare food ahead of time, or are tired of eating the same foods, or cannot find time to train. I don't want to hear it. 

You'll be reading and watching my videos about supplements, weight-training products, food, books and magazines, the CrossFit world in general, and my little niche in it.

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