There's a running joke that Crossfit is a cult and many parallels have been drawn between the social norms and practices of both Crossfit and cults. The way crossfitters behave, speak, interact, and view things often mirror that of a cult member, and this aspect of Crossfit has become fodder for critics.
In order to analyze and put things into perspective some of the common characteristics associated with a cult can be used as a checklist of sorts to determine if Crossfit is actually a cult.
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader.
In the box your leader is your coach. They're the one who shows you proper movement and technique, comes up with the programming, and coaches each member through every WOD. Your coach is the person who becomes the one you trust the most to get you stronger and more fit in a safe and proper way.
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
Ever since the mainstream took notice of Crossfit the overwhelming information released to the general public has been negative. In only focusing on one part of Crossfit the mainstream has molded a certain perception for society of what Crossfit is.
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leaders and members.
Crossfitters have been called the "douche bags" of fitness. This label is the result of the conflict that has developed with wider society mentioned above. Instead of just taking the insults and jabs that come from every direction, crossfitters have chosen to fire back creating this negative perception of elitism.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
All crossfitters at one point in their Crossfit journey have told someone that "they should try Crossfit". This wasn't done to build or strengthen the ranks in order to create a Crossfit army to take over the world. It was done because you had seen first hand the benefits Crossfit had in your life, and you just wanted your friends and loved ones to have the same opportunity.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
No one requires that crossfitters ONLY socialize with other crossfitters. It just naturally happens that your social circle comes to include (sometimes heavily) other crossfitters. Like any other social group you are drawn to others who share the same experiences, beliefs, and way of life as you.
So is Crossfit really a cult? It does appear to share a lot of characteristics with a cult so some may come to the conclusion that it is; but who really cares? If people want to label Crossfit a "cult" in order to vilify it then so be it. We can embrace that label and put our own humorous spin on it like we always do. So pour yourself another cup of Kool-Aid, head to your box, and pick up that barbell!