“The aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness”
Jennifer Hargreaves, in her book Sporting Females, discusses the aspect of disability in sports, or more specifically, its exclusion from sports. She writes, “It has been argued in capitalist societies, disability is individualized and medicalized…and in common with the conventional image of the aged, the popular image of disability embodies physical inability and is associated with the idea of sports for therapy” (Hargreaves 268).
Eli Clare, a writer who focuses more specifically on disability, believes that activists, but I think everyone involved within an institution like sports, should “add disability to their political agenda” (ix). Largely, he argues that disabled people have been “institutionalized” (x). Rather than thinking of ways in which society can adapt to different identities, our society tends to reject and ignore these identities and they become marginalized. The image of disabled people and fitness is tied with sports or physical therapy, as Hargreaves notes. However, “disabled sportswomen [and men] are rejecting the conventional concept of the handicapped participant and are keen to be recognized for their sporting abilities and successes and not their problems” (268).
CrossFit is a forerunner in this “issue” for a “political agenda.” Although other sports, like individual running, have seen the included disabled athletes, CrossFit is sport and a fitness regime that is unique from those other sports. CrossFit allows for athletes to adapt themselves to the workouts, or reversely, the workouts can be adapted to a person’s level of fitness and ability.
Chris Stoutenberg’s YouTube Channel demonstrates the ways in which the workouts can be adapted to different levels of ability. In one video, an athlete demonstrates a burpee from a wheelchair, and at one moment has everyone cheering him on to complete the ground to overhead movement. This moment shows the power and adaptability of the human body because the athlete must get the weighted bar overhead. Nondisabled people are able to generate power from their hips to move heavy weight from the ground, rather than expending more energy with other, smaller muscles, like in the arms. But here, the athlete essentially deadlifts the bar while in the wheelchair, and then flips the bar position to get the bar overhead. The movement, although different, is just as invigorating to watch as a nondisabled person’s execution of the movement.
It remains to be seen whether the CrossFit Games will included a division for disabled athletes, but that isn’t keeping athletes from adapting workouts to their ability, rather than being excluded for not being adaptable to the movement.
If you follow us the by this point you should be familiar with Steph and the obstacles she has overcome on her Path to Fitness. For those not in the loop, (@iadaptfitness) Steph has Cerebral Palsy and is the first CF L1 coach with CP. She has competed as an adaptive athlete and was just featured with our CEO on the CF main page last week. Here's a video today of her doing unassisted sit ups (modified) for the first time. She is encouraging others to hash tag #thinkicanthursdays to highlight something you achieved that you never thought you could. List your accomplishments here and DM us your videos or pics and you may get a repost to highlight your achievements. #adaptandconquer #thehammer #cpcantstopher #crossfit #crossfitgirls #wodlikeagoddess #wodgod #achievements #inspired #neverquit #girlsthatlift
This is another demonstration of exercise being adaptive to other athletes. “Steph has Cerebral Palsy and is the first CF L1 coach with CP. She has competed as an adaptive athlete and was just featured with our CEO on the CF main page last week. Here’s a video today of her doing unassisted sit ups (modified) for the first time. She is encouraging others to hash tag #thinkicanthursdays to highlight something you achieved that you never thought you could. List your accomplishments here and DM us your videos or pics and you may get a repost to highlight your achievements,” from the_wod_god_apparel on Instagram