Crossfit, People, Women and other Sports

Christmas Abbott, CrossFit, and Changing Tires

On the official website for CrossFit, it describes its philosophy as “the aim…to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness. We have sought to build a program that will best prepare trainees for any physical contingency — not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable.”

That inclusiveness has led to men and women competing in the intense CrossFit Games that have been conducted for several years now, including workouts with ocean swims, burden runs, and skillful demonstration of heavy Olympic lifts.

But CrossFit doesn’t just prepare people for its unknowable events in the Games, it also prides itself on preparing people for and strengthening their skills in other avenues of their lives. Specifically, CrossFit has aided in including women in areas typically dominated by men.

Eric Adelson, in his article, outlines the first woman’s break into a NASCAR pit crew. Adelson dramatic subtitle–“where few women have gone before”–indeed captures the impression of Christmas Abbott’s determination, which she claims is partly derived from her involvement with CrossFit, in the pit of NASCAR.

picture from Adelson’s article

Adelson details the physical strength needed within a pit crew: “the laws of physics explain why there aren’t any female members of a NASCAR pit crew: The average woman of 5-4 weighs around 130 pounds, and the average racing tire weighs between 55 and 70 pounds. So physics explains a woman of average size would have to lift and move half her weight – twice – and bolt two tires in 12 seconds or less to succeed in a NASCAR pit. Physics never met Christmas Abbott.” Or probably any other elite athlete from CrossFit. Her interest in changing tires for NASCAR was able to be conceivable from her training in CrossFit.

In a related article, Matt Fitzgerald describes how Abbott’s interest in NASCAR “strengthens female presence in racing.”

CrossFit’s potential in re-imagining gender is not focused solely within the fitness program itself, but also in its influences in other aspects of life. Because of the training and instruction she receives, not only is Abbott challenging typical gender norms, that women are not athletic (though expected to be somehow magically fit), she is applying herself to areas of work where women aren’t present. CrossFit is disrupting common notions of gender by challenging its members to achieve new but also applicable levels of fitness: women are then armed with the fitness and the instruction to aid their body in new and challenging ways, which can involve entering spheres of work that men dominate. Although Abbott made the team, she left a few months later. Reasons for why aren’t known yet, but the videos demonstrate her ability to be part of a pit crew team.

Women and other Sports

Violence and how to be sexy about it

This article I found after bouncing through other links about men in sports, trying to find social implications of gender upon sports. What’s interesting here is that the Lingerie Football League (LFL) was originally all for show: pretty ladies not knowing how to play football. Apparently that wasn’t working. Men didn’t want to watch women playing football if they didn’t know how, even if they were staggeringly gorgeous. Hmm, sex appeal doesn’t last? Interesting. LFL changed their strategy. How can “women’s” football still be sexy and have the violence from men’s football? Have pretty ladies beating the shit out of each other.

Contact sports are exciting, up to a certain point. Movies like Cinderella Man and Warrior still manage to pull my heartstrings even though men are killing each other to get money from the show. Aside from the melodrama, contact sports can be extremely dangerous too. This article delves into that as well as the unfortunate truth that these women aren’t paid–additionally, many are dropped because they make “lifestyle” changes, like actually living a life: marriage, children, just plain additional obligations.

Again I turn to my first interrogative question: what is “sport”? The more I see the glaring holes of gender and inequality within them the harder it becomes for me to keep a hold onto social definitions of sports. The original LFL shows that sports aren’t entertaining when people aren’t trained in the sport (what a surprise), but even then these institutions think society needs more. Pretty women thrown into a game they’ve never played is, well, boring. The other extreme is to throw experienced, pretty women into a dangerous contact sport. Sexy and violent: isn’t this too much? Why can’t we ever seem to escape these binaries? Can sports ever escape violence and focus upon individual skill and ability? Can “women’s” sports ever be taken seriously–why do women have to do so much to prove themselves: be sporty, be violent, be sexy. For women to enter this aggressive realm of football, they have to exaggerate those masculine qualities. Well, never so much that they become better than men, that is.

People, Theory, Women and other Sports

The Perfect Female Shape?

This post caught my eyes a few days ago because it provides a stunning array of the female body under different levels of conditioning. Truly, this collage shows us the capability of the human body to adapt to what it is given. The women here are tall and short, slender and graceful, powerful and strong. Their sports are different: the skills, the demands. Their bodies are different: the facticity, the achievements. What no one can deny is that they are all athletes, and the beauty is in what they can do.