October 8, 2008
October 10, 2008

If you read the Washington Post, or at least its website, you probably came across an article entitled “‘Gym’s High-Intensity Workout Left Me Disabled,’ Man Testifies” yesterday. Those who follow the main site or the CF Forums are already familiar with the incident the WaPo is reporting. However, we wanted to post this article here and hear your thoughts about situation or the article itself.

For the most part, we at CFDC are pretty gung-ho about doing our workouts.   We know that the price to pay  will be physical discomfort, often for days to follow (although not to the same degree that is at the heart of this situation). Considering that and what happened to Mimms, what are your thoughts or concerns regarding this case and this piece from WaPo?

*Thanks to Chris S. for passing along the link!*

Maiko posted this, and I want to see everyones comments, but first make a point.  CrossFit is known for its hard workouts.   We strive to find the most potent physical stimulus, because we know thats what leads to adaptation.   We know that these workouts deliver a punch, so it is the job of the trainer to discern how much of a dose is appropriate.  Scaling is one of the main facets of CrossFit training, making a workout appropriate for each individual. 
I have no idea what happened in the case mentioned, so I will refrain from commenting, however I feel that CrossFit as an organization has been exemplary at warning of the dangers of rhabdo.    Here is an injury that occurs almost as a given in every marathon, but the few people warning of the danger are held up as the problem.   In fact, every gym has a waiver  warning of the danger of exercise, and people die in them, or in races, or baseball practice regularly.   CrossFit are up front about not just the inherent risk, but how it happens, and how to best avoid it.


  1. CFDC Maiko says:

    Got several thoughts on the article and the whole Mimms situation, the biggie is personal accountability (1). Maybe I was just lucky and had a great CF trainer from the get-go and a great set of instructors at Krav Works, but no one ever got on me for making my own water breaks in between sets. If they did, I would have ditched them in a heart beat because they clearly don’t have my well being in mind. I think the complaint about not having breaks is just another sign of the infantilization of this nation where no one wants to actually use their brain, or refuses to trust themselves, and basically wants to be told what to do like a little child so they won’t be held accountable for anything. Whatever injuries I’ve had it was all my doing even if initially I sought to place the blame on someone or something else. I am responsible for listening or not listening closely to my trainers and my body. Same goes here in my opinion.

    (2). On the other hand, the trainer in question could have been one of those wannabe hard-asses that DOES get on you from doing anything beyond what they want you do to. The ones who could give a damn less about a person’s capabilities and limitations. Tom has been and still is keen on making sure everyone is pushing as hard as they can but not killing themselves. I did scale a lot in the beginning, but sometimes Tom still had to make sure I wasn’t pushing myself to the point of injury (this mainly has to do with intensity).

    (3). The CF community is good about warning others about rhabdo, but it’s pretty hard to find that info on the main site. When I first got into CF, I spent a lot of time reading the main site but inevitably had information overload. While this kind of goes against my first point, maybe it’s time to put an article on rhabdo in the Start Here section. After this case first came up, I put up Eugene Allen’s great article in the CF 101 section of this blog. the Start Here section does go over scaling which ideally should be enough, but a simple link to Eugene’s article in the section may be beneficial after this case.

    (4). Now the article itself…despite CF not being named as a defendant in the case, the article spent a lot of time on the “dangers of CF.” Rhabdo isn’t just a CF induced injury, you can get it from running marathons or playing other sports. Hell, my knee problems came about from impacts to it that you usually get from RUNNING ALL THE DAMN TIME.

    I think it’s easy to attack CF because it’s so different to your average American (we use kettle balls!). Maybe the author didn’t think people would be interested if they didn’t talk about this crazy workout craze that’s gaining popularity. I would have appreciate it if the authors spent more time on the potential injuries of ANY exercise programs, or at least something focusing more on trusting your trainer versus your gut or even better training for trainers since that seems to be the real issue at hand. It was good to see Quantico represented in a not-so “omg they’re DANGEROUS!” light, but my praise ends there.

    AND I’m tired of typing so I’m going to stop. Apologies if I got too ranty or even incoherent. Bottom line – be smart, check the egos at the door, and do your research. This goes to trainers and trainees alike…and reporters as well!!

  2. CFDC Maiko says:

    Holy shit on a stick! I wrote a lot more than I thought I did!

  3. Tom Brose says:

    Maiko, excellent pointsn you nailed it.

  4. Chris says:

    (Sorry, this will be long – I’m a bit verbose)
    My first reaction to this article: How Ridiculous! The more I thought about it, the more I tried to see the whole picture. Mostly, I would echo what Maiko and Tom have already said, since I feel the same way – Personal Accountability, and, to a much smaller degree, Better Oversight.

    Personal Accountability: Each and everyone of us has endured a case of Rhabdo at one point or another and not just with CF (although, Steve O’s leg matrix is a damn good reference point for anyone who attended that workout…) A really good write up explaining Rhabdo (without ridiculously unnecessary medical terminology strewn throughout) can be found here: http://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/archive/rhabdomyolysis.html.
    The key: hydration. Mimms says (via his attorney) that he was “not told to stop.” Now, disregarding the blatant hand-holding this statement indicates is required, what most commenters, especially on the WaPo website, seem to ignore is the length of time of Mimms workout. 90 squats – if you did 1 squat every 10 seconds, it would take you 15 minutes to finish; 1 squat every 15 sec would take about 22 min; 1 squat every 20 sec!! would take half an hour (and I seriously doubt that a 26 year old retired Navy man who ran and played tennis with his wife would need 30 min to complete the cycle, but I could be wrong). Would a lack of water during this workout really have led to Rhabdo? Possibly, but more than likely, it would seem that his hydration levels BEFORE working out were severely lacking, and that his hydration attempts AFTER the workout were also severely lacking.

    Better Oversight: To echo Maiko, perhaps I have been lucky with the coaches and trainers I have worked out with in the past. Tom Brose is definitely at the top of that last (free class for the shout out, Tom?). It’s easy to get lost in a sea of classmates all participating in the same workout regimen. Yet, Tom has the ability to see a whole room of people and pick out bad form, over exertion, etc. Additionally, it’s incumbent on every participant to “check their ego at the door.” This is hard for anyone – it’s no easy feat to swallow your pride for six classes using weights that are more than half of what your peers are using. A good trainer will help to both enforce and ease that ego check – and Tom again excels at both. Unfortunately, with Rhabdomyolysis, it’s impossible for a trainer to know a participant is suffering from Rhabdo, since it’s impossible for the athlete to know (thus, while Mimms couldn’t recognize that his body was undergoing the process of muscle breakdown, neither could a trainer). So while a trainer can’t be assured that he will get a straight answer, attempting to verify whether a beginner has drank plenty of water before a workout, reminding them to get water whenever they need during the workout, and possibly reminding them to drink plenty of water or electrolyte-beverages after a workout goes a long way to negating any potential fallouts.

    I also love this quote from an MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Assoc) article about Metabolic Diseases of the Muscle (you can find the article here: http://www.mda.org/publications/fa-metab-qa.html):
    “A person with exercise intolerance may also experience painful muscle cramps and/or injury-induced pain during or after exercising … [t]he degree of exercise intolerance in the metabolic myopathies varies greatly … even from one individual to the next … [f]or instance, some people may run into trouble only when jogging, while others may have trouble after mild exertion such as walking across a parking lot or even blow-drying their hair. Each person must learn his activity limitations.” Yea – I love that last part.

  5. tomandami says:

    What follows is the work-out in question that is claimed to have led to the plaintiff’s rhabdomylosis –

    “Makimba” (A CF Kids work-out)
    Three rounds, one each of 15-10-5 reps, for time, of:
    Dumbbell Thrusters with 10 lbs
    Air Squats

    Give me a fucking break –

    I would support all of the foregoing comments, emphasize that knowledgeable, effective coaching is critical to success in pursuing CF at any level, and acknowledge that CF is not for everyone given its intensity and character (but then neither is Pilates). In this regard, and in contrast to just going to the gym to “work-out”, Tom’s, i.e., a knowledgeable, experienced professional’s, oversight and the CF site’s information and evidence-based approach have been equally essential to my positive CF experience.

    P.S. – Notwithstanding the foregoing, I am currently preparing a complaint against Steve O based on the leg matrix work-out and Chris is star witness #1 and Maiko will be the surprise witness.

  6. CFDC Maiko says:

    Omigod, are you a lawyer too Tom?? How many lawyers does CFDC have?

    I started thinking about the whole situation a bit since posting my comments and having a few e-mail exchanges with Chris S. How do you guys think this will affect other affiliates and the affiliation process? Like Tom (the Brose one) mentioned, the affiliate in the case (CF Virginia if I remember correctly) was actually de-affiliated some time ago. Do you think this will lead to strict regulation of how affiliates are run or an even stricter certification process? Or will this be treated like a fluke?

  7. Allen Y. says:

    It looks like he won the lawsuit. UGH Ridiculous.

  8. CFDC Maiko says:

    It is! I’d really like to see a transcript of the trial to see what was said. But this is why I’m wondering if there will be any changes to the way CF manages its certifcation and affiliation processes. I don’t check out the CF Forums as thoroughly as I use to, but it doesn’t seem like this is bringing up a lot of discussion.