The downfall of “RX”

Level 1 CrossFit Trainer, Christina Cooke, shares perspective on “RX”


So there I was, lounging pool-side on a breezy beautiful day, Spanish conversation floating around me, kids splashing, coconut-rum drinks flowing.  I’d thrown some fitness into my day: 400m of swimming, handstand-push ups from the bottom of the pool, arm-curls from the supine position. Internet isn’t terrible in PR, since I couldn’t eaves-drop on conversation I cruised the interwebs instead.

Enter Every self-proclaimed crossfit-junkie knows that main-site posts all their workouts with just one weight prescription, aka “RX”.  The programmers and head-organizers claim that there is no women’s weight, because anything less than what’s posted is modified. Ok, I get that. Cool. Rock-on… Kind of.

Today’s workout is from this weekend’s Games programming with one slight difference, women’s weight is not listed. I know, it’s never listed. If it’s less than what’s posted then it is modified.  The women this weekend carried out the same workout with 115 pounds per bar-weighted rep. These women have worked for years to be able to manage this capacity of work at this speed (under 7 minutes).                                                                                                                                                      ladies     Back to the website. If CrossFit HQ doesn’t even hold female Games athletes to the “Rx” standards of a posted workout, then how should any other female expect to function at the expected “Rx” level? It’s incongruous or biased. Or some fancy-sounding politically-incorrect way of describing how much this issue urks me.

If these are the “fittest women on earth” and “Rx” weight isn’t even programmed for them during the most intense assessment of their fitness, how could CrossFit programmers ever expect any other woman to rise to the level of strength expected of

Sure, I understand that this type of training is supposed to prepare me for the unknown and unknowable. I know that someday if I’m faced with a life-saving task where I’m alone without any help whatsoever that being the strongest, smartest and most efficient athlete/person/woman I can be is going to increase my chances of survival or encourage the most-positive outcome. I live this theory every day.

But let’s get real here for a minute. What’s wrong with just having an “Rx” women’s weight posted and calling it Women’s Rx? Why is this so hard?  It’s science that the male and female body are not the same. I’m okay with that. Fat distribution varies, hormones are not the same and muscle accumulates differently.

Am I silly to feel this way? I want women to be strong. My life was turned around, flipped up-sided down and rearranged after discovering how amazing it was to experience personal gains in the gym-which ultimately transferred into life outside. I want women to be strong. But in the end, I understand that one organization’s definition of strong shouldn’t be how I define it.

Language fascinates me. We use words repeatedly to mean one thing, and by the time we’re finished saying it, the words mean another. One group’s definition of Prescription, from a drug allotted to ingest or directions for medical-use moves to simultaneously mean a weight recommended (expected) to lift. Because language is ever-changing suggests that thoughts and ideas are ever-changing. Cultural growth thrives on this.

Time and time again, we CrossFit-junkies read articles about mental-toughness and perseverance in redefining what other people consider to be strong, whether it’s for or against us. As much as I’d like to change how a larger organization defines fitness and strength, the least I can do is shine light upon another view. Because I’ve experienced the countless effects this type of training has had on my life, this I owe my fellow athletes.                                                                               1013331_674132672624871_421914277_n

Instead of alienating half the athletes of CrossFit training into thinking they’re less than adequate, I’d rather build them up, give them scientifically-realistic numbers to strive for and encourage them to dedicate their training time to making measurable gains. If our mental prowess remains such a beneficial proponent of our success, why not cultivate the shit out of it? Unrealistic goals create failure and decrease our motivation to achieve beyond our capacity. (I don’t have any articles to attest to this, but I bet at least three coconut-rum and cokes that there are a few out there!) I’m not saying make it easy, but a little more attainable seems reasonable.