All CrossFit is CVFMHI, but not all CVFMHI is CrossFit

James Niemitalo is doing CrossFit by performing the workout of the day on CrossFit.com from 140305 at his home.

James Niemitalo is doing CrossFit by performing the workout of the day on CrossFit.com from 140305 at his home.

A few days ago, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” published several articles and videos that took aim at CrossFit, painting our program as dangerous. They extensively covered the injuries of two men, Kevin Ogar and Brad Hawley.

While there were many factual errors and inaccuracies within both the written article and the video produced for OTL, one stood out – ESPN falsely reported that Hawley and Ogar were both injured while doing “CrossFit.”

So what is CrossFit and what isn’t? Most people simply haven’t had to reflect on this question. Why would they? Others are misinformed by the economically motivated, who ignore the CrossFit trademark and insist the term is a generic training methodology, like circuit training. Unfortunately, this is also false, and CrossFit has won a number of major legal battles over that very question.

So what is CrossFit? CrossFit.com has this to say:

…CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity).

This methodology (CVFMHI) was defined by CrossFit’s founder and CEO Greg Glassman, and is now nearly ubiquitous in the fitness world. This is why it is so easy to generically refer to everything that looks like CrossFit as CrossFit – because many in the fitness industry (even our competitors) are now using methods first developed by CrossFit. Burpees, thrusters, and snatches mixed together and measured against the clock? Must be CrossFit right?

Actually, no.

CrossFit doesn’t own the application of CVFMHI. We also don’t own the Olympic lifts or burpees, and we don’t own classic combinations of these movements that first appeared on CrossFit.com. If we did, everyone in the world combining functional movements into intense exercise would need to send us a royalty check, a concept that’s obviously absurd.

This is where we have to introduce CrossFit as a brand. CrossFit is a federally registered trademark, owned by CrossFit Inc. By virtue of owning this trademark, CrossFit has the right to determine what activities and entities it will and will not extend that mark to. This isn’t an arbitrary distinction either, but one based in our philosophical outlook and responsibilities as a business. In other words, All CrossFit is CVFMHI, but not all CVFMHI is CrossFit.

What constitutes “CrossFit” is therefore limited to CVFMHI performed by a party that CrossFit Inc. legally recognizes. This means one of three scenarios:

1. Someone performing training on his or her own, using methods or knowledge he or she found on CrossFit.com or other CrossFit publications. 

2. Someone performing training on his or her own, using methods or knowledge gained from our  CrossFit Trainer education and certification programs.

3. A licensed CrossFit affiliate, employing CrossFit L1 Trainers who use CVFMHI to train members.

That’s it. As the owners of the CrossFit brand, we enjoy the privilege of being able to determine what is and isn’t recognized as CrossFit, and restricting CrossFit to activity of these three categories is our greatest form of quality control.

1. In the first category, we can control what we program and publish on CrossFit.com, and we can provide resources and guidelines for inexperienced athletes to begin training.

2. In the second category, we can control the content and testing processes that accompany our credentials, ensuring a standard of competence and understanding of our program among participants.

3. In the third category, all CrossFit affiliates are CrossFit L1 trainers, but we can also screen affiliates through a separate application process.

So is it CrossFit when you see a workout on CrossFit.com composed of burpees and deadlifts and knock it out in your garage? Yes. CrossFit Inc. recognizes this as CrossFit, and encourages this activity by implicitly extending the brand name to accompany it.

Is it CrossFit when you start a group fitness class at your local globo-gym and charge friends to allow you to coach them through the same pattern of burpees and deadlifts? No. 

When CrossFit South Acadiana teaches CVHIFM, they are teaching CrossFit.

When CrossFit South Acadiana teaches CVHIFM, they are teaching CrossFit.

And this is where we lose people. If you operate on the “generic” definition of CrossFit described above, this will make no sense. But the term CrossFit doesn’t describe merely a way to train. This means that even if you continue to use the same workout of burpees and deadlifts in both examples, the latter is not CrossFit. Why? Because it wasn’t the workout or the methodology that made it CrossFit in the previous example.

Remember not all CVFMHI is CrossFit because CrossFit doesn’t own particular movements or repetition schemes. You doing burpees and deadlifts from the mainsite in your garage was CrossFit because the trademark was extended to you by CrossFit Inc. itself, which does so in recognition of the exchange that occurs when you visit CrossFit.com and make an attempt to try the “workout of the day” on your own.

CrossFit does not extend brand recognition to you when you start exchanging money for “CrossFit” services at your local globo gym. Why? Because you aren’t a licensed affiliate who has met the requirements of becoming a CrossFit L1 Trainer or successfully passing the affiliate application process. There is that pesky quality control again.

Now before you go off on a tangent in the comments on how, in your opinion, the CrossFit L1 Trainer course isn’t good enough, remember the point of this post. This is to show exactly why some expressions of CVFMHI are CrossFit and some are not. Just because the trainer you work with is calling what he or she teaches “CrossFit” doesn’t mean it is. Just because you wish the CrossFit brand was generic so that you could profit from the term doesn’t mean it is. Who gets to decide what the term CrossFit means? CrossFit Inc. does.

So what about fitness competitions calling themselves “CrossFit” competitions? Some, like the OC Throwdown, are owned and operated by individuals and companies that are not affiliates. In this case, as explained above, what they are doing is clearly not CrossFit.

Some confusion arises on this point from those who fail to recognize that CrossFit is not a sport. Just like CrossFit doesn’t own movements and rep-schemes, we don’t own the concept of competing to see who has the most work capacity. Referring generically to any form of competitive fitness as “CrossFit” is therefore a mistake.

CrossFit is the organizer of the world’s premier fitness competition, the CrossFit Games. As such, the CrossFit Games, and events like the Regionals, the Open, etc. are the only “CrossFit” competitions that exist. This is comparable to the NFL, an entity that organizes large football games, but clearly doesn’t own the sport of football.

But what happens when one of these fitness competitions is being run by a licensed CrossFit affiliate? Does that make it a “CrossFit” competition? No. Because CrossFit is a brand, we retain the right to license the use of the term not just to who we choose, but how we choose. Affiliates are licensed to teach CrossFit in a gym environment, not to host local “CrossFit” competitions.

Just because we don’t recognize affiliate competitions as a licensed use of the term CrossFit doesn’t mean we are opposed to them. CrossFit affiliates can do something other gyms can’t do – brand local competitions using their unique affiliate name (for example: “CrossFit Russell Annual Throwdown”). These types of local competitions can be great for affiliate communities, but the job of organizing, hosting, and executing a fitness competition surpasses the scope of everything taught and tested for in the L1 Trainer course, and everything the affiliate model was designed to allow for. Extending the CrossFit trademark to these events in a way that made them representative of CrossFit as a whole simply wouldn’t make sense. Similarly, we could offer Yoga classes at my hypothetical affiliate, but I can’t start selling something called “CrossFit Yoga.”

These restrictions are the logical result of wanting to offer CrossFit freely to the masses, yet wanting to control and screen for who we allow to become CrossFit trainers and represent our brand.

These two examples of injury (Hawley and Ogar) aren’t enough to condemn CrossFit imitators as reckless or risky any more than they would condemn CrossFit if they had happened in licensed affiliates. Injuries can and do occur with any type of physical training, including within licensed CrossFit affiliates. The confusion of what constitutes an injury from CrossFit and what doesn’t, however, is an inexcusable error for an investigative reporter.

69 comments

  1. Farley

    Russ and Russell,

    According to this model, are these the only valid sources of Crossfit injury?
    1. Sally follows the official WOD posted on the Crossfit website. She is not a Crossfit certified coach. She is training at home and alone. Sally is injured while completing the WOD. Is Sally a Crossfit injury?
    2. Betty is a L1 trainer, and runs an affiliate box. Betty is training Jimmy according to methods covered in her L1 course. Jimmy is injured under Betty’s training. Is Jimmy a Crossfit injury?
    3. Jill is at the Crossfit games. Jill is injured during the course of the Games. Is Jill a Crossfit injury?

    • No. These are hypothetical scenarios and saying these are CrossFit injuries, or that these are the only sources of CrossFit injury isn’t possible unless you give more specific information. To answer what I think you are trying to ask, injuries can’t be attributed to CrossFit unless the training is CrossFit, just as deaths from personal water-craft can’t be attributed to Jet Ski unless those deaths happened on a Jet Ski.

      • Alex

        I’m still confused. I don’t mean to be a smart-ass, but what if we get more specific?

        “1. Someone performing training on his or her own, using methods or knowledge he or she found on CrossFit.com or other CrossFit publications.”

        1. Crossfit.com WOD is Filthy Fifty. Sally is at home doing this WOD she found on the main site the day it is posted, and sprains her ankle landing during the box jumps.

        “2. Someone performing training on his or her own, using methods or knowledge gained from our CrossFit Trainer education and certification programs.”

        2. Betty has passed her L1, and is training at home doing one of the workouts from her L1 course. It’s 21-15-9 burpees and thrusters. She sprains her wrist on the burpees.

        “3. A licensed CrossFit affiliate, employing CrossFit L1 Trainers who use CVFMHI to train members.”

        3. Jack is at Albany CrossFit, a licensed CrossFit affiliate. Kevin is his coach. Kevin has passed his L1 course, and taken the coaches prep course. The WOD is Helen, and Jack gets a SLAP tear while doing pull-ups.

        Are any of these CrossFit injuries which can be counted toward injuries per 1000 hours trained? I’m seriously not trying to troll, but want to make sure I’ve got it right. When people ask me about what CrossFit is, and how dangerous it is, I want to be able to give them the correct answer. I also appreciate that you guys take the time to respond to comments.

      • Farley

        I did read the entire article Jennifer, and I fully understood it despite my poor wording. It is better to ask, and receive an official answer than assume.

  2. J.O.

    Russell,

    I like this article and I think its important for everyone to be able to decide what is CF and what is not.

    My guess is this question remains from reading your article as well as Espn’s article.

    As far as what is the crossfit brand, please let the people know how the guy who injured himself doing a snatch (referenced from outside the lines article) was not doing crossfit. Was the competition put together by L1 coaches with certificates? I can see how it was not from the “main site” or held at an affiliate.

    “That’s it. As the owners of the CrossFit brand, we enjoy the privilege of being able to determine what is and isn’t recognized as CrossFit, and restricting CrossFit to activity of these three categories is our greatest form of quality control.

    1. In the first category, we can control what we program and publish on CrossFit.com, and we can provide resources and guidelines for inexperienced athletes to begin training.

    2. In the second category, we can control the content and testing processes that accompany our credentials, ensuring a standard of competence and understanding of our program among participants.

    3. In the third category, all CrossFit affiliates are CrossFit L1 trainers, but we can also screen affiliates through a separate application process.”

    • I’m not sure I understand what you are asking. I did point out that the OC Throwdown was not CrossFit, and why, but maybe you are asking something different.

    • The question was “are these the only valid sources of Crossfit injury?”
      I’m not sure they are. There may be other hypotheticals we aren’t considering. There is also the question of what exactly constitutes a “CrossFit injury.” If I’m running the first 400m of Helen and I get attacked by a rabid dog, that’s not a CrossFit injury, even though I was hurt doing CrossFit. If it sounds like I’m knit-picking, I am. Accuracy is important in these types of questions.

      • I totally understand knit-picking. I tore a bicep tendon while doing a C2B pull-up for Open WOD 14.2 at my box. I think that would qualify as a CrossFit injury correct? Not that it matters to me. Injuries happen and CrossFit should not be accountable for people’s actions. Everyone is responsible for themselves and their own actions and need to know their own limits.

  3. bob

    Unfortunately for your argument, people will now begin attacking CVFMHI as a methodology. So your point, although understandable, is almost trivial.
    But I guess your counter distilled down to its simplest will be that even then, any unsafe applications of CVFMHI would not be Crossfit? Clever, if it was only not arbitrary.

    • Bob, virtually every critique of CrossFit in the press IS a critique of the underlying methodology. These critiques are usually based on a misunderstanding of what we teach, but we can’t speak for what our imitators teach. Simply because two programs use functional movements performed at high intensity does not mean they are equal in all respects. On this point, I disagree that it is trivial for us to distinguish ourselves from our imitators. As for your summary of my counter, I’m not sure I would ever say that. You’re implying that I’m trying to avoid any situation in which CrossFit could be blamed for an injury. That’s not what I’m saying.

      • bob

        Of course I agree with the first sentence. The second sentence, again true, but only because some of the positive critiques are based on a CORRECT understanding of what you teach, hence the “usually,” correct?

        Third and second sentences: I agree it is not trivial that you distinguish yourself from your competitors, However, you will have to elucidate the distinguishing features between the application of the methodology, whether that be the “culture,” intensity, volume, frequency, modal domains, etc. NOT merely affiliation status and/or licensing.

        Last sentences. Yes, I am implying that you are so loyal to the brand as to purposefully ignore of and/or to vehemently deny any situations in which CrossFit could be blamed for injury. The former, actually, I hope is not true, as you seem like a good person.

        I am going to admit that I know very little about the CVFMHI methodology, but that even so, its premise seems suboptimal compared to periodization when I apply my understanding of physiology to scrutinize both methodologies. However, that is my own opinion. You don’t have to convince me otherwise, but if you wish to try, or wish to convince perhaps skeptical people outside of your large community of the superiority in efficacy and safety of Crossfit CVFMHI methodology when compared to non-Crossfit CVFMHI, please give some reasons, as mentioned above, based on physiological, psychological, or programming parameters, not just some nebulous distinguishing features such as affiliation status, and/or licensing.

      • Actually, we don’t have to distinguish the features between the application of our methodology from the application of that methodology among our competitors. They could copy workouts and methods from CrossFit.com precisely, and that doesn’t matter, because the CrossFit trademark is only extended to cover activities within the scope defined in my post. If you think that I am going to “vehemently deny” any situation in which CrossFit could be blamed for injury, please give evidence of my doing so. In point out what is and isn’t CrossFit, we may exclude some injuries from being tied to the CrossFit brand, but we open ourselves up to anything that happens as a result of training in an affiliate, training following published CrossFit guidelines, or training that occurs in the Open, Regionals, and Games. I assure you, injuries can and do happen in these situations, just as they do in ANY form of physical training.

        As for me selling you on CrossFit’s methods, I’m not going to bother. It’s nothing personal, but assessing the methods from the point of view of what is traditionally taught in exercise physiology leaves you ill equipped to understand or accept what we have found to work. I would rather encourage you to find a local affiliate and try a month of CrossFit for yourself. I think that will tell you everything you would want to know.

      • bob

        I’m going to reply to your comment to my comment, because I’m not quite sure how to work this commenting system.

        Alright, I will take you at your word regarding your recognition of injuries and your openness to modifying programming variables as to limit potential injuries, so I was wrong there and I apologize.

        However, we we’ll have to agree to disagree when it comes to distinguishing the features between the application of your methodology from the application of that methodology among our competitors. I know that you want to draw the line at the CrossFit trademark. However, for that line to actually mean something regarding the efficacy and safety of particular methodological parameters, you must note differences in said methodological parameters between you and your competitors. You cannot simply say, well the Crossfit trademark doesn’t apply to this or that situation, and so said situation is inferior in efficacy and safety to Crossfit methodological parameters. I KNOW that you understand this point, because you are a smart guy.

        Lastly, but actually not really relevant to the main point of discussion, I looked at both methods more so through my understanding of basic physiological and biological concepts rather than exercise physiology, because as you know, traditional exercise science is mostly bs.

      • bob

        And I forgot to add to the third paragraph of my response. The distinguishing characteristics don’t have to be made if one is superficially holding an organization accountable for injury.

        However, if Crossfit methodology differs from non-Crossfit methodology only because of a trademark that has nothing to do with methodological parameters, some of which are related to injury potential, the methodologies are the same; the label on each is irrelevant.

  4. katie

    Here is where you lose me a bit:

    “This is comparable to the NFL, an entity that organizes large football games, but clearly doesn’t own the sport of football.”
    If you follow the logic of “What constitutes ‘CrossFit’ is therefore limited to CVFMHI performed by a party that CrossFit Inc. legally recognizes,” – which I totally understand – then the “sport” and the “league” have become inextricably linked.

    If you tried to replace the NFL in the above quotation with CrossFit, it wouldn’t work, because what you are in fact arguing is: CrossFit Inc, the entity that organizes large CrossFit games, clearly does own the sport of CrossFit. You said it yourself – “CrossFit is a federally registered trademark, owned by CrossFit Inc.”

    A person can play football without it being recognized by the NFL. A person cannot do CrossFit without it being recognized by CrossFit Inc as such. A person who is injured playing football is recognized as having a football injury, whether it’s a 15 year high school player or Robert Griffin III – no one would ever say that the latter’s was a NFL injury.

    • You’re confused by our post because you are continuing to use the term CrossFit in a generic way that refers to any activity that looks like CVFMHI. The CrossFit Games are the property of CrossFit Inc., but the sport itself is essentially a fitness competition, or a test of work capacity. Call it what you like, CrossFit has been a brand and trademark long before the Games existed. You can start your own fitness competition and call it the Katie Fitness Games. You might even use a variety of high-intensity functional movements to test work capacity, but it won’t be CrossFit.

      • katie

        I’m not confused by your post – I completely understand the legal difference between what is branded CrossFit and what is generic CVFMHI. You missed my point.

        What I am confused by is your analogy of the CrossFit Games to the NFL and football. My argument was that the analogy does not stand. Here is what the article states:

        “CrossFit is the organizer of the world’s premier fitness competition, the CrossFit Games. As such, the CrossFit Games, and events like the Regionals, the Open, etc. are the only “CrossFit” competitions that exist. This is comparable to the NFL, an entity that organizes large football games, but clearly doesn’t own the sport of football.”

        Since you use the NFL, for the sake of simplicity, let’s limit this to American Football. Here, you have two levels: the sport and the entity. The sport, American Football, is not trademarked or legally branded. What makes it distinct is the general rules of the game. American Football is played in a variety of places and in a variety of leagues, the NFL being one of them.

        The scenario you present in this article has three levels: the sport (fitness), the particular version/brand of the sport (CrossFit), and the entity (CrossFit, Inc.). The brand distinction does not happen between the NFL and football. Again, a person can play football without it being recognized by the NFL. A person cannot do CrossFit without it being recognized by CrossFit, Inc. There is an inherent difference in the relationship between the NFL and football and the relationship between CrossFit, Inc., CrossFit, and fitness.

        To my knowledge, there isn’t a sport/entity relationship out there now where the entity has trademarked and branded a particular sub-set or designation of a sport. But if there is, it would have been a better example than the NFL and football. Or perhaps the experiences of Kleenex, Band-aid, or Coke.

    • Alex

      “The scenario you present in this article has three levels: the sport (fitness), the particular version/brand of the sport (CrossFit), and the entity (CrossFit, Inc.). The brand distinction does not happen between the NFL and football. Again, a person can play football without it being recognized by the NFL. A person cannot do CrossFit without it being recognized by CrossFit, Inc. There is an inherent difference in the relationship between the NFL and football and the relationship between CrossFit, Inc., CrossFit, and fitness.”

      I’m bored at work, so:
      “NFL” is actually the trademark extended to the league which the National Football League, Inc. runs. Thus, Russel’s analogy does work because there is the sport (football), the particular version/brand of the sport (NFL), and the entity (National Football League, Inc.). You are correct that a person cannot do CrossFit without being recognized by CrossFit, Inc. in one of the three ways listed in the article. However, a person can do CVFMHI without doing CrossFit. Just like a person can play football without being recognized by the NFL, Inc.

      • katie

        I am also bored at work. The game that is played in the NFL is American Football. The particular way the game is played is not branded by the NFL – there are NFL rules, but these are not trademarked. The NFL holds trademarks on the NFL name, logo, the “shield,” all of the logos and names of the team franchises, and the Super Bowl. I totally agree that a person can do “fitness” or CVFMHI without performing the particular brand of the sport designated as CrossFit. But you can’t make that exact analogy to football – you can’t say – a person can play football without performing the particular brand of the sport designated as NFL football. Because that brand does not exist. There legal brand of the sub-set of the sport is missing.

      • Yes, and you are just clinging to a generic definition of CrossFit that is methodological. Just as a football game isn’t the NFL even if they all follow NFL rules, fitness competitions and fitness facilities aren’t doing “CrossFit” even when they attempt to perfectly adhere to our methodology.

      • katie

        Uuugh. You are entirely missing the point. I am not even talking about the definition of CrossFit, I’m not arguing you on it, or saying that generic fitness competitions should be called CrossFit.

        All I am saying your analogy doesn’t work because you are not comparing apples to apples. The main difference that I see – The NFL has not trademarked its particular “brand” of football. CrossFit, Inc. has trademarked its particular brand of fitness.

        It seems like you don’t agree. But it would be cool if you would acknowledge what I am actually talking about instead of making this about me “clinging to a generic definition of CrossFit.” Neither of your responses have anything to do with what I am raising.

      • I don’t think I am missing your point. You’re missing mine. You said “CrossFit, Inc. has trademarked its particular brand of fitness.” This is incorrect, as explained in my post.

      • katie

        I guess we are both entitled to think we are each missing the other’s point. My point is that I don’t think the comparison between CrossFit and the NFL should be made. We obviously don’t agree on this.

        When I said “CrossFit, Inc. has trademarked its particular brand of fitness,” I was not implying the generic definition of CrossFit that is methodological. I am not saying the CrossFit, Inc. owns CVFMHI or burpees or olympic lifts, just as you say in the beginning of this article. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. I’ve never disagreed with that point.

        But CrossFit, Inc. does own CrossFit as a brand. As you say, all CrossFit is CVFMHI, but not all CVFMHI is CrossFit. That implies that a sub-set of CVFMHI is a branded as CrossFit.

        “This is where we have to introduce CrossFit as a brand. CrossFit is a federally registered trademark, owned by CrossFit Inc. By virtue of owning this trademark, CrossFit has the right to determine what activities and entities it will and will not extend that mark to. This isn’t an arbitrary distinction either, but one based in our philosophical outlook and responsibilities as a business. In other words, All CrossFit is CVFMHI, but not all CVFMHI is CrossFit.”

      • Yes, I’m with you. I’m just not seeing how the NFL analogy doesn’t apply. Perhaps you are trying to apply it broadly to the entire post, where I was simply using it to help distinguish the CrossFit Games from the generic sport of competitive fitness.

  5. Jay

    But it absolutely sounds like you’re trying to find any way out of an injury being attributed to CF, and it makes sense, since you work for the brand. That said, since CF is at least responsible for the mass adoption of the underlying methodology, even if it is practiced outside of the CF Inc boundaries that you have so eloquently drawn, doesn’t it make more sense to make this an argument for quality coaching (coaching that CF purports to provide), rather than using what amount to technicalities to avoid blame in a legal sense? You guys came up with this methodology (which works), the community, the games… all great. But what about making the argument that some things, while possibly dangerous, are less dangerous with quality instruction (that can be found at your neighborhood affiliate)?

    Example.. sky diving isn’t dangerous if you’ve had proper instruction. You might even be okay if you ordered a parachute and used it on your own (assuming you could get someone to take you up and let you jump). But that doesn’t mean you aren’t better off on your own

    I think people get frustrated by the use of nitpicking and technicalities to avoid any perceived blame, and it just further entrenches opinion on both sides. CF did an excellent job embracing the dangers of rhabdo and educating its people to deal with it even though it’s rare. CF/ CVFMHI injuries happen… But with the right coaches they’re far more rare and certainly less catastrophic.

    • We are avoiding blame for the two accidents reported by ESPN because CrossFit isn’t to blame. That by no means that these accidents and injuries couldn’t have occurred in a CrossFit affiliate, but it demonstrates the pathetic state of “investigative journalism” published by ESPN. If you don’t expect nitpicking and technicalities from those who claim to be investigative journalists, you might want to reconsider where you get your news.

      This post in particular was simply a practical opportunity to explain what ESPN, and many of the commenters on our previous post missed.

      • John

        The video of the Ogar injury wasn’t even because of the snatch. It was poor placement of the extra plates behind him and since it wasn’t a Crossfit event then there is no way that ESPN should have used the scare-tatics that Crossfit is dangerous.

        Even if it was at the Crossfit games it wasn’t the exercise that hurt him, it was poor setup by the event coordinators.

      • If the CrossFit Games had an injury to too poor equipment placement, I would say CrossFit Inc. was to blame. In this case though, you are right that CrossFit shouldn’t have even been mentioned.

  6. roberto ignacio

    CrossFit was defined a long time ago long time ago by the Godfather Greg Glassman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvM8aY1_tfI There it is in his own words. Crossfit is high intensity functional movement. This is how the vernacular is used when G.G. or Castro or Miranda use and have used the term. The term has been genericised (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_trademark) already. I get it, all this is to try to mitigate potentially losing the trademark. Just be honest. It’s clear as day.

    • Roberto, we aren’t changing the definition of CrossFit, which is a very specific methodology defined by Greg Glassman, as you point out. We are explaining what should be obvious, that CrossFit is a unique brand and trademark that only extends to the activities and properties we allow it to. If you can find examples of court rulings that show the CrossFit mark is generic, please do. I’m guessing you posted a wikipedia link because you can’t. As it stands, we have won a number of major legal battles on this very question, and the courts have found a high likelihood that our trademark would be considered “famous” at trial. If you want me to be honest, that’s more relevant than your personal opinion on the subject.

  7. Jacob

    Russell,

    I’ll clarify my comment. The OC throwdown would constitute as a crossfit workout/event.

    Here’s Why:

    You said:
    ———————————————
    “That’s it. As the owners of the CrossFit brand, we enjoy the privilege of being able to determine what is and isn’t recognized as CrossFit, and restricting CrossFit to activity of these three categories is our greatest form of quality control.”
    What constitutes “CrossFit” is therefore limited to CVFMHI performed by a party that CrossFit Inc. legally recognizes. This means one of three scenarios:

    1. Someone performing training on his or her own, using methods or knowledge he or she found on CrossFit.com or other CrossFit publications.

    2. Someone performing training on his or her own, using methods or knowledge gained from our CrossFit Trainer education and certification programs.

    3. A licensed CrossFit affiliate, employing CrossFit L1 Trainers who use CVFMHI to train members.”
    ————————————————-

    So basically the OC throwdown would have to be considered crossfit according to one of the following:

    Is the workout from the mainsite? no
    Was the injured person performing training led by methods of L1 coaches? Yes
    Did the event take place in an affiliate with L1 trainers? Yes

    Thus this dude was injured doing crossfit when he was injured.

    • Jacob, you are incorrect.

      You missed the part where CrossFit doesn’t extend its trademark to for-profit events hosted by private companies. The presence of L1 trainers and the fact that the event was held in a CrossFit Affiliate don’t change that first point.

  8. its getting crazy folks—i am a crossfit certifeid trainer and love crossfit but dont love all of crossfit–but for the record —Crossfit and Glassman did not first develop the use of burpees, thrusters and such so dont ever print that again—I was doing sandbag thrusters and burpees at an insane high intensity level in Marine Corps bootcamp in 1988 long before 2003 start of crossfit—lets stop drinking the kool aid like this

    • I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, but I’m pretty sure you failed to comprehend what you read in this post. You’re accusing us of printing something that we didn’t print. In fact we said the exact opposite. Maybe try reading our post again?

    • Alex

      I don’t believe you’re “certified.”

      “Certificate holders may state they are CrossFit Level 1 Trainers/CF-L1 Trainer but shall not state or imply that they are certified, registered, or licensed, nor shall they use any other titles or designations to signify the attainment of the certificate other than those identified in this Handbook.”

  9. Anthony

    Another clarification. If I design my own workout and unbeknownst to me it was on the Crossfit website days/months/years earlier that is not Crossfit. Correct? It’s only Crossfit if I saw it on the website first and then performed it knowing that’s where it came from? Thanks.

      • Farley

        Does that include only named workouts? I am not sure how the brand extends to all of the workouts, although covering the methodology makes sense to me. Also I don’t understand how that would be enforced. Please elaborate.

      • No, it includes any of the content published on CrossFit.com and the CrossFit Journal that someone can use as a resource for training on his or her own. There is nothing about this that needs enforcement. It’s simply a fact of how we use our trademark.

  10. Brian Buell

    If CrossFit isn’t a sport, why does it own the trademark “sport of fitness”. I actually thought CrossFit was supposed to be a sport and a brand. If the sport we’re partaking in is fitness, and not “CrossFit”, why would CrossFit refer to the Games as the “Sport of Fitness?” If the Games (and Opens, Regionals) is the only place where competitive CrossFit takes place. If the Games are a sport, how is at least part of CrossFit not a sport? Should CrossFit itself not be referred to as the “Sport of Fitness”? And only the Games should be referred to in that way?

    • It doesn’t. That trademark was registered by Reebok. http://www.trademarkia.com/the-sport-of-fitness-85525336.html, but they may be handing it over to us.

      Regardless, the catch-phrase “Sport of Fitness” shouldn’t lead to any confusion. Competitive fitness is the sport we are discussing. Another way to phrase that is “the sport of fitness.” As the first on the scene and the innovators of this new sport, we have the opportunity to register trademarks like this. If you don’t like it, you are honestly free to call the sport whatever you want (Just as the Euro’s and Americans can’t agree what to call soccer), but it would be inaccurate to call it CrossFit. For the same reason it would be inaccurate to call any game of football an NFL game.

  11. MOT

    For the NFL analogy, then (I assume) the correct way to put it is: (if I was playing footbal) I had a football injury. Then (I was doing CVFMHI) so I had a CVFMHI related injury?

    • We are in a position of authority, as representatives of CrossFit, to be able to explain the proper use of our trademark. We are not in any position to tell you how to describe injuries that occur doing training that isn’t CrossFit. You can describe the injury as it relates to the gym, coach, competition, or generically refer to it as the NSCA does with any of their bizarre acronyms (HIIT, HIPT, HIT). These are just suggestions.

      • Dunc

        Hi,
        Thanks for the article.
        Can you please explain how the acronyms HIIT, HIPT and HIT are bizarre? Maybe in comparison to CVFMHI.
        Thanks.

      • The terms are bizarre in their application to CrossFit. Specifically, the NSCA and others have called CrossFit High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which is inaccurate, as CrossFit only sometimes uses intervals. They have also called it High Intensity Power Training, which is oddly redundant since Intensity is defined as average power output. I guess I don’t have as big an issue with High Intensity training, but the definition is sorely lacking as a description of CrossFit’s methods.

  12. Let me offer an analogy that might help some of this (might not, I can never tell). Many of you are confused by our distinctions and continue to be hung up the “I was doing Fran in my garage and got hurt how can you say it’s not CrossFit??” Let me try this analogy: imagine for a moment that I used to work at Coca Cola and I know the secret formula for Coca Cola. I then reproduce the recipe in my own factory and sell it as “My Cola.” I use the exact “recipe” that is the exact same as the one Coca Cola uses. Someone drinks a batch of My Cola and gets sick. Now I try to say it’s Coca Cola’s fault because I used their recipe. Would you blame Coke? No, unless you could show that it was the exact recipe itself that caused the harm and NOT some flaw in your reproduction of it. And you wouldn’t fault Coca Cola for saying, “whoa, hold on a minute, that guy wasn’t licensed by us, wasn’t subject to our processes, etc. and he’s not us.” Can one not see how the analogy applies? People use our methods/recipe of CVFMHI in their garage, but they do so NOT under the supervision of a licensed Level I trainer, and NOT at a licensed affiliate, and want to claim that it is “crossfit” that is to blame for what happened to them. [Actually, that never happens. The few lawsuits we’ve had in the RRG have been almost all of the “slip and fall” variety and had nothing to do with CF programmatically.] What we really get is the bogeyman reporting about “crossfit” injuries, with no one ever actually citing what affiliate they got it at, what trainer was responsible, what exact flaw in oversight, methodology, or programming caused it. In short, rumor. The one study that was going to take an “objective” look at it made up injuries for people who simply did not test out of the program. I’ll offer some logic for those who really care: most small businesses fail within the first few years. According to Forbes (citing Bloomberg), 8 out of 10 fail within the first 18 months. 80% fail within 18 months. Let that sink in. CF Affiliates have a 95% survival rate at the 5 year mark. Let THAT sink in. Somehow, though, our detractors are certain affiliates are hurting people at the rate of 16%, which would mean that in 5 years, you would have injured almost every client in your gym. Yet somehow, these clients must be brainwashed because affiliates keep on growing. And doing better and better. And the constant refrain we hear is that CrossFitters won’t shut the eff up about CrossFit – which is injuring them at 16% per. You tell me who is full of shit in all of that logic? All I know is that every affiliate I talk to is growing, getting bigger, doing better, that the time to solvency keeps going down, that their clients are doing great, etc. I don’t hear about how in 6 years they’ve injured everyone in their gyms once (or the mathematical equivalent). Applications are not down, they’re up. Must be some kind of crazy reverse market trend where a bad product continues to drive consumers in the door in greater numbers.

  13. Brian Buell

    This is directly from http://games.crossfit.com

    © 2014 CrossFit, Inc. CrossFit and Forging Elite Fitness are registered trademarks and 3,2,1…Go!, Fittest on Earth and Sport of Fitness are trademarks of CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Here’s what I’m saying . You’ve defined the CrossFit as The Games (among a couple other things). The games self-refers as The Sport of Fitness.
    Can’t we complete the syllogism? CrossFit is the Games. The Games is “The Sport”. CrossFit is a sport.

    • Brian, There are two problems with your comment. First, I don’t think your argument is valid, as we have never defined CrossFit as “the Games.” More importantly, you’re trying to apply aristotelian logic to Trademark law. That is unfortunately not how law works.

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  15. JR

    I would assume that if I follow the CrossFit Football WOD’s, do mobilitywod.com work, or CrossFit Endurance I am doing CrossFit? Are you doing CrossFit if you are following training from an Affiliates’ site?

    • If you are doing “CrossFit Football” or “CrossFit Endurance” you are doing CrossFit Football or CrossFit Endurance, not CrossFit. Your second question makes me think you didn’t read my article. If you did the answer should be obvious.

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