Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym

December 21, 2009

Crossfit Culture and the Lack of the Male Voice

Filed under: real talk — Tags: , , , , , — Micah Vandegrift @ 10:52 am

As many of us are aware, there is a gendered element to almost any modern cultural practice. I was taught during my time in school to critique and question the culture that surrounds me, in effort to challenge myself as a thoughtful, informed human being and to hopefully inspire others to look at things differently too. I had not considered applying these skills to my involvement in the fitness/health sphere until recently, but when I started to think through what I was seeing and reading I knew I had to formulate some sort of commentary.

from Crossfit Unlimited

The culture of sport is, like many other aspects of life, inextricably divided on gender lines. We have addressed some of these issues in past posts on this very blog, and I don’t think I need to go through a history and update on the state of male/femaleness in American sports. Let it suffice to say that in recent years there have been considerable movements for the inclusion and acceptance of females as high-performing, capable, amazing athletes. In fact, I would go so far to say that Crossfit is doing a lot currently to empower females to their full potential, and in my brief experience with the Crossfit movement there seem to be as many female heroes doing Crossfit as there are males. As you might be picking up, my issue here is not with the treatment of females in the movement, but with the image of the males involved. So with this all in mind, here is my query – if this movement is so focused on creating a balance of health in real life, how do we account for the apparent lack of male voices discussing fitness, lifestyle and reality outside of the WOD and the gym? Is Crossfit, like the popular perception of many other strength-based programs, populated by a bunch of numskulls and jocks who care solely about their Over-head squat max?

Again, based on my short and limited experience with Crossfit, filtered through blogs, online videos and discussion boards, I’d like to think that those voices exist. There are some extraordinarily gifted and intelligent men out there who we see a glimpse of every now and again. (Jon Gilson of Again Faster and Robb Wolf come to mind). But, the overwhelming majority of writers/voices that are discussing and connecting Crossfit to real life, with personality and relatability, seem to be female. Two ladies that the team here at FAHBG like to follow are Thera Storm and Melissa Urban. My question is this: are there male voices out there writing about Crossfit AND life? And if, so why are they not rising to the top and receiving recognition within the community? To further complicate things, is the movement, by not having/encouraging such a male voice, relegating females to a particular role – as behind the scenes commentors/writers – and thus limiting their influence or agency in the Crossfit culture? I don’t even want to get into the objectification issue, as more and more hits on our blog are coming from searches for “Sexy Crossfit Girls” ect. (Not to mention 90% of the pics on the CFHQ website home page are of sweaty, good looking females.)

As a young, educated male with broad and varied interests, I would feel a lot more comfortable associating myself with the sport and community of Crossfit if it seemed like there were other, similarly interesting men in the movement sharing their experiences working out and living outside the gym. Fortunately, there are several such characters in our garage community, and I think we represent balance pretty well, pushing hard in the gym and pursuing our various interests with the same fervor. And yet, even as I am writing this, I can imagine the comments and heckling that one might endure if a male Crossfitter were to write and share about life the same way Thera and Melissa do. Perhaps this is all just that 14 year old punkrocker in me, tired of being picked on by the football team, wishing to bulk up like Henry Rollins, and still wear my politics and beliefs on my sleeve.


This post was inspired positively by Thera’s amazing post on the value of women, Melissa Urban’s letter to her mom, and inspired negatively by the current controversy within Crossfit surrounding Robb Wolf. This is also meant as a challenge and encouragement for men in the community to speak up, write and share!


November 3, 2009

A Primer on Initial Diet Changes for Newbies at FAHBG

Filed under: diet, real talk — Tags: , , , , , , , — frandrewrowell @ 8:51 pm

A few of you who are new to the gym have asked for some really basic first steps towards a diet change.  So, here goes…


Most of us have a shake for breakfast, right after we’ve done the morning workout.  My shakes look like this:

1.5 scoops of Champion Nutrition Protein Stack Whey (about 39 grams of protein)

1 scoop of organic cold milled flax seed (huge container from costco lasts me forever)

1 or 2 raw eggs (we get them from a local farm)

1/2 of a frozen banana

3 frozen strawberries (good ole’ costco)

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries (ditto)

1 cup of whole milk (we get it from a local dairy)

1/2 cup of water.

That’s usually about 2 shakes worth, but i never, ever complain that it’s too much for little ole’ me.

Lunch and Dinner

Here’s a huge first step – just don’t eat anything but meat and non-starchy vegetables and drink water (or maybe unsweetened tea) with every meal.  This means no bread, no pasta, no potatoes, no dessert, no cokes…try to stay away from bread and sugar/corn syrup like they are the carriers of the plague. Learn to make mashed potatoes out of cauliflower.  You’ll never go back.

Look around our blog – click on “diet” (see, especially this post (thanks, Micah and Mara!))and see some of our deeper conversations about how to eat at Chic-fil-a and not die (get the chicken salad without the bread or the strips and a side of fruit instead of the fries) or how to make a squash sing.  We also like www.marksdailyapple.com for receipes that help keep some variety in what we eat. Every now and then we’ll have a big feast where we all prepare some of things we’ve been trying.

Now we aren’t all crazy faithful about all of this – we probably stay in the zone of that suggested diet about 80% of the time.  But we’ve found that if you focus on making the vast majority of every meal involve a dead animal and some green, red or yellow veggies, you will see your body shape change along with our workouts very, very quickly.

We are mixed on the dairy front (some are primal diet folks with dairy, others are paleo adherents and stay away from dairy), but try to stay away from heavy cream based salad dressings and the ice-cream-gluttony that might have been a part of your old life.

Here’s the deal – after about a month, you’ll be so used to your suddenly limited diet that the little bit of cheating we all do by necessity goes a long way toward curtailing your sweet tooth (or whatever it is that you miss most).  The glorious thing is that the mantra “fat does not make you fat” makes you a lot less concerned about that yummy layer of fat on your brisket. Instead, you focus more on avoiding the insulin kick that sugar gives you that will SLOW DOWN the progress you’re trying to make in making your body into the (hot) temple of the Holy Spirit which God intends for it to be by His grace.


You will be hungry, all the time, when you are doing these workouts.  So try to snack on things like raw almonds, a spoonful of almond butter, and oreos.  I mean, not oreos. Dadgum, there’s a big package of oreos right here on my desk at the church….o…r…e..oo…sss…

Forgive me.

Almonds are your friend – i mean it – don’t go anywhere without them for your first month.  They are the rosary prayers of a radical diet change.

Good luck – feel free to ask some questions in the comments!


October 1, 2009

Introducing Mrs. Sisson

Filed under: diet — Tags: , , , , , — Mara @ 1:20 pm

Here’s a great post by Mark Sisson’s wife, Carrie. She practices a primal lifestyle as well, and as a post-menopausal woman, she looks incredible. In the post she answers questions from readers regarding what she eats, how she exercises, etc.

Three things stood out to me:

1) She is a fish eating vegetarian (added fish to her diet when she realized she needed the protein), which is interesting for those of us/you who avoid various animal protein sources for one reason or another. Here is one successful primal person’s story on that. She also eats a lot of dairy (hooray!) and protein powder, probably to compensate for that lost meat.

2) It shows some of her food blog. She eats well over 100 grams of protein a day…. Dang! She is obviously in the “maintaining” category, so she eats a lot of fat. Abby, I thought this might be useful for you to look at!

3) It is nice to hear from a woman, and an older one at that! For us girls, and for any of you with mothers or sisters, this is inspiring and also addresses some of those questions that male bloggers can’t touch.

Posted By Mara

August 26, 2009

Changing the Language

Filed under: real talk — Tags: , , — Lady Who Cooks @ 12:25 pm

So besides getting my body hot, I love Crossfit for its equality. It seems as though this extremely masculine workout regiment is very accepting of the female presence, which is a very nice and refreshing change. I love when men not only accept that women are strong but also push them to get stronger. For women of the 20th century, it’s a positive and elating step away from the caveman era. Yet, besides this wonderful progression towards equality, there’s still a lingering problem holding us back, language. For example, lighter bar = woman’s bar. It appears as though anything that is lighter in weight obviously must belong to the ‘women’. Yet, don’t get me wrong, I know it’s purely unintentional. Even I didn’t really notice it till Andrew said something about the woman’s bar and I asked if he was referring to the lighter bar. For centuries women were made to feel as though we are the weaker sex, and it’s only been with the last few decades where we’re beginning to realize that we are a lot stronger than what people have given us credit for. Yet, don’t think I’m man bashing, because women have also been the ones to discredit themselves. I assumed the lighter bar was for the women, that was purely me but now I’m determined to change my mentality. I feel as though as long as I think the lighter bar is for me, I will always limit myself to a lesser weight. I am excited though that Mara and I have such wonderful and supportive guys to workout with. You guys push us forward and I hope we do the same for you.

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