Cult

By Jon Gilson

[Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 14, 2009.]

This can’t be a cult; the connotations are all wrong. "Cult" would imply that something foolish or devious is occurring, something motivated by greed or vanity, something to do with stars or demigods, the cosmos or the second coming.

The only motivation here is excellence. Caring too much. Pushing the boundaries. All that stuff you say during a job interview and nobody believes you.

From outside the looking glass, I can see the disbelief. I can believe the disbelief. Thousands of people, swearing up and down this is the best thing since solar power, lawn irrigation, and supermarkets, bundled into a free-if-you-want-it package and available daily, changing lives every time. It sounds like a teenager’s drunken promise, whispered sweetly and mired in mal-intent.

We do not want a cult, togas and Nikes ready for the apocalypse, and we couldn’t have one anyway. CrossFitters are too numerous to track, let alone control. They’re recklessly dispersed in America and the Middle East, Peru and Finland, Prague and Canada, arrayed under a thousand coaches, many of whom would just as soon eat horseflesh as agree with each other. Any rational human being would assume that there’s a plot, a cabal at the top, aiming to steal and maim, to prosper at another’s expense.

There’s not. I know, because I’ve sat at the table. I’ve had the conversations, reflecting on the past and predicting the future, wondering at the sheer speed of the rocket ship, the linear progression turning geometric. The discourse isn’t yachts and summer homes; it’s progress.

The driver of this mission is physical superiority; a battle-ready state, general physical fitness spurred by a contrarian philosophy and a general distain for bullshit. 

We want our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen to pummel our Nation’s enemies. We want our sons and daughters to reject a sedentary lifestyle. We want our parents out of nursing homes and into society.

The only motivation here is the higher calling, the moral stance, and the knowledge that kind of good is not good enough, that health and wellbeing are sacrosanct, that the truth is inviolable, that fitness is everything.

Decry the organization, but know that your arguments are false. This is no siren song, no massive conspiracy to suck dollars from the pockets of the credulous. This is a revolution, righteous, transparent, and effective. It is a philosophy couched in generosity and executed unfailingly.  It is a way of life, and it will continue, with or without you. 


Jon Gilson is the founder of Again Faster and former member of CrossFit’s Level I Seminar staff. Photograph from the 2011 Again Faster Summit, courtesy of Evan Saint Clair at the JournalMENU.