Best Defense

A short addendum on PT: Some wrong ideas about CrossFit in the media

Best Defense guest columnist Jim Gourley questions the media's approach to CrossFit.

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By Jim Gourley

Best Defense chief of physical training

A few unexpected items of note came up in interviews with USMC HITT and public affairs staff and the leadership at the Army’s Physical Fitness Training School. Both Ryan Massimo and USMC public affairs personnel stressed that HITT is in no way inspired by CrossFit. HITT was developed in partnership with the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Tactical Strength and Conditioning Program. CrossFit has an established position of being anti-NSCA.

CrossFit and the Fort Stewart Frontline (.pdf) reported that Lieutenant General Robert Abrams instituted the widespread adoption of the CrossFit program throughout the 3rd Infantry Division during his command stint. The Deputy Chief of the Army Physical Fitness school, who was present during the interview with Mr. Palkoska, happened to be a company commander in 3ID during Abrams’ tenure.

When the subject of CrossFit in the Army came up, he explained that the story was overblown. “The official memo that General Abrams put out stated that units had to conduct high intensity training once a week. It did not say we had to do CrossFit. Not even at lower levels was CrossFit specified. My battalion commander said that we would follow the policy, but we could conduct that high intensity training however we wanted. Some units did CrossFit multiple times a week. Other units conducted regular training. CrossFit was not part of the policy.”

Jim Gourley is a former military intelligence officer. He now works as an author and journalist covering military affairs and sports science. His newest book, about ultra-endurance triathlon, is in stores now. His Twitter is @jim_gourley.

Photo Credit: Dvidshub

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at Twitter: @tomricks1
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