The Biblical Roots of Crossfit

The Biblical Roots of Crossfit February 19, 2015

Back in late 2013, my friend Rebecca suggested I do Crossfit. “It’s recess for grown-ups!” she gushed. So on Labor Day, I joined a box (Crossfit gyms are called “boxes” because most days, you feel like you’re going to be carried out in one. Like a pine one). And while it wasn’t untrue that Crossfit is recess for grown-ups, it’s also crazy hard some of the time and ridiculously, insanely exhausting all the times in between. And a lot of fun.

I had a three month membership (I can’t handle a lot of fun at once), and despite all the moments of thinking I was going to die, I ended up stronger, leaner, and thinner (lost 2″ at the waist, and have kept it off). Nowadays, I work out at home – bought myself some kettlebells, a medicine ball, an ab mat, and when there isn’t nine feet of snow or subzero temps outside, I go out on the patio to jumprope, do wall balls, and use free weights. It’s all good.

And just the other day, I realized that Crossfit has its roots in the Bible. Amazing but true!

Probably the Crossfit-est of dudes was Samson. The guy was a beast.

Samson demonstrating the Jawbone Snatch
Samson demonstrating the Jawbone Snatch

This is the precursor to the modern day Kettlebell Snatch, as well as the Kettlebell Swing. In his day, it was kind of a team WOD, where the team happened to be an enemy Philistine army. The modern day version is an individual movement, because no one appreciates getting whacked with a #35 or #45 iron kettlebell. But look how ripped he is! His form is a little off, but really – who’d be dumb enough to tweak his form?

Partner WOD that didn't turn out so well for the lion.
Partner WOD that didn’t turn out so well for the lion.

Some movements in Crossfit require a partner (for instance, should you need CPR, someone is close by. It’s great). If you lack a partner, a ferocious carnivore will fill in a pinch. Samson was that tough of a guy. Now, wild cats are finicky crossfit partners, as evidenced by the fact that Samson was forced to kill his. But today, you can do things like partner plank burpees, though I think putting a #45 plate on your partner’s back might actually in fact get you killed.

Samson kills the Push Press.
Samson kills the Push Press.

The hardcore Push Press. Nowadays, it’s done with free weights, and doesn’t involve demolishing temples. That sort of behavior is frowned upon now, and frankly defeats the whole purpose of getting in good shape. Unless you’re going for the flattened dead look. Then you’re golden.

There are other examples besides Samson:

Rahab lowers the Hebrew spies using a rope, a precursor to the Rope Climb.
Rahab lowers the Hebrew spies using a rope, a precursor to the Rope Climb.
Jesus was flipping money tables long before Crossfitters were flipping tires.
Jesus was flipping money tables long before Crossfitters were flipping tires.
Duc_De_Berry_-_Besessener
Jesus exercises a demon. They would shriek”What would you have us do, Son of David?” Jesus would silence them and make them do a 15  minute AMRAP of 20 burpees, 20 pullups, and 20 wall balls.
It's not strictly Biblical, but St Peter did the first handstand pushup. With help.
Proof that Crossfit can indeed kill you. It’s not strictly Biblical, but St Peter did the first handstand pushup. It was also his only handstand pushup.
Even in Genesis, we see that Eve had the first snatch - snatching the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.
Even in Genesis, we see that Eve had the first snatch – snatching the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.

There are other examples in the Scriptures that I’ve overlooked, I’m sure, but these show that the Bible was instrumental in developing many of the movements enjoyed in Crossfit today.

Or not enjoy. I mean, does anyone really enjoy burpees?

[All images via Wikimedia Commons and in the Public Domain]

 

 


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