Several years ago I found a unique fitness community that I wish had existed when I was a little girl - CrossFit. One thing that I loved about CrossFit from the beginning is that it has never limited me based on the fact that I am a woman. Prior to CrossFit, I did not know what I was capable of simply because no other sport has ever demanded so much from me. I think all the way back to elementary school when girls were told to do "flexed arm hang" while the boys did pull ups. Girls were instructed to do "girl push-ups" on there knees while the boys did "real" push-ups.
This sent the message, from a very early and impressionable age, that as women we are not capable of the same things as men. So. So. Wrong.
In CrossFit the movement (push-up, pull-up, etc.) is scaled or modified based on the individual's current athletic level - not on their gender. Men should not be shamed for doing push ups on their knees and girls should be encouraged to set the bar just as high as their male training partners. In the end, both men and women benefit from this type of training. We are stronger together - inside and outside the gym walls.
The inclusive and equal nature of CrossFit is why it has succeeded as a competitive sport and a lifestyle at the same time. This is not just how people should be treated in the gym, this is how people should be treated in life. I believe it is a big reason why it has grown so quickly, why it will last, and why it will thrive.
Every day we are bombarded with messages about women being more, doing more, achieving more. What we should do and how we should do it. We should Lean In. We can we have it all. (What does ‘have it all’ even mean?) What about all this ‘equal pay for equal work’ stuff? Oh, and, there’s a right way to talk (and not talk) to our daughters about being assertive, confident, strong, smart, beautiful. When you boil down this ocean of overwhelming crazy, the distilled message is this: Girls can be anything, do anything and achieve anything they set their minds to, and shouldn’t let anyone ever tell them otherwise.
CrossFit definitely supports this philosophy and as a result I’ve grown accustomed to this feeling of equality in the gym. So, when I read this blog from @swimbikemom (August 2014 Fashlete of the Month), my blood was boiling! I have to admit, I was not aware of this #50womentokona issue until I read her blog. The short of the situation is that there are 50 spots for men at the Kona Ironman, and only 35 spots for women. In her blog, @swimbikemom outlines - quite fairly, I might add - all the positions on every side of this topic.
The fact is that there are 15 fewer opportunities for women than for men to compete on the biggest, brightest triathlon stage. 15 fewer spots for women to go head-to-head with one another, as well as with men, on the same course for the same glory (and prize money).
My very first thought… how stupid.
And my second… this, exactly THIS, is why I have loved CrossFit from the beginning. It is the only sport I have ever participated in where I have truly felt that I am treated as an equal to men. I have always been given the exact same opportunities and pushed just as hard by my coaches. My male CrossFit peers want to see women succeed in the gym and respect every woman who steps up to the barbell. As a community, CrossFit men and women are united in their pursuit of strength regardless of gender.
As a sport, the CrossFit world puts the same spotlight on its women as it does its men. If you are an avid CrossFitter, chances are names like Rich Froning and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet are equally familiar and admired. The top names in the sport are given equal media coverage, equal opportunities in competition, and equal prize money.
This is one of CrossFit's strongest assets - its love and pride for the women in the sport. This is something that has always made CrossFit very special to me and has set it apart from many other sports I have participated in.
CrossFit is about being an athlete, getting more fit, and growing stronger no matter who you are. But it's also about creating lasting social and psychological change, whether it intended to be or not.
Today, I don’t have a daughter. Maybe one day I will. But I can tell you with certainty that I am already teaching my son that we’re all equal. Gender, race, religion, personal preferences, physical and intellectual capability have no bearing on what we all have in common and what we can achieve separately, and, more importantly, together. As human beings, we are one. We deserve the same opportunities, the same chances to excel, to shine. My son will know this and I will teach him to fight for this for others; to stand up for those being held back.
This excerpt from @swimbikemom’s piece cites an open letter to the Women For Tri board of advisors, saying:
“The disparate treatment of professional women at the very highest levels of the sport has a trickle-down effect on women of all ages and abilities. How can anyone, let alone a female triathlete, justify to her daughters, sisters and friends that “Anything is Possible” when opportunities for women are less possible than opportunities for men?” (Witsup.com / Source).
Fundamental. Disconnect. Period.
Moral of the story? If you want to create something unbreakable - something that actually makes a difference in people's lives and in the world - then give women more power.
Learn more about #50womentokona and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. You can also get directly involved and help make a difference by visiting www.triequal.com. We are proud to announce that Fashletics is a Tri Equal volunteer. We want to see Tell us what you think in the comments!