This author hasn't been to a well-managed gym or worked with more experienced coaches. The same is likely true of those who get rhabdo. They have exposed themselves to more than their body can handle physically, as a result of poor coaching, and/or poor decision making.
I've seen high rep pullups and high rep weighted squats cause Rhabdo in people (not at my gym). I've also seen thousands of people do those same movements (in a safe way) and not get injured. Any good coach shouldn't be exposing clients to those things that expose clients to injury or death.
A responsibility of any gym owner/trainer is to protect clients from injury. If you go to a gym (CrossFit or not) that programs things that expose you to to any kind of injury, then you should absolutely leave. Coaches should be aware of the risks.
If you attempt to lift too much weight, do too many reps, do things with bad form, of course you exposure yourself to injury. I hope rational people would consider that CrossFit is a very effective fitness program, and, despite its criticism, is something that produces amazing results in people if done properly.
Interestingly, my biggest injury was from a heavy single clean and jerk. I've never had Rhabdo and done tons of high rep stuff, but stay away from high rep box jumps, deads, pullups and other silly things. I do enjoy high rep oly lifting in CrossFit and I total 180kg as a 69kg oly lifter. They are completely different movements; to think otherwise is just dumb.
TL;DR - people who are irrational are dumb.
Ah, the No True Crossfit Gym argument.
Everyone always seems to come from the one good Crossfit gym where correct form is emphasised. Where the coaches are wonderful. And so on.
The point is: trainees very rarely have the knowledge, qualification or experience to know if they are being taught properly.
It's like martial arts schools, everyone's Sensei or Sifu is an international badass.
The central problem is that CFHQ don't do quality control. Ostensibly because of a libertarian outlook, but I can't help but notice that it allows them to 1. milk the fad while it's booming and 2. better insulate themselves from lawsuits.
What if HQ has good goals and it's not about "milking," but exposing people to a more effective fitness methodology?
Personally, I believe that quality is going to drive the success or failure of CrossFit, and that's why we (and many other successful gyms) have been very devoted to making sure quality is a driver in our service.
Their behaviour can too easily be constructed into a very negative picture.
I can see Crossfit going one of two ways:
Either it will reach a high water mark and settle down to a steady-state condition. More people are coming into Crossfit, but in many markets there's a saturation of affiliates. Gyms with overheads like full-time, well-trained coaches will be partly driven out by cheaper operations with a CF1 certificate.
Alternatively, someone will construct a successful legal argument that Crossfit is a franchise operation. A subsequent class action lawsuit will turn them into a smoking hole in the ground.
On the upside, millions of people will have learnt that exercising is fun. That is definitely a positive outcome.
Oh my, this is so funny. Yes, Crossfit is in some ways better, but I personally have a corollary:
No mainstream exercise/diet technique is effective.
Do you know someone that got fit by reading "Men's Health" BS? Well, surprising isn't it? Not at all!
And they need it to make it less boring for the average Joe, also allowing a good amount of people to go, they're decreasing individual effectiveness.
The fact that the champions use a specialized approach corroborates this.
Not to mention a lot of exercises are tiring and "looks good on paper" but their effectiveness is debatable.
If you go to a gym (CrossFit or not) that programs things that expose you to
to any kind of injury, then you should absolutely leave.
I'm not turning a blind eye. There is a different between being a realist and trying to garner attention by bashing a trend that you don't understand.
So maybe you personally have improved on Crossfit in your box and are offering quality training but that's different than the baseline Crossfit-approved product that a walk-in can expect.
I do wonder about significant injuries. Why is Hackernews, which is a community that prides itself on scientific method and the like, upvoting sensational articles that don't have substance? Where are the studies that say injuries are significant? Relative to what? To not working out? To regular sports? To people at Gold's Gym?
CrossFit is far from perfect, and it's not for everyone, but the vast majority of the coaches, owners, etc mean well and want to help their clients achieve goals in ways that are different, and effective, compared to the status quo.
All that said, you don't need data to show that kipping pullups are a bad idea. We could get data on the number of tears or injuries, but from a programming perspective, they do not belong anywhere near an athlete. Anywhere (I really hope you don't kip in your affiliate. Please tell me you don't). Particularly a novice. And if I was a games athlete, I'd never want to see them. One wrong kip and there goes your year. Which, of course, could be said for most any lift, but the kip is particularly egregious in this regard.
And when I walk into a Crossfit gym in Phoenix and they have their intro class kipping on their first day, that negatively effects you. Like it or not, you and all other crossfit gyms are linked. Just as bad service in one Subway likely taints my view of Subway generally. Just the way it works.
And you have to remember, you as an affiliate have your name associated with HQ. And HQ is just plain bad. A couple of days ago they promoted this on their FB page. https://www.facebook.com/crossfit/posts/10151589356812676
Now, I don't care what you think about anything else, HQ should not be promoting this type of thing. There was no caveat, no disclaimer. Just some hashtags of #sketchy #nailedit (from the original poster). I know Glassman has a staunch libertarian view on the world, but fucking hell, HQ is supposed to be the role model. And this effects you, negatively, frankly, b/c you are an affiliate. Just as when some fraternity out there gets caught up in a huge rape scandal, all fraternities get slammed.
And then there is the sexist posts from HQ.
And the bad programming.
And the Robb Wolf dust up.
And the Rippetoe dust up.
IMO, as an affiliate, you should be DEMANDING higher standards. The affiliates should be getting together and creating these standards, forcing them on HQ and making damn sure they are adhered to. HQ is obviously incapable of leading. Someone has to...might as well be you.
Second, most crossfit gyms at not well-managed. They may mean well but the quality of the instruction can be awful.
Finally, you should post the name of your gym and the competition here. I travel a lot and like to visit quality crossfit locations!
I've seen some bad coaches, but I've seen a lot more people who are uncoachable and are going to injure themselves in any gym with any workout and any coach. I've never seen anyone vomit, injure themselves, get Rhabdo, pass out, or any of the other things people think are so common in Crossfit. Predictably, Crossfit haters sensationalize, and people who push themselves too hard and regret it tend to angrily blame Crossfit in public instead of themselves.
CrossFit changed my body, my self-image, and a lot of my attitude, but any other gym that's based on fun, positive encouragement from other members doing the same workout at the same time, variety, intensity, and a community of friends would do the same thing.
For the record I rarely "Rx" a workout and I almost always come away from workouts thinking I sandbagged it a little. And yet I'm very happy with my results. Why would I want to push harder and risk injury? I wouldn't. I insist on doing every movement perfectly, pausing or lowering weights or reps if I'm getting tired or winded to the point that my form might be at risk, taking it easy if I've had too little sleep or I'm dehydrated or whatever. I know a lot of people who have a similar philosophy and I admire their sense, not their hard-core-ness.
I don't buy the OP's claim that he got sick from a not-overly-strenuous workout. A Crossfit workout is no different than any other, except that if you overdo it in another style of fitness and get critically ill you don't get attention on Hacker News.
TL;DR - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. You can show a guy good form and coach him to be safe but you can't make him be safe if he wants to get hurt.
You say that like being "dumb" is a moral failure.