Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CrossFit Gives No Fucks


I care a great deal about my CrossFit family and they care a great deal about me. Our coaches and athletes know each other by name, occupation, ability level and personal goals. It has changed my life permanently for the better. This post is not about that. This post is about CrossFit HQ. And how they give no fucks.

First, some background. CrossFit headquarters (HQ) owns the CrossFit brand and the CrossFit games and that's about it. Affiliates pay a very low cost registration fee and their coaches initially attend a weekend-long certification session. Once that happens, it's hands off, and affiliates more or less run autonomously. This low cost of entry for affiliates and increase in popularity among consumers has caused CrossFit as a sport to explode – A rapid growth spurt, if you will, leaving us with what I've often observed as an angsty adolescent in identity crisis. It doesn't know what is wants to be when it grows up. And it's not ready.

This scenario mostly plays out, loudly and clearly, when the community relies on it to act like the mature organization it's not, and the apathetic aftermath plays out in laughable, or sometimes deplorable communications. I submit to you 3 (of many) examples:

1) CrossFit for Hope

Outrage and disgust abounded when the organization tried to coordinate a new fundraising effort across all of its affiliates. They declared CrossFit for Hope would be an affiliate-wide event where participants all over the globe could perform the same workout on the same day and raise funds for St. Jude's Research hospital.

So what went wrong? Everyone can get behind helping sick kids, right? A promo poster of a slutty nurse pulling a wagon of grotesquely caricatured dying children, that's what:

The masses erupted. By the time I entertained blogging my own reaction, dozens existed accusing HQ of a gross misstep.

As a communicator, the appropriate PR strategy here would be to course correct - Acknowledge and amend. Their PR strategy looked more like this:

No, really, they basically told everyone to shove it:

2) The Reebok Hissy Fit

What happens when an inexperienced CrossFit HQ marketing team pairs with a once-popular athletic apparel company (and likely their very steeped, experienced agency) trying to freshen its outdated brand? CrossFit's brand gets owned. Literally. Clearly CrossFit HQ didn't understand the subtle nuances in the brand and logo architecture that Reebok initially created for the Reebok CrossFit Games. And then their Reebok CrossFit clothing line. Maybe you didn't either. But any experienced marketer could see that Reebok managed to make their brand the Masterbrand of CrossFit. It was really genius of Reebok, actually. Not to mention effective.

When CrossFit HQ finally figured this out, it was way too late. And I get the impression that their marketing people took a break from passing notes in study hall long enough to launch a social media attack.

After the social sphere discovered the hissy fit and called out HQ's social media people. What did they do? Gave no fucks:

“We have since hashed things out with Reebok and it worked out great. If you were late to the party and just want to know what everyone else is talking about, sorry. There is no reason to explain what you missed because it has been resolved and we are happy with the result.”

                                  -- Russell Berger, CFHQ

3) T&A

Last but certainly not least, let's not ignore the rampant, gratuitous sexism that often takes place on HQ's Facebook page and, of course, how little they care about it. The photos that CrossFit selects and the comments they allow to be posted in their community are a disgrace to their female athletes. For example:

Many have written about these disparaging practices of CrossFit HQ. Particularly following a provocative shot of athlete Talayna Fortunato climbing a rope in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games, the communities fired back. In response to the concern raised by their communities, CrossFit HQ responded exactly as expected – With great apathy. At best, they remain unchanging, neutral and unapologetic. At worst they are defensive and antagonistic.

So, to recap:

It's time for CrossFit HQ to understand that, where the brand is concerned, contrarian doesn't have to equal offensive or careless, and a little tact is never a bad thing. Simply put, it's time to grow up. And perhaps it's time to rethink their "Do Not Cross CrossFit" social media practices. It's time to give a fuck.

UPDATE: On June 4, 2014, HQ posted a video parodying Jesus as a "Cross"Fitter. Get it? Damn they're clever. Personally, I'm not offended. But their threepeat Fittest Man alive, Rich Fronig, who owns CrossFit Faith and is (annoyingly) vocal about his spiritual drive and commitment? He may think differently.

I presume they will go on without any regard for the implications to their brand until they badly lose a lawsuit. Otherwise their business model seems to allow CrossFitters, who identify most closely with their own, independently owned and operated gyms, to distance themselves from the atrocity of HQ. Good thing, because those CrossFitters input is falling on deaf ears.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Only 7 Wedding Planning Tips That Matter

So you just got engaged? Congratulations. Now take a seat. Some friends have requested that I write a wedding planning post to impart my new knowledge to future brides-to-be. Probably because my wedding was almost fully planned within two months of being engaged with zero drama.

So first thing's first...

1. Chill out

No really, chill the hell out. All 1,267 of your Facebook friends know how excited you are and that you've probably been dreaming of this moment for a long time. They have acknowledged it with a solid 48-72 hours of nonstop social media engagement and, frankly, are ready to move on. Even members of your family or bridal party, believe it or not, haven't penciled 24/7 wedding planning with you for the next 12 months into their calendars.

So realize you do have time to plan (assuming you've given yourself a standard 8-16 month engagement), craft a vision and be flexible in order to...

2. Keep your eye on the prize

What's your vision for your wedding? Is it to have small, intimate celebration of your new marriage? Is it to throw a giant party for your friends and family? Have it? Good. Now put that vision in the context of your budget and tell me how those particular exotic orchids you're demanding fit into it. For us, we decided that no one was going to leave our celebration and say "great party, but they forgot the chair covers." So we saved that expense and put it towards late night Lou Malnatis pizza, which was cheaper than chair covers and fit better with our vision.

This becomes much easier when you accept that fact that...

3. "The one" doesn't exist

Take a deep breath, you may not like this. There is no such thing as "the one" of anything. I promise, there is not the perfect flower that's going to make your wedding. There is not a single venue that you just have to have under all circumstances. And, contrary to what TLC will have you believe (yes, I'm going to say it) there is not just one wedding dress in the entire world that will look stunning on you walking down the aisle. "The one" only applies to the person you've chosen to marry. And at the end of the wedding, you will be married and have celebrated with those important to you, which is all that matters.

So, like I said, chill out and...

4. Be objective and flexible

Where does all of the money you're throwing into a wedding go? To creative people who are providing a service. From the caterer, to the florist, to planners, to DJs, their job is to understand your vision and deliver on it within budget. Plain and simple. By hiring them, you have put trust in their ability to deliver. So for goodness sake, let them. Instead of many specific requests, use adjectives that describe the tone you're trying to set like vintage, modern, fresh, classic, colorful. If you can force yourself to be flexible within your vision, you will avoid much stress and be able to plan more quickly.

This doesn't mean you can't have any specific requests. But make sure you know the implications on your bottom line and at least listen to recommendations from your vendors - They do this for a living. But at the end of the day...

5. It's your goddamn wedding

The best advice I received personally is that "Everyone will have an opinion, and they'll all suck." Yes, that's a little dramatic, but it's easy to forget that generally the only opinion that matters is your own. Everyone on The Knot thinks that honeymoon registries are tacky and viciously attacks those considering them in forums? (Seriously, those bitches are mean). Your Facebook "friend" thinks electronic RSVPs will reduce your event to that of a "backyard BBQ" (hmph.) People think your wedding party is too large or too small? Screw 'em. When they get married, they can do it however they want. This is your time and it should be however you want it.

But beware, bridezilla, because even though it is your goddamn wedding...

6. It's not actually all about you

I mean this specifically for the portion of planning that affects your wedding party. Don't cram their schedules so full that they can't enjoy your wedding experience. Let your bridesmaids provide input on the dress selections and give them options to discuss. For my bridesmaids, we went with my second favorite option, because it was their clear favorite and both ultimately fit with my vision. Be flexible and considerate.

But no matter how flexible you are during planning, it's extremely likely that...

7. Something will go wrong

When this happens, simply apply the previous six principles. There is no problem you won't be able to tackle if you exercise calmness, flexibility and courtesy, and remember the only thing that matters is celebrating with those you care about. At my cousin's wedding, someone forgot to set out the place cards, which we later learned really stressed out the newlyweds. But none of the guests caught the mishap, assumed it was open seating, and seated themselves for a lovely reception.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Morning Workouts

This is me working out in the morning.

5:30 AM - Alarm clock - "This is terrible make it stop"

6:30 AM - Commence workout - "Let's get this over with"

7:00 AM - Mid-workout - "OK, OK, not so bad"

7:30 AM - End workout - "This is great - I have the whole rest of they day ahead of me, will be at work early, can do whatever I want tonight"

8:30 AM - Arrive at work - "I'm invincible and better than anyone who has not worked out yet"

8:45 AM - Indulge in large breakfast(s) - "Got my reps in. I can eat as much as I want, bitches"

9:30 AM - Chugging coffee - "Oh, God I'm exhausted"

2:00 PM - Still chugging coffee, nodding off at desk - "Kill me"