HELLO, TEAM...JASON HERE
I am the creator and one of the co-founders of Suffer City; a team-based, gamified fitness program that targets movement strength & conditioning as well as physique enhancements and mental fortitude, sustainably.
Zero of that is hyperbole. It’s not marketing, and I’m not trying to sell you.
We are team-based in that you’ll be on a team with one or more players nearly every session; and your team is in competition with other teams working to win the game.
We are gamified in that your Team accumulates points, we keep score across all teams while advertising the scores on visible display screens, and there’s often a winning Team declared.
Our strength & conditioning derives from fundamental concepts of Pavel Tsatsouline, Mark Verstegen, Michael Boyle, Mark Rippatoe, among others like Michael Johnson, Dean Karnazes, and Mark Sisson for speed & endurance.
In truth, I built Suffer City for me; a special operations Recon Marine who wants to lift heavy shit, run fast as fuck, and look chiseled while doing it.
And due to the origins of Suffer City, there’s a built-in demand upon your mental fortitude which translates into greater work production, and thus greater achievement. We’re not for everyone, but we are for anyone willing to do the work.
Our core values are challenge, competition, and camaraderie.
Our vision is to empower minds, strengthen bodies, and improve the communities we serve.
Our mission is to transform the experience of what it’s like to improve & enrich health, fitness, and wellbeing.
YEAH, BUT ARE WE CROSSFIT?
Short answer: “No, we’re not CrossFit; and, frankly, neither is CrossFit.”
Yes, we move barbells, we do pull ups, and we throw balls at walls.
We also run with sandbags, push & pull sleds, and do Burpees.
In short, I created Suffer City as a role-player game in which each member is a part of a special operations team working to complete an objective within a given set of constraints in competition with other teams.
CrossFit, however, is an individualized experience, and at times it’s a sport; but, it also claims to be everything else, too.
YOU CAN BE ANYTHING; BUT YOU CAN’T BE EVERYTHING
“Anything you can imagine, that’s what CrossFit is.” – CrossFit Games Athlete
“Do you walk your dog? Do you make your coffee in the morning? Then you CrossFit.” – CrossFit Box Owner
When a form of fitness claims to be everything, from a Barbell Snatch to Drinking Your Coffee to Walking Your Dog, we’ve exited the territory of health & fitness and entered into the realm of dogmatic ideology.
To be fair, most universal claims about CrossFit derive from the more religious and fanatical spectrum of that world. But these claims aren’t entirely baseless, even if they’re presumptuous.
Okay, before I begin to sound like a CrossFit “hater”, which I’m not, let me say this: CrossFit, from my perspective, has been and continues to be great for health & fitness, at large.
I was first exposed to CrossFit when I was in the Marines, around 2004. Teams of CrossFit coaches appeared to be traveling through military units teaching CrossFit and facilitating Level I Courses.
Afterward, I joined a CrossFit box (CrossFit Ethos) in Lake Forest with several other Marines. I didn’t like it; but only because I wasn’t good at it. For the record, I’m still not good at CrossFit, but I do like it.
And more than like it, I appreciate it.
The focus on the fundamentals of movement and the principles of metabolism & physiology that CrossFit offers promotes a form of fitness that has helped people sustain health apart from fitness–a welcomed change from ‘fat-loss’ fanaticism and ‘starve yourself thin’ mentalities.
But, while a return to fundamentals and principles of movement served CrossFit’s emergence to worldwide acclaim, that’s not what has kept it relevant.
WORKOUT TO COMPETITION TO SPORT TO LIFESTYLE TO…?
CrossFit Games in 2007 served as the pinnacle event that was fast-becoming a sport. The Games promised to enmesh everything that CrossFit was into a single, 2-day competition with several events designed to equitably measure across CrossFit’s ten recognized movement domains.
Athletes deadlifted, they push-jerked, they rowed, did pull ups, and to mix it up a bit, they had athletes do a trail run. And that was CrossFit.
Fast-forward to 2021, the first event involved an open-water fin into a 3-mile Kayak. Previous years events included a 6-mile ruck run as well as a Paddle Board event and Mountain Biking.
On one hand, for the sport and for CrossFit Games, this appears to be bold evolution through the continued re-defining of what fitness is.
The weight loads get heavier. The movements and sequences become more complex. The stakes get higher. The crowds become bigger. And there’s likely a surprise around every corner.
However, on the other hand, if I’m an owner of a CrossFit box and I’m watching Tia Claire-Toomey transition from a Paddle Board to a Mountain Bike to a Barbell Snatch into a Slam Dunk Contest, I’m going to scratch my head thinking about where to put my basketball hoop for next year.
And while that’s a silly caricature of a CrossFit Games event, it is this boundless evolution that drives people to believe that making their bed or creaming their coffee is the new Workout of the Day.
And it’s also what has led CrossFit into a modern-day identity crisis; because, if walking my dog is CrossFit, then what isn’t CrossFit? And if you can't say what something isn’t, then it’s impossible to say exactly what it is.
And that’s a problem for CrossFit as a gym and as a program.
BUT, it’s not a problem for the CrossFit Games. The Games is bigger than ever; and CrossFit, as a fitness brand, is huge.
CrossFit has a new CEO in Eric Roza, and the recent firing of Dave Castro, founder of CrossFit Games, gives the company an entirely new leadership mindset, one which has partnered with Monster Energy, who is 19 percent owned by Coca-Cola.
Former CrossFit CEO and Founder, Greg Glassman, personally advocated on Capitol Hill against soda, in particular against Coca-Cola’s relationship with medical research. Now, under the new formation, Coca-Cola is overtly CrossFit’s sponsor, and writes the checks to CrossFit-sponsored athletes.
Does that mean those athletes will have limits on what they’re able to say about Coke products? Does that mean CrossFit box owners will stock their fridge with Monster Energy drinks?
From my perspective, three phases push CrossFit into the future:
CrossFit will expand and continue to evolve. The new corporate structure will further systematize processes, expand affiliation, and offer new services and products–the panacea of holistic health offerings.
CrossFit Games will sensationalize as more money pours into event production; and athlete payouts and sponsorship contracts will balloon in size.
- Further separation between CrossFit Games and CrossFit, with those who choose to remain loyal to the brand’s new way forward finding a contradiction between CrossFit’s origins and its direction, and an exacerbation of the CrossFit identity crisis will result.
The first two phases are, to some degree, underway. And the third phase, in fact, already happened nearly 20 years ago.
This occurred in the early days of CrossFit when Mark Twight, then one of few box owners and considered the CrossFit “celebrity”, split from the organization on account of CrossFit getting away from its principles. He dropped the affiliate and quietly rebranded as Gym Jones in 2003.
This was the first time that CrossFit may have lost its identity or changed face to attract a different or larger audience.
We could also say, perhaps, that CrossFit never regained its original identity, but instead continued to evolve forward in order to gain the attraction of as many people as possible.
And now, with Monster Energy the drink of choice, and with more extravagant events needed to amaze larger and larger crowds, CrossFit Games will feel more like a monster truck rally than a fitness competition, but it will no longer be the CrossFit my buddy does at 5:00 a.m. in the airpark hangar across town.
And so, we at Suffer City definitely are NOT CrossFit, but then again, as you can see here, neither is CrossFit.
My name is Jason at Suffer City, and I hope this helps bring more awareness to what Suffer City is, as well as what it is not.