The case of Makimba Mimms – an example of the worst of CrossFit

In 2005, Makimba Mimms, a US Navy sailor, was participating in a CrossFit workout at his local gym. It perhaps wasn’t the most extreme workout going around, being a 15-10-5 rep scheme of 10lb. dumbbell thrusters, burpees and squats. Nonetheless it set in motion a chain of events that has resulted in a court case and damage to CrossFit’s reputation.

Upon completion of the aforementioned workout, supervised by an un-accredited trainer (although there is a wealth of material out there about how the CrossFit trainer certification process is a joke anyway), Mimms complained of severe pain and ultimately ended up being hospitalised suffering from suspected rhabdomyolisis. He was in hospital for a week with swelling of the quadriceps muscles and bloody urine. By his account his ability to stand for extended periods and move freely remains limited as a result of the experience.

In 2008, Mimms sued the gym and the trainer, arguing that they had failed in their duty of care to monitor him during the workout and caution him against operating at an injurious level of intensity. The gym and trainer argued through their respective lawyers that Mimms, as an adult, should have had the good sense to stop working out in a manner that was likely to cause him harm.

One the one hand I can certainly understand the argument the defendants’ lawyers were making: as a grown man and a navy sailor, Mimms was no stranger to working out and perhaps should have exercised better judgment in pushing his body beyond its limits. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that any gym has a duty of care to its patrons and as a result the judge in the case awarded Mimms $300,000 of the half a million he had sought.

The business entity CrossFit had no direct involvement in the case, aside perhaps from their name being publicly impugned – so one would have thought it best to simply let sleeping dogs lie, chalk it up to experience and move on (having of course sought legal advice). But not CrossFit HQ. Their response to the whole debacle was as mature, well-reasoned and constructive as seems to have become the norm for them in recent years: they re-classified the workout as a “CrossFit Kids” workout, named it “Makimba” after the man himself and asked for user comments on their website about the issue. As you can guess from the slavish devotion of so many CrossFitters to their American overlords, it wasn’t long before Mimms was being personally attacked. Below are but a few of the hundreds of comments made:

“unfortunate that every successful business that has ever gained popularity for doing good work will eventually get sued. rhabdo should be a concern for all trainers as should making sure people are ready for the intensity of crossfit.
having said that:

makimb s. mimms = pu$$y

Comment #29 – Posted by: ken c at August 19, 2008 8:15 PM”

“WOW…seriously!?!? Seems this dude is just another skid mark on the underwear of society looking for a “hand-out.” Sad. *walking off shaking my head*

Comment #35 – Posted by: JD at August 19, 2008 8:17 PM”

“wa wa wa, wanna go home, want your mommy, suck her T***Y, boo hoo hoo, got no balls!

Comment #114 – Posted by: jason C at August 19, 2008 11:38 PM”

Some charming lads to be sure. There were others in the comments conscientiously pointing to this incident as a reminder to CrossFit trainers to always be conscious of their clients’ needs and to be doing a thorough assessment before leaving them to their own devices, but there was no shortage of the zealotry and garbage you see above.

Now this incident is quite an old one, but CrossFit HQ’s reaction is pretty much indicative to their attitude to any kind of challenge or dissent – excommunication and (often public) ridicule. Worse still than that closed-minded, self-denying attitude is that of the numerous individuals within CrossFit who seem to think that it is the be-all and end-all of fitness and the Greg Glassman is somehow the second coming.

Whenever something like this occurs there is a proliferation of sheeple ready to assassinate the character of those who dare to step out of line and call out CrossFit on its bullshit. The fact is, CrossFit is not perfect. Greg Glassman is not perfect. Dave Castro is not perfect. Hell, CrossFit is great and everything but in my experience it is not, in itself, enough to ensure peak performance in any sport or particular area of fitness.

So with this in mind, I’ve decided to make this my little corner of the internet to express my opinion on CrossFit HQ, the leadership of the organisation and any of the other assorted crap that comes up in my day-to-day experience of this exercise regimen. CrossFit is great for you and I’d encourage everyone to do it..but exercise a healthy level of skepticism and judgment before you go and drink all that sweet, rhabdo-flavoured Kool-Aid.

Oh, and just to keep at least half of you interested, here’s a sweet public domain picture of Camille Leblanc-Bazinet just being Camille in the best way possible:

She snatches something like twice her bodyweight, too...
She snatches something like twice her bodyweight, too…

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