Then I saw the word "crossfit." Let's watch.
We get off to a stumbling start as the logo for Albany Crossfit appears. It looks more like a Soviet propaganda poster than anything else. Cast down your kettlebells, comrades! We will now all be equal in a glorious lifter's paradise!
Their exercise ideas work about as well as communism, as we will see.
Crossfitters of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but working rotator cuffs.
We're quickly introduced to what will be the reoccurring motif for this video: young ladies attempting to lift weights that are too heavy for them with truly awful form. Our first contestant quickly sets the tone by attempting what a youtube commentator who was down-voted back to the stone age called a "continental clean." It consists of awkwardly raising the bar to mid-abdomen, switching your grip, arching your back for maximum damage, snapping the weight up to the shoulders for additional spinal destruction and then failing to press it. In the case of this first girl said failure comes first as the conventional "too heavy, back down slowly" sort and then nearly results in the bar landing on her head. Yikes.
The international judges declare "no lift."
Without any extra time wasted on the spectacular and dangerous failure we just witnessed it's time to meet the next victim "Jenna" who clearly "has this" according to faceless, disinterested supporters. She's very skinny, has a deer-in-the-headlights expression and bends like a human gumby during the awkward abdominal roll and grip change portion of the "continental clean." Suffice it to say she fails miserably.
So far, so good.
The next woman crossfitter has the dubious honor of the worst attempt of the entire video, as she can't get past the grip exchange, although if it's any consolation she looked like she was in a lot of pain and that's the whole point of exercise, right? We must suffer and hurt ourselves.
Next up we get another "so close!" did not qualify from a blonde who starts laughing halfway through and then is told by a faceless well-wisher to "jerk it." That's the part I would have laughed at. Well, that and her overall form.
Being able to walk upright in later life is over-rated, giggle, giggle.
After four straight scratches in the women's division, it's time to inject some testosterone into this mess by bringing in the manly men, the Spartans. Much like the Olympics, the men's portion is treated as a bit of an afterthought, although in this case with good reason. For example our first gentleman competitor is advised to have "fast hips" and proceeds to completely ignore that advice. Instead he begins to fail just like the ladies, but then remembers he has 50% more upper body muscle and just awkwardly forces the lift, presumably causing significant tissue and ligament damage in the process. But think of the glory! He even grunts! This...is...crossfit!!!
As if to initiate a sort of "anything you can do, I can do better" type rivalry it's right back to the skinny, scared young lady from earlier! This time she manages to complete the lift in defiance of every expectation which earns tepid applause from the other ladies. Their thought process probably is mostly "I hate her so much because she's skinny and young" rather than the socially prescribed "Good job, Becca!"
"You got the touch...you got the power..."
Time for the men to step up again and I had to check to make sure I wasn't caught in some sort of time bounce that causes recent events to replay themselves over and over while all free will and human agency is lost. Luckily, that was not the case. Unluckily it's another prematurely aged goof grunting and straining his way to success after concepts like "good form" were utterly abandoned.
We check in briefly with the ladies, where the next contestant effortlessly does the lift. Seriously, she doesn't even seem to be trying very hard. Way to make everyone else look even worse, Crissy.
Back to the men and failure is the order of the day in a sequence that calls to mind Ivan Drago's lift in front of the press in Rocky IV. Apparently if the Soviet Superman had been a crossfitter he would have failed the lift with a disappointed and wimpy sigh, the fight would have been cancelled, Rocky wouldn't have taught the world that we can change and two men killing each other in a ring is better than two nations killing each other and you and everyone you care about would have been devoured by Atomic Fire.
Yes, crossfit would have caused a nuclear holocaust if it had existed in the eighties. Our "paleo" diet would be forced on us by a rapid return to the stone age, rather than modern fad.
Enough about that, because it's time to meet the real star of the video, a girl named "Jess" who will mimic the punishment of Sisyphus for our amusement. Her first two failures follow the established script of being "so very close" having no clue about proper technique and getting useless and insincere advice and encouragement. But then, it's time to activate Honey Badger Mode as she growls, demands another attempt and basically acts more masculine than any of the men we'll see. She gets complimented for being an "animal" by the blonde from earlier, who kind of ruins the compliment by cackling like a crazy witch immediately after giving it. We're just getting started.
If you or a loved one is struggling with crossfit, we can help...
We're promised "double footage!" by our narrator/camera operator, but instead we get a guy in questionable shape doing the lift with a minimum of grunting and/or straining. Better get more weight on there, it's supposed to look like a death struggle when it's done right. Then the guy who made me think of Rocky IV is back, but fuck him because a THREE LEGGED DOG walks into the shot. What. The. Fuck.
Albany Crossfit: for all your voodoo medicine bag needs. The teeth of a three legged dog, the tears of a middle-aged man and four hairs from someone who recently hurt their back. Put it in a cloth bag and bury it over an unmarked grave. You should get the desires of your heart in less than one week's time.
If you believe, that is.
"Yup, I lost it at a crossfit obedience school."
Skinny guy turns red and, eventually, completes his press. Yay?
We're rewarded with more Jess. In an inspired editing decision we join her mid-failure, but this "animal" is just beginning the hunt. "Let the bar rise above your head," blondie offers in a bizarre non-sequitur. Suffice it to say, the bar fails to rise above the head of our crossfitting anti-hero.
The only thing rising is my insurance premiums.
Even our dorky cameraman can't resist calling out the "rise above your head" nonsense after Jess's predictable failure. The blonde bubble head responds by repeating the line, but this time with an affected ethnic accent! It calls to mind Hilary Clinton's infamous "I is in no ways tarred" speech.
Come for the crossfit, stay for the degrading ethnic caricatures.
We have to give Jess another try after that abortion. I'm pretty sure the Olympic rule is that if some airhead says something unbelievably moronic right before you start your lift the failure isn't counted against you. That should be the rule if it isn't. This time Jess is told to "pop and drop" which sounds like something many of the "athletes" in this video will soon experience if they don't learn to do the lifts correctly. Major spoiler: she fails again.
"Why am I so close?" demands Jess. "Because God hates you," would be a funny rejoinder to that, but that's not what we get, sadly.
We waste some valuable Jess time watching some other girl finish the lift, then it's back for more with our favorite crossfit "animal." The advice for this round: "drop lower!" No prizes for guessing the outcome.
You're still not low enough!
We leave the whole Jess debacle to watch some gentlemen with aggressive beer bellies. Nothing says "practical fitness" and "pushing yourself to the limit" like awkwardly balancing a bar on your huge gut while another bloated individual watches approvingly.
No, I'm in excellent crossfit shape. This is just experimental male pregnancy.
There's a little more of the men's division, but honestly I'm pretty numb at this point. Bars rising above your head. Deformed dogs. Injuring yourself for no good reason. It becomes spiritually oppressive after awhile, although I managed to make it to the end, staring through glazed over eyes at the folly of humanity and the self-inflicted misery we're capable of.
So, was it the worst weightlifting video ever? Yes. Yes, it was. It's going to take a lot of time around a squat rack to erase the awful memories of this fucking abomination.
Here it is for your viewing displeasure. Enjoy. Let it just rise above your head. Rise, rise...
Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.