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CrossFit - An Unlikely Showcase of (Dis)ability

Submitted by genesisl on Aug 31, 2017
August 31, 2017
By: Lauren Ho,
CrossFit defines itself as “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.” Unfamiliar with CrossFit? Check out this video, Let Me Tell You About CrossFit, for quick introduction. People generally feel intimidated at the thought of CrossFit, deeming it too difficult, too scary, or too dangerous. Regardless of your opinion of CrossFit, one thing is undeniable: CrossFit is, however unlikely, showcasing the social model of disability.
The social model is person-centered and posits that it is not the individual that is the problem - it is society. The individual is surrounded by social “barriers” such as an inaccessible environment (think inaccessible buildings, services, communication methods, etc.), the attitudes of others (think prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination), and inflexible organizations and institutions. The reality is that people will experience disability, in one form or another - permanent or temporary - over the course of their lives. It is not abnormal. On the contrary, disability is to be expected and should be commonly recognized. Under the social model, it is not the individual who is the problem, it is the social discrimination that creates the problem(s).
Disability is, therefore, about how bodies interact with existing environments (Center for Teaching and Learning, 2017). Some people with disabilities consider their major obstacles to be discrimination as they are regarded as objects of pity and charity.


Want to see examples of athletes who should not and will not be regarded as objects of pity and charity?
CrossFit - The Story of an Adaptive Athlete: Steph Hammerman "I want to make it clear that I do not suffer from any disease or my different ability doesn't impact my life in a negative way," Steph Hammerman, an adaptive athlete, says.
The Power Hour: CrossFit Candor & Adaptive Athletes Vera Spinks is an athlete at CrossFit Candor in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She talks about how her daughter Kylie, who has cerebral palsy, has progressed through CrossFit.
Working Wounded Games Adaptive athletes travel from all around the globe to CrossFit Rubicon in Vienna, Virginia, to participate in the Working Wounded Games, a competition that levels the playing field for severely wounded veterans and permanently injured civilians.
These athletes are examples of the social construction of disability. It’s time we start regarding disability as diversity. After all, how we react to human difference is a social and political choice.