Heather Bergeron powers through the OHS in the final event

2010 CrossFit Games Finals

Elite Females of the 2010 CrossFit Games

Not just pretty faces.

Sometimes women get treated as second class citizens in sporting events. They’re thrown a paltry percentage of the men’s payout, receive none-to-poor media coverage and are generally thought of as the weaker sex. Not at the CrossFit Games.

This year when Progenex stepped up with a big winner’s purse, we made sure that the men and women were treated equally. The athleticism that these women demonstrate is truly remarkable and they deserve to be rewarded as such.

In this brief, candid interview Sevan Mattossian chats with Caity Henniger, Heather Bergeron and Lindsey Smith about the prize money before the start of the 2010 CrossFit Games.

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25 comments on this entry

1. Spectator wrote...

Great interview!

I would appreciate HQ acknowledging the status of women as "first-class citizens" by including both a men's and women's Rx on the mainsite for the daily WOD.

2. gg wrote...

CF acknowledges they are weaker, by the Rx 65lbs vs 95lbs, or whatever, for the Rx weights.

GG

3. Spectator wrote...

GG, perhaps I was not clear: I agree with you that women's and men's Rx weights are different.

What I would like to see is the women's Rx weight posted on the mainsite for the daily WOD. For example, the WOD for August 16, 2010 calls for 20 lb WallBalls and 75 lb Snatches.
I think HQ could easily respect women's efforts by simply indicating 20/15 lbs for the Wall Balls and 75/45 lb Squat Snatches.

As an aside, this would clear up any confusion about what the women's Rx weight actually is (with WallBalls, is Rx women's weight 14, 15, or 16 lbs)) for any given WOD.

4. Tony Budding wrote...

I'll explain some of the rationale for why we don't "post the women's Rx" on the main site. The reason is because there is no women's "Rx" separate from what is posted. I know that there is a broad misconception out there that we do in fact have official women's weights. Instead, there are common scales that people use for comparison purposes (such as Fran at 65lbs), but these are not sanctioned official by us. Now, you might think this is sexist, but it's not. Most of the top women can do Fran as Rx'd (meaning 95lbs) faster than most average male CFers. Kelly Moore, a woman in her 40s, can do Diane as Rx'd faster than almost every male CFer.

In the Games, we assign different weights (and sometimes different reps or other modifications) for the women because we believe it will make a better competition that day for those women. But that is just for the sake of that one competition. For example, in the Clean/HSPU event at the Games this year, we debated what the women's weight should be. We settled on 135lbs, but after watching the event, I think we went too light. It should have been 145 or 150lbs.

To presume that women, or any other population, are limited to some percentage of anyone else is simply wrong. It's probably even sexist.

5. Spectator wrote...

Mr. Budding, thank you for your response. May I suggest that some, if not all, of the rationale for the Rx be emphasized at the Level 1 Certification? It would seems that, in the context of the programming and scaling discussion, it would make sense to include some explanation of why HQ chooses to post a single Rx WOD.

As far as sexism in CrossFit--or any sport--goes, I think that is a discussion far greater than this particular thread/question. While I am of the opinion that sexism is sometimes and unfortunately present in both, I recognize that one important step in remedying that situation has taken place at the CF Games 2010: offering equal prize money to the top male and female competitors. It's a sad commentary that such equality in prize money would be a notable event in sports--but it speaks well of CrossFit that the community has decided to go this route.

6. James wrote...

What's wrong with being sexy?

7. wes wrote...

well said, Tony. i'm glad CF's stance on this issue is a progressive one.

8. jon wrote...

It's a bit silly to suggest that the recognition of a simple fact of nature is somehow sexist. Crossfit workouts are largely made up of movements taken from track, weightlifting, and gymnastics. In all of those sports, the top women are consistently 10-20% behind the top men.

If you genuinely think it sexist to have lower standards for the women, why even have a women's event at all?

9. T-Bone wrote...

Yeah, I'd love to believe that HQ really feels this way about women. We're equal and all. No sexism. Nope.

Highlight of some of the things said on air by the commentators during the Games this year:

"Pretty girls who can do a lot of work."
"Pretty girls moving a lot of weight."

And, let's not forget the brief debate about whether or not the women had enough room in their sports bras to stuff a sandbag.

Resulting comment by my husband: "Wow, they're more sexist than golf commentators." Indeed.

10. Matt Thacker wrote...

Good stuff Tony. The stronger women out here are more than capable of schooling 'average' men in any given WOD. It pains me to see them automatically take off 30% of the weight in every WOD for no reason. Scaling is prudent and necessary in many cases (for men and women) but multiplying every load by .70 due to the ovary factor has often struck me as wrong. I have been to unofficial Xfit competitions where the organizers had women doing 135 DL for reps and the men were doing 285 DL for reps. I felt disparity in the women to mens weights was disrespectfull to the strong women out there and was a symptom of blantant sexism on the part of the event promoters. Thanks for clarifying the official position on this.

Matt

11. T-Bone wrote...

Oh, WAIT. Stop. Let's not forget to mention the title of this article:

"Elite Females of the 2010 CrossFit Games: Not just pretty faces."

Yeah. Way to go with that whole equality thing.

12. Kara wrote...

Claiming that there is only one truly Rx WOD because the women who COMPETE at CF are capable of using the higher weight is ridiculous.

It is, in fact, more sexist than coming up with a system that acknowledges the physiological differences between men and women. In fact, it basically says "lift like a dude or figure it out yourself, we can't be bothered with you ovary types."

13. Stephanie wrote...

Expecting us to match pull-ups and push-ups is progressive . Asking us to throw around the weight that challenges even "elite" men is disgusting. It shows complete disregard for the physiological differences between men and women. Take "Badger" as an example. Three rounds of 30 95lb squat cleans? I'd love to see the women who compete at the games make it through that one. Frankly, most of them would be lucky to get through one around alone. Yes, some of the women can push through some of the workouts at the weights men use but it takes them about 10 or 15 minutes longer. And as for Diane, Isabel, Nancy, and Randy...I'd love to see the female competitors get through those.

14. Stephanie wrote...

Oh, and someone inform Matt Thacker t hat 70% of 285 is 205lbs.

15. Matt Thacker wrote...

Thanks for the Math lesson Steph. You missed the whole point. I think you have taken a double does of silly meds today.....and thank you for proving my point. 205 lbs is 70% of 285. The female competitor at the event referenced were disrespected more than the normal .7 factor.

Also on the missing the whole point train....nobody is asking you to lift the same weight as men. I was suggesting that there is no reason to automatically assume a 30% reduction in load on each and every WOD. Certainly most women (or their coaches) would properly elect to scale the weight on many WODS as would many men. Scalng is a necessary part of what we do. Sometimes it is better to scale to avoid injury and to train intensity. Additionally, nodoby is stating than women should lift the same weight as men in competitions or compete against men directly in competitions. Of course that would be stupid. The men would have an advantage.

The point is....for me anyhow, is that the WODS prescribed by Crossfit.com are the prescribed WODS. There is no such thing as a womens RX weight on Crossfit.com. Yes, most women will choose to use a lower weight and there is nothing wrong with that.

If you have been paying attention to the mainsite results likely noticed Kris Klever often does the WODS with no scaling.

16. mr. wrote...

Jay, from out here in internet land, All of your comments are completely filled with arrogance and reading them just erks me.
you have an irritating god complex.
I believe they call your type a troll.

17. will wrote...

"Most of the top women can do Fran as Rx'd (meaning 95lbs) faster than most average male CFers. Kelly Moore, a woman in her 40s, can do Diane as Rx'd faster than almost every male CFer."

Is it the case then that CF is more effective for women than for men? I love CF, but if CF is less effective for men then I should probably change up my training regimen since I'm a guy. Does anyone have any recommendations for how I could do that? Thanks!

18. Wayne wrote...

It almost sounds like CFHQ is saying they can make women as strong as men so no need to scale. Shouldn't men also be getting stronger and so due to the biological advantage men tend to have shouldn't they still be stronger then women? Sure you'll be able to pick out a woman that can keep up or surpass many of the men, but that is more of an outlier then a given.

I don't see the sexism in having different weights for men and women, it is acknowledging that men and women are different. And if the scaled woman's weight isn't enough for someone then scaling up works as well as scaling down.

19. Stephen Hubbard wrote...

Heres why you should have women's RXs:

As a male, I sometimes scale and sometimes do RXd. RX'd is often a battle, but I feel really accomplished just for doing the exact same thing Jason Kalipa is doing. When I post my time, I feel pride.
Without a standard women's RX, there is less of a way for a woman to say she has accomplished exactly what Crossfit asked for.

We'd all love personal trainers and well tailored workouts, but most don't have that. At least guys have a solid benchmark even if it is a challenge

Last thing.... if women did all the regular RX weights, their benefits would be less metcon and more strength. Fran is an hour long workout for the novice... if we want people who are less strong to get the real metcon benefits they should have workouts that last 3 minutes or so

20. Matt wrote...

Stephen,

I understand your point and don't disagree entirely. To play devils advocate I would like to point out that in my experience most men have no business doing many WODS as RX'd and naturally most Women should not do most WODs as RX'd. Additionally there is such a range of strength in Women (and men) that it would be impossible to come up with a proper prescription. The .com WODs are a guideline and a suggestion. It has been said many times that the .com WODs are for the Elite folk. Most of us are not Elite. I have seen many men do WODs as RX'd because they believed they were 'Elite' when in fact their performance on said WOD (time and 'slop') suggest otherwise. If elite folk are doing Fran in 3 minutes and it takes me 15 perhaps I am doing too much weight.

I think that it is up the the trainee or her trainer/coach to realistically determine proper scaling of the WOD based on her goals. Sometimes she should go heavy, sometimes she should go fast. Scaling is a balancing act and Crossfit.com can not possibly account for all of the variables of the trainee. The desire to compete and measure your results against others is great but in the end it is usually apples to oranges any way and becomes overly EGO driven.

I believe every training session should be about accomplishing a goal and the goal should be improving the trainee...not beating the others girls in the gym. How can I let my 170 lb firebreather who has competed at regionals and can Jerk 185 and DL 365 use the same weight at the 40 year old female who weighs 130? I cannot.

Crossfit.com provides the basic framework. Trainers have to intelligently scale. If you want to win competitions you will work on moving more weight faster. I have seen too many strong women decide to use less weight because "thats what the other girls are doing" and I have seen too many men use too much weight because it was prescribed. Your experience may vary.

In closing ,I believe the whole RX controversy is based on peoples desire to feel better about themselves and stroke their ego by knowing the got the RX. There are more important concerns...such as actually getting stronger and/or preparing for the next years games. If the good feelling from getting the RX is what really motivates the trainee rather than knowing they are improving..well perhaps a reevaluation of priorities in due.

Train hard!

Matt

21. wyatt22 wrote...

"Crossfit.com provides the basic framework. Trainers have to intelligently scale"

Matt I agree completely!

22. Paula wrote...

Very late in commenting as I just saw this but cannot hold back my 2 cents. IMO for whatever it is worth I too would like to see a rx'd womens weight in addition to the "rx'd weight." As a CF Coach I use my best judgement in what a comparably challenging weight would be for a female in my wods.

But biological fact of life Jacks; men and women are different. With a 3rd leg and approximately 10x the testosterone the Elite Male will always be faster and stronger than the Elite Female. CFS.

23. Shannon Franklin wrote...

I agree that there should be an RX'ed standard for the women as well. I understand the idea of not limiting the women, but then why put an RX on ANY WOD? The main problem I see is that when the results are posted, most of the time the women do scale, and they choose different weights to scale to. This does not allow them to compare "apples to apples" but rather an approximation.

Using the same argument of not wanting to limit anyone, then, if someone (man or woman) wants to do the WOD heavier, they can go for it.

24. Kristin wrote...

Word, Shannon Franklin.

Part of Crossfit is measurement and comparison. Men are provided the tools to measure apples to apples, and women should have the same.

To call it sexist to acknowledge that physical variance in power exists between men and woman is alarming.

25. college papers wrote...

Interesting post, this was really useful. thanks!

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