Take Your Shirt Off: When it's CrossFit Appropriate

Take your shirt off and wave it around your head like a helicopter. (Part 1)

I’m going assume that all of you out there in cyberspace are either CrossFitters or involved in CrossFit somehow. As CrossFitters there are a few things that we all seem to take a great deal of pride in: taking pictures in front of things in a handstand, putting kettlebells on t-shirts, and buying shoes that really accentuate our toes. Well, I think its about to time to address an important issue in this community: as a CrossFitter when, why, and where do I remove my shirt? Is there a bigger threat to XFit (don’t call it that) than the unsolicited, unmerited, unAmerican shirt removal? Me thinks not. Dutch urges for consistency in programming, I preach a similar message: Consistency in American Apparel 50/50 extraction.

The When and the Why

These two things are, must be, and always will be intertwined. The breakdown goes something like this:

“Hey Bro, how’s the surf” guy

This guy has his shirt on approximately 0% of time he’s in the gym. Fret not though this is only slightly below his “every day activity” shirt wearing percentage. “Hey bro, how’s the surf guy” enters the box sans (that French for without) shirt, and leaves the box without (that’s English for sans) a shirt. Since “hey bro”’s day is spent in or near a body of water I totally approve of his t-shirtlessness (Q: did he just make up a word? A: Most assuredly). Additionally keep a look out for his cousin the “I workout in my swimming trunks” guy (that can’t be comfortable).

“Is it getting hot in here?” lady

In an attempt to be evenhanded, our second study subject will take the female form. “Is it getting hot in here?” lady generally feels compelled to ditch her top during the warmup, some where in between arm circles and leg swings. Her reasoning usually consists of “the lack of AC in the gym” or she alludes to the fact that the average temperature for the last 60 days has hovered between 120 and 1000 degrees. Does she have an argument? Absolutely! Why? Because it is f’n hot here, and I hear working out in a sports bra is awesome (did you guys really think I was going to discourage Women from working out in sports bra? Come ONNN!).

“The Cal”

Our last example I’ve named after my good friend Jon Callahan of Windy City CrossFit. A little back ground on Cal from his best friend Dave Regula: “Cal is just plain crazy … about CrossFit. This is how the guy works. When he is in love, he is in love. He once decided that he liked velour sweat suits. So he bought eight. No joke. Thought he was P. Diddy.” So obviously we can see the man is passionate. Cal’s assertion is that the shirt should only be removed if the WOD moves you to do so. As we all know CrossFit workouts are epic battles, so much so that you most definitely gain a distinct advantage from shucking off those cumbersome threads. The most valid point? Certainly. I can not argue with a man who once did “The Bear” shirtless because he felt it was the only way to show the appropriate “respect,” though as Dave put it, “the bar was going to clearly tear skin off his back every time he went from overhead to back squat. A true pimp in this.”

What have we learned?

Basically topless is preferable in every situation with a slight edge to the spiritual one. Next time I’ll tackle the “who” of 100% cotton removal, and I leave you with this:

Stay tuned for Part Deux.

Wes Kimball is the head trainer and Co-founder of CrossFit Austin. Wes has a Bachelors of Science in Physical Education from the Health and Kinesiology Department of Texas A&M University, to go along with his CrossFit Level One, Olympic Weightlifting, Nutrition, and CrossFit Football Certifications.  He has been involved in training and coaching his entire life from a small gym in his hometown, to training as a collegiate athlete at Texas A&M, and through CrossFit over the past three years.

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