While there are different harms that are related to sport/exercise (hooliganism, gambling, drug use, violence, etc.), in this chapter we are particularly interested in exploring the ‘subjective harms’ and ‘embedded harms’ associated with the exercise regime known as CrossFit, with specific attention to the use of performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) and dietary supplements within this milieu. Drawing on the deviant leisure perspective, the chapter explores the possible ways in which CrossFitters may ‘self-harm’ in their conformity to social norms and values and specifically the cultural injunction to either perform or be aesthetically appealing and, more importantly, how these harms may be mitigated, meditated or exacerbated by a CrossFit leisure identity. The main purpose of this chapter is to (1) empirically investigate the reported prevalence of supplements and PIEDs in CrossFit within the UK, (2) examine the relationship between CrossFit and (un)healthy behaviours and practices more generally and (3) situate our findings within the broader theoretical lens of deviant leisure.
- Deviant leisure
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A large proportion of PIEDs, such as anabolic androgenic steroids, are medicines that can be sold legally with a prescription but are also illegally sold through both (online) pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical sources.
The CrossFit business model is based on ‘affiliation’ in which a prospective CrossFit gym owner must first receive official training from CrossFit. Upon opening a CrossFit affiliate, he or she must pay CrossFit an annual fee to advertise as a CrossFit gym and to teach the methodology/philosophy.
A ‘box’ refers to the space where CrossFit takes place and basically is another word for gym.
In 2011 CrossFit Inc. announced a ten-year, $150 million sponsorship and marketing partnership with Reebok.
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We would like to thank Kevin Bowles and Honor Townshed for their guidance and input on the development of this work.
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Mulrooney, K.J.D., van de Ven, K. (2019). ‘The Fittest on Earth’: Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs Use Within UK CrossFit Communities. In: Raymen, T., Smith, O. (eds) Deviant Leisure. Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17736-2_9
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