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Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness
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Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  590 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
The absorbing, definitive account of CrossFit's origins, its explosive grassroots growth, and its emergence as a global phenomenon.
One of the most illuminating books ever on a sports subculture, Learning to Breathe Fire combines vivid sports writing with a thoughtful meditation on what it means to be human. In the book, veteran journalist J.C. Herz explains the science o
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Crown Archetype
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Dan Schwent
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
From the ages of 19 to 34, I worked out religiously 3-5 times a week. The last couple years, however, I let myself gradually slip out of the habit. After all, that's 3-5 more hours a week I could be reading. However, my girlfriend read up on CrossFit and told me we were going to start going a few times a week.

Since I was still reasonably fit for a couch potato, I figured I could handle it. I could not. It kicked my ass in less than 20 minutes and I was sore for three days, something that never
Jim Stogdill
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you're a Crossfitter and want to learn more about the origins of your favorite cult, read this book.

If you're not a Crossfitter and you want to understand what the hell we Crossfitters are up to, don't read this book, go start crossfitting and then come back later and read this book to shake the mosaic pieces into place.

Either way you probably won't be able to put it down. JC mixes history, science, and participant narratives into a great read that makes you want to set it down only long enou
Michelle Garcia
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
EXCELLENT BOOK. Very well written. Whether you're a CrossFitter or not, this book will take you into the depths of how it all began and why CrossFitters continue to multiply year after year. An incredibly wonderful asset to any CrossFitter's library, but an even more educational eye-opening thought-provoking piece for anyone in the fitness industry and/or just anyone curious enough to want to learn the truths and finally put the assumptions behind.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
THere's some good stuff in here on how crossfit runs its game and business, but mainly it's just an over glorification of crossfit.
Darlene Cruz
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Crossfit - rest is not a part of the program, ignore the part of the brain that tells them it's impossible to keep moving. Stopping is not an option, no finish line but to finish what you started. Combination of weightlifting, sprints and gymnastic movements and pull-ups, pushups and unweighted squats as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes. Do you believe that? 20 minutes! Wall ball shots, sumo dead lift high pull, 20-inch box jumps, 75 lbs push press, rowing machines, high intensity regime, C ...more
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of CrossFit and some of the key names from games gone by.

It really does sound as though it was never intended to be the huge global industry that is has become and that is more due to the success of the techniques and effects of training which spread by word of mouth and not due to clever marketing.

It also makes most of the people involved sound very genuine. There is clearly an interest for those at the top in ensuring that everyon
Deane Barker
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Good overview of the history of CrossFit. This is not a practical book -- it will not teach you how to burpee better. But it will explain where CrossFit came from and hopefully get you to understand the culture a little more. Extremely well-done.
Apr 13, 2014 marked it as to-read
I just won this book free as a goodreads giveaway! I am waiting to read it. Thanks.
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me want to run straight to the nearest Crossfit box, or at least go bust out a set of burpees. A very evocative description of the spirit and drive of Crossfit.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Interesting origin story about Crossfit but too rah rah for me. Genesis of Rogue and their manufacturing was particularly fascinating. The author totally drank the kool aid.
Петър Стойков
Като бяхме малки нямаше друг популярен фитнес, освен бодибилдинга (културизма) - във времената на мутрите с дебели вратове, всеки тийнейджър мечтаеше да е голям и мускулест и понеже това също така бяха и времената на пиратските видеокасети, всеки искаше да е голям и мускулест като Арнолд и Силвестът Сталоун.

Съответно, разбира се, изданията тогава бяха всичките насочени към културизма - имаше няколко вестника и списания, в които изобилстваха не само снимки на огромни, напомпани батковци, но и инт
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
We read to see things differently, to explore worlds that, for whatever reason, we can't get to right at the moment. I've been doing CrossFit for over 3 and a half years now, and the past year I haven't been CrossFitting much - work and life have had louder (and sometimes more attractive) priorities. A friend who's been CrossFitting for a year or two now because I got him into it (despite his stubborn bullheadedness), he mentioned the Art of Manliness podcast to me recently that had J.C. Herz as ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was loaned this book by Coach Lewis from CrossFit Llanelli and genuinely feel like they've managed to capture exactly what CrossFit is all about. It's written beautifully, almost poetically in parts. There's a saying among some of the ladies at my box; "if you know, then you know" and this book is written by someone who gets it.

It made me fill up several times in the same way watching someone get their first box jump does. That deep down, fierce bubble of empathy-pride. It deals with emotions
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very readable!

I, of course, drank the Kool-aid before I read this book, and have been doing CrossFit for 7 weeks now. This book is very well written, and really pulls you in to the stories a out some of CrossFit's most famous athletes. I found the discussion about the mental aspects of CrossFit training to be particularly interesting and relatable.

A very good read for anyone participating in, or even just interested in CrossFit!
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Crossfit changed my life. So, I’m inclined to like this book. I agree with the reviewer who said, “go to a box first - then read this book.”

This book inspired me to up my game. It deepened my passion for the ideals of Crossfit and the community.

If your new and curious about Crossfit, you won’t understand it by reading this or any other book. You have to go to a box and jump in. Do it!!!!
Kerri Morgan
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found this very self indulgent and congratulatory. I do crossfit so I'm all up for celebrating it and a lot of what was written in terms of the facts was interesting. However each tiny detail was hammered home for several pages making it a chore to read. My partner read it before me and had the exact same opinion. With a good editor this could have been a great book.
Chris Gonyea
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-physical
Just started to learn CrossFit and this book gives an excellent run down of its history, the community, and key figures in this growing movement. Every time I read a few pages, I wanted to hit the box for another workout.
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the best sports books I’ve read. Inspiring, well written, and fascinating.
David Naschelski
Excelent, inspiring and we’ll written.

Recommended for all Crossfit enthusiasts and fitness fans.
I wanted to read on this matter and this book is a nice review of this discipline
Michael Wayne Hampton
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Great read about the history of Crossfit, and all the characters involved in its formation and growth.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love it, live it.

Recommend for those drinking the CrossFit koolaide An entertaining easy to read history of CrossFit. This book will not disappoint.
Cruz Ramos
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was awesome, I am a big fan of crossfit so it was interesting to see where it all started.
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, ebook
Usually a new movement or technology needs at least a couple of decades before the first good history book comes out but J.C. Herz has jumped that up a decade for the CrossFit movement.

For anyone who's read books like The Innovators (Walter Isaacson), or Soul of a New Machine (Tracy Kidder), the format here will be very familiar. Herz moves the story of CrossFit through time by focusing on a different personality in each chapter. But her virtuosity in this format shines through as she also weav
Aug 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I've never had a chance to try out CrossFit yet, so I guess part of it was just that I couldn't completely relate, so I found it more difficult than usual to really get into this book. It was interesting, but just not quite engaging enough [to me]? The book went into the history of how CrossFit came to be, and I really enjoyed reading the spotlights on a number of people who played important roles in shaping CrossFit into what it is today.
I also liked the philosophy behind “The CrossFit Code.” T
Evan Oliver
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fitness-training
The big take away from this book is "why". If you've seen any of Reebok's "Be More Human" commercials, you will see that built upon here. Herz lays out the science behind Crossfit's programming and it's benefits for not just fat loss and increased work capacity, but for longevity, mental strength, and improved quality of life. A key point is the, arguably unique, idea that we are working out for others. A key drive in crossfit is the improvement it makes in our lives with others, it makes us bet ...more
Joshunda Sanders
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved reading about CrossFit as someone who is new to the sport. It helps that I also had the chance to meet J.C. and hear her talk more about the book and her personal relationship to CrossFit, I think. But it's really great reporting and storytelling. Every time I picked it up, I wanted to be able to do a workout. I love all of the cultural anthropology -- the importance and legacy of ritual that CrossFit taps into, the "good cult" or "fitness cult" aspect of it that J.C. explains all rings ...more
Susan Ely
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
While you must have some sort of interest in Crossfit to pick this book up, those who have "drunk the kool-aid" will find this book encouraging and somewhat akin to reading a history of your home town. For those who do crossfit, this gives us the history from a cultural, fitness, phisiological, physiological and nutritional perspective. Well educated in the science behind the success, the author documents why crossfit became so popular and why it works so well. She is an excellent writer, making ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
After reading this book I will never do another bicep curl or hop on the elliptical machine again. As someone very new to CrossFit, I found this book to be an interesting read about the history of it. I enjoyed reading the science behind it and why it works. The detailed sports writing about the events wasn't as interesting to me as a newbie CrossFitter since I couldn't appreciate all the different challenges the competitors faced. Because of this I would probably recommend this book to someone ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Overall I really enjoyed this book and the background on the beginnings of CrossFit. It was inspirational and motivational to me as a beginner level CrossFitter (<6 months experience, but fully drinking the Kool Aid)). I'm not sure how much non-CrossFitters will care though. The ending seemed a bit bittersweet instead of hopeful, which is odd considering the sport's continued growth. The book could also have done with better copy editing as I noticed many typos and other minor errors in gramm ...more
Ron S
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
A look at the history of CrossFit and the larger than life characters that in habit it. J.C. Herz brings the skills of a serious, veteran journalist to bear here: this is not simply an inflated magazine article puff piece, although the controversies of injury and ongoing lawsuits are largely ignored. Reminiscent of Born to Run for compelling characterizations, it's hard to imagine anyone reading this and not wanting to try CrossFit for themselves, as well as surf YouTube for the wealth of CrossF ...more
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“CrossFit firebreather eventually discovers: the chief competitive advantage in this sport is the ability to endure discomfort. The willingness to sacrifice comfort is what makes all the other gains possible.” 1 likes
“The thing you dread should be your first priority. Because if you’re not willing to find the chink in your armor, the Hopper, the Unknown and Unknowable, the randomness of life, will find it for you.” 1 likes
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