With our upcoming sweatshirt order there has been some controversy about our slogan on the front of it – “Strong people are harder to kill”. It’s gone from a couple people not keen on the statement to damn near rock throwing and car burning in the parking lot. In order to clarify our stance on the matter, Allison and I felt compelled to explain the meaning of the statement, it’s intent, and our standpoint as business owners.
Now let me preface this by saying I’m not picking a fight or trying to get in a pissing contest, or being unresponsive to feedback. I am simply providing an explanation and trying to quell some of the rumors and false analogies of what the shirt means and stands for. In all truth, after this I am not talking about it anymore.
First, the slogan is not ours. It came from renowned strength coach Mark Rippetoe. Go ahead and Google the slogan and Coach Rip. You’ll find he’s full of very colorful and humorous quotes (or these) and he is more than slightly legit as a strength coach. For a good laugh (or not dependent upon someone’s fragile sensibilities) look up “Mark Rippetoe quotes” in Google. Coach Rip provided the strength coaching basis for us at CFC and we’ve utilized his methodology and concepts since we started coaching. He works and his stuff works, even if he rubs some people the wrong way by being blunt and honest – kinda like me. Coach Rip pops off all kinds of interesting quotes when he’s coaching and they all tie into exercise science or coaching in some weird way. Coach Rip has a unique ability to teach you something really useful while offending you or catching you off guard with some bizarre saying all at the same time. Then you think about it for a second and laugh while writing down the notes on how to improve human performance. He uses analogies that the normal person probably wouldn’t think of saying while coaching people on diet like, “Okay, have you ever been around chickens? They are stupid, uncooperative, inconvenient, ill-tempered creatures. They get what they deserve. F*** chickens.”
Coach Rip is a strength/science/anatomy/exercise science nerd under it all. Once you get past some of his more colorful stuff and read his scientific articles or statements, you will be made well aware of his intellect. His intent in saying “strong people are harder to kill” wasn’t to sanction violence or issue a challenge to people or paint a target on someone. It was based up the scientific SAID principle, once again said in passing in a manner of explanation and description only Coach Rip could provide. When he most likely sarcastically uttered the infamous words that have appeared all over the internet, shirts, mugs, and God knows what else many, many years ago, his basis was built upon the scientific laws of organism adaptation – Any living organism exposed to a stress will either withstand the stress, recover from it, adapt, and live, or will fail to adapt and die. In athletic or strength training terms, that’s how we get strong.
We lift/move past a point of normal stress, take some time to recover at which point our body adapts. During the adaptation, the body will need to be exposed to a new, higher level of stress in order to make further gains. If it fails to do so, the muscle/body fails. Over time, the stresses needed to force adaptation become higher and higher to a point at which break point stresses are harder to attain. That being the case, the organism/athlete is now stronger and has reached a point to which the stressors of life cannot render the athlete incapacitated, or in colorful terms, cannot “kill” it. So, as an athlete becomes stronger, they become more impervious to the stresses of life and activity and stay healthier & stronger longer. That’s what Coach Rip was implying, he just chose to use his special way of communicating to get the point across, hence “strong people are harder to kill”.
As business owners, we utilized this slogan on a run of grey and blue sweatshirts about 5 years ago. We sold TONS of them. We were asked by our gym clients, outside gym members, people visiting, and people from all over hell’s half acre via email to purchase one of the sweatshirts. we were all out and couldn’t get more, but people still bugged us for those damn sweatshirts every year since then. We weren’t the first to use the slogan, but for whatever reason our sweatshirts were damn popular. Folks weren’t made to buy them, they either did or didn’t. If they didn’t like them, they bought an Adidas sweatshirt at Big 5 instead, stayed warm, and called it a day. We din’t force them on anyone but from a business standpoint they worked in our favor.
Since then we’ve been repeatedly asked to run that sweatshirt style and slogan again. Sadly those sweet jackets are no longer made, so we went with men’s t-shirts and women’s tanks this past year and again, we sold through them like crazy. So much so we had to place multiple follow-up orders. Our athletes and coaches have been all over the US and world and at competitions and have been asked where someone outside of CFC can purchase the shirt. It’s obviously pretty popular and with it’s two barbells on the front, there is no violent connotation to be derived from it. According to FBI violent crime statistics, no one wearing a CFC t-shirt has been killed or killed anyone due to the slogan.
From a business standpoint, it’s a wise move for us to follow what the mass majority of our consumers have asked for. Our shirts and old sweatshirts are by far the most popular design run we’ve had and this current batch is once again proving such. We aren’t blowing off people that don’t like the slogan, we are simply doing what’s good for us as a business. We want and willingly accept feedback, but some of it’s been absurd and completely inaccurate based upon false notions of the terms and their intent. Regardless of what we would do we are well aware there is no way we could please everyone with any design/slogan we would have chosen. We’ve found that out over the past 9 years as business as some folks won’t like our ideas and feel betrayed or unappreciated. Nothing could be further from the truth. We value all of our clients and their contributions to CFC, regardless of whether we see eye to eye on the occasional something.
In the end, it’s the consumers final choice. We don’t force the purchase of anything in CFC upon our clients. You either choose to purchase our products, or you don’t for various personal reasons. No hard feelings and no remorse from any involved party. The same should be the case here – if you don’t like the shirt, don’t buy it. Your workouts will still be hard, we will still love you, and you’ll continue to be part of the Red & Black Machine. We just don’t want people stirring the pot or making up inaccurate statements about what they feel the underlying message is in the slogan. It’s just a play on words, it’s just semantics with an accurate scientific meaning. I am pretty confident everyone has “Raid Ant & Roach killer” or “Round Up weed killer” at home and I can tell you that stuff is going to literally kill an organism, quite unlike a black hooded sweatshirt with two barbells on the front and a CrossFit gym logo on the back.
Our order for the new sweatshirts will be going in on December 15th. It will be a black/red Sportek unisex hooded sweatshirt with our CFC logo on the back and the slogan “Strong People are Harder to Kill” on the front. It will be rad. The cost will be $50/each. Please sign up for one, along with your size on the clipboard at the front counter. If you don’t want one, no problem.