Yesterday a jury in Northern Virginia awarded $300,000 to a former United States Navy sailor who sued a gym for administering the CrossFit workout. CrossFit is an intense strength and conditioning fitness workout that states as it's goal "to create the quintessential athlete, equal parts gymnast, Olympic weightlifter and sprinter"
The program has increasingly become very popular with military and law enforcement personnel but has raised concern even within the military establishment for its potential for causing an increased occurrence of musculoskeletal injuries. CrossFit involves timed high-intensity strength training and conditioning drills with little or no rest or water between sets.
Makimba Mimms, 29 says that the intensity of the CrossFit workout that he did in December of 2005 was under the supervision of a gym employee who was not certified and the poorly supervised workout made him urinate blood and caused his legs to swell to the point he is now permanently disabled and cannot stand for long periods of time, run or play tennis with his wife.
Former Navy sailor and wrestler Makimba Mimms with wife Lynne at their Virginia home. A jury awarded $300,000 to Mr Mimms who sued the gym, parent company and one of its employees for administering an intense Crossfit workout.
CrossFit is a popular workout program with lots of YouTube videos and as a result it has developed a huge internet following. Makimba's lawsuit has been mocked by many of CrossFit's fierce supporters who have questioned Makimba's toughness. As an enlisted Navy personnel and former Wrestler they claim he should have been able to handle a "kids and beginners CrossFit workout" Most have come to the conclusion that he must have been dreadfully weak and deconditioned or might have suffered from the condition previously and tried to make CrossFit the scapegoat. To make light of the situation enthusiasts have gone as far as to name a workout after him.
Court documents show that Mr Makimba claims that the workout caused him to suffer from a severe case of rhabdomyolysis which happens when there is a very rapid break down of muscle fiber that results in muscle contents being leaked into the bloodstream. The condition can be potentially life threatening as the toxicity of the muscle fiber contents can cause kidney damage or failure.
At the trial the availability of breaks and water was a point of high contention. Court documents reveal that Makimba displayed signs of high muscular discomfort but was never asked to take a break, slow down or drink some water during the workout. However, lawyers for the gym tried to make the point that as an adult, he should have exercised some good judgment and listened to his body and taken a break or drank some water but the Jury found the gym, its owners and the trainer liable for his injuries.
As a trainer, I feel there is a lot of blame to go around. I believe there is an element of personal responsibility that we should all exercise. This always seem to affect mostly men who never leave their ego at the door and end up hurting themselves doing exercises they should never attempt in the first place. The gym also shouldn't have hired an uncertified employee to administer the workout. Trainers worth their salt always approach training from the "safety first philosophy" and should be able to detect when clients have reached their physical threshold. In my opinion Makimba was severely dehydrated and a couple of 20 second breaks to drink some water would have saved him a lot of pain and agony.
Published On: October 29, 2008