Apr 192015 37 Responses

Beware of the CrossFit Affair

CrossFit is a life-transforming exercise program.

The benefits of CrossFit are many, including increased:

  • strength
  • agility
  • endurance
  • confidence

I have seen the benefit to many friends and church members who begin CrossFit.

Yet CrossFit shares a hidden secret with many other formal workout programs.

Exercise can bring tremendous benefits to a marriage, yet on many occasions I have seen well-intended people start exercise programs and they end up making decisions that hurt their marriage. (See: You Better Make Up Your Mind)

As long as someone knows the risks and makes good choices in response to those risks, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the dangers. However, if someone blindly signs up and never considers what boundaries they need to set, a new exercise program can have fatal consequences.

Three Reasons Affairs Happen in Exercise Programs:

1. Because some are looking.

Some begin to exercise as preparation for the next relationship. Knowing their marriage is ending, they begin to workout to make themselves more attractive for what will come next. Since their present relationship is unhealthy and they are already considering the next step, it makes them very susceptible to an inappropriate relationship. (See: You Will Have an Affair If…)

Others aren’t just susceptible, they are on the prowl. Their pain is so great and their loneliness so deep that they are willing to connect with anyone no matter the personal cost to the other person. Maybe they are aware of their desire, many times they are not. Either way, knowing that some are looking for a relationship should cause a faithful husband or wife to be on their guard. It doesn’t prevent them from joining the program; it simply gives them an awareness and wisdom in how to interact with others.

2. Because some are unaware.

While some are looking for relationships, others are unaware of the danger.

Human willpower does not come in infinite quantities. It is limited. When we use discipline and willpower in one area, our resolve is depleted in another area. Much like a muscle reaches the point of exhaustion, so does willpower. (See: The Greatest Threat to Your Marriage)

The good news is that willpower can be developed. By excercising willpower, it is strengthened. This is one reason exercise is a beneficial routine. The discipline creates more discipline.

However, when we start a new activity which requires willpower, we must be very aware of its effects. Using our willpower to workout puts us at risk for other bad habits.

Staying faithful to a relationship is a combination of building a healthy relationship, creating wise boundaries, and resisting temptation. When we are using our willpower in other areas, we must be cognizant of the danger and compensate for the threat.

3. Because the conditions are right.

Even if a person isn’t looking and they are aware of their diminished willpower, affairs can occur simply because exercise helps one’s sex life. (See: Three Myths About Adultery)

Moving from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle makes one look, feel, and interact better.

Looking better makes them both more attractive to others and more confident in themselves. This confidence easily translates to an openness to sex.

Feeling better includes an increased production of testosterone which increases aggressiveness and sexual desire. A person will desire sex more and be more likely to initiate.

Interacting better moves one from isolation to community. Whenever a couple asks for advice of how to reconnect, I often encourage them to start a new hobby together. Exercising is a great option. Doing an activity together can greatly bond a couple. This is a great gift to a struggling marriage, but it is a great threat when the man and woman aren’t married to each other.

Looking, feeling, and interacting in better ways because of exercise can be a threat to marriage, but it can also be a great benefit. If these qualities are not used to engage in an inappropriate relationship but are used in relation to one’s spouse, the results can be dramatic.

If you want to exercise, but do not want the program to hurt your marriage, adhere to the following guidelines.

Ten Guardrails for an Exercise Program

  1. Check your intent before starting a program. Are your motives pure?
  2. Develop a healthy relationship with your spouse.
  3. Make a conscious decision to be a person of high character and integrity.
  4. Have an accountability partner who asks you questions about your feelings toward people of the opposite sex.
  5. If possible, workout with your spouse.
  6. Do not exchange phone numbers with people of the opposite sex that you meet at the gym.
  7. Do not engage in conversations with people of the opposite sex outside the gym. (i.e Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  8. Make sure you have transparency with your spouse regarding passwords and social media accounts.
  9. Have a healthy skepticism about the intentions of others.
  10. Go to workout; get your emotional needs met in other places.

Endnote: Some might roll their eyes at this post thinking it is foolish. It’s okay to disagree, but just remember that I regularly sit with couples within hours after an affair has been revealed. I can’t tell you how often I have heard, “I met him/her at the gym. It started innocently, but…”

37 Responses to Beware of the CrossFit Affair
  1. edwincrozier Reply

    Not foolish at all. 100% spot on.

  2. Ginny Reply

    I’m just confused why you felt the need to add Crossfit to the title? I know affairs are known to be prevelant in CF gyms, but surely no more than other gyms?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Ginny, I doubt it happens more at CF than any place else. I wasn’t trying to call CF out. It’s just the one I’ve heard the most about, but I’ve written that up to the popularity of the program and not something inherently dangerous with it regarding marriage.

  3. MM22 Reply

    Upfront and transparent…I am a Crossfit member and have been for over four years. I couldn’t agree more with your content, guardrails, and concerns. And while I enjoyed the blog, I have just a few questions that perhaps you would be willing to share more insight on so I can understand your intent and heart better:

    1) Why did you single out Crossfit in the title and throughout the blog when there are many gyms or exercise programs in our area that you could have used in the title and throughout?;
    2) Do you believe there is something more inherently tempting for marriages within the Crossfit world than any other fitness program or business?

    I appreciate your consideration of my questions as these are the lingering questions that initially came to my mind after reading your blog. Thank you

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Matt, Great questions and thanks for asking them.

      1. I’m not trying to single CrossFit out. It’s simply the most popular and the one I hear about the most. That’s no critique of CrossFit; it is a compliment to its popularity. It’s like whenever I write about Social Media I don’t put Social Media in the headline, I put Facebook because that is the one that covers the most people.

      2. I don’t think CrossFit is more tempting or dangerous. As I’ve written before–every pro has its con–and the great strength of CrossFit is the community aspect. One threat of that is that there is more interaction between the sexes which if not handled properly can be bad.

      I did not intend to start a firestorm. I knew putting CrossFit in the headline would get more looks, but I fully expected people to read it, check themselves against the principles and move on.

      Please accept my apology if this came across as attacking CrossFit that was not my intent. I’m all for it when people follow the guidelines.

      • MM22 Reply

        Thanks Kevin. Just trying to better understand where you were coming from. My concern is that many people wrongfully use opinions, blogs, etc to form their own opinion and I wouldn’t want people to quickly associate Crossfit or people who go to Crossfit with marital affairs for obvious reasons. Plus my entire experience, as you acknowledge in your opening, has been transformative and very positive in my life, as with many others I know. Lastly, many of my friends (in and out of area) own a Crossfit business and wouldn’t appreciate the negative connotation portrayed by the use of it in connection with marital affairs. Much like your friend’s reminder of affairs happening in church…it happens…but it sure feels worse and gives others a negative connotation about CBC when someone says it happens at CBC versus “church” in general.

        Good news, your blog got our attention and engagement! 🙂 The foundation of your message is certainly understood, appreciated and right on target!

        • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

          Thanks Matt. CrossFit has been great for many of our staff, volunteers, and members.

  4. Kevin A. Thompson Reply

    A friend made a good point–I warn about affairs happening in the church all the time and clearly I’m a fan of the church. Good things can have negative temptations that must be handled properly. That was my main point.

  5. Blake Taylor Reply


    Thanks a ton for your thoughts here! I have been involved heavily in CrossFit for the past year, and could not agree more with the observations you have made. One thing I’d like to add to the conversation happening in this forum is that I have seen an increased number of affairs within CrossFit. Again, that’s not to say I see CrossFit as evil or malicious. CrossFit emphasizes community and “team” more than any other work out regiment I’ve experienced, sense competitive sports in high school and college. For that reason, when your working out, your not isolated. Your developing a level of camaraderie that can be dangerous. I realize there are other workouts that emphasize community and team as well, but CrossFit is, probably, the most prominent at this time.

    I think people should be aware of that when they are joining a CrossFit gym. They aren’t just joining a club that they are able to isolate themselves in, as they workout. They are also joining a community…. One that in a lot of ways operates like a church.

    As a Pastor, that has been something that struck me from the beginning.

    CrossFit is cultivating community around CrossFit. Period. Your not just paying to play with the weights. Your paying for the community, accountability, camaraderie, etc.

    I’ve seen a number of people sucked into that in an unhealthy manner.

    That said, CrossFit has been INCREDIBLY beneficial for me. My wife and I, both, feel like CrossFit has been one of the better choices I have made in the past year. It has given me more connection to the city I’m a pastor in, and an outlet for me as well. I LOVE CrossFit, but this is one critique of it that I do have.

    It’s a cesspool for unhealthy relationships.

  6. Janna Reply

    Spot on. I am sadly aware of a marriage of 28 years that was destroyed by the joining of a local running club. I think you should work out with your spouse or someone of the same sex. They partnered two runners of the opposite sex to train for a marathon and these two spent HOURS running and talking every weekend for months. They found common ground and both left their spouses. I think you are exactly right.

  7. Elishama Reply

    Great article. I wish my husband had read this 9 months ago before he started training Crossfit Games athlete EA while I was 6 months pregnant and she (for a third time) lured her “trainer” away from his wife and had an affair with him hoping to be taken care of by him. All of which led to our divorce. Good riddens…but it could have been avoided.

  8. CPA Reply

    Husband joined Crossfit, talked about the women with abs, then told me he was not in love with me anymore, now we are separated and will be getting a divorce.

  9. Sha Reply

    I read this article as I too have seen how CrossFit and the team approach between the men and women can lead to infidelity…. My husband has been living his CrossFit life for the past 3 years. I started with him but hurt my back and took up another program. Needless to say I was impressed with my husband’s dedication and transformation.

    We have been married 25 years and I would have described our marriage as Perfect. We are both fit, healthy and were great friends…. Or at least I thought.

    One week ago I discovered he has been having an emotional affair with a female from the gym for the past 6 months. It may have started as a simple friendship, it has become more than that. He was texting her, hiding emails and has a few stolen kisses.

    I am devastated and unsure I can ever trust him again. Yes he has told me, and we are starting therapy but I caution every couple to look long and hard at the CrossFit community and how involved they all become with each other.

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  12. Shelly Reply

    I searched this out because 5 out of five friends (married) Crossfitters full time females have all led to a divorce. What’s up?? Would be so interesting to do a study.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      On many occasions, people start working out because the marriage is bad. It’s part of their exit plan.

    • Ashy Reply

      Totally agree…I think a study would be very interesting and eye opening to everyone.

  13. minime60 Reply

    My sister left her husband about a year after joining a running club. She very openly started “dating” a guy from her running club just a couple of months after her separation, and then moved in with him very shortly after her divorce a few months later. She denies it, but I’m certain they were at least having an emotional affair before she left my ex-brother-in-law. It was very hard for the whole family – for her children as well as the extended family. I still have a hard time understanding how it could happen, but it seems to be very common. People need to be on the lookout if they want to protect or fix a marriage.

  14. FitHusband Reply

    Crossfit being a catalyst for ruining marriages is pretty accurate. I started doing CF years ago, my wife tried it but didn’t want to make an effort and quit. She doesn’t want to make any effort in exercise to look good so she continued to get more and more obese. Her lack of exercise, causes her to be depressed and always tired, easily irritated because of her weight (doesn’t look good, can’t find clothes that fit, can’t do things she used to do).

    In the meantime, I have gotten extremely fit, never tired and have a strong sex drive. The women that go to CrossFit are attractive, not only because they are fit but because they are willing to work and put the effort Crossfit requires to do it. I usually find these women are extremely outgoing and fun outside of the gym. They are Doers, not complainers and this is extremely attractive.

    • Sosha Reply

      Perhaps you should put more energy into your marriage rather than fulfilling only yourself by getting fit. I’m guessing you weren’t so fit yourself before CF. Did you try to find an activity for the both of you? You married for better and for worse – what happens if you become injured or incapacitated and don’t look so attractive? How would you feel if your wife was complaining about you? She probably has depression – don’t blame her for her condition. She probably has become worse since you are gone much of the time at CF. And how do you find these women fun outside the gym?

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  16. Drew Reply

    This is absolutely true. I recently found out my wife of 16 years was having an affair with her crossfit instructor. We are 40 and he is 23. Trying to stay together at this point but there is so much hurt. Our children are also being negatively affected. I liken the culture to a church or a cult. Even the language is different from any other form of workout. WOD, PR, AMRAP.
    I thought we had the perfect marriage before crossfit.

  17. Maxx Reply

    The “box” I started CF at and attended for four years definitely had it’s share of cheaters, which eventually led to numerous broken marriages (six that I’m aware of). The way many of the staff and members openly pursued relationships with married folks really was a shock, and if you were one of the few who had the “nerve’ to openly challenge this modern day hedonism without borders, you were labeled a troublemaker and told in no uncertain terms, “It’s none of your business.” All the while being told, we’re a “community and family” that takes care of our people. Yeah…right. We’re not talking about someone who goes to your house, borrows your car without permission; trashes the vehicle, get’s it in a wreck and brings it back with no gas in the tank. We’re talking about people who are unashamedly breaking up married couples and ruining other people’s relationships! Some with children involved. I left this box and joined another whose members and staff aren’t trying to hit on every well formed man/woman that walks through the doors. If you’re uncertain of a person’s character, just take notice of who they hang with. Nobody’s perfect, but people who lack any integrity or moral compass are folks I’d rather not be around.

  18. Heather Reply

    These comments, and this article, is like reading about my own life. Husband has been doing CF for 4 years. Obsessed. I tried it but wasn’t a fan. I’m a yoga instuctor.

    He started working out one on one with a ‘friend’. She’s engaged to the coach, that is 27 and she’s 40, and I was naive to think we were happy.

    Emotional cheating, hiding text messages and when I confronted him he defended her. We’ve been working on things for about a month but I truly don’t know if I can ever trust him again. I hate the moment he walked in that place and now he’s a certified CF coach. I truly believe that he will continue to choose that place over me because he “feels like he belongs”. What about the 16 years of commitment I gave you to belong in this family? I’m so angry I could scream.

  19. Broken Reply

    Married 24 years. All it took was a little attention from someone much younger flirting a little bit at CrossFit. Next thing you know they’re Facebook friends. But it’s only friends. And then they’re texting each other over a hundred times a day. But it’s only friends. Anytime you have to hide from your spouse it’s more than friends

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  21. Chelsea Reply

    These are great guidelines! Question: the rules that you’ve listed, is there a point where those cross over into more controlling territory? For example, if only one person follows those rules, but not both, then could you interpret those rules differently? To put it into context, I have been with my someone for about a year, and his rules are very similar to the ones you’ve listed, making me feel a little better about the amount of control I let him have in my life. However, he doesn’t follow those rules himself, and I find that unfair. Help!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      To me, these are general guidelines everyone should follow. It would be a red flag to me if someone didn’t unless there is a good explanation why.

  22. Mike Reply

    My girlfriend of 5 years joined a CrossFit group a while back. It became an obsession for her and she recently ended our relationship, virtually out of nowhere. I always had a bad feeling about certain members of that group and the influence they had over her, though she denies it. Had she never joined CrossFit I believe our relationship would still be intact. It was a distraction from our relationship. Furthermore I’ve seen the workout activities firsthand and firmly believe that much of it is extremely dangerous and unnecessary. I myself exercise regularly and am in pretty good shape and have never done any of that balls-to-the-wall/overly competitive workout nonsense. I would still like to try and win her back from the psychological hold these people have over her. Can you recommend any deprogramming techniques?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I don’t buy into deprogramming techniques. She has made choices. It’s not their fault; it’s her responsibility. She will need to decide to change if that is what needs to happen.

  23. DadOf5 Reply

    Now knowing I wasn’t an isolated occurance, I’m next in line to say that whatever they are doing inside that gym will feed into feelings of happiness. Acceptance. Motivation. My wife left me. She said it wasn’t “for him”, the owner of the crossfit gym, but prior to that affair we had marital issues that many younger couples go through at the 4-6 year mark. I just never thought those issues would end the marriage. After 7 months of going through the divorce process I offered her one more chance to heal and restore this broken marriage. She refused. Said she will not leave that gym. Lost my wife, my family, and part of myself to that culture. Mentality. I’d advise to stay away

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  25. Craig Reply

    My marriage ended due to a CrossFit affair. She eventually spent so much time at the gym and with her gym buddies that they, and eventually one family friend, became emotional supports for her. Our kids figured it out before I did, which made for a total shit show.

  26. #crossfitwhores Reply

    My 19 year marriage ended because of a Crossfit affair. Single gold digging whore chasing every guy in the box…my husband was feeling bad about turning 50 and he was the perfect (yet stupid) target of her attention. I disagree with other reply’s stating why single out Crossfit…because in my opinion Crossfit encourages team workouts and couples workouts unlike any other gym I’ve ever seen…it’s the perfect storm for affairs. Sadly for us our children now suffer and see their father as such a loser and the gold digger moved on as soon as my husband was broke after paying for the divorce. Crossfit was the catalyst ruined my entire family.

  27. Soon-to-be Divorcée Reply

    Wow, these comments.. My husband was only involved in CrossFit for three months before he quit his job to work at the CrossFit Gym full time as a “trainer” then immediately left me to be with one of the coaches. We have a 3 year old son and I thought our lives were pretty incredible. We never fought, had a healthy intimate relationship.. everything. I tried CF out a couple times but it just was never my thing. I must have missed something – signs or something. Oh well. I’ll just continue being an amazing mother and my Beachbody workouts at home to increase my own self esteem. At the end of the day – I do not support making this CF life the primary importance in his world and I believe he knew that so good bye and good luck to him. Thanks for this article. Makes me feel not so alone with this experience.

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