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Is American Christianity Becoming a Workout Cult?

Is American Christianity Becoming a Workout Cult?

A column in The Daily Beast posted Sunday said that American Christianity is slowly becoming more like CrossFit, a workout craze.

Michael Schulson writes that CrossFitters are “cult-like,” with close-knit communities and dedicated members. It isn’t the first time CrossFitters have been likened to a cult, and it’s a name the group embraces.

“CrossFitters can buy apparel that plays on this reputation: Like a Cult, Without the Creepy Leader’ reads one T-shirt,” Schulson’s column says.

But it’s Christianity that’s “starting to look a lot like CrossFit,” Schulson said.

He says that churches are launching weight rooms, weight-loss programs and other health initiatives. There are even Christian-oriented Cross-Fit gyms including CrossFit 27:17 (named from the Proverbs verse) and CrossFit for My Savior.

“Is American Christianity about to re-emerge as a workout cult?” Schulson said. “No. But, along with concerns about epidemic obesity, there are good strategic reasons that a religious organization might want to get physical.

“Quite simply, organized fitness makes for a great bonding experience, as CrossFit gyms around the world could no doubt attest,” he wrote.

The changes in the churches come as mainline Protestant churches face shrinking congregations, Schulson said.

“CrossFit boxes that boast of starting in garages and spreading by word of mouth might find much that seems familiar in the world of house church, small group fellowships, young church planting movements (such as Vineyard), and emerging church communities,” he said.


Publication date: April 28, 2014