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Inside the Box: How CrossFit® Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body Paperback – September 1, 2012

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Inside the Box: How CrossFit® Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body + First: What It Takes to Win + Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Velo Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934030902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934030905
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Laced with self-deprecation and sharp observation, [Inside the Box] reads as a CrossFit origin story. Throughout the book Murphy is most compelling as a cultural guide. With uncanny “noticings” and clever descriptions he pulls you into the CrossFit community, its people and its ethos. As a forceful diary, Inside The Box speaks to those merely curious about CrossFit and to the fire breathing monsters hooked on its potent thrill.  Vibrant and life-affirming, Murphy urges the reader on.” — WOD Talk magazine

“For me, Inside the Box was like a walk down memory lane. I highly recommend it to anyone who has been considering starting CrossFit but just hasn’t been sure if it’s right for them.” — Greg Amundson, the original CrossFit Firebreather, former SWAT officer, and founder of the CrossFit Goal Setting Course

“Murphy’s experience [in Inside the Box] is one that will be lived thousands of times in the coming years. It is an awakening not only of the physical but of consciousness to one’s ability and what is possible. He eloquently takes you on the ride of finding community and bringing purpose back into one’s own life.” — Brian MacKenzie, founder of CrossFit Endurance

Inside the Box made me very nostalgic of my own beginning with CrossFit. And it really made me proud of this community that I am involved in. CrossFit is unique as a sport, but even more special because of the community it has created. Inside the Box is a wonderful representation of why and how we are all so dedicated to our own fitness, but more importantly, to the success of our peers.” — Annie Sakamoto, CrossFit trainer and elite athlete

“In his book Inside the Box, journalist T.J. Murphy goes deep into the high-intensity, gut-testing world of CrossFit.” —

“Interwoven with [Murphy’s] personal journey is the backstory on CrossFit and its evolution, along with the tales of other CrossFitters he met along the way…For anyone who hasn’t experienced CrossFit, it’s hard to understand what goes on inside the gym, but this book does a good job explaining it.” —

“In his book, Murphy also does an effective job of explaining what a typical CrossFit “box” (an actual gym) looks like, what a CrossFit experience is bound to be like for the first-timer (humbling and exhausting, and, depending on the first-timer’s nature, either utterly addictive or completely off-putting), and the importance of community in contributing to CrossFit’s popularity.” —

From the Back Cover

ENTER THE WORKOUT REVOLUTION.When veteran journalist T.J. Murphy joined a local CrossFit® gym, it wasn't to chase a story. Hobbled and limping, the 47-year-old felt more like 100, with legs wrecked from years of running. Desperate to reclaim his fitness and strength, he signed up with nothing to lose. InInside the Box, Murphy puts his body to the test to find out whether CrossFit really works. IS IT HEALTHY? IS IT EFFECTIVE? IS IT CRAZY? From humble roots in a California garage to more than 4,000 gyms today, CrossFit is the gritty grassroots fitness movement that is fast making converts across the globe. Forget chrome, video screens, and glitzy settings; CrossFit happens in rough-and-tumble spaces called boxes, with workouts forged from an eclectic mix of gymnastics, weight lifting, track and field, and plyometrics—pitting athletes against each other to earn the day's top score. In this intense atmosphere where fitness is sport, Murphy discovers a surprisingly tight-knit crew—soldiers, soccer moms, police officers, adrenaline addicts—all striving to sweat, suffer, and see who can push themselves farthest. With ferocious dedication to training and diet, CrossFit's devotees seem to be literally reshaping themselves from the inside out. But does CrossFit live up to the hype_Inside the Boxinvestigates the merits of this countercultural movement that is transforming lives as it takes the fitness world by storm.T.J. MURPHYis a writer, veteran endurance athlete, and CrossFitter and the former editorial director ofTriathlete,Inside Triathlon, andCompetitormagazines. His work has also appeared inRunner's WorldandOutsidemagazines.

More About the Author

T.J. Murphy got his start in publishing as an assistant editor for Triathlete Magazine in 1996, when the magazine was located near the corner of Mission and 2nd in downtown San Francisco. Before then he had held a series of jobs that weirdly enough turned out to be an education of sorts that he has since drawn upon: Bike messenger, sports massage therapist, running shoe sales guy and an unpaid position as an assistant running coach for the Golden Gate Triathlon club. His magazine career, thus far, has included time as the editor-in-chief for Triathlete Magazine and also Inside Triathlon. He has also served as editorial director for Competitor Magazine. He recalls earnestly that none of this would have been possibly had he not survived his time on staff at the Special T Bike Messenger service.

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Customer Reviews

Great book for any cross fit fanatic..
Manny Apodaca
T.J. Murphy tells the story of how he found Crossfit and how it all lead up to the moment when he met Fran!
This book has alot of technical info in it , but is very enjoyable to read.
Mark Allen Thompson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Snappy on September 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a long time fan of Crossfit, but also somewhat of a skeptic. On one hand, I love the idea of Crossfit making fitness fun, functional, and involving aspects of sttrongman and olympic lifts. But on the other hand, I've watched Crossfit begin to almost take claim to inventing fitness. I get annoyed every time I open a magazine and see that burpees, sand bag carries, barbell complexes, etc. are "Crossfit workouts" instead of things that have been around for ages. But Murphy's book showed me how I was only seeing part of the story of Crossfit. Crossfit is community, support, diet. And against some criticism, no more a cult than any other club. The book made me wish I could only afford to join!
Anyhow, great book and I could really relate to Murphy, being a banged-up runner myself and looking for a new challenge.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Pete Williams on September 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book reminded me of a cross between Christopher McDougall's Born to Run and L. Jon Wertheim's Blood in the Cage, two excellent accounts of fitness subcultures. T.J. Murphy's Inside the Box belongs in that discussion, with extra points given for weaving a participatory narrative with in-depth business reporting. Murphy took up CrossFit at 47 after a knee all but gave out from a lifetime of endurance sports pounding. Like most endurance sports types, he brought a healthy skepticism into the box only to discover an efficient, ass-kicking workout, along with a sense of community, a means to pull himself out of post-divorce doldrums and, perhaps most surprisingly, a way to avoid knee replacement surgery. If you've ever wanted to attempt CrossFit but been intimidated by this gritty, sinewy world of Spartan gyms and tattooed Millennials, you'll learn that CrossFit gyms are welcoming places for those willing, like Murphy, to explore their physical limits. Murphy is an accomplished endurance sports journalist and athlete and though he thoroughly covers CrossFit's history and philosophies, weaving some compelling personality profiles into the mix, we were left wondering if CrossFit will put him back on the road and the trails. He hints at the end that he's going to apply CrossFit to running. Should make for an interesting epilogue.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Leon C on September 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about their physical fitness, which should mean everyone. TJ Murphy gives a well-written, first-person narrative on what CrossFit is and what it's like to be a part of this fitness community. If you're reading this and want to get into "shape", you've probably thought about running or jogging at some point. Murphy is a former marathon runner/triathlete who has seen and done it all, and left his body broken for the experience. He tried CrossFit because he was desperate to find ANYTHING that could keep him going and perhaps bring him back to health.

If you've heard about CrossFit but think it's not for you, you should think again and buy this book. If you've never heard of CrossFit but care about your health, you should buy this book. The book has a chapter on Irene M, who started her CrossFit journey at over 400lbs and currently has lost over 100lb and become the heart and soul of CrossFit Elysium in San Diego. If she can do it, anyone can, period. Don't you at least owe yourself the favor of finding out how she did it?
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By George Rodriguez - Nonfiction Author of Simple Time Management Tips on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
T.J. Murphy in Inside the Box tells the story of his year going from CrossFit newcomer to holder of a 5:27 Fran time. If you don't know what that means, you should read the book. If you do know what that means, you should still read it. Both the novice and the seasoned CrossFit vet will have plenty to learn about CrossFit's colorful history, its impact in the world of fitness and the moving stories and personalities that make it up.

Anyone who has finished 5 Ironmans as Murphy has is no fitness pushover, but after years of distance running and triathlons, a painful divorce and injuries to his body that would not go away he found himself at CrossFit Elysium in San Diego looking for a different way to health. Murphy's story introduces us to burpees, WODs, sweat angels and Firebreathers. And more importantly it shows us how a small gym in Santa Cruz, CA and its legendary founder Greg Glassman invented "the Sport of Fitness".

Going from 13 affiliates (gyms, or in CrossFit lingo "boxes") in 2005 to over 4,000 in 2012 speaks to not only the sense of community that Crossfit has built (which Murphy excellently chronicles), but also the life transformation it can affect through changes in diet and exercise. This is perfectly captured in Murphy's chapter on CrossFitter Irene Mejia's journey from morbidly obese to a de-facto leader at CrossFit Elysium.

As Murphy writes, in CrossFit "you get what you put in" and a visionary, strong-willed leader, passionate CrossFit affiliates and the willingness of CrossFit members to put it on the line every Workout of the Day (WOD) has led to a revolution in the fitness industry.

This is both a great narrative of one man's introduction to the world of CrossFit and a fantastic record of CrossFit's history, impact and future potential. I highly recommend it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Collins on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just finished this myself, after buying it for myself at Christmas.

I was familiar with Murphy from his years in the triathlon publishing world (and my past as an enthusiastic, but rarely good, triathlete) so was expecting a strong dose of cynicism towards CrossFit; it's certainly there in the early parts of the book.

Murphy's journey reflects my own; busted from a history of sports that damaged me, a discovery of CrossFit, the enjoyment of the training style and the surprise at encountering the community of support that you don't go in expecting.

It's certainly not going to win a Pulitzer, but it's a pleasant enough, accurate reflection of the world of CrossFit that speaks to a more regular, fitness-focused participant, rather than the superstar athletes we see at the Games.

I enjoyed it.
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