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In 1995, as Glassman was burning the last of his bridges at local gyms, he got a call from a friend who worked at the sheriff's department in Santa Cruz. The department had heard about him and wanted him to train officers. Glassman, who was in the middle of a breakup with a longtime girlfriend, decided to go. He set up shop in a health center called Spa Fitness and taught his own brand of fitness training, which he had begun calling CrossFit, to officers and anyone else looking to buy 60 minutes of sweat.

The Santa Cruz mornings and evenings became packed with fitness clients. The stretch of day in between grew into a time of study and reflection. He had a friend bring in printouts of fitness articles the friend had found using his newfangled Internet connection. "I went through thousands of pages like that," says Glassman. "When I finally got a computer, there was nothing on the Web on fitness I hadn't already seen."

"It's not like George Washington got up in front of a bunch of dirtbags." On refusing to settle legal cases:

Glassman began refining his approach. He favored gymnastic and powerlifting moves he knew from growing up, and functional calisthenics (squatting, pull-ups) that forced the body to use large muscle groups together, like in real life. He liked the idea of throwing exercises at clients seemingly randomly, believing it resembled the way early humans had to overcome daily physical obstacles. To goose participants' natural competitiveness, he mandated that the workouts be for time, or for as many rounds or reps as possible in a set time period, so that no one slacked off.

Glassman attracted a little flock. "I was looking for a trainer, and a friend of my wife's went to Spa Fitness," says Ben Elizer, who today is CrossFit's chief information officer. He went to Spa Fitness and was told he had his pick of two: "one guy who is really nice and not that good, and another guy who is really good but super-opinionated and arrogant"--Glassman, of course. Glassman's crew was tight-knit. He even ended up marrying one of his clients, a hairdresser named Lauren Jenai. When the Spa Fitness owner inevitably showed the CrossFitters the door, and they leased a corner of a jujitsu studio, Lauren would manage the books and teach CrossFit classes herself. Soon they outgrew that space, and the Glassmans took their motley little group of cops, jujitsu fighters, and tech-company commuters to a 1,250-square-foot truck garage on a remote road three miles out in Soquel. In 2000, a number of clients asked if Glassman could put the WODs online so they could do them when they traveled, so he put up

Good history lesson, but I still think it's a cult:

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