Last year, a minute fraction of the nation was briefly shaken to learn that those putrid finger shoes were nothing more than a terrific scam, an epiphany that nevertheless created a small but appreciable vacuum in the BS Fitness world. A year passed quietly, the only audible sound the dragging of so many truck tires around the polished concrete of CrossFit gyms the globe around.
But rejoice, Proud Fitness Enthusiasts. It took a minute, but the fires of Hell have at long last forged a new trend in public humiliation-as-exercise, and it is called crunning. "But I already cry when I run!" you say. "How is this new?" No, it's worse that that. The "cr" is for "crawling." You're crawl-running. You're crunning.
Crunning. Is it a hoax? Yes and no. Crunning became an authentic activity the first time a pair of interns earnestly placed their hands on the carpet and scuttled across the Today offices, tentative at first, but gradually faster and faster, right into the ankles of an alarmed Savannah Guthrie. Then they repeated the maneuver outside, on the crowded, infested sidewalks of Rockefeller Center. I hope that stipend covers the hefty price of lost dignity.
Shaun McCarthy, the Australian mastermind claiming credit for the term, has high hopes for the future of his crunning empire. "The only thing that crunning's changed about fitness...is that it's changed everything about fitness," he says to the camera in the above minute-long video, eyes scrunched with sincerity. A montage of McCarthy waddling on all fours through a park follows. "Do not outcrun yourself—it could be bad for your neck or back," he warns.
As to whether crunning is actually beneficial, science seems to settle on a resounding "eh." Is crunning healthier than eating a slab of spam pressed between two pieces of cheesecake? Sure! Is it better for you than watching every single episode of Guiding Light back-to-back while chain drinking BuzzBallz and eating butter with your hands? I'm no doctor, but I say "probably!" Is it better for you than running upright on two feet like a person still clinging to a shred of pride? Absolutely not. Still: "I actually see the Crossfitters at my gym crawling around like that all the time," a friend told me via email.
For a more informed opinion, we reached out to Kevin Dineen, a coach and owner of Structure Personal Fitness. "Physiologically, humans weren't built for quadruped mobility like apes," Dineen points out. "Because we're bipedal / upright our wrists have different structures than our ankles (where as a quadruped animal would have 4 of roughly the same joint). Outside of learning something new, I can see broken noses, bad wrist / repetitive injuries, and shoulder problems [arising from crunning]."
Kudos to any fitness program that stands to make Americans less doughy without convincing them to drop thousands on a bullshit class held in a bullshit studio with an instructor chirping into a headset. But if you believe that crunning is the key to finally losing that despised eyelid fat: I've got some fingered hand shoes to sell you.