In the News: CrossFit Photo Outrage

CrossFitter Lee-Ann Ellison has been making headlines recently, because she is 8 months pregnant and doing CrossFit. I even saw her being interviewed on a daytime TV show while I was sitting in a waiting room today. Here are a few articles that have been in the news about her. What are your thoughts on all of the uproar that these photos have stirred?


Pregnant weightlifter draws outrage

ByJane Gerster

A pregnant weightlifter's online photos have given birth to a controversy over how much exercise is too much.

Los Angeles mother of two Lee-Ann Ellison is eight months pregnant, busy raising a 12-year-old and 8-year-old, while preparing for a new baby and finding time for a bit of exercise.

But when she decided to post a photo Sept. 15, showing her visibly pregnant in a squat position with a weighted barbell overhead, the rest of the world decided to weigh in.

Ellison is quoted as saying: "8 months pregnant with baby number 3 and CrossFit has been my sanity. I have been CrossFitting for 2 ½ years and ... strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body's capabilities to kick a--."

The photo was re-posted from Ellison's personal page onto a Facebook page dedicated to CrossFit, a high intensity workout involving Olympic lifts and gymnastics.

But while drawing the support of many — including more than 19,000 Facebook likes — the photo also sparked outrage.

Amanda Cinq-Mars called it "sickening;" Stephanie Herrera wrote "why would you risk hurting your baby just to stay in shape? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

Others jumped to Ellison's defence. Charles Bailey wrote: "I think that we should all be more concerned about a mom who eats McDonald's everyday of her pregnancy, and doesn't exercise one bit."

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada states that if a woman is active for at least six months before becoming pregnant — which Ellison was — she should speak to her doctor about continuing to exercise safely.

While not advocating for a complete stop, the society says a revision each trimester of pregnancy might be in order and, women unused to exercise before pregnancy should "start low and go slow."

Within hours, Ellison herself had responded to the criticism, thanking her supporters. "Haters will hate and it's OK," she wrote. "My life is not their life thank goodness."

In the week since the photo appeared, Ellison has been making the rounds, responding to critics around the world and making it very clear she's not about to stop.

But now she's winding down, said her friend, impromptu media representative and the photographer of the controversial pictures, Nick Stern.

She's taking a breather, Stern said, returning to the busy life of being a mother and preparing for the birth of her child.

Still, she hasn't stepped back too much, starting a Facebook page dedicated to providing CrossFit advice to pregnant women and new moms.


--Torstar News Service


Lee-Ann Ellison: Pregnant CrossFit weightlifter stirs controversy on Facebook

According to ABC News on Saturday, controversial photos of a pregnant California woman lifting 75 pounds for exercise have ignited a flurry of Facebook comments as some call into question the practice of pumping iron while expecting.

Lee-Ann Ellison started training for weightlifting figure competitions at the age of 20.

Now she's along 33 weeks in her pregnancy, and told ABC News she is keeping up with her practice, which makes her "feel really confident and really good" about her body.

"Weightlifting is not a joke, it's not for newbies," she said.

Ellison has been known to lift as much as 190 pounds before her pregnancy but is seen in photos hoisting just 75 pounds out of an abundance of caution.

While her pictures, which have gained more than 16,000 comments online, have some complimenting her strength, others question if her practices are hazardous to her pregnancy.

"This is shocking and not in a good way. Lifting heavy things during pregnancy is dangerous to you and your baby," Natalie Rose wrote.

"Why would you risk hurting your baby just to stay in shape?" Stephanie Herrera asked. "This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

Others jumped in to defend the fit mom.

"I'm 6 months pregnant with triplets and am still Crossfitting as much as I can!" Carol Bolliger shared.

"Doctors say it is perfectly fine to stick to your exercise route while pregnant, in fact it is encouraged," Kristen Funk wrote.

Another commenter noted that she was a CNA during all of her pregnancies, and she was lifting patients in and out of bed, some of them weighing more than 75 pounds, the amount of weight Ellison is lifting in these photos. If your body knows how to hold the weight correctly, and there isn't a problem with the placenta, there shouldn't be a problem.

Weight lifting for Ellison is perfectly normal... for her

In actuality, since she was already lifting weights before she was pregnant, her body was already accustomed to it. Her obstetrician has given her the okay to continue weight lifting as long as she feels like doing it, and no other complications arise during her pregnancy.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Royal Society of Medicine in England support exercise and pregnancy. However, we don’t want to go to an extreme. "We have to define what is extreme. I don’t know about you, but I don’t work out as much as a professional weightlifter or bodybuilder does, but if you were doing something that your body is used to, there’s no real harm in it,” said Robin EliseWeiss, LCCE, Master of Public Health and Pregnancy writer on

Weiss said every woman and her capabilities during pregnancy is different, and someone like Ellison, who has been weightlifting for years, is capable of more than most.