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What Is CrossFit?

March 26, 2014
Carla Burns

To Crossfit Or Not To Crossfit?

That is the question…

Crossfit has become so mainstream with the Reebok Crossfit Games and with so many crossfit boxes popping up throughout the world, that we are all a little intrigued with what it all entails. You have to admit seeing some of those gifted athletes lifting large amounts of weight, quickly, efficiently, almost effortless and then launching their bodies from ground level over high walls repeatedly with what appears to be superhuman stamina, to incredible feats of technically sound movements seen only from gymnasts during regional competitions or the olympic games. I certainly have a true admiration for these athletes and for what crossfit is all about.

Is crossfit for everyone?

This appears to be the question that is being asked more often than not. Well if you ask CrossFit, Inc. (the company) their response is “Yes”. CrossFit, Inc. methodologies ensure that all participants that are members at a CrossFit box (or gym) have completed the necessary components before they are permitted to attend regulars workouts. In my opinion I think that this is a great idea and that everyone should have some sort of formal training before beginning any fitness program.

Crossfit workouts are scaled to meet the needs of all its members from beginner to advanced which again, I believe is a necessity. The workouts involve movements which include Olympic weight lifting, gymnastics, combined with other exercise such as rowing, running, body weight movements and jumping. These exercise are certainly not new but it is the combination that makes crossfit so challenging.

The crossfit environment is high energy, filled with intensity, focus and determination. Most coaches are are die-hard crossfitters, who have completely embraced the culture. People love being part of the Crossfit community and love to tell people that they ” do crossfit”. Let’s be honest, it is marketed very well and now with a big sponsor such as Reebok, it will seems as though it is becoming more mainstream, which is creating the curiosity for people.

As great as crossfit is, there are a few knocks that go along with it. There is a larger than average cost for crossfit members. Of course this depends on the size of the box and what part of the world you live in. Crossfit monthly memberships range anywhere from $100 to $300. There are additional fees for open and closed crossfit competitions as well and for additional learning sessions. Another knock on crossfit is that every session is a compeition where you’re either racing against the clock or against other members. This type of intense atmosphere has caused many crossfitters to sustain injuries while training. Common injuries associated with crossfit training are back and shoulder injuries (mostly strains and muscle pulls), scraped shins from failed box jump attempts, ripped skin on your hands from pull ups, muscle ups, kettle bell swings and other lifts, ruptured achilles from box jumps, as well as injuries to knees, elbows and ankles mostly diagnosed as tendonitis.

The box is very bare bones. There are no factory treadmills, bikes, or larger pieces of equipment that take up a lot of space. In any box you’ll find countless amounts of barbells, bumper plates, kettlebells, plyometric boxes, rowing machines, pull up rigs, gymnastic rings, ropes, medicine balls, sleds and many other pieces. As mentioned there is no machinery that will do the work for you.

My advice is if you are considering joinng the crossfit community, to really take some time and look into what crossfit entails. Look at some of the workouts, the movements, the scaled variations, different boxes in your area, and the coaches at the box. Is crossfit too dangerous for the average person? Well any type of physical exercise can be dangerous and I always suggest that people take the time to educate themselves on whatever training style they intend to practice. When joining crossfit it’s important to realize that it is going to take some time to learn the movements before incorporating them into your daily WOD (workout of the day). Ask questions to your coaches, take your time, don’t rush into your first WOD, understand what is being asked of you, stay focused and pay attention to what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with participating in intense workouts provided they are not out of control and your safety is not at risk. Do not allow yourself to be pressured or bullied into using weight that you do not feel safe with. It’s OK to get out of your comfort zone, but that is for you to decide when that is to happen.

I do believe that crossfit or crossfit style workouts are a valuable tool to add to your training toolbox. Do not attempt any of the more complex or difficult movements without having been properly trained in these movements. When choosing a WOD, make sure that you scale it to your ability. Pushing the limits is fine, but not to the point of exhaustion where you risk fainting or to the point of making yourself sick. Contrary to belief I do not believe this is the main goal of crossfit or any crossfit style WOD, even though their mascot is named Pukie the clown. If you do decide to choose crossfit as your training method, embrace it, understand it, study it and most of all have fun doing it!

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