What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is advertised as “the sport of fitness.”
With constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements, CrossFit is a training philosophy that coaches people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness in a hardcore yet accepting and encouraging environment.
Here’s the definition of CrossFit from the official site:
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing.
Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
CrossFit contends that a person is as fit as they are proficient in each of ten general physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.
Or, in nerd speak – CrossFit is a training program that builds strength and conditioning through extremely varied and challenging workouts.
Each day the workout will test a different part of your functional strength or conditioning, not specializing in one particular thing, but rather with the goal of building a body that’s capable of practically anything and everything.
Like moving boulders.
CrossFit is extremely different from a commercial gym…and not just because you won’t find any ellipticals, weight machines, or Zumba.
Not that there’s anything wrong with some of those things. We work with our coaching clients to find the style of exercise that works best for them.
If you want to mix up strength training with other fun exercises…
What’s a CrossFit Class Like?
Let’s say you’re interested in joining a CrossFit class, but you don’t know what you’re getting into!
Practically every CrossFit gym around the world will let you come in and try out a class for free, so contact your local gyms and find out what dates and times they’re having newbie sessions.
Is CrossFit Right for Me? (Pros and Cons)
The Benefits of CrossFit:
- GREAT community aspect. Unlike a commercial gym, you actually get to know the people at your box. Most gyms will have outings that a LOT of people show up to. There’s always that feeling of teamwork and camaraderie.
- Constant coaching and support – In a commercial gym you have no clue if you’re doing an exercise right or not. While it’s not 1:1 training, you have a coach with you during every workout to help out.
- If you don’t show up, not only do people notice, but they call you and ask where you’ve been. The only time that happens in a commercial gym is when you miss a session with your overpaid trainer.
- Leveling up – Because you get to keep track of how much you’re lifting, and you know how many reps and sets you’re doing, you get to see constant improvement. You also get to advance at your own pace, slowly working your way up toward doing the workouts as prescribed.
- Humbling yet encouraging – Yeah, you might end your workout lying on your back, but you have a sense of accomplishment when you finish a workout faster than last time.
- Competition – It’s amazing how much further you’ll push yourself when surrounded by other people cheering you on and competing with you.
- It introduces SO MANY people to weight lifting, especially women who would have never ever attempted to get off the treadmill and strength train. It’s like a gateway workout – you learn what you love and can specialize further from there.
- It’s a good outlet for former athletes who like to compete. After playing competitive sports through high school and college, all of a sudden there’s nothing left to compete in – CrossFit gives people that outlet.
- You get to find out what you’re made of. CrossFit can be miserable, but it can also teach you how to push through mental barriers, build mental toughness, and more.
- It builds great physiques (look good naked). While so many women say they want that “toned” look and try to get it with hours of cardio, those bodies are being built every day in CrossFit gyms. Seriously, while their goal is performance rather than aesthetics, take a look at any serious CrossFit female athlete and tell me she doesn’t look incredible!
- It builds good muscular endurance and all-around fitness – your body is prepared for pretty much any athletic situation through smart CrossFit programming.
The Negatives of CrossFit:
- Not great for specialization – You kind of get good at a lot of things, but not great at any one particular thing. If you want to be a great powerlifter or athlete, you’d be better suited finding a sport-specific coach.
- Lack of consistency – You rarely do the same workout twice, which makes it incredibly difficult to track your progress. You might go down one week on squat strength and be disappointed, but it’s because you destroyed your legs two days earlier with 150 “wall balls.”
- Odd programming – As you’ll read in another critique later in this article, I don’t agree with some of the workouts that are prescribed at some CrossFit gyms. For example, some workouts might call for high reps of snatches; these are Olympic lifts that require perfect form in order to be done successfully. Doing 30 reps of them is a surefire way to sacrifice form and dramatically increase the risk of injury.
- Price – CrossFit boxes can be two or three times the monthly cost of a commercial gym, and this is just for the group classes, not use of the facilities any time you want.
- A bad coach can REALLY cause problems – You’re doing advanced moves that often take months of learning to do right; with heavy weights, this can lead to horrible injuries. Make sure you have a great coach that doesn’t rush you into anything!
- Almost everything is for time or most reps possible, which means form starts to slip in order to finish quicker. This can be fixed with a coach…but I still find it to be an issue.
- You start to talk a language nobody understands – talking to a CrossFitter is like talking to somebody in a foreign language. CrossFit people oftentimes forget that nobody outside of CF understands what half the stuff they say means, so they shout out achievements or accomplishments and explain how quickly they did specific exercises…but they don’t realize nobody really cares!
- You can get addicted! This can go in either Pro or Con depending on how you look at it, but I know many people that started going to a CrossFit and now all they do or talk about is CrossFit. After a month or two, for better or worse, you might find yourself married to your CrossFit gym and community.
- Some CrossFitters drink WAYYY too much “kool-aid.” You’ll run into CrossFit people who think CrossFit is the be-all, end-all training solution, and anybody that doesn’t do CrossFit is a wuss. If you can do 20 pull-ups, they can do 22, and do them faster than you, after doing 25 handstand push-ups and running 400 meters. I tend to dislike elitists no matter what they are elitist about, and CrossFit is no exception.
Depending on where you fit on that Pro vs Con list, you probably are starting to make your mind up about whether CrossFit is for you.