Crossfit… sport? Should we call it that?
Yes, maybe we should because it’s not a type of training per se. Crossfit includes multiple routines from various fields.
So this sport, in its relatively short history. The company was launched in 2000 in the US, by Greg Glassman.
He has acquired a lot of devotees all over the world and its popularity just keeps on growing, despite widespread concerns related to its more subtle implications.
So what is it exactly and what does it promise to its enthusiasts?
The concept in itself is more like a business model because this is how it started off. The types of training involved in the process, however, already existed out there, just not combined in this very specific way.
The idea came to Glassman in his teenage years, when he was a gymnast. He realized that he could do a lot more using dumbbells and barbells than his colleagues were achieving using only their bodyweight.
What he sought to accomplish was greater strength and flexibility and the only way he could do that was by getting out of his comfort zone and combining various types of exercises.
“CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains”Greg Glassman
Each of these domains is accompanied by certain qualities that need to be developed, namely cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.
These skills can be trained and improved through gymnastics, weightlifting, and sprinting or high-intensity workouts, for example.
Glassman established a gym in Santa Cruz, California, in 1995. Later he was hired by the Santa Cruz Police Department to train the squads.
He was offering private, one-on-one training sessions to his regular customers. Although, working with police squads showed him group training might be just as effective as individual ones.
As long as the size of the group allowed him to pay enough attention to each trainee.
And this is how the CrossFit community was born.
But group sessions can be as destructive as they are beneficial, because of the peer pressure. Seeing others do so much more than you may stimulate you to push the body way beyond its limits, ignoring its signals just to show that you, too, can do that. This can lead to injuries that could otherwise be avoided.
It doesn’t mean that these specialized communities are bad in themselves. The sense of belonging works wonders on your morale and may help you achieve your fitness objectives in ways that wouldn’t be foreseeable in individual training.
The popularity of this sport is hugely due to this affinity and sense of kinship. Another crucial element is the feeling you get from finishing a workout.
The routines are made with this clear goal in mind: to give you a taste of what athletes and fighters feel like during real competitions. It’s a psychological trick that makes you want to achieve more, while also enjoying it to the max.
CrossFit workouts of the day and dietary recommendations
Just like girls on Instagram show off their outfit of the day (OOTF), CrossFitters share their WOD (workout of the day) with the world. They play around with virtually any type of gym equipment, be it benches, battle ropes, medicine balls, kettlebells or dumbbells.
There’s also a lot of cardio involved in the process, which helps with weight management and overall resistance. The names of the workouts may be sweet and friendly (there are mostly girl names, like Diane, Eva, Fran or Nancy).
Don’t let yourself be fooled
The charming Diane is, in fact, a code name for a routine involving deadlifts and handstand push-ups, while Nancy will lure you into doing a 400 m run and 15 overhead squats.
The motivation for choosing those names is quite simple. Glassman needed names that were easy to remember, sparing him of describing the routine over and over again. And going for women’s names it’s even smarter than you think.
“Any workout that leaves you flat on your back, staring up at the sky, wondering what the hell happened, deserves a girl’s name.”
What we really appreciate about CrossFit, apart from the community that supports you and motivates you to perpetually challenge yourself, is the commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
Promoting a low-carb diet, with no sugar and an emphasis placed on meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, CrossFit pledges to prepare you for a healthy, functional life, while also keeping you away from chronic diseases and incapacity.
It doesn’t matter what kind of sport you practice because something that you will need will always be protein. Be it from vegan or animal sources. We recommend to check Shadowhey Isolate, a type of whey protein isolate with 0 sugar.
Buzzwords and the real meanings behind them
This brings us to the next important topic. Functionality– one of the keywords when it comes to CrossFit. Functional weightlifting, high-intensity functional movement and so on.
The people who coined this term, the creators of the concept, take pride in having developed routines that are infinitely scalable.
This should be reassuring for people who want to start doing it but are too afraid of what implies.
Having conscious trainers who adapt the intensity of the workout to the level of fitness of the trainee is, in fact, a big plus.
What should be questioned, according to Dan Jolley, is the real meaning behind this term. Dan studied exercise physiology and works as a strength and conditioning coach.
He believes the exercises should be tailored to the individual’s needs. The CrossFit community recommends the same types of workouts to everybody practicing this sport can become problematic.
One size does not fit all, no matter how hard you try.
Intensity and CrossFit
Another aspect that should be taken into account is the intensity. How do we measure it?
Does it relate to the workout’s speed or its difficulty? In resistance training, intensity means how much a person can lift. If you’re running, then you should be looking at your speed or your heart rate.
But how do you calibrate this kind of routine when they involve a little bit of everything? When do you know that you have reached your limits?
Doing one more pull-up compared to yesterday but failing to complete the run because the previous part exhausted you… what does all this tell you about your overall progress?
Keeping an activity log may be useful in this case but the fact that the entire group is urged to do the exact same thing can be both an incentive and a discouragement.
Sure, there is a beginner, intermediate and expert level to every routine. Shifting gears, however, may become tricky when you don’t have a precise point of reference.
The bottom line: choosing what’s best for yourself
You have to be very careful when it comes to choosing a training style.
As you need to be aware of what you can and can’t do and it’s good to have a fair assessment of your body and its capacities. Pushing limits is only good as long as you do it responsibly.
There are a lot of physical and psychological factors and it may seem that CrossFit oversimplifies them, proposing something like a cookie-cutter approach.
If you are the competitive type and you know that you can excel in multiple areas, then yes- CrossFit might be for you.
If you are rather shy and unprepared to fight the battle on multiple fronts, then it’s best to look for a personal trainer who will do one-on-one, well-calibrated sessions with you.
You may like a few elements of CrossFit but not all of them. And that’s perfectly fine. Workout routines should align with your overall, long-term goal. You should choose something that will work for you over time, not just today.
CrossFit in a couple of words
The CrossFit community is an amazing place, filled with both professionals and amateurs. It’s a challenging environment that prepares you for success.
The diet is another positive aspect but again: you may have food restrictions or recommendations that prevent you from following the same line like everyone else.
And finally, the workouts: they take you out of your comfort zone and provoke you to do something different each day. But that clock, that damned clock…
Some training consists of you to do an exact amount of reps before the time is up… It can become your worst enemy.
There should always be kept in mind that things should be done at your own pace. Olympian-style training may or may not be for you.
The important thing is to keep moving and find the solution that fits you best.