Crossfit is one of the hottest trends in the fitness world today. It has literally grown from a single gym in California into a global exercise movement with more than a thousand affiliate gyms world-wide. It's athletes are now featured in popular fitness magazines and the annual Crossit Games showcases the top performers on ESPN. If you're looking to get into fitness or find a gym, you might be wondering what this new fitness movement is about, and whether or not it is right for you. In this article, you will read a brief overview of the Crossfit methods along with some Pros and Cons to evaluate if joining a Crossfit gym, or "box" as they are called in the Crossfit community, is right for you.
What is Crossfit?
When asked to describe Crossfit, many Crossfiters will tell you: "Constantly varied, functional movements, performed at high intensity." This is a fairly apt description. Let's dissect it to understand what it means.
Crossfit workouts employ a wide array of exercises. The Crossfit ideal is to not be specialized in any one skill or set of skills, so as to become as well-rounded in your fitness as possible. It's common to see gymnastics and calisthenics, olympic weight lifting, and running or rowing mixed together in a single workout. Not only are the movements varied, but the workouts are anything but routine. Seeing a workout that you have done before is very rare, and doing the same workout back to back is almost unheard of. Crossfit adds intensity to the workouts, by timing or scoring each workout so that you can compete with others and compare your results. The workouts are commonly done in a group environment and the atmosphere at each workout is not unlike a race or competition. To get some examples of Crossfit workouts you can go to their website, Crossfit.com, where the "workout of the day" or WOD is posted for free each day.
Choosing to workout at Crossfit Box can have several advantages. The first thing that you have to acknowledge is the fitness results that are produced by this program. Accomplished Crossift athletes, like 3-time Crossfit Games Champ Rich Froning, are impressive both in terms of aesthetics and objective measures of fitness. The men and women display bodies that are comparable to physique competitors in bodybuilding, and it is not uncommon to see a man that can deadlift more than 500 lbs and women that can deadlift more than 300 lbs, while still being able to run sub-6 minute miles.
Credit: David Castillo Dominici
Setting the results of the program aside, almost every Crossfiter will tell you that the next most important aspect of Crossfit is the community. Working out in a group in environment has a strong competitive aspect to it, but it is also a highly supportive atmosphere as well. It's common to see the first workout finishers cheering on the people who are struggling to finish. There is a very free sharing of information on the methods of training and learning technique within the Crossfit community, and it seems that everyone is willing to help everyone else to improve their skills. The Crossfit community also has a unique global connection that springs from its open-source, internet roots. Athletes from one gym may interact or visit athletes from other gyms and stay in touch online.
In order to decide if this program is right for you, its important to know some common issues that have been reported by participants. The issue that seems to come up the most is the injury rate. Crossfit is both fitness program and sport. As with any sport that emphasizes performance, pushing your limits can lead to injuries. Crossfit also utilizes a lot of movements that require technical proficiency in order to do them safely under load and especially at high speed in a competitive environment. It's not uncommon to see injured backs, shoulders, and wrists at some point in participating in a Crossfit workout. A good Crossfit instructor will scale a workout to the skill and fitness of the participant, but its still easy to get carried away with pushing yourself too hard in an environment that is so competitive.
Another set of considerations are cost and accessibility. While membership programs vary among gyms, most will cost over $100 a month to workout more than a couple times per week. A standard gym membership will cost about $30-$60 per month, so this can a considerable expense on fitness. Trying to follow the workouts on your own can be challenging as the equipment is highly varied (medicine balls, gymnastic rings, pull-up bars, plyometric boxes, barbells and bumper plates) and most are not found in common gyms. It's also usually difficult to find the space in a standard gym to complete a workout. Crossfit workouts are best completed at Crossfit gyms.
Only YOU Can Decide
Crossfit has some clear benefits and along with some important risks to consider. If you decide to join a gym, be prepared to get a very powerful fitness experience. As with any intense activity, one should approach with caution before throwing yourself into it 100%. Several gyms have introductory offers for you to try out the program, and they can be very worthwhile to try before you make your own decision. The results can be amazing if the program is right for you.
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