Chances are you have heard about CrossFit, seen the Internet memes, or had a friend who participated in a workout. You might even know a dedicated devotee of the CrossFit program, but you might not know exactly what the program entails.
CrossFit is a fitness program developed in the United States by Greg Glassman. Participants follow daily workouts posted on the Crossfit website. CrossFit is practiced in gyms across the United States and appears to be a growing fitness trend. There is camaraderie among CrossFit members, as well as intense drive and desire to be competitive. Some would consider CrossFit the antithesis of aerobics programs of the 1980s that featured perky instructors bouncing around in full makeup, shouting out directives for high-steps and toe touches. Crossfit is intense, tough, and not for the faint of heart.
A CrossFit workout is comprised of a relatively short session of intense, constant movement. The goal is to improve overall fitness by going all-out physically. Workouts typically include jumping rope, sprinting, rowing, flipping tires, lifting weights, using pull-up bars, kettle bells, and medicine balls, jumping on boxes, and performing body resistance exercises. Participants move from station to station during the workout, following the assigned “Workout of the Day,” better known as the “WOD” among CrossFit practitioners. Classes sometimes include a warm-up, cool-down, and skills practice, in addition to the WOD.
Though anyone can view the CrossFit website and follow the listed WOD, CrossFit is officially licensed to certain gyms throughout the country. Trainers must be certified by CrossFit, Inc. in a two-day basic trainer course. Trainers can also learn skills to help them work with special communities, such as children or pregnant women, or incorporate other workouts into their program, including running or Olympic weightlifting.
Members of the CrossFit community sometimes view themselves as fitness and health innovators. In addition to the workouts, many also follow a paleo diet and interact with other CrossFit members in online communities. CrossFit trainers and participants share information in these forums, making suggestions about workouts or other fitness and nutrition tips that have worked for them.
There are a number of terms associated with CrossFit that are unfamiliar to those outside of the community. In addition to WOD, “tabata” is moving as quickly as possible through repetitions of a certain exercise for 20 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between. This is repeated at least eight times for four total minutes of intense, all-out exercise. “Burpees” are a popular exercise performed during a WOD. They are squat-thrusts and are often the least enjoyed part of the workout for participants. Workouts also sometimes include the Samson Stretch or the Pistol. Several WODs are named for various women and there is a hero group of WODs named after military members, firefighters, and police officers who have died in action.
CrossFit is intense and not for everyone, but it might be just the right thing for those who are bored by normal workouts or exercise classes. There is a competitive spirit among CrossFit practitioners, so if you are looking for something that is challenging and beyond what the average person new-to-fitness could handle, CrossFit might be your answer.