Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What is this crossfit thing

I have been saying for a while that I need to put a post together explaining what crossfit is but I just have not found the time. Well I figure I better just go ahead and do it or I never will. So what is crossfit? The "dictionary" definition of crossfit from the folks at crossfit HQ is constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements but what the hell does that even mean. The bottom line is that what crossfit is to you is going to depend a bit on how and where you do it. It seems that each crossfit gym has it's own approach and then there are always those that do it at home on their own. The common thread seems to be that it is a general physical preparedness program which pulls its movements from many disciplines and generally times the workouts. It is often called the sport of fitness and that is probably as good a definition as any although it doesn't really tell someone who hasn't done it what it is.

If you start to do crossfit you can expect to do Olympic lifting, calisthenics, gymnastics moves, plyometrics, running, and all kinds of other crazy shit you may never have thought to do if you were not doing crossfit. You will do what is called a Workout of the Day, or WOD for short, each day you do a crossfit workout. If you belong to a gym you will do it there and will generally not know what the workout will be until you get there and see it posted on the whiteboard. If you work out at home you will likely grab a WOD from one of the gym's websites. In general the gym's will post their WOD every day so you don't need to membership to get access to that. If you go to the gym you will do the workout with a group of people that show up at the same time as you and almost always the workout will be timed in some way. This is one advantage of joining the gym over doing it on your own, I find I work out way harder with the others around than I do by myself.

Crossfit gyms are pretty expensive if you compare them to your typical Bally's or similar gym. I pay $135 a month for mine with a 3 month membership and that is pretty cheap for a crossfit gym. The thing is you are paying for the programming, the workouts being posted, as well as the fact that you have a coach present and watching you during each workout. I usually do not need much feedback from the coach but when I do the lifting, which I am unfamiliar with, it is nice to have her there and the feedback is useful. For this reason you can't really compare the price to the standard gym unless you look at what a trainer, classes, or both would cost there.

Because of this model it is important that you find a gym that has a good set of coaches and someone who knows their shit doing the programming. This is one of the big knocks on crossfit. It takes nothing more than a weekend long $1000 class to get a Level 1 trainer certification and that and the $3000 per year affiliate fee are really all you need to open an affiliate. You can see the details here on the crossfit HQ site. Because of this there seems to be a wide range of quality out there ranging from great to piece of crap. Most crossfit "boxes", they call the gym a box not a gym but this just makes me sound like a douche so I won't use that term any longer, will let you try at least one class and come visit before you join so you should.

Most of the complaints about the program have to do with poor form on Olympic lifting and I could see that. Some of the people are much more interested in their time than their form and this can be a real bad way to look at it. If you find a good gym with a good coach and are smart about what you are doing you will likely not have any more risk of injury from crossfit than you would with most other programs out there. For a detailed article bashing the shit out of crossfit you can have a look here but there are others out there that are a bit more even handed and reflect more what my experience has been such as this one. There are also some videos put out by crossfit gym's that try to explain what it is and some of them are pretty good but remember the source, they are gym owners. Have a look here, here, and here for some decent ones.

Some of the naysayers are part of the reason it took me so long to finally take the plunge with crossfit but I have to say that I have not found most of the problems that people who complain about it mention. I also noticed over time that most of those that were complaining had never really done crossfit but were more complaining about people they have met who are crossfitters or they just can't stand the founder of crossfit, Greg Glassman. I have to agree with them on both of these points. Greg Glassman seems like an asshole and he is also a fat out of shape dough ball that I don't really want to get my fitness advice from. Had I seen some of his videos and interviews prior to trying crossfit I might never have done it. Just ignore him though because he really has nothing to do with your local gym and you will never have to interact with him. I also have seen some of the crossfit douche-bags that come in and take their shirt off before the workout starts to show off their pierced nipples while they do their workout. They then proceed to do their pull-ups with a green band and lifting with some of the worst for you will ever see. I would love to punch these idiots in the face but for the most part they are also harmless and you won't see many of them.

Bottom line for me is this is a varied workout routine that keeps me interested. The gym does the programming so I don't need to think about what I am going to do I just show up and do what they tell me which saves me a lot of time over what I was doing, all my own programming. I really like the community feel of the gym where people will cheer you on if they finish before you. I like the fact that it feels like a sport rather than just a workout. I like the fact that I am seeing results and getting in shape. I am not suggesting this is for everyone but I like it, at least for now, and I think I will stick with it. If you want to find out more fitbomb has some good posts on the program as well here.

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