Last Friday I announced a fun new feature I will have on my blog called Ask Me Anything. In case you missed it, here’s what’s happening. Every Monday for the foreseeable future I answer my readers’ questions in the form of a blog post. I want this to be a way a way to make my blog more personal than me just shelling out advice that I think is applicable on that particular day. You can ask me any question on health and fitness and chances are your question will be featured in a future post. Here’s a link to the post so you can get in on the fun 🙂
Now for today’s topic.
Chances are you’ve heard of Crossfit. It is arguably the most popular new fitness trend. Most people in the fitness world either love it with a passion or hate it with an equal passion. Here are my thoughts.
Note: I am talking about Crossfit as a method of fitness. As with any fitness program there are good gyms and bad gyms, qualified coaches and terrible coaches, and a whole host of other pros and cons. For this post I am talking about the original theories behind Crossfit, not individual athletes or gyms (or boxes, as they are usually called).
Constant Variation – I love it when a workout program isn’t just the same thing over and over. When your body does the same exercise for a long period of time, eventually you will plateau and not make any significant gains. If you keep your body guessing by changing things up, you will keep making progress. This is something Crossfit is particularly good at. No workout is ever the same.
Rest Days – I’m a huge fan of the 2 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on, 1 day off mentality. I’ve used this plan for my workout routine for over a year and I find it really helps me stay focused, because I know that if I work really hard today, a rest day is just around the corner.
Body Image – There is a mindset in our culture that for a woman to be pretty, she has to be really skinny, and that if a woman lifts weights, she will look like a man. That simply isn’t true. Internal beauty (good character) is by far more important than physical beauty, but even when it comes to aesthetics, a healthy, fit body is strong and capable of a wide variety of activities. I personally think that kind of capable fitness is much more attractive than the photoshopped images of the girls on the cover of magazines. Crossfit has played a huge part in changing the skinny=fit mindset for a lot of women and girls. Fitness isn’t about what you look like or the number on the scale. It’s about building a body that can handle life well. This video (as I mentioned in a previous post) is a great reminder about what fitness really means.
High Intensity – I get bored really easily with my workouts. If I had to do the same moderate intensity exercise for an hour straight I would probably quit working out in a heartbeat. Crossfit is known for giving you a super intense workout in a short time, which is perfect for me. I love the feeling of pushing my limits.
Functional Movements – Every Crossfit workout is made up of functional exercises, which are movements you do every day in real life. When you sit down and stand up, you just did a squat. When you put something on a shelf above your head you did an overhead press. And so on. Working out by performing functional movements like lifting, running, pushing and pulling prepares you for life, which is what fitness is really about.
That being said, one thing I don’t personally like about Crossfit is the “us versus them” mentality. I’m not saying every Crossfit box is like this, but I’ve noticed that a lot of Crossfitters are really proud of what they do, and they tend to really look down on other types of fitness. In some ways I think that mindset can almost turn into a cult, or at the very least, arrogance. Crossfit isn’t for everyone. I personally like it for myself, but if it isn’t your thing, that’s totally fine! I believe in finding what moves you, and doing that. Fitness should be something you are passionate about and can learn to enjoy, even though it’s hard sometimes. It isn’t a competition to see who has the best workout program.
What about the risk of injury? This is probably the most common complaint against Crossfit. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one because I think the answer is relatively simple. Any time you do any sort of activity at a high intensity, especially when it involves risky movements like lifting and gymnastics, there is a chance that you will get injured. But that risk goes with any serious sport or physical activity. Is the chance of injury higher with Crossfit? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the athlete and what program they are following. I can tell you there is a huge difference in risk between an elite athlete who trains for hours every day and the average Joe who completes a 30 day WOD a few times a week. It really comes down to this: the only way you will get injured while performing functional movements in Crossfit is if you push yourself too hard too soon, or if you use bad form. It’s as simple as that.
So overall, I really like Crossfit, and it is something I will incorporate into my training routine for years to come. But what are your thoughts? I know Crossfit is a controversial topic. Let’s talk about it, get the conversation going in the comments below.