CrossFit, what is it? Are they crazy? Doesn’t it seem like most trainers love to hate it?
I remember 10 years ago when we first started hearing about CrossFit in the fitness industry. I will admit, I thought they were crazy, and I eagerly joined my colleagues in CrossFit bashing sessions. But over the years, CrossFit has gotten its act together and matured; however, like anything, it still has its good, bad and ugly.
The good thing about CrossFit—no, the great thing about CrossFit is the motivation it provides to participants. The official CrossFit website suggests CrossFit as the “sport of fitness” that is based on “camaraderie, competition and the fun of sport,” which is why its participants often have a cult-like loyalty to CrossFit.
They wear special CrossFit gear, they speak their own “language” of terms and sayings—I wouldn’t be surprised if they even have their own handshake! But it’s this sense of belonging to something special, something that not everyone does and something that is a little crazy and dangerous that draws people in. The competition is what keeps them coming back.
The bad thing about CrossFit is that anyone can become certified to teach it. The only prerequisite is that you are at least 17 years old. After completing the two day seminar and test, coaches are considered “Level-1 certified”.
Now, this isn’t much different from other personal training certifications; however, CrossFit incorporates very technical Olympic lifts, like the barbell clean, hang snatch and clean and jerk as a regular part of workouts. Becoming proficient at performing Olympic lifts, let along teaching someone else how to perform them, take a lot of time and practice—more than two days.
We see a lot of ex-CrossFitters come to the Tom Landry Fitness Center because they have been injured, often due to poor coaching.
The ugly part of CrossFit is the idea that you should finish the workout no matter what. One of the ten tips for affiliates posted on the CrossFit website is, “Don’t kill anyone.”
I’ve seen posts by CrossFitters bragging about pushing through a workout, even after they have injured themselves. It almost seems like a badge of honor to be able to say you banged out 20 pull-ups despite your torn rotator cuff! But what can you expect when the company mascot is Uncle Rhabdo, a deranged-looking clown, hooked up to a dialysis machine?
So should you CrossFit? It depends. CrossFit isn’t for everyone. If you are considering trying it out, visit a few locations and watch a few sessions. Make sure that you know what you’re getting into. It’s also important to watch the coaches and make sure they are paying attention to participants and cuing and correcting form.
If their motto seems to be “just lift the weight,” then walk away quickly! That goes for any gym or trainer, not just CrossFit.