CrossFit can be described as period sex. CrossFit and period sex have similar health benefits, even though they are quite different. People tend to fall into one of two camps for each: “I love it” and “I hate it”.
CrossFit’s “sport of functional fitness”, as it is also known, has many devotees who claim it is the fastest and best way to get healthy. Skeptics however point out the danger of injury. This is partly due to the fact many people aren’t clear on what CrossFit really entails.
“There are many misconceptions about CrossFit,” Dave Lipson, CrossFit Level 4 Trainer and founder Thundr Bro (an educational fitness platform). It’s not all that you see on TV. People think it’s only the CrossFit Games professional athletes on ESPN.
Health reached out to CrossFit experts in order to learn more about CrossFit and the benefits it offers.
What is CrossFit?
You’ve probably heard the simple yet effective CrossFit definition of “constantly varied functional movements, executed with high intensity.”
What does this actually mean? CrossFit Mayhem is a box that CrossFit refers to as a gym in Cookeville, Tennessee.
Functional movements can be described as those that are similar to what you do outside of the gym. They include carrying groceries from your car to the kitchen, picking up baby or a chair off the ground, climbing stairs and getting out of bed. Tony Carvajal is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and RSP Nutrition Athlete. “These functional movements represent the best aspects of weightlifting and gymnastics.”
Cardio? Check. Heavy lifts? Check. What is mobility work, flexibility training, or body control? You can check again. Carvajal explains, “It’s an exercise program that incorporates multiple sports and training programs all in one.”
CrossFit classes: What is it like?
CrossFit is not a franchise like your local Pizza Hut; it’s an affiliate. Tanya Wagner, CrossFit Games commentator and CrossFit Apex Level Two trainer in Bucks County Pennsylvania, explained that CrossFit is not a franchise. Each box is unique in its programming and style. CrossFit is not a one-size-fits all approach. There are more than 15,000 CrossFit box locations worldwide.
CrossFit classes generally last one hour and are broken down into four components: a warm up, strength or skill, workout or WOD of the day, cooldown, or mobility.
The warm-up serves as foreplay to the WOD. This is to prepare your joints and muscles for the next set of movements. Although the strength component is intended to make you stronger, it can also be used in other ways. You might be asked to do six sets of power snatches or one repitition at the maximum weight you can deadlift. A skill workout is designed to improve your ability to perform a specific exercise such as double unders, toes-to-bars or handstand walking. The WOD will usually feature the skill you have worked on.
CrossFit’s WOD (short for metabolic conditioning) is what you eat. A set number of exercises will be performed for a time, or until you have completed a specified number of reps. You might be used to doing 60 minutes of continuous movement at your bootcamp. CrossFit workouts are usually five to fifteen minutes long. Anything longer is an endurance WOD.
CrossFit has so many options for WODs that you will not see them all at the same time in a CrossFit gym. There are some benchmark workouts, which are often named after women, such as Fran, Grace, and Diane, and hero workouts, which are in honor of fallen soldiers–the most well-known being Murph. These can help you track your progress and show you how you’re doing. Anthony Gustin is a certified strength- and conditioning specialist and cofounder of Perfect Keto.
CrossFit usually ends with a mobility and stretching session. Athletes can also stretch after a workout. You might, for example, do some forearm stretches after a “grippy,” such as pull-ups and jump rope.
CrossFit: The benefits
“Whether your goal is to maintain your current fitness level or get just 1% fitter. Lose weight, pull-ups, or lift a certain amount of weight, CrossFit can help,” Kyra Williams, CrossFit Level One trainer, says.
Research supports its effectiveness. A team of exercise physiologists from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse discovered that CrossFit women who did two different workouts burnt more than 12 calories per minute, and had a higher heart rate for the duration of the session.
Gustin states that CrossFit can have positive mental or emotional effects. It teaches people they can do more than they think. CrossFit can help you gain mental toughness, increase your confidence and push yourself to new heights in CrossFit classes.
CrossFit is also a community sport. You could certainly do a CrossFit workout all by yourself. But, part of the magic happens inside the box, according to Clint Fisher, CrossFit Level One trainer and co-owner at CrossFit Charleston. There is something special about having like-minded people in the same space. You support each other. You are a part of a larger family.
CrossFit: Will I be injured?
Despite the horror stories you might have heard, CrossFit is not dangerous. CrossFit training was deemed “relatively safer than traditional training methods” in a 2018 study. Researchers wrote that CrossFit training had been scrutinized by mainstream media over the years due to the high incidence of injuries. However, empirical evidence does not support these claims.
What about rhabdo, you ask? Lipson states that rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle tissue is shredded so badly it can cause kidney damage, is a risk with any high-intensity workouts. However, it is not more common in CrossFit than any other type of workout. Smart coaching and thoughtful programming can prevent it, Lipson says.
How can I tell if CrossFit’s for me?
CrossFit is a sport that’s open to everyone, according to some CrossFit enthusiasts. Maybe you have noticed the CrossFit Instagram’s age diversity. CrossFit is open to everyone. Lipson says that CrossFit has former football players who are now working out with new mothers and people in their 70s, 80s, and 80s.
How is this possible? Every workout will suggest weights and movements. However, most CrossFit members do scaling. Carvajal explains that scaling allows anyone to do the same workout by simply changing the weights or movements according to their ability to achieve the same intensity.
If a workout requires 50 toes to the bar, the coach may have one person reduce it to 25 reps or let another person touch their elbows with their knees.
How to start CrossFit training
To find CrossFit box locations near to you, first check the CrossFit affiliate map. Next, do some research.
Carvajal states that the longer a gym has been in existence, the better. “A gym that has been around for at least five to six consecutive years is a good indicator.” He also suggests looking into the education of trainers. “Most gyms will list the credentials of their coaches on their websites. The better the certifications and awards,
However, credentials are not everything. Wagner believes that the most important qualities of a coach are their leadership style, communication skills and emphasis on safety and form. You should feel at ease asking questions and finding the right place to do so.
Do not be afraid to shop in boxes. Lipson says that every box is unique and has its own vibe. Some are younger than others. Some people are more competitive than others, while some have a more social vibe. If you don’t feel like joining a CrossFit group, find another one.
CrossFit can only be discovered once you have tried it. As we said, CrossFit is just like period sex.