Exercise trends come and go and whilst some claim to be the best thing since Jane Fonda, most don’t have the credentials to back it up, until now. Whilst some women are happy shimmying their way to a healthy weight with Zumba, a new breed of women’s fitness is taking shape.
It's getting so popular that walking 3 blocks without seeing a Crossfit gym is starting to be difficult, and there is no day I don't see friends posting their CrossFit records on facebook.
If you are a non-crossfitter like me, it may be hard to understand what the hype is all about. From what I gathered, CrossFit is making women stronger, faster and fitter than ever. For those who don't know CrossFit, let's review its background.
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is defined as constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. CrossFit enthusiasts can use the official CrossFit.com website for their daily workouts (WODs) or visit one of the 7000 CrossFit boxes worldwide. With 35,000 trainers and 10 million participants worldwide this is obviously no mere trend.
What makes CrossFit Workouts irresistible?
1. CrossFit is community based. The community is one thing that drives people to CrossFit. Everyone does the workouts together, once your neighbor finishes, they will be at your side cheering you on to the finish. This is apparent at the local box and at the CrossFit games where the leading CrossFit athletes compete for the title of “Fittest on Earth”.
The huge support CrossFit members get from the community helps them stay motivated and move towards their goals, unlike a regular gym or one on one personal training session.
2. CrossFit workouts are short, intense and result-bearing. CrossFit Workouts consist of exercises from cardio, olympic lifting, strength training, gymnastics and power training.
Typical CrossFit Exercises
Olympic lifts – using a barbell for squats, thrusters, deadlifts.
Cardio – running, cycling, swimming, jump rope
Bodyweight – squats, pull ups, push ups
Gymnastic movements – Movements using the rings like ring dips, or muscle ups
Power Training - box jumps, medicine ball slams
CrossFit workouts combine various movements to build lean muscle mass and burn maximum calories and fat.
In fact, effectiveness of CrossFit WODs is proven by the study at the University of Wisconsin. Led by John Porcari, Ph.D., head of the University’s Clinical Exercise Physiology program and Paige Babiash, M.S. According to Babiash, “Working out more intensely for shorter periods means that exercisers can likely get good results with CrossFit while spending less time exercising.” The same study found that the WODs met the needs of cardiovascular endurance, strength, and improved VO2.
3. High risk of injuries is a myth. One of the big red flags against CrossFit is the misconception that people get injured, a lot. says Babiash. CrossFit injury rate is exactly the same as general fitness workouts.The reality is that according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research the injury rate in CrossFit is exactly the same for general fitness workouts. What's true is as with all physical activity, there comes a warning.
“You look at the intensity of CrossFit and it’s off the charts,” he says. “This is not the workout for a 45-year-old person with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. People absolutely need to be properly screened before beginning CrossFit.” As with all forms of exercise there are going to be good and bad CrossFit coaches, the key is finding a good instructor that coaches their members to lift weights properly and that takes fitness levels under consideration before designing workout programs.
4. CrossFit is beginner friendly. Whilst many believe that CrossFit is only for the fittest, its workouts can be adjusted to beginners. I am CrossFit in Miami emphasizes this “Scalability allows us to alter the daily workouts to a member's age, experience or athletic prowess, etc.
Using a systematic approach to scaling down, we are able to mimic what the member will see written on the whiteboard and get a great workout that will get results for that individual.” Scott Hagnas, founder and coach at CrossFit Portland says that “No one program fits all, everyone comes in with different needs and abilities.”
A sentiment echoed by Reebook CrossFit 5th Avenue New York who in pushing that bar one step further putting beginners through a one week fundamentals course prior to regular classes, so that they can focus on mastering the basic CrossFit movements.
While the best way to get a taste of CrossFit is to visit a local CrossFit box, you can still try CrossFit WODs at home with familiar fitness equipments.
CrossFit WOD: Barbara
CrossFit is definitely a rising star in the fitness industry getting women leaner than ever. More importantly however CrossFit is changing the way women think about their bodies shifting the focus from weight loss to weight lifted.
Hak, P.T., et al. "The nature and prevalence of injury during CrossFit training." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
ACE Fitness Oragnization: acefitness.org
Cross Fit Website: Crossfit.com
IamCrossFit Website: Iamcrossfit.com
CrossFit Portland: Crossfitportland.com
Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave: reebokcrossfit5thave.com