This comes as kind of a follow up to last weeks post. I tend to get questions around the office about the program I am doing to get in shape. Now, I have a long way to go, but some people have started to notice that I am looking a bit fitter and sometimes people notice the scrapes or bruises that I often pickup during the workouts. If you are unfamiliar with Crossfit and want to see what it is all about, I would recommend starting here: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-is-crossfit.html,
or watching this video:
Crossfit is often controversial and it may not be what everyone is looking for. But as a beginner in the realm of fitness, looking for solutions, these are the top five reasons I have been drawn to the program.
#5: Crossfit’s Class-Based Structure
While the philosophy behind Crossfit allows you to do it in a variety of settings, the most common approach is through classes offered at Crossfit boxes throughout the country. I like this for a couple of reasons. First, it gives me a commitment. I have a time and a place I know that I am supposed to be to work out. There have been many occasions where I have gotten out of bed and made it to the gym only because I know that I can’t be late to that appointment. Second, the class format gives me access to a coach and programming without the pressure of having a personal trainer. I can engage with that as much as I need to. I can take advantage of someone else doing my programming and have a resource to answer questions. However, if I’m having a day where I just want to do the workout and blend in with the rest of the class, I don’t have a trainer that is personally hounding me every step of the way. It’s a nice balance.
#4: Crossfit’s Philosophy is Sustainable
The Crossfit philosophy is about the long game. It recognizes that lifelong health and fitness doesn’t happen overnight, or in 30 days, or even a 12-week challenge. Those sort of activities and programs can be good and often get people motivated, but in the end it’s a persistent commitment that will keep you healthy. That idea is woven throughout the program. One of the many ways this happens is through the movements themselves. Much of the lifts and movements are pretty advanced. Workouts will consist of exercises like snatches, handstand push-ups, and muscle ups. However, your Crossfit coach knows that a lot of people won’t be able to do these, so methods of scaling those movements are already in place. What’s even better is the scaled movements have the purpose of moving you toward doing the full exercise as you become fitter and more proficient. So when I see something crazy on the white board that I can’t do, I know that not only is there something prepared for me to do in its place, but if I do that, I’ll be one step closer to doing the real exercise down the road.
#3: Crossfit is based on Performance Metrics
When you go to a Crossfit gym, they are not all that concerned about your numbers on the scale, your body fat percentage, or if your biceps look proportional to your triceps. They care about your max back squat, your Fran time, how fast you can run a 5k, etc. While the way we look is often one of the main concerns when trying to get in shape, Crossfit has the belief that form follows function. If you can improve your performance numbers, the way you look and the number on the scale will all start lining up. This helps me a lot. It is much easier for me to get motivated over increasing my squat or running a faster 400 meter, than it is to focus on dropping two pounds of body fat every week. I also find myself making other healthy decisions based on that motivation. I will eat better because I want to increase my performance, or I will go to bed earlier because I don’t want to feel tired before tackling the WOD in the morning. I find performance metrics to be a much more effective tool than trying to measure my success through aesthetics and the single number on the scale.
#2: The Crossfit Community
The Crossfit community is really incredible. When you show up at a box, everyone is friendly and helps you out, from the coaches to the most fit athletes, to everyone in between. If you show up and are willing to put in the work, you are accepted and encouraged. What’s amazing is that in the Crossfit gyms I have been to, everyone’s accomplishments are celebrated. Whether it’s a beginner being able to make it through a workout within the time limit, someone getting their first pull up, or the fittest guy in the box making it to regionals, the community gets excited about all of it. This appears to extend all the way to the top. When you watch the Crossfit games you see premiere athletes encouraging each other and showing true sportsmanship despite the often high stakes and slim margins for error. It is an enthusiastic and contagious atmosphere that you almost can’t help getting swept up into.
#1: Crossfit Trains You for Awesomeness!
A while ago I was looking at different programs to get back into shape. I had been a powerlifter in high school and I love lifting weights. However, I knew that I needed something more than just a powerlifting focus for my fitness goals. As I started exploring different workouts, programs, and sports I found all of these awesome activities that I would love to try. There was strongman, bodybuilding, parkour, martial arts, kendo, Spartan races, just so much cool stuff. I knew that if I ever wanted to participate in any of it I had to be more than just the strong guy I was in high school. I was looking into Crossfit and then I came across this video:
Here was this guy, Dan Bailey. I looked up his profile. He was about my height and desired weight range, and he had good strength numbers. But in this video he was challenged to do something he had never done before, an event that required back-flips. He gets about 20 minutes of instruction before the event and with that he's doing back-flips. Just like that.
That was the moment that hooked me on Crossfit. Sure, he’s one of the elite athletes in the sport. He’s strong, fast, and crazy fit. But that is what Crossfit is all about, preparing you to take on physical challenges as the come. The generalist approach to all aspects of fitness is actually pretty amazing. I realized that if I ever wanted to participate in any of these physical activities, Crossfit would be a great base for all of them.
So when a box came to town, I signed up. I know it’s not for everyone. Crossfit’s intense, sometimes crazy, and a little cultish. But it’s also pretty awesome.