Just mentioning the word CrossFit can cause straight-up anger. Despite the peripheral hate, the growing popularity of the sport and the number of people trying it for the first time mean that CrossFit must be doing something right.
Not only do the high-ranking athletes squat, press, and clean heavy weight, they look damn good doing it. It’s easy to be inspired by their commitment to greatness and their super-hot physiques.
Whether you’re eager to try your first class or just slightly Cross-curious, more information will help your first foray into the CrossFit world. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to it than putting on long socks and doing weird pull-ups. If you’re thinking about heading to your local box (CrossFit gym) and kipping for the first time, here are answers to some questions you might have.
WHAT IS CROSSFIT?
CrossFit is a fitness system meant to help people develop an “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” This means that CrossFit isn’t necessarily designed to get you better at one skill or fitness attribute; instead, it’s engineered to help you develop multiple skills and strengths at varying levels of intensity and time. You probably won’t become the strongest person on the planet with CrossFit, but you will become stronger, faster, and able to do more work across various disciplines.
If you try a class, you’ll do a workout of the day (WOD), which will more than likely include a met-con (metabolic conditioning session). In a met-con, you’ll try to get as many rounds or reps as you can in a given amount of time. The movements, rounds, reps, and other details always vary, so you never know what to expect.
But CrossFit goes beyond that. Good boxes will invest time to coach you how to do technical compound lifts and Olympic lifts, skills like double-unders and kipping pull-ups, and even running and rowing techniques.
WHAT DOES A CROSSFIT OFFER THAT A COMMERCIAL GYM DOESN’T?
Instead of exercise machines and dumbbell racks, you’ll find a smaller array of barbells, bumper plates, lifting platforms, climbing ropes, rings, medicine balls, kettlebells, and a whole lot of pull-up bars at your local box. You don’t have to worry about dropping your heavy deadlift, getting yelled at for grunting, or being kicked out for being too awesome.
WILL CROSSFIT HELP ME ACHIEVE MY FITNESS GOALS?
That depends upon your goals. If you would like to be fitter, stronger, more athletic, and more mobile, then CrossFit can help. However, the whole point of doing CrossFit is to become a “Jack of all trades,” so if you want to specialize in something, then CrossFit programming may not be what you need.
This is particularly true if you’re a bodybuilder or a strength athlete. CrossFit isn’t going to make you huge, unless you dedicate extra time to improving your strength or size.
One of the things about CrossFit is that it’s almost infinitely scalable. If you can’t do the workout as prescribed, then you do what you can. So, if you can’t do bodyweight pull-ups, you can do ring rows, or use bands, or you can do jump pull-ups. The same goes for almost every movement. If you’re uncomfortable deadlifting, deadlift less. If you don’t want to do box jumps on a 36-inch box, use 20 inches.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING MY FIRST FEW WEEKS?
You can expect to be challenged. Many people go into CrossFit with expectations that turn out to be untrue. You’ll do movements you’ve never heard of and new variations of challenging lifts. You’ll exert more energy than you’re accustomed to and you may feel a little lost. That’s OK: there’s a learning curve. Don’t fear starting at the beginning. Learn the mechanics and try new things.
Also, there’s no rule that says you have to love CrossFit. If you go to a class, don’t like the box, don’t like the trainer, and don’t like the workout, don’t go back. It’s that simple.
ARE THE COACHES GOOD?
As in all fitness facilities, some coaches are good, and others aren’t. The problem with hiring a coach or a personal trainer is that you can only rely on their “certification.” If you’re unsure about what that certification even entails, then you’re just making a judgment based on the trust you have in that establishment.
WILL I HURT MYSELF?
You could, but you could also hurt yourself mountain biking, doing karate, or base jumping. All physical activity comes with some risk. If you follow directions, practice movement patterns, and scale down when necessary, you should be fine.
IS IT WORTH ALL THE INVESTMENT?
CrossFit gyms are often more expensive than commercial gym because while commercial gyms sell hundreds of memberships and hope only a third of their members show up, CrossFit boxes sign up fewer people and hope everyone shows up. If you really enjoy CrossFit, go to class most days of the week. Get the most out of your money.
I encourage everyone to try a CrossFit class and then try doing a similar workout in a commercial gym. If you don’t see or feel a difference, then there’s your answer.
WHY DOES CROSSFIT GENERATE SO MUCH CONTROVERSY?
I’m not sure why the dislike can become vitriolic. Don’t get me wrong, CrossFit definitely has flaws: some CrossFitters tend to take themselves way too seriously, some of the programming is silly, and the business model seems to be more concerned with the quantity of coaches than the quality. But really, who cares what another person does for his or her fitness? Get fit and do what you love!
(A Shared article I have condensed and adapted)
Aspire To Inspire