Want More Than a Basic Gym Workout? Check out CrossFit
By now, you’ve probably heard of CrossFit, a fitness company founded in 2000. This strength and conditioning program seeks to improve fitness and physical preparedness through “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement”. A basic beginner’s routine might consist of jogging or running for 400 meters, doing a deadlift, doing a push-press and doing a squat. There might be up to 30 repetitions for each exercise. You can practice the exercises on your own by following daily workouts posted on the company’s website or you can go to an affiliated gym for a class. But are these short and intense workouts ideal for everyone? Consider the pros and cons:
- The workouts build more than just strength – Done properly, they increase, among other things, stamina, flexibility, power, speed, agility and balance.
- The workouts demand all-out physical exertion – You’ll do a combination of sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, weightlifting and carrying assorted objects.
- The workouts at affiliated gyms build camaraderie – Since everyone is suffering through the same workout at the same time, they cheer one another on, rather than compete against each other.
- Working with an uncertified trainer can be dangerous – There’s an increased risk of injury and rhabdomyolysis (a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down rapidly and can release damaged muscle cells into the bloodstream) if your trainer isn’t qualified and experienced.
- The workouts can be adapted – There are programs for pregnant women, seniors, and military Special Forces candidates.
- Individual attention during group workouts is difficult – Without proper guidance, you can’t be sure you’re doing the complex and dynamic movements correctly.
- The vigorous aerobic exercise satisfies current public health guidelines – More and more research demonstrates that shorter, high intensity exercise improves fitness.
- The movements are Olympic-level – These take many repetitions to master, rather than just one class in a group setting.
- No fancy equipment needed – The variety of workouts keep you interested and provide enough challenge to keep the exercises fun.
Some points to consider before you try CrossFit
If you’re looking for something more challenging than the standard gym routine, CrossFit might be for you. However, do your homework. Find a gym that makes you feel comfortable, with instructors who explain technique and form, and class sizes of 10 people or less. Make sure the instructor is certified and has had personal experience with CrossFit. You should also take a long term approach to this program because it is about human movement and functionality, not necessarily about becoming stronger than anyone else. And finally, as with any new physical fitness program, have a thorough physical check-up done first and seek your doctor’s advice.
Have you done CrossFit? Was it worth the challenge? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below.