The cult of CrossFit

WTF is CrossFit?!? When we hear someone talk about CrossFit, we usually picture someone running around, drenched in sweat, performing a gazillion burpees, and handstand walking over to the monkey bars to finish off with some weird flopping &ldquo;fish-out-of water&rdquo; pull ups (known as Kipping pull ups). So what is CrossFit and why does it make people feel some type of way?</p>

CrossFit was created by Greg Glassman in 2000 in good ol’ California, United States. Now, let’s take a moment to analyze some of California’s creations. McDonald’s was founded in California in 1940 and has grown to become one of the world’s largest fast food restaurant chains. It has contributed to the obesity epidemic and has become the essential staple food in late night drunk escapades. California was also the first state to legalize medical marijuana and has sent the nation into an uproar about consuming a little green plant (I thought veggies were good for us?!). CrossFit aligns perfectly with these makings. Just like McDonald’s and marijuana (I don’t mean in combination), CrossFit can be seen as the best thing that has happened to mankind since sliced bread: something you may indulge in recreationally, or an absolute nightmare that needs to be illegalized and only accessed through the Mexican cartels. Basically, it depends on you! Yes, you have the power to decide! It can help you or hurt you all depending on you!

CrossFit is a fitness program and a competitive sport that combines movements from different types of training like Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, plyometrics, and powerlifting, plus high intensity interval training. A single workout  can include variations of medicine ball cleans, burpees, Kipping pull ups, snatches, and bench presses. It focuses on functional movements and is meant to challenge the body, mind, and soul. Workouts are to be performed at a high intensity level in the shortest amount of time possible. This motivates athletes to strive for improvement in the time it takes for them to complete a workout.

Many have taken up CrossFit as a religion. They are able to fit a quick, challenging workout into their busy work schedules. It has also created an unparalleled bond between fellow athletes. CrossFitters will meet one another and instantly connect like they are long-lost high school friends (I have witnessed this on many occasions). The amount of respect, comradery, and empowerment among all participants of CrossFit is unlike that of any other sport. 

Why do so many people joke about CrossFit and how dangerous it is for you then? One compelling argument is that the combination of specific movements and intensity levels place the body at a high risk for injury. This is exemplified when workouts require athletes to perform some 20-odd snatches followed by 20 burpees. During the snatches, the spine needs to maintain a stiff, braced position for the athlete to properly receive the barbell. During burpees, the spine is flopping around like jelly. Performing these movements back-to-back, places undesirable stress on the spine and body. There is also talk about CrossFit trainers who are under-qualified that contribute to the injury rate of individuals taking up CrossFit. 

The take-home message here is that CrossFit is not for everyone. It is a fitness program and regimen just like bodybuilding, powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. It might be for you, it might not. But if you’re bored of your regular Tuesday evening Zumba class and want to add some spice to your life, why not give CrossFit a go?