Stay Healthy, Do CrossFit
CrossFit is a workout regime that incorporates elements of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, high-intensity interval training, plyometrics, calisthenics, powerlifting and other exercises. It uses constantly varied functional movements performed at a high intensity. CrossFit sessions usually last an hour and include a warm-up, skill development, high-intensity workout of the day and stretching. Taking from multiple disciplines, the goal of CrossFit is to improve fitness. It is a fitness program that has caught on like wildfire, especially in the United States. The CrossFit methodology is used in thousands of private affiliated gyms, police agencies, military organizations, fire departments, high schools and homes.
CrossFit was developed by Greg Glassman over several years. Glassman defined fitness as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. He designed the program that later became CrossFit around this definition and as a way to improve fitness and health. Workouts are based on functional movements, the movements of life. He found that this approach using functional movements constantly varied and performed at high intensities lead to dramatic, measurable gains in fitness. CrossFit was born.
Although CrossFit style workouts can be performed at home, this training tends to promote community. It is one of its many draws. This “sport of fitness” harnesses the natural camaraderie of competition and fun of sport or game. It is both a physical exercise philosophy and competitive fitness sport. It is a specialty of not specializing. In this way, in draws many different individuals. When you become part of CrossFit, you become part of a community that expands beyond your own gym or favorite workout locale.
Glassman took the time to define fitness and has written many articles on the topic. According to him, there are ten recognized general physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, strength, power, agility, balance, stamina, accuracy, speed, coordination and flexibility. Fitness is developed to the extent that it improves each of these skills. The CrossFit methodology supports the Paleo diet, which promotes the consumption of meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. It pulls from many different physical disciplines. It draws upon nearly every effective training methodology and discipline in an attempt to create a complete training system.
CrossFit sets out to mold women and men that are equal parts Olympic weightlifter, gymnast and sprint-athlete. By not focusing on one thing, you become good at everything. Athletes develop a high degree of general fitness as opposed to a high level of skill in one area. This lack of specialty doesn’t mean that CrossFit athletes are not good at anything. Learning and perfecting fundamentals is emphasized at all reputable gyms.
Community and support are at the heart of CrossFit. The atmosphere at most CrossFit gyms is one of encouragement, acceptance with a dedication to excellence. As people get sucked into the community, they soon learn that CrossFit has a language of its own. Here are some lingo basics.
Box – A box is a CrossFit gym. It may look bare bones to some, but they have all the equipment necessary for the range of WODs performed by CrossFitters.
WOD – Each day the gym will have its “workout of the day” or WOD. Some WODS have their own special names while others are a list of exercises with time constraints and a number of reps to be performed.
AMRAP – “As Man Reps/Rounds as Possible” in a given time period. AMRAPs often last 10, 20 or 30 minutes. They challenge athletes to perform as many rounds of a series of movements in the allotted time.
Affiliate – These affiliate gyms or boxes are officially affiliated with the CrossFit brand. This requires that gyms have CrossFit-certified trainers and staff.
Community isn’t just about what you say, it is also about what you wear. Although all forms of workout wear are welcome, you will notice a trend among members. Booty shorts, tanks and tall socks abound among the ladies while the men sport athletic shorts, tanks and minimalist shoes. It is not all about fashion. WODs are intense and you need clothes that move with you.
CrossFit workouts are not for the faint of heart. They are high-intensity workouts that will have you wondering how this seemingly cardio-less workout has your heart rate so high. You will often be doing workouts for time or score. Many WODs are done for time which means you measure the time it takes to finish the prescribed workout. Your score is derived from the total number of reps completed during a given workout. This makes for fun competition. Many CrossFitters keep a journal to record their times and scores to measure against future workouts.
CrossFit uses many movements and exercises that might not be familiar to your run of the mill gym-goer. Here is a run-down of some of the movements and workouts you might encounter.
- Burpees – These make up the cornerstone of CrossFit. Athletes start from standing, bend down and plant their hands, kick back into plank an do a push-up. Then, jump the feet back towards the hands and then explode up into a jump while clapping hands together overhead.
- Double Under – Jumping rope is also big around the box. Double unders are when the rope passes under the athlete’s feet twice in one jump.
- Kipping – Kippings are a type of pull-up. They are speed pull-ups that incorporate a rhythm to a swinging motion. The horizontal motion is transferred to vertical force allowing for a quicker pull-up.
- Hero WODs – These very difficult workouts are named after military servicemen, police or firefighters who have died in the line of duty. They provide an extra challenge and reminder of sacrifice.
- Fran – Fran is one of CrossFit’s most famous workouts. It is a 21-15-9 scheme of thrusters and pull-ups with a prescribed lifting weight for men and women.
CrossFit is a fitness regime dreamed up by Greg Glassman and subscribed to by many around the world. It is a tough training style that focuses on fundamentals and pulls from many different disciplines. A unique community has formed around this sport of fitness that has its own language and style.