What is CrossFit all about?
CrossFit is constantly growing and growing in Germany and the number of CrossFit boxes (gyms) has literally exploded. There is a new box opening almost every month. But what exactly is behind all the hype and is CrossFit really just all about total exhaustion? Or is there more to it?
Most of the people that have never actually tried CrossFit and only know it by name think it is a risky sport where the goals are to get your heart rate to a maximum and to exhaust yourself completely until you puke. As a graduate in sports science and active crossfitter I cannot confirm these stereotypes at all, unless you have chosen the worst coach.
CrossFit was invented by Greg Glassman and his wife in the 1980s in the United States. Both wanted to design a workout routine that not only demanded strength, endurance, or speed but possibly all facets of fitness in a single unit. This is what makes CrossFit so unique.
Additionally, they documented the workouts and the needed time to record their performance. For the first time fitness was made measurable.
In order to train holistically CrossFit combines elements of weightlifting, gymnastics, and endurance sport. This incorporates a coordinative aspect into each workout in addition to the cardio aspect.
The daily workouts (WOD = workout of the day) are done in a small group and the predetermined exercises are adapted to the individual fitness level of each trainee. Thus, it can easily happen that a young strapping lad stands next to an older lady. Those people would never train together in a normal gym. CrossFit brings people together, enables the exchange of experience between different groups of people, and there is no other sport in the world where the athlete in the last place of the workout is cheered and supported as much as in CrossFit. The team spirit in a box is enormous and absolutely unique.
How does the training differ from typical gym training?
The difference is huge. In a typical gym everybody follows their training schedule more or less by themselves. The treadmill and cardio area is equipped with TVs so you don’t have to concentrate on the workout but rather get diverted from it. 95% of the gym-goers will never reach their goals because there are only standard training schedules to give you a bigger biceps fast or a supposedly good endurance. If you want to train in a group under supervision you may have to share the space of the course area with 30 other trainees during rush hours. This inevitably raises the question whether the coach, even if they have the required expertise to correct technical errors, can really overview all 30 participants with the required attention and regulate the training accordingly. Everyone can answer this question for themselves.
Thus, the membership in a CrossFit box is relatively expensive, because quality of form is the main concern and the groups are rather small (10 to 15 trainees) to accommodate the higher demand of supervision. The meticulous perfection process of form and technique under a certain training load makes up the core of the training in a box (or at least it should be). Sure, not everything that is hyped and grows rapidly is of high quality in every shape. There can always be a rotten apple in the bunch and you should absolutely book a trial session first before definitely joining a box and kicking off your CrossFit training.
One thing is for certain: CrossFit is different. Everyone can do CrossFit but not everyone has the high demands to thoroughly work on their deficits. Humans are creatures of habit so we tend to do what we think we can do pretty well. With CrossFit there is no routine. Every day there is a different focus and the workouts are very versatile. You will definitely have to push yourself to the limits but this will help you to step out of your comfort zone and you will get to know a lot about yourself. Effectiveness of training and the community are tremendous. So try it out and challenge your weaker self! Or have you tried it already? What are your experiences? Let me know in the comment section below!
Your Alexej | graduate in sports science & owner of CrossFit Überseestadt (Bremen)