By Katie Joly
As a fitness instructor, I am often asked by participants in my classes about fitness trends and whether or not the newest “exercise fad” is for them. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about CrossFit. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t but it is a relatively new discipline and it has caught on like wildfire all over the country. If you haven’t heard of it, you’re probably asking the same question as many of my participants: what is it?
What is it?
CrossFit is not your typical workout training method. It breaks away from static or stationary weightlifting techniques that focus on one muscle or muscle group. Instead CrossFit uses strength training, plyometrics, kettlebells, speed training, endurance training, and Olympic lifting to train athletes. CrossFit aims to work out your entire body at once versus just simply one part. Examples of CrossFit exercises (many you’ve probably heard of already) are burpees, power cleans, pull ups, and the snatch.
Who is it for?
I hesitate to say that CrossFit isn’t for everyone however, if CrossFit is something you are interested in trying, having a good base fitness level is important, especially if you plan to train on your own. The alternative option is join a CrossFit affiliate training center as their numbers and locations are growing rapidly around the country. If you are new to fitness then joining a CrossFit affiliate is your best option because you can receive a personalized plan from a certified instructor.
However, an option for someone who has a good base fitness level would be the Workout of the Day (WOD) posted on CrossFit.com. These workouts generally don’t involve much equipment making them ideal to do at home.
CrossFit, like High Intensity Interval Training, is great because it can be completed in a very short amount of time. It involves explosive movements and endurance training, similar to many sports like ice hockey and football. There are also alternative CrossFit programs that can be tailored to certain sports.
Another benefit to CrossFit, particularly for those interested in the (WOD) is that the CrossFit website posts a new WOD each day, giving you variety and new challenges. The website also provides a comprehensive overview of CrossFit, exercise demonstrations, the CrossFit Journal and tips for training.
If you are interested in joining a CrossFit affiliate training center, one of the first things you should do, just like when joining any other fitness center, is ask about the instructors’ credentials and background in strength and conditioning as some may not have the proper background. Individuals that have a background in Kinesiology, Exercise Science, or Biomechanics spend many years learning proper lifting form and techniques. Do your homework. Make sure your instructor has the proper background and experience in the field.
Due to the intensity and vigorous nature of CrossFit, you should check with your physician or doctor to make sure this type of exercise is okay for your body. Also, due to intensity and quick and varied movements, the risk for injury increases with this exercise discipline which is why finding a trainer or coach who has the required qualifications is important and perhaps more importantly, inform your coach or trainer when something hurts or doesn’t feel right.
Is it for you?
Like any exercise routine, regimen, or trend, CrossFit has benefits and concerns that all participants, new and old, should be aware of. CrossFit provides intensity and variety and if you are an athlete or into fitness, you’ll probably love the challenge of CrossFit. If you are new to exercise, look into using a trainer or coach for personalized plan and check with your physician to make sure you are healthy enough to participate in CrossFit.
If you are interested in learning more about CrossFit, a good first step is checking out their website: www.crossfit.com or going to your local CrossFit affiliate training center to watch a class and talk to a trainer or check out some videos online.