“Onnit Academy embraces a free exchange of ideas regarding all fitness and health modalities. Our contributors are entitled to an opinion as long as the thoughts contained therein are neither manipulative or ill-reasoned. This said, no article posted by any contributor reflects the full opinion of Onnit, or it’s principles. We respect Cross-Fit as a modality and look forward to continuing supporting it with our unique equipment, fitness, and nutrition principles.”
CrossFit is one of the hottest workout trends these days. Their audience has grown exponentially, and with the help of ESPN and Reebok, CrossFit has become THE “thing to do” across the globe. As a strength and fitness coach, I am a huge believer and supporter of any new or existing training protocol as long as it’s safe, functional for strength, and (for the sake of my clients), FUN! The world is too FAT to be sitting around eating cereal and pasta all day, so exercise is important.
What is Crossfit?
CrossFit’s training philosophy involves a combination of power lifting, heavy strength lifting, and various calisthenics. These movements are mixed into one high intensity interval circuit called a Workout of the Day (“WOD”).
CrossFit WOD’s are quick and exhausting. If you are not feeling nauseated or ill, then you are not living up to CrossFit standards! This is CrossFit and their motto stands is “Forging Elite Fitness.”
Crossfit: Forging Elite Fitness
CrossFit WOD’s are competitive, intense, and extremely demanding on your body. You are usually working against time to complete your WOD. The faster you finish the “fitter you become.” If you are new to fitness and looking to start off easy, then I recommend walking in the opposite direction of CrossFit because it will murder you.
CrossFit primarily targets your anaerobic system – the fast twitch and explosive muscle fibers. The reason CrossFitters are huffing and puffing after each WOD is because they are exhausting that system. The stronger you get, the higher you increase your lactic acid threshold and are able to tolerate your work output.
The common CrossFit lifts and movements require solid skill, precision, and general strength. You must learn these movements or else your safety and results will be compromised! I cannot stress the importance of learning these lifts enough.
If you are a newbie or just plain half-assing a lift, then you are doing your body NO favors. You will get injured! I understand that CrossFit is trendy these days and looks cool, but don’t wreck your body for the sake of completing your first WOD.
Crossfit Pro #1: Strong Community
I am not a CrossFitter, but I am damn impressed by the way CrossFit has connected with its community. CrossFit has done an amazing job recruiting people to get up off their ASSES and workout – definitely a plus in my book!
Crossfit Pro #2: Exciting Atmosphere
CrossFit is known for kicking ass! They will tell you to step it up when you’re tired and they will push you when you want to give up. For some, that is exactly what they need, the EXTRA PUSH!
Step into any CrossFit gym and you will hear loud energizing music and people yelling as they do their WOD. The ambiance is both vibrant and contagious. CrossFit looks like a fun place to train.
Crossfit Pro #3: Competition
Competition is an awesome tool to throw in the mix when it’s implemented correctly. It helps motivate you to do an extra set when you see others pushing just as hard as you, or you can create a personal goal and compete against your old scores and fitness assessments.
CrossFit uses this type of competition to help trainees stay motivated and on point.CrossFit has built a solid training environment encompassing competition and hard work. This has led to a strong community that continues to grow and inspire others to train.
As long as CrossFit continues to connect and grow, its community will continue to expand. One thing a fitness coach or boot camp instructor can learn from CrossFit is how to build that type of connection, excitement, and unity within their own classes to increase client retention and results.
Crossfit Con #1: Lack of Personalization
As much as I like how CrossFit inspires and motivates people, one thing that irks me is the lack of personalization. Personalization is customizing a training program for an individual.
Yes, I know CrossFit gears their training for a group setting but there cannot be a one size fits all program for everyone all the time! Assigning the same workout for both advanced trainees and beginners is a mistake.
Crossfit Con #2: Lack of Programming
Programming is everything! If you want solid and safe results, then you need to address the individual and their specific needs. Everyone is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses. Personalization zeros in on weaknesses, corrects them while enhancing your strength, and prevents future injury. Personalization is the key to true fitness.
Most (not all) CrossFit instructors don’t program. They just follow the WOD posted on CrossFit.com and implement it to their clients. There are many problems with this (as mentioned).
How would you implement a WOD to someone who has flexibility issues? Will “Murph” (a CrossFit WOD) help fix the problem? No it will not! Murph involves a 1 mile run, 100 Pull Ups, 200 Push Ups, 300 Squats, and another 1 mile run.
Remember that a WOD consists of both power and strength lifts mixed together into one high intensity interval, so applying a random WOD isn’t going to address anyone’s specific needs.
Crossfit Con #3: Lack of Scalability
Is it wise to apply a WOD to someone who is a beginner and lacks strength? I know CrossFit instructors will scale down the WOD’s depending on the level of fitness, but will “Fran” (another CrossFit WOD) really be appropriate for someone’s first workout? You be the judge of this one. Fran involves 3 rounds of 21-15-9 reps for time of 95 pound Thrusters and Pull Ups.
Crossfit Cons The Bottom Line
I don’t mean to be anal here, but I have a valid point. I am not speaking on behalf of all CrossFit instructors but many don’t address this situation of personalization. Personalization and programming is crucial and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You need to assess, evaluate, and customize training programs that are suitable for your clients needs, then, as they progress and become stronger, you can challenge them with a WOD.
If CrossFit wants to be the best for their clients, which I am sure they do, then they should address these issues ASAP! However, if you have fair strength, flexibility, and imbalances are corrected, then CrossFit will be a great addition to your general conditioning program.