So, there was this one time when I was a kid that we ordered pizza and the whole family got sick.  So we got food poisoning from the pizza.  I have never eaten pizza again, because I believe that ALL PIZZA IS POISON!  Now, not only is that a complete lie (LOVE pizza), but it is just a totally stupid statement.  I got a bad haircut from this barber once, so I’m never cutting my hair again because all barbers suck.  Again, preposterous.  But this is the EXACT “logic” that is being applied to the “CrossFit” form of fitness.  Now, as a pre-emptive statement, I am neither defending NOR condemning CrossFit.  More and more, I am reading article after article about “Why I will NEVER do CrossFit”.  And they are all the same.  They tout the increased injury rate.  They advocate that they are thrown into workouts with little training.  They say that the proprietors are able to get certified in a weekend.

Is there validity to some this stuff, of course there is.  Is that a broad condemnation of the entire industry, NO!  To each:

Increased injury rate – First off, there is NO statistical data that suggests that crossfitters are any more or less prone to injuries than anyone else who works out.  How many gym rats have torn pecs and biceps or chronically achy knees ?  Secondly, as a whole, the injury rate of workouts (regardless of type of gym setting) pales in any comparison to that of ANY competitive sport.  You are infinitely more likely to injure yourself in a pick up basketball game or rec-league softball game than at the gym.

Too little instruction – I firmly believe that one of the biggest problems with CrossFit over the last 5 years or so, especially is their growth rate.  I think that, like every business, they were prepared for growth.  Just not at the rate that they have.  This has opened the door for people to get into the “Club” with too little training and experience.  There are currently over 2500 CrossFit affiliates worldwide.  Are you seriously going to believe that none of them, or even the majority of them just throw people into their high intensity form of workouts without regard for teaching and expecting proper technique?  Having been in the industry in the position that I am in for so long, I have seen lots of things come and go, and have had the opportunity to meet many owners of many different gyms.  I can tell you, that there are tons of Crossfits out there that are wonderful teaching and learning environments.  Just because someone had a bad experience at one, doesn’t mean that they’re ALL bad.  It just means that that one is.  And just like most other types of businesses, it’s not the well-run ones taht get all the attention, it’s the one or 2 renegades that are poorly operated.  You just have to find one around (Lord knows that they’re popping up like dandelions) in which you have a good experience and feel comfortable.

Lack of knowledge from owners – To own a Crossfit gym you must have a Level 1 Certification.  It is a weekend class.  Do you know what you need to open any other gym?  Nothing.  Do you know what it takes to become a personal trainer for a lot of people?  A weekend.  That doesn’t mean that they do or don’ t know what they are talking about, and refers back to my previous point.  You have to find QUALIFIED professionals and not just CERTIFIED professionals.

Listen, like I said, I am neither defending, nor condemning CrossFit.  I would write the same opinions about people who categorically bashed Planet Fitness, Curves, or anything of the like.  This just happens to be a hot button topic right now.  It’s OK for everyone to have their own opinion.  If you don’t like CrossFit, don’t go.  There are tons of other options out there.  If you do, great!  But don’t base YOUR bad experience as a complete denunciation of the entire company.  Are there bad eggs?  Every bunch has them.  But they make up the exceptions, not the rules.  It’s OK to be ignorant, just don’t open your mouth and prove it.

Just as I speak of the fact that fitness is not a fad, and must be a consistent part of your life, that doesn’t mean that there are not fads that pass through the industry itself.  Over the course of time, fitness trends have come and gone.  Leg warmers, step class, the shake weight, etc.  They have all run their course throughout the years.  That does not mean that they were inherently good or bad, but they just ran through the normal lifecycle of current knowledge.  Now, the most current wave of fitness to hit not only the United States, but the entire world is the phenomenon of Crossfit.  Now, I am going to use the term here, not as a brand, but as a thought process.  And I am going to do my best to differentiate reality from perception.  Crossfit was an organization that was founded in the late 90’s early 2000’s.  They were founded by Greg Glassman under the premise that people did not have to starve themselves and do endless hours of cardiovascular exercise to achieve the goals of weight loss and leanness.  Crossfit believes in working hard.  Deriving progressive benefit from shorter bouts of work, but working at and even above what you thought that you could previously do.  They believe in constantly varying your workout routine instead of performing the same exercises day after day.  They believe in clean eating and dietary purity.  Their methods are based on research.  Research that has been performed really in the past 30 years or so.  This is when we really started to challenge the traditional fitness beliefs.  And so far, the results have been more than promising.  It appears that as our research advances, so will our ability to achieve.

Now, what Crossfit is NOT.  Crossfit does not mean throwing people into workouts that they have no business doing.  The mainstream perception, however, is just that.  That if you’re going to do Crossfit, it means working out until you puke.  It means performing lifts that you’ve never done before.  Now, this MAY be the case, but one of the very most basic tenets of Crossfit belief is education and scaling.  Recently (in the last few years), the Crossfit phenomenon has absolutely EXPLODED!  I am willing to bet that not even the founding fathers of the movement could have forseen being on ESPN every year.  And, in that time, they have started to be subjected to some pretty serious backlash about their methods.  Most of which can be explained as over-expansion, and under-education.  Not on the part of the main body, but on the part of the individual gyms (there are over 2500 worldwide).  As with any franchise, you will have some locations that are better than others.  No matter how much the mother ship tries to regulate, there will always be those that slide through the cracks.  And that is what is being seen right now, is that not only are there a few of the individual gyms that are just not focusing on the education as they should, but there are also starting to be so many who are trying to copy the basic premise.  There is no copyright on the IDEA of fitness, just on the name.  I could open a gym and work off the same basic premise of a Crossfit gym, I just can’t CALL it a Crossfit gym.  However, if I don’t have the education and training to do what they are doing, I am going to end up hurting people.  Simple, right?  So, you have to do your homework on a gym.  Do they teach or do they just throw you to the wolves with a workout regimen?  If that’s the case, don’t join just to say that you do.  It ends up being a recipe for injury and disaster.

One of the most common things that I get asked right now as a trainer is “What IS Crossfit?”  Everybody’s heard of it because it has exploded in popularity over the past couple of years.  Gyms are popping up like dandelions and the Games are on ESPN for goodness sake.  And people think that Crossfit is a workout or an all out work until you puke style.  It’s not.  It’s an ideal.  An ideal of functional movements, scaled to your CURRENT ABILITIES and good food.  Not doing the same thing all the time, but constantly varying your workout so that your body becomes very “cross-trained” and fit (Cross-fit, get it?).  This will explain it better…..

Some people are still of the opinion, even in this day and age that TIME translates to RESULTS.  They think that if they don’t spend “x” amount of time in the gym, then the workout wasn’t worth it.  They sneer at things like Crossfit, P90X and Insanity.  They won’t attend bootcamps or 30 minute training sessions.  What could I possibly get out of THAT?  I have to workout for an hour or more to get real results, burn real fat and see real gains.  We know that NOTHING could be further from the truth.  Whether the workout is 20 minutes, 30, 60, whatever.  The only worthless workout is the unaccomplished workout.  Study after study will bear out that a hardcore 20 minutes can be as, if not MORE beneficial than a soft 60 minutes.  Don’t you suppose that there’s a reason that P90X, Crossfit and Bootcamps are popular?  People see results.  They work.  You can get the same, if not better benefit than a traditional hour of cardio in half the time?  Sign me up!  Sign you up, too.  Get busy.  Get active.  Move.  The only workout you will regret is the one that you don’t do!