Crossfit; Just A Fad? Or Totally Rad!

Crossfit; Just A Fad? Or Totally Rad!

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By: Amber Bressi and Emily Hubbard


The latest training style to hit the fitness world is CrossFit, but will it last or is it just a trend?

In the 90's, CrossFit was developed by Greg and Lauren Glassman, in order to optimize overall fitness. It concentrates on developing all areas of fitness to perform a variety of activities. Its main focus is combining a wide range of movements into a timed workout, known as a workout of the day (WOD). A WOD is a series of:

  • Pull-up's
  • Push-up's
  • Squats
  • Gymnastics
  • Running
  • Weightlifting
  • And other dynamic movements

It is a basic circuit-training workout that targets strength building and muscular endurance. A circuit goes as follows:

  • You have an allotted time in which you must complete an exercise.
  • When that particular exercise in the circuit is complete, you quickly run to the next, where you have an allotted time to complete that exercise.
  • This continues until all exercises in the circuit are complete.
  • Once they are complete, you start over.

The time between exercises in circuit training is very short. It is constant movement, which combines cardio with an intense core workout.

This type of training is commonly used in professional sports such as the NHL and the NFL. It is also being implemented at police academies and in the military. While highly trained professionals do this workout, it claims to be for anyone of any weight or fitness level.

The idea behind CrossFit is also to promote a fitness community. The Crossfit website says that CrossFit is about a "belief in fitness" that "aims to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness." The idea behind it is to provide all around training that prepares the body for any type of physical task.

But personal trainer Stefan warns that CrossFit is just the latest commercialized trend in fitness. "Working out at a gym, with a personal trainer, gives you the same result, except now that companies like Reebok are behind Crossfit, commercializing it and selling it as a product, people seem to be hypnotized to think that it is the best thing ever invented."

The high intensity training might produce results for some people but Stefan feels it also increases the risk of injury, since "circuit training is extremely tiring and when you are tired you tend to not do the exercises properly ... with one single trainer per group of 10 people, it is impossible that s/he catches every single person doing an exercise incorrectly."

The intense environment is also not for some people. Melissa, 34, didn't feel comfortable in the intimidating environment created by the intense trainers and the fit people and professional athletes she was training with: "It was just a little too intimidating for me. I am not in the best of shape, so to be tossed into such an intense workout with a group of other people you don't know, and trainers constantly pushing you to do more, without asking if you are able to do more, was just too much to handle for me". She felt as though a one-on-one workout with a trainer was more fitting for someone of her character.

Speaking with CrossFit trainer Jacques Ambroise from CrossFit Montreal, he says, "some people don't like the intensity and that's fine. Not everyone likes the same thing, but people who like the intensity and to push themselves will like Crossfit." He believes it is "accessible for everyone, but not for everyone."

Ambroise makes sure to state that it is extremely important that you be highly selective when choosing a Crossfit facility that best suits your needs. Not all facilities offer the same services. Ambroise acknowledges Stefan's concern over lack of individual monitoring but states that many facilities offer a mandatory pre-training which allows people the opportunity to learn proper technique before getting thrown into an intense CrossFit regime. Not all facilities offer this program, so it is important that one researches before paying for a membership.

Katrina has done CrossFit sporadically since 2008 and loves the social atmosphere. Since the workouts change every day, she also enjoys the element of surprise. "With CrossFit, you never know what to expect. WODs (workout of the day) are a race against time, yourself, and for fun, your fellow CrossFitters." She feels that the element of competition and having the trainers push her to go harder is motivation when she would otherwise slack off on her own. She said that the trainers wanted her to "relearn all the proper technique a few times before added on tons of weights ... even though they saw that I've lifted [weights] before."

She feels that the while CrossFit has a reputation for injuries that occur when you do not focus on technique in your race against the clock, but it "really depends on the gym, trainers and individual" and that her CrossFit gym in Toronto "actually has a weightlifting technique session, which I think is really cool and super helpful." She feels that injuries are a result of improper technique, not necessarily the style of training. Ambroise tends to agree "it depends on environment, who is doing it, who is teaching you and who is keeping an eye on you. Go into any discipline without thinking or using proper technique and you will injure yourself no matter what."

In the end, exercise is a matter of personal taste. While some people prefer the high-intensity group workouts that CrossFit offers, others may need the extra attention of a personal trainer. Many facilities are not true Crossfit facilities; they are simply transforming their gyms to follow this new Crossfit trend. This is why it is highly important that you research different facilities before committing to a full-term membership. Look for CrossFit centers that offer mandatory technique sessions to ensure proper technique and avoid risks of injury. Just like a personal trainer, it is important to find a CrossFit gym culture, community, and trainer that fit your personality.

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