IN DEFENSE OF CROSSFIT AND WHY I DON'T TEACH CROSSFIT
This is something I have talked about for quite a while and one of the most popular questions I get asked “Sean, what do you think about crossfit?” . The only other popular question is “How do I get a six pack” which 95% people never want to hear that answer …” A ton of work in the gym and twice as much work in the kitchen”. Let me get back on track to the topic on hand, Crossfit. Before I get into that product specifically I’m going to dive into the intention of the person’s motivation for asking such a question and then the fitness industry as a whole as well as the influence of my fitness background.
The fitness industry is full of very specific divisions and modalities that are very proud of their product. Unfortunately That “pride” has filtered down into the masses. Why don’t people ask me about powerlifting,gymnastics,zumba,or bodybuilding? Occasionally I’ll get asked about yoga but its rare. Most people are looking for validation to fuel their uneducated belief on a system they know nothing about. Could be for a numerous reasons, maybe they are scared or intimidated to try it themselves so instead of being inferior they hide behind ignorance (Thats more than likely the cause for most hate) or secondly they want me to validate their opinion because that’s the popular opinion. People love to take sides and jump on bandwagons, and I usually enjoy proving people wrong regardless of their position. Thats what education is for right? Let’s move on
The first thing I ask people is what they think it is “oh you know sean that stuff on tv” which is like comparing the NFL to a pick up game of football behind the highschool. Secondly, why aren’t you asking the same question of other fitness programs…….what do I hear in response? “Cricket Cricket Tumbleweed Tumbleweed” (ok ok you don’t hear tumbleweeds but you get what I’m saying). So I’ll move on to breaking Crossfit Down so they can understand what they don’t know. I have been in more crossfit gyms than most crossfitters, and I have done this intentionally so I could get a better grasp of it, I’ve signed up for a full month of classes so I would really understand. Crossfit has a hard time breaking down what they are because its so varied which is one if its most advertised proponents “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity”. Outside of that it’s really impossible to anticipate what you’ll see in a daily workout. Anything from Powerlifts, sprinting, Olympic lifts, bodyweight calisthenics, kettlebells, running,rowing etc etc
So What do I think about Crossfit? Lots of things. First thing –I've been “crossfitting” since 2002 when I joined the U.S Marines Corps. We picked up things randomly all the time and ran odd distances stopping to do an unknown amount of things. Soon After boot camp I started training for Aircraft Fire and Rescue again very untraditional training ,drag this, pull that, sprint, climb , pick up this person, and many other things that are imaginable unless you have been there yourself. So the idea of crossfitting has been around for a long time. Body building has been using supersets and giants sets of opposite movements for decades. A few years ago I trained a few friends and myself for a tough mudder, 10+miles of varying terrain and 30+ obstacles. I developed running interval workouts with body weight/powerlifting exercises to prep for the course, sounds like Crossfit doesn't it?
However I'm going to highlight something about crossfit that definitely makes it unique to itself, TIME AND INTENSITY. This is something that you will more than likely see in any crossfit gym. of course in all things there are no absolutes but this is pretty much a guarantee. At some point the workout will involve something for time or reps, so the focus is to finish as fast as possible or with as many reps as possible. This is definitely unique to crossfit, yes other sport have things for time,distance,or reps but thats in a competition setting. The next thing you will see unique to crossfit is olympic weightlifting, unless you are an athlete training for a specific sport or a weightlifter this more than likely the only exposure to this style. the last major component in most crossfit gyms is the variety or randomness. The idea here is that you are constantly challenged in different modalities so that you (your body) is always trying to adapt. The last crossfit method that is often seen in crossfit is kipping, a method of creating an effiecency in bodywieght movements adopted from gymnatstics. Im not going to get into the myths,science,risk,reward about any of those concepts, that is an entirely different blog.
Now i'm not trying to bring down crossfit or convince you its the worst thing ever or that you will break an arm and other negative nancy thoughts. I'm just highlighting what makes crossfit crossfit, Im sure most crossfitters would agree with me. I could pick any fitness routine and find the negatives, zumba/yoga/hip dance have no real resistance training, powerlifting has no endurance training and can create really bad habits, running is dangerous because it has the most related injuries blah blah blah. you know what works best? What's the safest and most effective ?
Personal training, even then I have seen some really really bad personal trainers, I mean really bad. So maybe if you find a highly motivated, experienced, and educated trainer that at the same time responds well to your personality. then you can have the best results for your goals.
lets get back to the main topic and what do i think about crossfit? Here are some things that I love about crossfit(or any group exercise) Family,community,and sense of belonging I've seen this most of my life in team sports and then without a doubt the most impact for family has been my time in the Corps. Rarely ever was it about you , I had the great opportunity to be a firefighter and a marine at the same time. Having people to encourage you , make you accountable, and most importantly give a ton of shit can really change your life. Creating brothers and sisters in a time of war is something you will never forget. obviously Group fitness is a far cry from that environment but the concept still applies. You learn to work with people you don't know , you suffer together , you laugh together , your bitch and cry together and you celebrate together. This is what crossfit has done an outstanding job of , they create communities or “cults” as some may label them. The community aspect is fantastic for consistency and accountability. The next great thing crossfit has done is bring the barbell and kb into mainstream use, getting a very large demographic of people into training gear that before was too intimidating.
“OK great sean but should I Crossfit?” This is where I really want hammer in my main point. The thing YOU should choose is the thing you have the most fun doing while adhering and staying consistent . The thing YOU should do needs to match YOUR goals and at your comfortable risk vs reward level. I teach a program that's based off of years of different experiences and education. I think everything has its place and love teaching groups. I really think group training is the best way for people to stay motivated. I have evolved my group training over the years into what it is now, daily workouts based off a system of strength and fitness methodologies borrowed from bodybuilding,military,sports,powerlifting,endurance training and personal training. From the outside looking in it sounds like crossfit but if a crossfitter came into my gym they would not call it crossfit nor I have ever claimed that title. The thing that separates me from crossfit is that our workouts are never for time or reps,there is minimal amount of olympic weightlifting,no kipping, and quality is always paramount to quantity. I think I have created one of the best risk vs reward group training programs. Please don’t assume Crossfit can't be those things as well or that what I do is better. I have been in local crossfits with great programming and even better coaching as I have experienced the complete opposite(The same can be said about personal training,bootcamps etc). I'm just explaining how I do things. Do I think my process is the best option? absolutely not. I have turned people away because I know It’s not their best option. The best system is the one best suited for your needs,YOUR NEEDS. What do I think about crossfit? The same thing I think about any training. Does it match your goals? Do you love it? Is it safe? Will you stay consistent? Does it match your lifestyle? Are you making progress? Are you having fun?
You the consumer are responsible for the decisions you make. I want you to experience different facilities and training regiments, educate yourself. This is your body, I believe everyone needs some sort of physical training. We are meant to move and we can do amazing things. What I don't want you to do is to sit around your entire life , never embracing what you are capable of. Get outside your comfort zone, live, breathe, run, crawl, sprint, climb, lift, swing, push, pull, press, squat, hinge, throw, wrestle, walk, laugh, struggle, grow, cry, and celebrate. The human body is an amazing thing, One of the coolest machines ever created, turn it on and be blown away with what it can do for you.