What Cross Fit is Doing Right

I’m sure we’ve all seen our fair share of CrossFit articles. Whether it’s aggressive FB posts from friends, or actively reading information on the new fitness trend, we’ve all been exposed. I poke fun at CrossFit a lot, I’ll admit. I’m not the only one and honestly they just make it so easy.

Truthfully, if you’re doing anything active, attempting to better yourself and improve your own health, I’m all about it. In every commercial gym there are plenty of “wrong” things happening too, but the middle aged man doing curls with bad form isn’t as entertaining as women 7 months pregnant still trying to do muscle ups. When you throw things like caution, form, safety, and even your baby’s health to the wind, things get way more interesting. This piece is literally going to be hard for me to write.

There are some things we should be paying attention to that CrossFit also does very well. Knowing my bias and sarcasm will bleed through the pages, I’ve asked a good friend and trusted chiropractor Tim Kennedy D.C. to write this with me. Dr. Kennedy runs a practice catering to the maintenance of all athletes, CrossFit being a large percentage of that demographic. He is well aware of the things they’re doing right as a movement.

From the Doc:

They have definitely elevated the bar of what we define as fitness. Prior to CF we had experts, but no one was really all that fit by another’s standards. Runners had cardio. Power-lifters owned strength. Body builders had a mix of both but are largely non-functional and non-athletic despite the look. CF has created an amalgam of strength, cardio and flexibility. In other words, true and overall athleticism.

Another key victory for CF is the void it filled in fitness. Yes, it got many off of the couch which is phenomenal, but it also pulled masses out of globo-gyms worldwide. The people who went to the same gym for years and were either awkwardly stared at or staring at others while performing the same ineffective workout week after week, those people are now at CF, AND we have to hear about it because after years of no change, in just months they are transformed. Fat loss, muscle gain, increased exercise capacity; Sherry from accounting is now just “Sherry.” And when people ask how it happened, well get ready for the proverbial CF story because like it or not, it’s coming.

 In addition, how many globo-gym members have seen the same people at the gym day after day, month after month and, have no idea who those people are? You see them out and it’s like “hey! I think I know that guy…but I don’t know his name and come to think of it, he kinda always looks like he wants to kill me. Never mind.”

That doesn’t happen in CF. At a box, everyone is vested in your success. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is as close knit as extended family. The sense of community throughout CF is something to be envied by every sport, team, and gym known to man. That is the true essence of what makes CF so special and it’s nothing that can be appreciated while standing from the sidelines.

So much that the doc had to say, I have to agree with. Here are a few bullets that I would say are the top of the list:

  • They’re changing bodies physically
  • They’re actively bettering themselves and their programs (education)
  • They’ve created a community/team feel that everyone loves
  • Nutrition

They’re changing bodies. I mean this literally, physically changing people. When you take a woman that has spent years on a treadmill and elliptical machine, never lifting a weight, and put her in high intensity-circuit style training, you get results. When people in general are taken from their low intensity, stagnant routine and put them on a high intensity, varied weightlifting circuit program of any type, you get results. Bodies start to change, abs make an appearance for the first time, girls who have never squatted before are growing the coveted booty. Basically the world is becoming a better place. If not for any of these reasons, I think we all enjoy the typical CrossFit outfit; shorts you thought you’d never see in public and a sports bra.

Actively bettering themselves: Let me elaborate a little bit. When football started, it was a new sport. People would say it would never be a big thing, it was a fad, it was for Neanderthals, a bunch of grown men running into each other with a ball. As the sport grew, everything changed. The early leather helmets have turned into something quite different. Advancements have occurred in pads and protection, even rules to ensure more safety of the athletes.

Take Ultimate Fighting Championship for another example. When they started, it was a no holds barred fighting ring, with no gloves, lots of bare-knuckle fighters, 300 lb men fighting 170 lb men, all kinds of crazy things. Now, it’s one of the most watched sports in the world, because of advancement. Uniforms came into play, rules evolved to help athletes avoid injuries, etc.

When is the last time you walked into a Gold’s gym, and saw the owner of the Gold’s paying for all trainers to go to an anatomy seminar? When was the last time a trainer at any commercial gym could help you with some nutrition guidance? Almost never. Recently, I applauded a very close friend of mine, who co-owns a CrossFit box out west. I told her I gave her a lot of respect, because they went out of their way to better their company and trainers. They hired someone to come give an, “anatomy of an athlete,” seminar for all of their trainers. That’s not something you see from a Planet Fitness gym. They’d rather give you donuts and pizza, while shaming fit-people in their commercials.

Nutrition: Aside from private training facilities, or a handful of gyms I’ve come to know, most gyms you walk into have zero nutrition advice on hand. Now CrossFit isn’t employing nutritionists necessarily, but what seems to go hand in hand is a CrossFit membership and the Paleo diet. I won’t get into my personal opinions here either because it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that paleo diet, whether historically accurate or not, does change bodies. It does give people simple guidelines to follow that will undoubtedly change bodies and change health. Isn’t that the goal? Now one day, the world I dream to live in, would be rather than us all making fun of each other (even though it’s really entertaining) we could have these hybrid type athletic facilities that are starting to pop up be the norm. I have always stayed athletic through my training, even though I prefer bodybuilding and power type workouts for the majority of my training. I also love to incorporate circuits, especially when I need to lean out in a hurry.

In the end, CrossFit has created a community. Isn’t that what everyone wants, to be a part of something? I grew up in a gym where everyone knew each other, people would walk over and help you, give pointers, always helping you improve. Most gyms aren’t like that now, it’s always a contest, if you’re in better shape than someone you’re getting mean-mugged. The pretty girls make you feel like a rapist for glancing their way, and the ones that need the help hide in the corners on the ellipticals and treadmills hoping no one sees them. CrossFit used a group setting and coaches to change that. Should most of the coaches be coaching anything? Not for me to say. My point is they’re doing things all gyms should be doing, improving health. People are comfortable grabbing a barbell now, doing some functional movements like deadlifts and squats, things that will actually change you physically. These are huge changes in world-wide fitness, something any company or gym should be proud of. Women that never would have picked up a weight, are no longer stuck on the hamster wheel at a commercial gym, never changing how they look and feel. Regardless of your personal opinion of CrossFit, we have to agree they’re making strides in fitness, improving health, and bringing awareness to a new crowd, that’s something I will applaud.