CrossFit is a fitness and program created in 2000 by Greg Glassman, a former competitive gymnast and personal trainer. A naturally inquisitive and skeptical thinker, Glassman had a special knack for challenging widely held belief systems and sought to create a “best-practices” system that blended the most effective training from multiple sports, athletic disciplines, and real world challenges. CrossFit is centered around “Constantly Varied Functional Movements, Performed at High Intensity.”
By varying movements, loading, duration, and other factors, CrossFitters maintain a fitness that is “broad, general, and inclusive,” valuing balance and breadth as a way of avoiding weaknesses and plateaus.
Functional movements mirror everyday, natural tasks and challenge the body to work as an integrated system instead of a combination of parts. As a result, these movements are extremely potent, applicable to sport and life, and above all safe, as they are based on things human beings have been doing for thousands of years. CrossFit emphasizes function- the ability to perform tasks and work- over aesthetics, although aesthetic change is a happy byproduct of our hard work!
Intensity is the “x” factor that makes CrossFit truly special. A strong element of challenge and healthy competition means that CrossFit athletes are always working hard and trying to do a little more than last time. It’s worth noting that intensity is relative, both for individuals and among a group, and is earned after displaying a grasp of safe and fundamental movement patterns and understanding.
Every CrossFit gym is an independently owned community with its own character, rules, and culture. At its core CrossFit is an experiment in making fitness a social undertaking- we train together, team up with each other, compete against one another, and organize events and meetings that deepen our bond and cohesiveness. Scientific data has shown this to be extremely beneficial for compliance with a fitness program, as people are more invested and accountable, but it is also an important statement to make in a world that is increasingly disconnected and virtually based. Expect to learn people’s names, laugh and talk with your classmates, and have people check up on you if you miss a few days. If you absolutely love going to the gym, putting in your headphones, and not talking to anyone for an hour this might be a tough transition!
CrossFit is a plan built on principles of empiricism- it uses data to ensure that athletes are improving, seeing results, and spending their time in the most efficient, safe, and useful manner. CrossFitters are encouraged to log their workouts in a journal (paper or virtual) and then compare their results over time. This gives us context for each workout, motivates us, and drives progress. On a large scale, the data gathered from the thousands of worldwide CrossFit affiliates validates the efficacy of the program. CrossFit has always maintained that if someone can design a more effective system, and prove it, they would happily adopt it. To date, some have tried, none have succeeded. No fitness system in history can match the broad and useful results that CrossFit provides.
CrossFit provides extraordinary results to “ordinary” people, but it’s important to note that everyone starts from a different place. Fitness background, previous injury, health concerns, age, and other factors all shape what CrossFit will “look like” to each individual. CrossFit prides itself on being accessible to all through the use of “scaling”- subtle changes and tweaks to the program that allow two very different people to work out side by side, doing similar and individually appropriate movements, and receiving a similar stimulus. Coach Glassman has said, “The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.” CrossFit is for everybody!