Around the time of the Crossfit games each year I get the same question, “What do you think about Crossfit?”. Well, it’s a complicated question.
I’m not an expert, but as a Sports Medicine Physician I have treated both successful Crossfit athletes and injured Crossfit drop outs. I have been a member of a box and worked the method “pretty” consistently for over a year. I have visited many different boxes and met many different coaches with their own unique style. I am also familiar with the many different disciplines that make up Crossfit: Olympic lifting, running, gymnastics, and interval training.
When considering Crossfit it is a question of do YOU + Crossfit = Success. The first thing to think about is yourself. [And I don’t mean thinking about how cute you will look all lean and toned in those tiny shorts or muscle tee.]
Do you like to work out alone or with a group?
- Crossfit provides the opportunity for an amazing community within your workouts. Like a running club, meeting consistently with the same group with similar goals provides the time and proximity to make new friends and workout partners that can keep you being active and push you to better yourself. All of this is great and makes for a more enjoyable time working out, but it does take a commitment! For those with inconsistent schedules [something I know nothing about of course], it can be costly and frustrating when not able to get to the same place a the same time multiple times a week.
Do you enjoy the stability of the same workout often or do you thrive on variety? Are you willing to take time to learn proper technique? And do you have the ability to push yourself with a good stopping point or do you tend to push too far with activity and end up injured or stopping an activity because your soreness makes your activity inconsistent?
- Crossfit athletes get results because they are constantly varying their workouts and the intensity stays high. I mean who doesn’t like burning hundreds of calories in an hour? Like Orange Theory or HIIT, training muscle confusion keeps the muscles, and you, from getting bored. The downside to this is that speed and lack of experience with movements can lead to improper form. Without the muscle memory learned from months and years of practice, a heavy weight and a sloppy bail can leave you benched for weeks or months.
The second part of the equation is the BOX (or gym) that you choose. While a lot of aspects of Crossfit are uniform across the sport, not all boxes are created the same.
Are they competing or having fun?
- Some people like former athletes and type A [eh em, points at self] personalities, thrive on competition. Others just want to get a good workout in while having a good time. Boxes are the same. While neither is right or wrong there can definitely be a right or wrong for you. Too calm a vibe can make you feel like it is a waste of time and too competitive can leave you alienated or injured. You wouldn't spend hundreds of dollars on an outfit without trying a few out so take a couple boxes for a spin before you settle down with just the right fit.
Are the coaches able AND WILLING to spend time teaching you the ropes and bars?
- [You may be sensing a theme here] Heavy weights can be dangerous things! You wouldn't go to an overworked, impatient heavy ammunition specialist to learn how to shoot your handgun. Find a box that meets the needs of where you are NOW, not where you want to be in 2 years or where your best friend who has been doing Crossfit for years goes. Learning how to do lifts correctly and being in a space where you can ask questions and have your form corrected is imperative for beginners. For athletes looking to improve their form and lifts, you need experienced coaches that can safely supervise your growth.
Overall, Crossfit is a fun, effective, and diverse workout. It can enrich both your mind and body, but like anything else that can do so much good there are definitely also significant risks. Crossfit sometimes gets a bad rep but any activity, even running or walking, when jumped into too quickly and irresponsibly can be dangerous. In the end it is up to personal responsibility to choose a box wisely and know thy inner athletic self.