Monday, April 22, 2013

What is CrossFit?

I first heard about CrossFit a few years ago and honestly, didn't want anything to do with it. I thought it was a ripoff, and that the movements they did such as kipping pullups and doing heavy lifts at high speed were both stupid and dangerous.  My first positive exposure to CrossFit was at my first Tough Mudder event.  There were a bunch of groups with their local CrossFit gym t-shirts on, and they were all in incredible shape.   I was a bit put off, thinking it was too cliquish and pretentious but now that I've been doing it for a few weeks I see both the pros and cons and the pros heavily out weigh the cons.

CrossFit is basically a fitness chain with their own certification system for trainers. Their business model is for everyone to do it for a few years as a paying customer, then pay to get certified themselves as a level 1 trainer and open their own CrossFit gym affiliate.  Then there are specializations and higher levels of certifications to pay for.  So yes, it is a business.  However so is Apple and Nike.


There are both morning and afternoon classes Mondays-Saturdays.  They call them WODs, or Workouts Of the Day.  Everyday is different and is designed to work different body parts everyday so you can train six days a week without being too sore.  They also ramp you up towards a six month "total." Which is a measurement of how heavy you can lift every six months.

Typical workout would be an hour and would consist of:

500m warm up run.  (.5km)
Stretching, Inch Worms (Almost like a bear crawl), Dead bugs (reverse plank) and some other things.
Then there is the technique portion where a trainer shows you what you'll be doing that day.
Often there is a non-timed 5 rep max workout, such as slowly ramping up from using the metal bar only for squats, deadlifts, or front presses, and slowly adding weight until you hit your 5 rep max (the most weight you can do for 5 sets) You often do 5 x 5 sets, so 25 reps total.
Then there is the actual workout which is often short, from as little is 4 minutes of very high intensity up to 20 minutes.  You might have a 500m run followed by 10 burpees, then 10 kettle bell swings repeated 5 times for time. Another day may be different types of sprints.

What I think of the Workouts:

I really love them. You basically do everything that you know you should be doing but normally put off. My favorite thing about the WODs is having other people doing it along side with me. The monthly fee you pay isn't just for the use of the facilities like a normal gym, it's also having a personal trainer, and workout partners.  The personal trainers really care about your form and if you're doing the technique correctly.  Turns out you don't really do the big Olympic lifts for time and speed during your workouts, it's only something they do during competition, and they can only do that because they've spent so much time building their strength and proper form and technique.  I also like having a prescribed workout everyday, often when I go to the gym I just do my favorite few things over and over again. I never did things like squats or dead lifts even though I know they are good for me, I just never had the proper form for it.  CrossFit really keeps your workouts varied, forces you to have good form and technique, and to actually workout everyday.  Having your name on the white board and seeing the days you missed really keeps you motivated to show up.  And having everyone keep fitness logs is something I always knew was important but never did.

A lot of what we do everyday feels like rehab, even though I'm not injured.  I didn't realize how bad my mobility and flexibility was until I started doing varied workouts.  Below is a video interview of a CrossFit girl, Christmas Abbott.  She represents CrossFit well, a good lifestyle, in great functional shape, eats Paleo, and it doesn't hurt that she's super cute.

The CrossFit Cult:

The reason why CrossFit seems so much like a cult is because people that start doing it, really get into it.  They realize how shitty their workouts have been in the past and how unreliable their workout partners have been in the past.  You really start taking your workouts and your lifestyle to another level and get excited for that.  I don't know if I could afford to pay $240 a month for a CrossFit membership back in California, but honestly, it's probably worth it.  It'd much better to pay that ridiculous amount and actually go 5-6 days week and get fantastic results than to pay $40 a month for a gym that you don't often go and never end up seeing any results from.  So at $87US a month here in Chiang Mai, it's a steal and as long as I'm here I will continue to do it.  And if I can find it for less than $150 a month in the US I'll do it there as well.

Warm Regards,

Johnny - Find it on facebook!

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