Explaining the benefits of CrossFit is simple. CrossFit is a fitness program for everyone–regardless of age or ability–who is interested in improving fitness. CrossFit provides immediate, noticeable, and positive results.
Explaining CrossFit can be a bit more complicated. CrossFit treats every participant as an athlete, and seeks to challenge that athlete with a constantly changing program featuring a wide range of functional movements performed at a relatively high intensity. Simply put, CrossFit develops and maintains one’s ability to engage in the activities that improve and extend the quality of life.
I think a quote from CrossFit’s website really distills their philosophy:
“The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. Our terrorist hunters, skiers, mountain bike riders and housewives have found their best fitness from the same regimen.”
That is quite a bold statement and can be misunderstood at times. The truth is that CrossFit has a very broad appeal to folks from every walk of life. It is very popular with the military, law enforcement, and firefighters, but there are others, from kids to senior citizens, who CrossFit regularly. They do so to improve their ability to perform basic functions of their professions or personal lives.
For Example, the squat is the single most important exercise one can do, it is a VERY functional movement. Anyone who cannot squat cannot engage in NORMAL daily activity, and must have some sort of care provider, whether that be a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, or being a shut-in. CrossFit insists on working to perfect the squat, as well as other, foundational, functional movements. It doesn’t matter whether you can squat while holding a load overhead that is 2x your body weight, or just doing a few “air” squats– doing squats properly and frequently builds overall fitness in a way that is ignored by most people, and ignored by many other fitness programs. This is just one of many examples, you can see, in CrossFit.
Most popular thinking about what fitness is, as well as, most products and programs offering fitness, lead to being overworked in some areas and under-developed in others. The LSD (or long slow distance) runner and the body builder are two good examples of the opposite extremes of the standard approaches to Exercise. But CrossFit insists that neither portrays a true, balanced fitness. CrossFit offers that balance.
Why did you start doing it?
Another easy Response–I started CrossFit because I was bored with the standard paradigm of chest & tri’s on Monday, back & bi’s on Tuesday, run on Wednesday., legs on Thursday, wash, rinse, & repeat, blah, blah, blah… This schedule was followed with lack of results and was very dissatisfying. I was a competitive athlete all my life, and tried cycling, swimming, mountain biking, hiking, you name it-tried it.
While I was at Ranger School, years ago, I noticed some fellow students doing pull-ups that added a dip on top of the bar (A.K.A a bar-muscle-up). This grabbed my attention, quickly. After being injured at Ranger School, I was sent back home to recover and soon found myself gaining excess weight due to lack of activity. A dear friend of mine met me at the School gymnasium to “show me something”. He performed a Bar Muscle-up, showed me a “thruster” and the rest was History. I studied the CrossFit mainsite, night after night, and watched YouTube videos to learn all these new wonderful movements; thrusters, handstand push-ups, double unders, cleans, etc. It was like someone opened a new toy box, and I was ready to Play! Then, I finally had a goal.
CrossFit was never a fad, to me. It was a way of life from WOD 1. Knowing the goal was to become more fit, I busted my ass in every workout and learned all that I could. I learned about Girl named WOD’s, Hero WOD’s, WOD’s that were only 3-5 minutes long. I said that correct- 3-5 minutes long! I questioned BUT never doubted the system and I gave it several, several months to see the results. AND the result were outstanding. In 5 months, I had went from 13.5% Body Fat to 8.5%, and increased my lean muscle mass by 12lbs. But those are just numbers…the true test (if seeing is believing) was the mirror and what I saw in the mirror was a new man!
After 6 months of CrossFitting, I completed their Level 1 Certification and have been teaching the concepts ever since. I’ve instituted “CrossFit” in my military training as well as my soldiers training, I’ve introduced it to friends, family, and even strangers. I adopted CrossFit’s philosophy as my own. To me it says “Work Hard, constantly improve, don’t quit.” Things my parents instilled in me at an early age. CrossFit has a way to show you your strengths and weaknesses, and challenges you to improve and overcome.
How should I get started?
The CrossFit tag line is “3,2,1…GO!” And that is exactly how you get started. Remember the first time you jumped off the high dive, and the count down, 3… I can do it, 2…get ready, 1… Now or Never, GO! And of f you went, feet first. That is exactly the way to start CrossFit. Jump feet first, Yes, its a strange sensation and a bit overwhelming at first. But once you come through and see that you have a very supportive group waiting, the results will be life changing. Then let the rest work itself out.
I guess what you really want to know is, how does the average person get involved in CrossFit. That, too, is easy: Visit www.crossfit.com to learn more about CrossFit. But, by far the best way to get involved is, to find a local affiliate for some personal Coaching and a group of fellow CrossFitters who jumped in feet first, just like you.
As with any exercise regimen, a prospective athlete must have clear direction from a health care professional that it is safe to engage in strenuous activity. This is especially true with CrossFit, because its nature is “high intensity”. However, do not be put off by that, everything in CrossFit is scalable and it’s a program that is very open to beginners. “High-Intensity” means many different things to many different people. An 82 year old grandmother and a 32 year old tri-athlete are both very different from what an 16 year Lacrosse athlete can bring.
Explain your training program.
I usually follow my own box’s programing but also study and experiment with several different program philosophies, for learning experiences. I strictly follow a 4-day cycle: 3 consecutive days of workouts, followed by 1 rest day. I workout no more than 5 times a week when training is going well, and take recovery periods as needed. Being in the military, I often throw-in Army PRT events, when I’m on drill.
What I do for a daily workout, or what anyone else does, one very important consideration is this: the WOD is intended to enhance your life, not run your life.
I also practice the CrossFit approach to managing my diet. I promote the Zone diet, as well as, the Paleo Diet. Both are performance oriented, however, the Paleo diet has better qualitative approach to food and offers anti-inflammatory properties, whereas the Zone Diet, allows for a more quantitative & qualitative (weighing and measuring food amounts suited to your exercise level) approach.
Most people are skeptical of the CrossFit nutritional guidelines, and therefore have excuses why not to follow them. In my opinion, these people have discipline when told what to do in the gym, but lack self-discipline in the kitchen.
Being convinced that generally following the FDA guidelines is just fine, is wrong. Problem; we don’t exactly follow the guidelines not matter how much we think we are. Why? Because no one looks and adheres to the nutrition facts label. Enter The Zone. The Zones’ approach agrees with quality, but not quantity. Zone says balance portions of protein, and Carb’s with amounts only needed to support lean mass and exercise level, and please do not forget the Fats, also in a balanced measure. I use to think, “I’m in pretty good shape; i can eat what I want.” CrossFit says, “you are an athlete; you need high quality fuel.”
One Complaint about the Zone diet is that, done strictly, it requires one to measure all food, at least for a couple weeks. Some say its too much trouble and here comes our lack of discipline. Weighing and Measuring, gets old, quickly, but WELL worth the effort, when done. CrossFit’s simple solution was “eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.” Simply following this, can help drop excess pounds and improve your well-being within a week!
This is a huge trend. Why is that?
Is it a huge trend? Is your health, a huge trend? Disease and disorders associated with physical inactivity and a general lack of fitness are all on the rise. P.E. programs cut from schools, ring a bell?!?! Medical weight lose Clinics on every corner now?!?! Is it a huge trend? Our obesity epidemic suggests otherwise. Today its unusual NOT to see a kid someone who might be 50 + lbs. overweight. Even more disturbing is that this overweight is seen as an overfat situation and considered by many as a victim status–even the word “fat” in a clinical setting to describe someone’s appearance is Offending.
But to the extent that CrossFit is a “huge trend” among those interested in leading a life of strength and independence, the only answer is; RESULTS. At 34 years of age, I Have never been more balanced in my fitness or my Health. “Well, you’re still young.” This may be true but at 19 years old I was told I have high blood pressure more than once. Now, I never hear that statement, when visiting the Doctor for check-ups. You don’t have to search CrossFit for long before you find photo’s of quadriplegic Veterans performing WOD’s with a huge smiles, or kids swinging kettlebells, or someone’s Grandmother performing Deadlifts because she wants to enjoy picking up her grandchildren. CrossFit is a Success becuase it brings quality of life.
What’s your excuse?
Jason Odom is President of CrossFit Eastern Shore, Baldwin County’s First Affiliate.