Today I did a CrossFit-esque workout: deadlift 60% of your max as many reps as possible in 12 minutes. It was a great workout and I enjoyed it. However, like every time I dabble in the CrossFit realm, which happens about once a month, I remember why I only do it every once in a while.
I have an on and off relationship with CrossFit. In one sense I really like it. In another it bothers me. Although I have not done an official workout at a CrossFit gym I have done quite a few replications of the workouts and talked to a few people and fellow trainers who have. That being said, my opinion should be taken for what it is, my opinion.
I love the community aspect of CrossFit and like many of the workouts. There are also some incredible athletes and people that use CrossFit to transform their bodies and lives. However, I dislike the elitism of many participants and do not agree with the application of many of the workouts and the “more is better” philosophy that seems to ooze from the community. This is a generalization, yes. There are plenty of great people and gyms that are mindful of form, programming, scaling, and overtraining. But the overarching presentation is not something I find myself connecting with. Challenging ones self to achieve more can be great but when it overshadows the body’s feedback system it can get you in trouble. This is the main reason I shy away from CrossFit most of the time. Most of us are already bombarded with stress through life in general and are constantly scrambling to keep our heads above water. Adding 2-5 intense workouts a week is usually more than we can handle, no matter how competitive we are or how much we want to look like the CrossFit athletes we can now see on ESPN. These are high level athletes that are capable of the sport of fitness. These are not your typical people. We are all capable of great things from time to time but it needs to be on our own terms and it doesn’t mean we can handle the journey toward someone else’s definition of great fitness.
In my opinion, when used smartly, CrossFit style workouts can be a great part of some people’s programs. They are not for everyone. Each gym and coach is different and people should pay close attention to their body and psyche while doing the workouts and programs. Striving for more can be just what you need to achieve a new level of fitness or the worst possible thing you can do. The key is listening to your body and being smart about your training stimulus.
There is a therapeutic dose to nearly everything. CrossFit type workouts are no different. I love working them in from time to time when I come across one that intrigues me. If I see or hear about a WOD that sounds like a fun challenge and I’m feeling good I give it a shot. If I don’t “feel it” I move on, do something I would rather do and don’t give it much thought again. That has worked really well for me so far. My clients are similar in that when they feel up to it they love the challenge but most don’t like the idea of consistently engaging in that type of training. Most of my clients are health oriented (vs. performance oriented) so being very conscious of stress load on the body will always trump the workout of the day.
If you’re interested in CrossFit, do some research, talk to people, go to online forums, watch some videos and visit a local affiliate to chat with the coaches and see what you think. For some, the best way is going to be trying it for themselves. For others, little posts like this is enough. Whatever the case, take care of yourself and let your body be your guide.
Thanks for reading, have a great Crossfitting (if desired) day!