5 Reasons I've Never Tried CrossFit

1SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/13/2012 6:00 AM   :  124 comments   :  96,316 Views

During the last few years, ultra-intense workouts have been gaining popularity—and not just among athletes or hardcore exercisers who are gluttons for self-punishment. Even the relatively unfit and overweight are jumping at the chance to push their bodies to their limits. Why? Some consider it fun. Others feel that is the best (or only) way to really get in shape. Whatever the reason, intense workout programs are attracting a wide variety of participants who have a variety of different goals (whether strength, speed, power, health, muscle tone, weight loss, or looking better naked).
 
By now you've probably heard of CrossFit (the "sport of fitness") or know someone who has tried it. I stumbled upon CrossFit videos on YouTube a few years ago and was immediately intrigued. I would spend hours a night watching people work out competitively and was in awe of their strength and capabilities—not to mention their physiques! I've learned a good deal about CrossFit since then, through my husband and sister-in-law (both of whom are certified CrossFit trainers), friends who do the workouts, and my own research and reading.

As a certified fitness professional with a traditional background (and without any firsthand experience in an actual CrossFit gym), I can certainly tell you that CrossFit is unlike most other workouts and workout programs out there. It strives to be the total fitness package—to help people achieve optimal health and fitness across all measures of strength, agility, speed, power and endurance. (Read CrossFit's full description here.) It combines Olympic powerlifting + gymnastics + plyometrics + speed work + weights + time + competition in a way that continuously challenges one's body in new ways. And although it has a reputation of being intense (which it certainly is, no doubt about it), proponents also claim that it's completely "scalable" to every individual's fitness level.  
 
Sounds great, right? Well, could it be too good to be true?
 
I get asked all the time, "Have you tried CrossFit yet?" "When are you going to come to CrossFit?" "What do you think about CrossFit?"
 
Although I am more than impressed at the results I've seen in countless people who have committed to CrossFit, I've never been compelled to try it myself. Do I think CrossFit could help me get fitter? Yes. Do I think that CrossFit could make me stronger? Of course. Do I think CrossFit would help me look better naked? Absolutely.  So why am I not doing it?
 
I hesitate for a few reasons.
  1. I already love my workouts. I love to run. I love Pilates. I love kettlebells. I love Spinning. I love hiking trails with my dog and trying new workout DVDs.  I don't dread these workouts or do them as a necessary evil. I’m already happy with my routine. I've been told by all my CrossFit friends that once I try CrossFit, I'll lose interest in all these other pursuits. And that might be true. But most of the people I know who have fallen in love with CrossFit never really enjoyed the other workouts they used to do in the first place—they simply suffered through them. Then they found CrossFit, which was new, less boring and totally different, and they became hooked. But I wonder: Would the same happen to a person who really likes their routine as it is? If it's not broken, should you try to fix it?

  1. The injury risk of CrossFit exercises is much higher than traditional forms of exercise. (Read this intriguing piece on CrossFit safety from TriFuel.com.) I know all the CrossFit trainers and enthusiasts are going to try to tell me this isn't true, that when you do the exercises properly and work underneath a good trainer, you are safe and not likely to injure yourself. I beg to differ.

    Lifting very heavy weights increases injury risk exponentially—it's simple the nature of it. Heavy weights can compromise your form at any time despite your best efforts and intentions to do it right. And when you add speed or competition to the mix—which is what CrossFit workouts tend to do—people are that much more likely to skimp on form in order to go faster or get one more rep done. I know countless people who have had both minor and major injuries (including debilitating back pain and even surgery) because of injuries sustained during CrossFit workouts or as the result of the overuse from CrossFit workouts. Sure, injuries can happen during any movement, even walking or even yoga, but for me, the risks seem to outweigh the benefits at this point. Safety is #1 in my book, and I'm unwilling to put myself in a position that could raise my injury risk whatsoever.  And I think that a lot of people downplay the risk involved in these types of exercises. They are not for everyone. While you can scale down, go slower or not push yourself as hard during CrossFit, it kind of makes you wonder:  Is that modified version even really "CrossFit" then?
     
  2. Third, to be completely honest, I'm pretty intimidated by CrossFit. I'm a generally fit person who is capable of doing a lot of physical pursuits relatively easily. But I can pretty much assume that I'd suck at CrossFit. I know a lot of people at the local CrossFit gyms, and I also know how welcoming and community-oriented CrossFitters tend to be. They want everyone feel at home. But I'll admit it: I am downright scared of some of the moves I've seen them do. And tearing my hands open doing pull-ups? That sounds about as appealing as...tearing my hands open during pull-ups. Ew.


     
  3. There are a lot of smart concepts and theories behind CrossFit  that I think make a lot of sense. CrossFit also has a lot of things going for it that other workouts lack. But I have to say that the way many (not all) CrossFit trainers and enthusiasts act—as if CrossFit is the one and only thing worth doing and is superior to everything else out there—is pretty off-putting. A lot of their own marketing materials essentially make fun of anyone who does traditional forms of exercise (like riding a bike or taking Zumba class or doing biceps curls). I mean, really? I find it all to be a little short-sighted and presumptuous to think that this one mode of exercise with a very short history and no long-term research behind it really is that amazing in every possible way.

    I don't believe that any single form of exercise is all a person needs to be optimally fit and healthy. And I also believe all intensity levels can help people achieve their desired results in health and fitness. Variety is the spice of life! No workout is necessarily "better" than another. Overall, I think the emphasis should be on doing something—anything really—to get moving, stay strong and be active throughout your life. If CrossFit does that for you, great! I'm thrilled. If yoga does it, I'm just as happy for you! If you love sweating in a Jazzercise class, who am I to say that you are wasting your time and should try something "better"? Overall, I'd say that the more different things you can do, the better off you will be.  Every intensity level creates positive adaptations within your body. We need low-, medium- and high-intensity workouts, just as we should lift light, medium and heavy weights, just as we benefit from short-, medium- and long-endurance workouts. In my opinion, CrossFit falls short on some of those areas by tending to emphasize so much intense, heavy and short workouts.


     
  4. I wonder: Aren't I already fit enough? Does the average person really need to be "optimally" fit like an athlete like CrossFit believes they should? Isn't it good enough for you and I to work out just enough that we're able to experience life, free of chronic disease, and independent and pain-free? Ultimately, I'm pretty happy with my current status of health and fitness. I have no health issues, no injuries, no musculoskeletal problems, and no hurdles standing in the way of living the life I want to live. I can fit exercise into my life in ways I enjoy. Maybe a different definition of fitness—being good enough and healthy enough—is what really matters.
     
My sixth "bonus" reason why I've never tried CrossFit is that it's so cost-prohibitive. I've never come across a CrossFit "box" (their word for gym) whose membership rate is lower than $150 per month. Some are upwards of $200/month or more--and you're not paying for fancy locker rooms or scented towels. CrossFit gyms are often dirty, bare-bone, and don't even have air conditioning or heat. I'm not sure any form of exercise is worth that cost to me or that CrossFit offers something above and beyond a traditional gym, which is a fraction of the cost. Ultimately, anything you find that you can stick with will give you results based on what you put into it.

But I'll never say never. In fact, there are a few reasons I think I may try CrossFit soon despite my hesitations (a lot of which, I realize, are me being kind of wussy).
  1. I could use the additional weight-training. I've been so bored with traditional strength training lately that I do a minimal amount of it, which I hate to admit. I have lifted very heavy weights in the past, but it's been a while since I've challenged my body that much. To me, one of the best things CrossFit has going for it is its emphasis on heavy lifting—for both men and women. Since I'm turning 30 this year, I'm getting more concerned about my muscle mass and bone strength, both of which will diminish without consistent, challenging strength training. Since I've been having a hard time motivating myself to do the strength moves that I find to be both boring and difficult, the CrossFit format could work well for me.


     
  2. Variety is key! Like I said above, a wide variety of activities, movements and intensity levels is ideal for optimal health and fitness. I've been doing a lot of the same things these last few years, mostly at a moderate to somewhat challenging level. I could use more intense workouts here and there. Plus, every few years, I take on a new fitness pursuit out of curiosity and simply for variety. CrossFit seems like it will fit the bill there.
     
  3. I'm ready for a challenge. I am naturally competitive. I played a lot of sports when I was younger and I'm a driven person who likes to reach goals. Even if I'm just competing with myself, I think I'd really get something out of pushing myself to a new goal, especially when it comes to getting stronger.
     
Without trying it for myself, I can only form an opinion based on what I know as an outsider. Sure, I'm using my fitness expertise and credentials to form my opinion, but I know that I could be wrong or that my thoughts on the subject might change with time and experience. But since I am an open-minded person, I think I'm finally ready to jump in and give it a try. I don't believe CrossFit will ever be the only thing I do for exercise. I don’t plan to stop all the other workouts I enjoy. And I definitely do plan to go at a pace and level that makes me feel secure and safe to avoid injury. So am I totally nuts? Time will tell!


If this blog has you curious about CrossFit, I encourage you to watch the CrossFit Games this weekend. (My sister-in-law will be competing with her amazing team from CrossFit Atlanta—WooHoo!) The Games start today (Friday, July 13) and you can watch online as the most elite CrossFit athletes from all over the world compete in days of back-to-back athletic competition unlike anything you have ever seen before—trust me on that one. It is worth seeing at least once, but I warn you: Watching these athletes will make you feel like a lazy lump on a log…which could be good or bad depending on whether that motivates you to get moving or drives you to the freezer for ice cream. Honestly, my own reaction is often a mix of both!

What are your thoughts on CrossFit? Have you tried it? Would you?
Would you be interested in reading more about my CrossFit journey in the coming weeks? Note: I welcome different perspectives and opinions than mine, but please keep your comments respectful and constructive.

Photos courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.





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Comments

  • 74
    one of my local lululemon ambassadors is a Crossfit instructor, and lulu sponsored free trial days at Crossfit. I didn't like it enough to join, but got a really good idea of what it is like. If I didn't have a child, I'd probably join up. - 7/15/2012   6:25:56 PM
  • 73
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Crossfit! Ten years ago I had a personal trainer at the Y who was encouraging women to lift heavier weights (heavier than th 10-15 pounds most trainers encourage). Then she moved and I got divorced and life happened and I got back out of shape. I have tried many things over those years and Crossfit was finally what I have fallen in love with for exercise. I do walk/run on "off" days Our coaches are always preaching proper form and have made me go down in weight several times. They won't let people work out if they are injured or will find alternative workouts for them. I just hope each person can find something active they enjoy and will stay committed to and be healthy! - 7/15/2012   6:24:16 PM
  • 72
    just seeing images of folks with that much weight on their shoulders makes my back hurt.
    weight training above and beyond that which is purely for muscle conditioning (not bulking or looking like mr Zane) is not in my future, neither near nor distant. While I might could have sustained that kind of training in my twenties, an exploitation of my back strength caused me to lose nearly all of it. So, I would caution anyone going for this kind of exercise to not push it everyday and if you feel pinches or pulls, STOP and give your muscles several days to recover before returning. (continue stretching and low impact cardio in the interim) - 7/15/2012   6:15:47 PM
  • CHICKFORCHRIST
    71
    Thank you Nicole!!! I too have friends that use Crossfit and I don't think it's right for me. Watching some of the workouts scares me that something will pop out of place or cause permanent damage. I have issues with my Sciatic and I lift heavy for me. I have done P90X and am going to do Insanity this Winter after my 1/2 marathon in October. I agree with your reasons and I have to say that in the long run, the wear and tear on your body most likely won't be worth it. I don't think not doing this type of exercise is MEDIOCRE as was stated in one response. I think that we all know at some point what's best for us and not everyone wants to look like a body builder. I am happy with looking pumped without looking like a man and doing workouts that a man would do. I have nothing to prove. I want to look fit and feel good and be healthy. I think that's probably the majority of people in the world today.

    STICKSGIRL, if you would go back to the end of Nicole's letter and read closer you would see that she also states that she is willing to try it and maybe her opinion would change. Sometimes when we believe so strongly in something our anger can keep us from seeing everything we need to see. Calm down. Take the time to re-read. - 7/15/2012   5:09:54 PM
  • 70
    Don't listen to STICKSGIRL, you explained that you haven't tried it before and it was just your opinion a few times. You're allowed to state your opinion WITHOUT trying it. You weren't trying to persuade anyone of anything, and you certainly weren't attacking CrossFit. You were just discussing your feelings on the matter. Stay awesome Nicole. - 7/15/2012   4:10:53 PM
  • 69
    I have seen videos on CrossFit. I've thought the results were impressive. I think just watching it is exciting.

    But I know I can't do it. Not don't want to - can't.

    I have personally never seen a senior at any of the things I have watched. That is probably due to the aging process and the number of injuries and or health problems you have built up over the years.

    My right knee is weak and painful during exercise due to having polio as a child (yes, I am older than sand) and having a torn a cruciate ligament as a high schooler when there was no surgery available to fix things like that. I recently had a torn rotator cuff repaired - I had tried to peg a softball from medium deep right field to home during a Seniors tournament (the ball got there, but my arm fell off and I collapsed in pain). From a helicopter crash landing where I broke two vertebrae, I have advanced to one disintegrated disk and 2 disintegrating disks. A heart problem caused by Agent Orange and its compliment, Agent Blue, have damaged my heart so that my ejection fraction can't keep up with a hard workout.

    But that's just me. I do the best I can, mostly through biking, swimming and light weights.

    Of all the different things one can do for your health, do what you have fun doing. - 7/15/2012   3:18:45 PM
  • 68
    I would like to try CrossFit when I get to a more manageable weight/strength and have the funds to support the cost. - 7/15/2012   1:24:14 PM
  • 67
    I'm kinda bummed to see that you'd write such an article when you have yet to first hand experience the sport itself.
    I'd like to reply to each of your points:
    1. If you're happy, maybe Crossfit isn't for you. But note, you will NEVER get bored. But this is your personal opinion & frankly has NOTHING to do with Crossit.
    2. You contradict yourself saying you shouldn't lift heavy & you shouldn't sacrifice form, yet modifying isn't really Crossfit. It IS Crossfit & it's why it can be for anyone. You modify until you get better. You lift light until you're ready to increase. You practice until you perfect. Lifting is a part of life & therefore practicing it in a box with a trainer is ideal for life. How about that elderly lady who needs to lift her dog food in & out of her car on grocery day? Crossfit can teach her the proper way to do that so it isn't going to get injured when she does it herself. Functional movements. Granted some boxes may drop the ball on their training, but that can happen to anyone, anywhere, with any sport. Don't judge the whole sport by a bad box, please.
    3. Again, your personal opinion & sadly you've now swayed others with just that.
    4. This is the only thing I can agree with you on & disagree w/ Crossfit on. I do think in general they're joking & few Crossfitters would ever tell anyone trying to be healthier they're wrong...but it is a theme that's seen, sadly.
    5. If YOU want to be "fit enough", than that's fine. I, personally, like to strive to be the best. Average isn't in my vocabulary. No one remembers the mediocre.
    6. "bonus". I'm also sad to see that a fitness trainer would bock at paying "too much" for any gym. It's your HEALTH, which is worth more than $150/month. There are boxes that have memberships for less than that.

    Crossfit is not for everyone, but anyone can Crossfit. - 7/15/2012   1:08:59 PM
  • 66
    It makes me feel better to read this blog... I really trust Coach Nicole, and I haven't tried CrossFit for many of the reasons she lists. The cost and the risk of injury are not up my alley. I *do* like intensive exercise (I do a bootcamp class at my local rec center), but it's not a specific "program", and I know, like, and trust the instructor. He is able to customize what we do to the actual people in the class. - 7/15/2012   9:59:01 AM
  • 65
    I would love to hear your experiences as you try Crossfit! I will be anxiously awaiting to read your journey! - 7/15/2012   9:53:16 AM
  • 64
    seems to me there's room for all sorts of exercise - and it's all good. It does sound as if you'd enjoy a more intriguing strength training program since you're bored with what you're doing - but it also seems to me you'd have to give up a lot of fun activity if you were to follow the CrossFit path.

    certainly any time a "group" of people insist that they have the "only" path, way, knowledge, magic food, secret ingredient, I'm suspicious. Love an enthusiast - Hate a fanatic.

    aren't you lucky though, that You get to choose for You? - 7/15/2012   7:23:13 AM
  • 63
    I would love to try Crossfit. I get bored pretty easily with my fitness routines so the constant changing of the workouts peaks my interest. However I am aware of the potential risks that come with this type of fitness, but like anything else listening to my body would be key here. I want to enjoy working out and not be in pain or hurt myself so that I can't.

    I have looked into the price and it is cheaper to join a Crossfit box than it is to hire a personal trainer for 8 weeks at the gym I belong to. So I am not sure which I would rather do:)
    I agree with some of the other comments: a nice job presenting both pros and cons! - 7/15/2012   6:56:48 AM
  • 62
    I am at no point where I could do the crossfit... But since I learned what it means to be so sick you can barely move (herniated disks and all that comes with it) - and I have a hard time to even get back to normal ... I find it interesting and might give it a shot once my fitness is at a certain point. But that will take another - what - 2yrs (?) ... but my goal is to be get to the optimal fitness and health I can get. I was never one to like sport - tho I did my routing on a semi-pro level - it was all due to the things you have to do to feel good in your own body. Not sure anyone here even understands this comment o.0 - 7/15/2012   4:19:13 AM
  • 61
    I HAVE tried a free Saturday morning crossfit workout and could barely walk for the next week from all the squats and kettlebell drills that we did. So I KNOW CrossFit is NOT for me, even when I get fitter. I do enjoy lifting weights, but have shoulder and back injuries that could potential become incapacitating if I tried heavy lifting with the CrossFit program.
    On the other hand, for those that are interested, the daily workout is on the website for people to do and post their reps and time. So for anyone so inclined, they could find out proper technique and then participate on that level if they were so motivated to do so.
    I congratulate those who are able and willing to go the distance to not only do the workouts but to compete in the (inter)national challenges.
    I'd say they are the elites - it is not for everybody. - 7/15/2012   1:45:29 AM
  • VANANDEL
    60
    My husband and I used a "groupon" to take a CrossFit class. I liked it a lot, but my husband hated it. Then when we found out the cost, we both knew it wasn't for us. I'm glad I took it because I understand what it's about and can make up my own CrossFit circuits. I totally believe having intense interval-type workouts is a plus, but I won't give up my cycling or Zumba! - 7/15/2012   12:12:06 AM
  • 59
    I think this is a very balanced article. You did a fabulous job of presenting pros and cons. - 7/14/2012   10:06:58 PM
  • 58
    WOW!!! You have put a lot of thought into this article, Nicole! You present both sides very well. At my age, I know it is not for me!!! - 7/14/2012   9:36:09 PM
  • 57
    I was a little shocked to see the title of this blog - as I'd been reading the blog of another Sparker for a while who does do Cross-Fit and seeing the non-constructive responses to her by those who are convinced it is a bad thing. (And, admittedly, some of them for the very reason you mentioned - how it tends to be marketed to put down other's routines.)

    I was very glad to see this was actually thoughtful reasons and even a consideration of why it might be tried by the author in the future.

    I can't really see myself trying it, any more than I see myself eventually going for a body-building physique. I want functional fitness where I can do the things (e.g. multi-day hiking) I want to do - not fitness that is focused on pushing the boundaries just to be able to push them further. There's other reasons such as certain physical conditions and a dislike of being ordered around even if I pay for it and the cost.

    Thanks for the interesting blog. - 7/14/2012   3:25:23 PM
  • 56
    I love the blog. I had read about ths Crossfit,but it is not for me. I have hurt my knees and I have to take it easy when I work out as it is. I wear knee braces to work out. Crossfit would probably put me in a hospital. But if you can do it and like it more power to you. Oh a side note. my chiropractor is doing this now and he said that he can increase his business since there are people there that are going to need him. - 7/14/2012   1:03:57 PM
  • 55
    Thanks for the inside information - I'm not sure 'Crossfit' has reached the UK yet, but I feel better educated about deciding whether or not to join in. For me, the important thing is to be as active as possible, as often as possible, sometimes a struggle to achieve! Whilst I am competitive, I think my efforts are best directed towards competing with myself when training, or in my chosen sports.
    This kind of article is really helpful, and hasn't influenced my overall decision - I'll still take a look should 'Crossfit' come my way, but I feel more comfortable about asking the right questions.
    Thanks Coach Nicole! - 7/14/2012   12:34:41 PM
  • 54
    I have never heard of CrossFit, but reading both the article and the comments of some of the people who DO this type of training, I don't believe I would want to try it either. So I am a wuss. I bowl, try to hit tennis balls (mostly run after them when they get away) and do Zumba and swimming. I have enough problems getting through Zumba.

    I think it is a bit rude to say that Coach Nicole was wrong to write about this and that she doesn't want to try it at this point. You have your opinions on why you think it is better than anything else. Why can't Coach Nicole have her opinion? - 7/14/2012   12:17:50 PM
  • 53
    This is one of the sanest blogs I have ever read on Sparkpeople (which on the whole has some darn sane blogs.) I especially agree with point #5. I can see how CrossFit would appeal to cerain personality types, but truly, what is wrong with just keeping a sane, moderate, consistent exercise schedule that allows you to balance job, housework, and fun leisure with family and friends and keeps you strong, energetic, and fit enough to go through life without unnecessary disease and injury. A person is wise indeed who keeps his/her own goals, needs, and priorities straight and is not blinded by the fitness fad of the moment or tempted to go to unhealthy extremes to prove something. What meets the ego needs of a friend or relative may not necessarily meet yours. I seem to remember a message board somewhere about "why did you quit" and the number one answer was trying to do too much and burning out. - 7/14/2012   11:48:52 AM
  • 52
    Never hard of Cross Fit. Never have! Probably not! Yes! I would enjoy reading more about it both pros and cons. I especially enjoyed your blog today. Why I am not quite sure, however, it might be that your were both so open and honest about your reasoning. I just can't see myself doing something like this but I still enjoy reading about it. WooHoo to you Coach Nicole! - 7/14/2012   11:33:29 AM
  • 51
    The title of this blog got my attention fast! Then I saw Coach Nicole wrote this blog! To think SPís fitness expert would write a blog on five reasons why she wouldnít try crossfit, I was so elated beyond belief. Finally, a fitness expert that would have the courage to write about this. I have watched people do their WOD (workout of the day). It is so not anything I want to do. It is extreme. It is intensive. Itís dangerous. Itís an injury waiting to happen. Several trainers have wanted me to do crossfit. They tried incorporating it into our training sessions. I tell them Iím not interested in this and they scoff at me, telling me Iím not meeting my potential! Pfft!

    I was able to get strong and fit just fine doing conventional strength training methods. Iím 58 years old. Iíve had a couple of injuries to my rotator cuff that were easily and quickly treatable with physical therapy. Iím not looking for my back, knees, and neck to get broken and cause permanent pain or injury for the rest of my life for the experience of trying some crossfit exercise to push myself to a higher level. I have nothing to prove. Itís unnecessary roughness, wear and tear and pressure on the body. Who needs it? I think itís sad that society is that bored with safe methods of strength training that they have to keep pushing the limits to make things dangerous for the sake of making fitness more challenging, exciting and fun. Iím not swept in by this appeal or the "rush" of power being pushed that hard.

    THANK YOU, Coach Nicole for writing this blog! LOVE YOU!
    - 7/14/2012   11:01:47 AM
  • 50
    I think I will stick to my regular routine as well. It really fits my lifestyle and I am happy with it. - 7/14/2012   10:55:24 AM
  • 49
    Thanks for your interesting insight. I certainly do apprieciate your blogs. - 7/14/2012   10:26:18 AM
  • LJ1225
    48
    Thanks for another great blog! This is the first I have heard of CrossFit and it doesn't seem like anything I would ever enjoy. However, to each his own ... but don't be pushed/bullied into trying this just because others say/think you should. The blog right after this about popularity spells out a lot of what seems to be happening with CrossFit. Stay true to yourself! - 7/14/2012   9:57:48 AM
  • 47
    Very interesting and imformative blog. - 7/14/2012   9:57:10 AM
  • 46
    Excellent blog!
    Cross fit sounds intriguing but, like you, I enjoy working out and have varied my workouts so that I am never bored. Maybe one day.....I am going to watch the games, I love watching intense workouts! - 7/14/2012   8:08:42 AM
  • 45
    Excellent blog!
    Cross fit sounds intriguing but, like you, I enjoy working out and have varied my workouts so that I am never bored. Maybe one day.....I am going to watch the games, I love watching intense workouts! - 7/14/2012   8:08:42 AM
  • 44
    Hey Nicole and thanks for your comments on crossfit. Being moderate about life in general is a challenge for me as is. I always been driven to intensity in activities so keeping things moderate and regular are my challenge in life. It is the same in the area of food and exercise. I will stick to my regular routine! - 7/14/2012   7:59:35 AM
  • 43
    Nicole, I usually never read articles like this on SP; however when I began reading I kept on because I recognized your writing! Not only are you a great trainer but you're a gifted writer! Since I've joined SP I've become disabled. My goals are just to become healthier, stronger and fit. Crossfit isn't even on the radar for me. Thanks for a well written and informative article. - 7/14/2012   7:34:32 AM
  • DUNLAPRE01
    42
    I have tried CrossFit at three different gyms in my area for a total of 34 classes. They of course varied slightly from one another, but here is a consensus on MY experiences.

    First, here is what I did enjoy and appreciate.
    - The Just Do It type attitude. The usual excuses (I'm tired, I can't, etc) aren't really "accepted". This taps into my former amateur athlete, military, and martial arts spirit which motivates me to push myself.
    - The comraderie. Most of the teachers were positive and instructive, and most of the participants helped to motivate one another (WITHIN the gym).
    - I did get somewhat physically better (stronger, faster, lost weight, etc).

    But...
    - The WODs (Workout of the Day). I'm no fitness expert, but they weren't well balanced. Sure, they were intense and had me gasping and I was fatigued when finished. But they didn't seem to take into account what exercises / muscles were just taxed the days prior. [the trifuel link in Nicole's article above has a good example or visit the CF site itself].
    - "One size fits all" in the WOD. An example: the WOD may have something like 30 cleans at 95lbs (65 for the ladies). So it took me several sets to complete 30 while my workout partner, who is easily twice as strong me, took only two sets. How was this weight determined? What was the overall goal? We're of two different physiques and capabilities yet we're doing the exact same routine. It seems very arbitrary and not goal or individual specific. Scalability? Sure, it's been said but I've yet to see it applied.
    - Olympic lifts for time. This combined with the above just lends itself to injury and overtraining.
    - The community. Look, I get it, you can do a thousand pushups in 10 seconds and overhead squat a thousand lbs. Great. Impressive, very much so. But CF is not the be-all end-all system, at least not for everyone and every goal. So please stop telling me how ultimate it is, and even more so how everything else isn't. *One CF'er told our co-worker who had just lost 100+lbs doing P90x how much it sucked because CF was so much better. Seriously.

    Sure, maybe the gym and trainers and individuals I trained with and encountered could just happen to be the "worst examples." But not likely. In fact, one of the gyms qualifies a team every year to send to their CF games.

    Sooo... in the end, there are elements of CF that I'll continue to use. And while I wouldn't recommend CF, I'm wouldn't tell anyone not to do it either. In fact, try it out, and if CrossFit works for you, fantastic. But there are equal if not better ways and systems to maintain physical fitness, in my humble opinion... - 7/14/2012   7:16:31 AM
  • 41
    Interesting. Reading this article is the very first time Ive ever heard of CrossFit. I would never do it now at age 57. But back in my 20's-40's I could see me eating this type of workout up! I'll be sticking with the pool. - 7/14/2012   7:12:14 AM
  • 40
    I thought about trying CF, too, but haven't, and for many of the reasons you listed. One of the clinchers was hearing about the growing number of people who've broken their radius and/or ulna doing kettlebell snatches--one of my favorite kettlebell moves, but they're not something you want to dick around with for the sake of competition. - 7/14/2012   5:14:52 AM
  • 39
    Yes I'd like to hear about your experiences while you try Cross Fit.

    Please try to stay safe and uninjured while you do this! - 7/14/2012   1:00:27 AM
  • 38
    I have never tried it because my time never allows me to get off work early enough. Personally I like it because I like it. It is definitely different than the normal routine work-outs that many people do. If I were able to attend a class I'd do it because I believe it would be great. All the people that I've noticed on watching the successful ones only benefit. - 7/14/2012   12:40:12 AM
  • 37
    I determine a long time ago that Crossfit isn't for me. I don't think it's safe. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who feels this way. I have friends who love it and I am happy for them. - 7/13/2012   11:33:54 PM
  • MBENSON4213
    36
    Thanks for this! I have a brother & sister-in-law that are hardcore CrossFit people, and they snicker a bit at my choices: I am a BodyPump, Spinning, and Ripped instructor. I have tried CrossFit, done it several times, and yes, the workouts have been so intense I left the room just in case I couldn't keep from crying. I respect my family members, they are incredible, but I am so proud of all my students, pursuing workouts they enjoy. So they won't end up on TV..... well, that's ok. We have a great time, burn lots of calories, and have smiles on our faces, not vomit in our wastebaskets. - 7/13/2012   10:58:19 PM
  • 35
    Thank you! You've verbalized all my internal thoughts. Mainly do I want to risk injury so that I may not be able to do the physical things that I love doing now. I know it's not a given, but it is a risk I'm not willing to take at this point in my life. I will be very interested to read of your journey and give you a lot of credit for sampling yet another option. - 7/13/2012   8:56:49 PM
  • WILSON1926
    34
    Thanks for the very informative post
    - 7/13/2012   4:22:21 PM
  • 33
    I think it really is a "to each his own" kind of a thing. I have a friend who tried it and found it too intense and difficult for her but I have another who is devoted participant. I myself am addicted to Jazzercise. It works for me and I have a blast doing it. And if CrossFit works for some, that's fantastic. - 7/13/2012   4:17:55 PM
  • 32
    One of my co-workers at the gym does cross fit. she is thrilled with the workouts. Don't get me wrong, I do believe that cross fit does have its benefits. But I agree with Coach Nancy, too many people who just aren't ready for cross fit are doing it because of all the hype. Yes, a person can become extremely fit with the workout. However, you first have to be reasonably healthy. If a person is over weight and hasn't exercised in years, they shouldn't be starting with cross fit.

    I took a seminar on injury prevention and one thing the lecturer said that people who want to do say cross fit, wear vibram shoes, do a tough mudder, etc..."they have to earn the right" to do those things.

    Before a baby can run, they have to walk and before they walk, they have to crawl. this same series of steps should be done by people who want to do cross fit. but, they don't. they jump right in. what happens ? They end up injured.

    My issue with crossfit is the continuous repetitions regardless of form. some trainers just have a person doing 4 loops of a particular series of exercises. the problem is that the person starts getting tired and their form breaks down. that's not good. Any trainer worth their cert will tell you that form is everything. If you perform an exercise with bad form, you're at a higher risk for injury. the better a person's form is, the more efficient the exercise will be. when form breaks down so does everything else. And that's what I see at some of these cross fit gyms. I see a breakdown in form.

    I also think there is a psychological component of doing the cross fit workouts. Being a Navy Seal is considered the epitome of physical fitness. Because Navy Seals do cross fit, people think they can be just like Navy Seals if they do it too. well, the problem is that many people aspire to be as fit as Navy Seals, they aren't aren't prepared for the workouts. the NS are the top 1% of the top 1%. those workouts are not for everyone. that's the problem.
    - 7/13/2012   3:54:57 PM
  • 31
    Very well-balanced assessment. I don't know anything about CrossFit, and this article offers what seem to be valid points on both sides. I like that Coach Nicole is careful at every step of the way to reassert it is her opinion--to which she is entitled--and to offer her reasons for holding her opinion.

    Whoever loves CrossFit, or whoever hates it, this seems a good way to start a dialogue. - 7/13/2012   2:11:18 PM
  • 30
    Thanks for a good blog! Personally I have not tried CrossFit because I know people who have done it and some of them have gotten hurt. Same goes for friends who have done boot camps and other variety-type workouts. I think the injuries come from over zealous trainers who pump up and push people beyond their limits. The peer pressure in the classes also make people push past their abilities. Folks need to know and understand this prior to starting the class, and learn to not let these factors drive them to injury. - 7/13/2012   1:42:47 PM
  • ANDIRUNS
    29
    Interesting. I guess I just wonder why we have to be so all or nothing about our workouts (this coming from a girl who is overcoming that herself!). We all do it, no matter what we sport/activity we are passionate about. I discovered I LOVE running last year, but I certainly don't get offended if someone else I know hates it or isn't interested in it. If you're into CrossFit, good on you, but respect that it's not for everyone. I think this post has a good balance of the pros and cons of this new fad. - 7/13/2012   1:21:31 PM
  • 28
    I have to admit that I have kind of had an interest in trying it, but I already have a gym membership (at a gym that doesn't offer it) and cannot justify spending the extra $ on cross fit classes elsewhere. Also, I do enjoy what I'm doing (spinning, running, weight training, walking) and do not want to injure myself either. It's just not worth it. I would be interested to read about your "adventures in cross fit" if you so choose to try it. - 7/13/2012   1:17:43 PM
  • 27
    Thanks Nicole:
    You bring a great down to earth prospective to the whole concept of a balanced body mind and spirit. Keep up the good work. Its A Good Life. - 7/13/2012   12:52:24 PM
  • 26
    I've watched a lot of Crossfit videos on Youtube and been in awe of their strength and ability. I think it comes down to personal choice of course, and I don't see myself doing that anytime soon. It looks too intense and intimidating.

    I also have read on Crossfit sites about how they are more superior then other workouts, and obviously that is false.

    Crossfit is very 'in' so I am happy to see a blog on it.

    - 7/13/2012   12:40:26 PM
  • 25
    I am not sure about doing Crossfit itself, but I do surge or HIIT train. I don't do the standard cardio since I abhor treadmills and ellipticals. I don't like the fact that the only benefit from traditional cardio is when you are actually doing it. The surge training I do actually burns fat up to 36 hours after the one 12 minute session. The sessions use a lot of the exercises found in crossfit without the competition.

    I also do not exercise to lose weight or slim down. Those are the side benefits. I surge to give my body the appropriate oxygen it needs to function at 100% and fight disease. I have never felt better. I love my trainers on the DVD I have as they are more concerned with proper form. (most of them are chiropractors. ) - 7/13/2012   12:38:33 PM

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