They’re the ones at the gym who are intense, grunting, and definitely intimidating for a basic-yoga-going gal like me— they’re also the ones who are energized, envyingly fit, and extremely motivating. These are the CrossFit fanatics, the “gladiators” as I like to describe them, and their devoted enthusiasm to this amped-up workout makes me curious to learn more. If you’re like me, read on for the 411 on CrossFit.
What You Can Expect at CrossFit
Conceived in 2000 by Greg Glassman, CrossFit is a comprehensive strength and conditioning program, comprised of functional movements (think squats, dead lifts, overhead presses, etc.) that are constantly varied and performed at high intensity (emphasis on intense). Movements that make up the “workout of the day,” or WOD*, stem from a range of physical fitness activities, from aerobics and gymnastics to Olympic weight lifting and plyometrics (note: wear fitted yet flexible attire so you can move easily, flat sneakers, high socks, and absolutely no jewelry). Many of the exercises are timed, and the group setting promotes both community and competition. Participants are encouraged to exercise three days on, one off or five days on, two off.
CrossFit isn’t for the faint of heart—moves include pull-ups, plyo box jumps, and Herculean-efforts like flipping tires and lifting barbells—but its popularity is vast. There’s said to be 10,000-plus affiliated gyms, aka “boxes,” that cater to CrossFit, and the program has expanded into events like the annual CrossFit Games, where athletes are deemed the “Fittest on the Earth.”
And while CrossFit encourages all ages and abilities, if you’re not yet up to par with advanced moves such as muscle-ups, it may be a good idea to sign up for an introductory CrossFit class. Many gyms offer a beginner course so those interested can learn and perfect the program’s fundamental movements (knowing the basics will also help to prevent injury and allow you to get familiar with your gym). It’s also good to recognize that every gym has its own take on CrossFit (though all promote a no-frills atmosphere, with little luxuries and sparse equipment)—find the one that best suits you and your workout goals, with trainers who will inspire you and want you to improve.
Here is a list of “boxes” to help you get started in CrossFit.
*A Few Terms You Should Know
AMRAP: as many repetitions (or rounds) as possible
Boxes: CrossFit gyms
PBs: personal bests
PRs: personal records
WODs: workouts of the day
So there’s a quick recap—have or will you try CrossFit? Tell us about your experience in the comments!