Dear everyone, sorry I talk about CrossFit all the time

Go to CrossFit? Bored everyone you know because you talk about CrossFit all the time?

Q: How do you know that someone does CrossFit?  A: They’ll tell you all about it.

I would like to apologise to my friends and family (especially my wife), the supermarket Deli attendant, and that bloke at the train station, who I’ve bored to death talking about CrossFit.

The thing is, I’m not really sorry. It’s just that I have exhausted all other audiences. But you’re here now, so let me explain why I talk about CrossFit all the time…

I want to talk about CrossFit all the time because of Fake News

Most of the information out there about CrossFit is complete nonsense.

I know this because certain businesses pay guys like me to write articles about CrossFit and spread them around the web.

The positive articles and videos are paid for by CrossFit franchises looking to promote their business (PR).

The negative articles are paid for by a handful of gym owners and businessmen whose memberships are dwindling thanks to the rise of CrossFit (similar to how large oil companies fund climate science skeptics and ‘institutions’).

Yes, fake news has even found its way into our leisure time.

After a year of taking part, I want to talk about CrossFit and my firsthand/non-fake-news assessment of the sport.

CrossFit: The Positives

What is CrossFit

I turned up at CrossFit just over a year ago as an unmotivated occasional gym goer, bored jogger, fair-weather cyclist, and retired Sunday footballer.

I was too tight to pay for a gym membership that I knew I’ll only use for a month. But, I needed to pay some attention to my neglected, broken body and middle-aged beer-gut.

Struggling to find anything to keep me fit that wasn’t a chore, I learned about CrossFit from a fit looking bloke on a stag weekend. He was buff!

He told me to try CrossFit, which is a combination of cardio, gymnastics, and Olympic weightlifting.

The thing that grabbed me was ‘each time you turn up you’ll do something totally different’ (music to my ears). Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and whilst you may struggle with weight lifting, the strongest guy in the class might find running difficult. It forces everyone to vary their workout and do things that they normally avoid.’

Veriety is the spice of life

Veriety is the first reason people talk about CrossFit all the time.

When you turn up to a CrossFit class you have no idea what you’ll be doing. The idea is that you need to be ready for everything.  One day you could be learning a complex weightlifting movement, but in the next session you could be running or skipping, or throwing a ball at a wall.

Crucially, if you give everything in a class, you don’t need to dread the next one as it will be completely different.

Flexibility

Flexibility is another reason people love CrossFit. You can turn up to the ‘WOD’ (workout of the day) anytime throughout the day, so you’re not fixed to a class time. Classes run every hour, or at regular intervals.

If you’re not tied to a class time, you can go whenever you feel like it, or whenever you can fit it in to your busy day. With kids, jobs, animals, and a diminishing social life, flexibility is vital. It’s refreshing not to be tied to a particular class or time.

In it together

Because CrossFit operates within a class environment, it’s infinitely more motivational and sociable than trying to workout on your own.

Working out as part of a class, combined with the flexibility that isn’t on offer in traditional classes, means CrossFit is onto a winner.

Bonding with others over a hard or random workout is the very reason CrossFit has adopted a ‘cult’ like image.

Skillz

There are scores of new techniques, movements and skills to learn in CrossFit. Some take years to master, but others can be learned within a few weeks.

Whether it’s swinging around on Olympic rings like a pro gymnast, learning to walk on your hands, or getting to grips with skipping ‘double-unders’ (so you feel like Rocky). There is a sense of achievement of nailing something you couldn’t do before.

This is the hook. And it’s another reason you want to talk about CrossFit all the time.

Even the ninjas who’ve been doing the sport for a decade, are still striving for more.

Measurable

If you’re participating in regular gym classes, how can you really measure your progress?

Even though you infrequently do the same CrossFit class twice, almost every individual element is measurable. This enables you to see your progress. Jumping onto a high box for the first time is as celebrated as a seasoned pro breaking their power-snatch PB.

Competition

It’s easy to talk about CrossFit all the time when there’s The CrossFit games!

The Games are a big deal. Just take a look on Netflix or Youtube.

Athletes compete in workouts that they learn about only hours beforehand, consisting of an assortment of aerobic, weightlifting, and gymnastics movements, as well as some additional surprise elements (like open water swimming). The Games are styled as a venue for determining the ‘Fittest on Earth’.

The CrossFit games is open to anyone from any CrossFit gym (or ‘box’) across the world, and everyone has a go at the qualifying workout.

However, it’s not just the elites that get a taste of the competitive element of CrossFit. There are competitions for every level. Gyms regularly host ‘throwdowns’ or small competitons aimed at everybody. Gyms compete against neighbouring gyms. There are competitions at every age group. There are pairs competitions. Group competitions. Scaled down competitions for beginners.

Half of the CrossFit members will never enter into a competition, but it’s there if you want it, and is another reason why people doing CrossFit don’t just feel like a hamster on a workout wheel without a goal.

CrossFit for people who are fit already?

I’ve heard people say that CrossFit isn’t for beginners. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ll find every level of fitness at a CrossFit gym.

Before starting CrossFit, I found regular gyms quite intimidating.  The skinny guys like me had no place near the meat-heads with arms the size of my thighs. I dare not cross the line into the weights section. I was confined to the ski-fit machine.

The tuition you receive at CrossFit gives you the confidence to tackle the weights, or anything else. But you’ll probably never go back to a regular gym anyway.

Inspiration

Inspiration is there in front of you at every class. Elite male and female athletes who can run, jump, and lift like the Terminator are working out in the same classes as you, and finding it just as tough.

In what other sports would you train with elite performers? You may be taking on lighter weights, shorter distances, or scaled-down movements, but you’re suffering together – which removes and egos. Fun eh?

Coaching

It goes without saying that good coaching is the most crucial factor to the success and appeal of CrossFit.

I’ve witnessed so many ‘personal trainers’ peackocking around traditional gyms, touting for work, yet completely ignoring the ugly skinny guys like me. Instead chatting to beautiful people and men with basketballs for biceps (who can blame them!).

I’m a member of The Bridge CrossFit in Trowbridge, which is part of CrossFit Bath. Lucky for us, the coaches here have reputations that precede them as the best in the business. In fact, CrossFit Bath is lauded as one of the top ‘Boxes’ in the country.

Dynamic, knowledgeable coaches who pay close attention to every single member. They have the ability to motivate and personally coach every single person, from first-timers to seasoned athletes.  Making everyone feel welcome, their expertise, enthusiasm, and even diet and nutrition advice, makes them worth their weight in gold.

Induction

You are required to attend an induction before you are allowed to participate in regular CrossFit classes

The month long induction is worth doing regardless, because it’s probably the best value personal training you’ll find anywhere.

The induction involves intensive coaching on the basic movements and skills you’ll need to safely participate in a CrossFit class.

They put you through your paces and after only two sessions I realised three things:

  • I’m really unfit.
  • I’m really inflexible.
  • I already talk about CrossFit all the time

Results

The success of CrossFit is based on the fact that most people get results. I think the main reason they get results is because people keep going back and they stick at it.

Why? For all the reasons listed above!

I joined with the intention of dragging myself to two sessions per week. Now it’s the best part of my day and I go four times per week. My body has changed shape and I honestly feel better than I ever have before (I promise this isn’t marketing).

CrossFit: The bad stuff

I realise my assessment of CrossFit sounds quite sycophantic, but hey, I’m a fully loved up member of the cult now. Even so, CrossFit does have its weaknesses.

Franchise

Firstly, CrossFit is a franchise just like McDonalds or Eropcar. You only need to pass the Level 1 CrossFit qualification to open your own CrossFit gym. I’ve heard horror stories of members attending ‘boxes’ in other parts of the country and having vastly inferior experiences.

One gym in Cornwall had the slogan ‘Our warm-up is your workout’. Hardly inclusive.

An ex-professional rugby player carrying a long term shoulder injury visited one ‘Box’ as a guest and was told that he couldn’t do an alternative exercise to prevent aggravating injury because ‘this is CrossFit mate’.

My advice is, ask around, do you research and visit a Box before you join. Every box will have it’s own vibe.

Although you won’t feel part of the wider CrossFit community, there are other brilliant gyms and coaches out there offering similar experiences or programming that aren’t part of the CrossFit affiliation.

Danger

You’ll read all over the internet about how ‘CrossFit is dangerous or bad for your body’.

Quite frankly, this is an absolute load of rubbish. I’m very suspicious of the source of any article that makes such claims.

We all agree that being active is better than being sedentary. All exercise carries a risk. I’m carrying long-term injuries from football, snowboarding, running, and even riding the wrong sized bike. However, what does the most damage to my body is sitting at my desk all day.

Everything I’ve experienced about CrossFit places safety and good movement at the top of the agenda. The coaches simply won’t allow you to exceed your limits if you haven’t got perfect technique nailed down.

Ultimately it’s your own responsibility not to do anything stupid, but if you do have a coach who isn’t giving you the right messages, it might be time to find a different gym.

Over subscribed

CrossFit normally represents great value. You get a personal coaching experience for a fraction of the cost. However, ground-rents in London are high, which prices tend to reflect (everything is more expensive in London).

In addition, some successful or oversubscribed CrossFit gyms looking to maximize their profits end up limiting sessions (so members can only attend three per week) or installing class booking systems (which removes the flexibility element that makes CrossFit so appealing).

Personal Experience

After a year of CrossFit I’m yet to get bored. Rather than fading away as normal, I’ve found myself wanting to go more. In fact, because every class is entirely different, I’ve developed FOMO (Fear of missing out) when I’m not there.

There are still so many things I can’t do, which keeps me interested. Whilst at the same time, my strength and flexibility is improving on a weekly basis.

My body is changing shape and I receive some nice complements, which always helps. But most of all, I enjoy it. I’ve made new friends and feel good.

If you ever want to talk about CrossFit, get in touch. I can talk about CrossFit all day.

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