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Crossfit For The Masses?

CrossFit is one of the biggest fitness trends to hit the scene, over the last decade. In terms of growth, there are now 11,000 CrossFit Gyms or “Boxes”, which is up 22 fold from nine years ago. This company generates 4 billion dollars in annual revenue with low overhead and minimal amounts of staff by having an effective and elaborate IT department and some very good lawyers protecting the iconic brand that now has a cult following. CrossFit’s website offers “Workout of the Day” for free; this sells the product for free, because it leaves viewers wanting to see and do more of these types of routines. The Box owners pay $3,000 annually to operate under the CrossFit name and the seminars to become a CrossFit coach cost $1000 at a minimum. This including, how much revenue is created by marketing, organizing, advertising, applicant fees, and spectator fees of the CrossFit games and all other CrossFit products, per year make this business one of the most lucrative in the fitness world.

This style of training can only be described using select words: intense, fierce, severe, exhausting, serious, powerful, vigorous, and extra ordinary. The people who follow CrossFit, as a training modality, range from 18 year old ex high school athletes to 25 year old “Super Athletes” devoted solely to CrossFit’s ultimate 2 million dollar first place prize at the yearly CrossFit games, to 47 year old lawyers with a family and his own law practice like Steve Wingo. This man discusses his journey with CrossFit, in an article on www.crossfit.com, and how he immediately fell in love with CrossFit and is now a Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT), CrossFit Level 3 (CF-L3). He went from a 132 lb man with a basic endurance background to one of the few that hold the coveted CCFT, Certified CrossFit Trainer title in just 4 years.

This type of transformation is common with CrossFit. The sense of empowerment and triumph that is felt after just learning the 9 fundamentals, never mind periodically excelling at them, can be quite overwhelming. Some may even say addictive; in an instant gratification world, very few healthy things give the immediate endorphin rush, like the high intensity, constantly varied, high performance movement sequences executed in any CrossFit workout. In terms of exercise released endorphins, heavy weights, sprinting, or any other anaerobic type exercise is the only way to get them in such high doses. In basic terms anaerobic means without oxygen and aerobic means with oxygen; this does not mean that you are not breathing during a CrossFit work out! It does mean that because of the intensity of the exercise, your muscles require energy from a different source, that not only burns more calories, but causes more changes within your body on a physiological level, especially in terms of performance. The CrossFit community is also where this training modality draws a lot of it strength. There is a team mentality and a “buzz” at the CrossFit Games and most definitely within the classes. It is invigorating to set and accomplish your own goals while having your class mates and competitors drive you harder, but it can be equally gratifying to watch others hit their personal bests.

Katrin Davidsdottir (female) and Ben Smith (male), titled Fittest on earth at The CrossFit Games 2015, are insanely strong in all aspects of training; strength, endurance, power, and speed. These athletes can move exceptionally heavy loads, repeatedly, perform intricate movement patterns ( like the Olympic Lift – “Clean and Jerk”) and then complete a strenuous obstacle course and then a Tabata style (20 seconds high intensity load and up to10 seconds “rest”) workout. Specifically, Ben Smith, the Fittest on Earth 2015, is not a huge guy; he is 26 years old, 194lbs, 5”10’ with a very athletic build, but does not have giant, bulging muscles that make him walk funny. He is pure power and performance. He has perfected his “game” over the last 7 years by competing at the CrossFit games, as a professional CrossFit athlete. His endurance is matched by his strength, and his power is matched by his speed. Very few athletes can encompass all of these traits as effectively as he and his fellow CrossFit athletes.

However, this type of training is only for the super disciplined, well informed, and responsive client. By this I mean, CrossFit training needs to exemplify the mentality that form and technique are more important than the amount of weight and repetitions pulled. The movement patterns are very complex; the “Clean and Jerk” may look basic but is one of the most complex movements for your brain to process, as it using so many muscles in perfect sequence under a very high load, both in weight and repetition. Furthermore, there is also the endurance part of CrossFit training – sand bag runs, stair climbing, rope climbing, speed and agility drills – that are physically demanding on joints, ligaments and tendons, just as much as the strength component. Adequate recovering, injury awareness, a good pair of shoes and proper nutrition are absolutely essential to being successful and pain “free” (it hurts so good!) as a CrossFit athlete. When you watch the Netflix documentary “Fittest on Earth” about the 2015 CrossFit Games, you will see many of these “super athletes” suffering from heat exhaustion, muscle strains/sprains, pulled or torn muscles/ligaments/tendons, and many other serious conditions with a WHOLE TEAM OF HEALTH PROFESSIONALS at their side and disposal. Ensure that you are following the specifics of your Certified CrossFit trainer, before, during, and after your CrossFit workout to reduce the likelihood of injury or illness.

CrossFit is amazing as a successful business model and as an effective training modality. Its consistent growth and positive response from all walks of life allows this basic concept to be one of the biggest and best fitness trends ever. As a Personal Fitness Trainer, I truly believe in both the physical and mental benefits to this type of training, but should only be attempted by the humble and knowledgeable client and trainer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Meagan Rachel Stephens is a 31 year old fitness enthusiast that is near the completion of her NAIT Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma. She is entering her practicum in the fall and cannot wait to learn from some of the best in Calgary, which she has lived on and off between Fort McMurray for 8 years. As she builds her resume, marketing skills, and network, she is consistently taking new and exciting certifications, attending workshops and seminars and doing some meaningful volunteering, to not only benefit her clients, but also to better herself as a person.

“Exercise is my passion, purpose, and saving grace. I want to empower and enlighten my clients, so they too can witness all the positive physical, mental, and social benefits of a healthy lifestyle.” @liftrun1979

Facebook: Rachel Stephens – new fitness page in progress.

 

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