What is CrossFit? What is Fitness? Who can do it? Is it Harmful? Is it Injury Prone? What does it give you? Etc etc etc.
When anyone asks these questions, I like to start with the history of mankind. When god created Humans, they needed to do a lot of activities to survive on earth which formed the basis for Charles Darwin’s theory of Survival of the fittest. Men had to walk, run, jump, swim, throw, move asymmetrical/symmetrical objects, push, pull, move their own bodies and do all these in different way to survive, hunt, eat, basically to live their life. It is with time and technology that people have made things easier for them and suppressed the necessity to move around to meet their basic necessities.
In today’s world majority of the people find maximum movement in sitting on a chair, walking around in office/home, placing something on the shelf etc. That is the main reason people have a problem seeing and understanding functionality. That is the reason people can’t understand what is fitness, functional movements, functional training, crossfit and all other questions associated with it. People have forgotten that we have invented technology to ease things for us but that comes at a cost which is loss of functionality. We have to make sure that we keep ourselves functional to keep us healthy and happy. We never heard of anyone having had blood pressure, obesity, heart problems, diabetes etc in the olden days. These are a result of our negligence to recognize the loss of functionality. This is the reason functional training and CrossFit are making a huge mark in the Health & Fitness Industry.
When we talk about Functional Training, it doesn’t necessarily have to be all the jazzy and flashy stuff that fitness centres use to lure people e.g. battling ropes and tyre flips. It is basically mimicking real life movements and practicing them in an environment within a gym so that we get better in real life. How many times do you flip tyres or battle ropes in real life? That is how CrossFit is different from the claimed Functional Training in the current fitness centres in the market. CrossFit is constantly varied Functional Movements executed at high intensity. CrossFit focuses on keeping things as simple as possible and majorly focus on functionality. There are people and stories about them who have started doing CrossFit post 60 years and have improved their health and functionality. Of course CrossFit has a competitive aspect to it too as it is a sport too. But at the core, even today, CrossFit is a training program which aims to improve people’s fitness and health. Those who are looking for something beyond general health and fitness attempt to get better at other things. But for someone who is looking at just being able to do their normal daily chores, the community is very welcoming to people just to do that. CrossFit has 9 Foundational Movements that aim at helping the common masses and these movements itself form the basis for the advanced athletes too.
The next question that is often asked is who can do it? Well if functionality is something that is needed by every living homo sapien on this planet, then everyone can do it. Coach Glassman gave a beautiful statement saying that “Our Fitness requirements differ by degree, not kind” which explains why anyone can do it. This discussion also highlights the topic of scaling which is a topic not many people know about. Scaling is what makes everyone be able to do CrossFit. While we talk about Functional Movements, High Intensity, Fitness Levels, Competition and all we also need to remember that not every individual has the same capacity or the fitness level. This is the reason we scale workouts to make sure every athlete is able to do the specified movements at specified loads, specified intensity to an extent that they get the same neurological response and stay safe and efficient in doing so too.
This brings us to an often misled and misunderstood concept – Intensity. People relate to intensity as heavy weights. There are workouts in CrossFit that are done at crazy intensity but use low weights. Intensity is a relative term to describe the rate of finishing a task as fast as possible. The faster you are able to complete the more intense it is. This is something you improve upon as and when you work on it. It has a lot of factors going into it and not just weights. It depends on the load you move, the distance you move it and the time you take to move it. The more weight you move through a larger distance in the shortest amount of time will lead to more intensity. So moving light weights faster can be more intense than moving heavy weights slowly.
One of most interesting aspects of CrossFit is the fact that it is measurable and quantifiable. By using whiteboard and programming workouts in a fashion that every workout has a score and the way with which your performance can be measured, it makes the journey all the more interesting as it keeps the athlete interested in the results on a periodic cycle. You can measure your fitness in terms of strength, stamina, endurance and many more parameters. It goes without saying that this forms one of the biggest motivators for the athletes to keep working hard and not let go of their goals.
The last and the best part about CrossFit is the community aspect of it. This is not just a training program, it is a community. It is a community that trains together, celebrates successes together, faces hardships together, pushes each other beyond limits. This is the only place where the person who finishes the workout the last gets cheered the most. That is what makes this a beautiful experience. There are several examples of the community aspect of CrossFit, one of them being – when an athlete is not able to complete a max effort lift, but the other athletes/crowd cheer him/her up and charge them to such an extent that they get that lift.
To sum it up, CrossFit is something that is synonymous to life. In life, we wake up every single day to an unknown day expecting things to happen the way we want but we aren’t sure if they will turn out that way. Sometimes, we have good days sometimes not. But over the longer period we all grow as an individual and become a better version of ourself. CrossFit is nothing but your life of Fitness & Health. You never know what is going to happen; you always hope that you have a good day. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. But, the one thing that is sure is that in the end you will be fitter and healthier than you were before and you can prove it with measurable and quantifiable data.