I had a patient today say to me, “Hey I wanted to ask you if you had seen that article that is going around about a girl talking about Why She Doesn’t Do CrossFit. Have you seen that?”
No I hadn’t seen it, but as soon as I logged into my facebook account I saw it…EVERYWHERE. So let me tell you, sort of in response to that, my reasons why I DO do CrossFit.
First of all, back when I started CrossFit, no one asked me if I did it because people didn’t know what it was and it was always an awkward conversation trying to explain to people what it was. The question wasn’t “Do you do crossfit”, it was more like “Hey what do you do?”. I would start to answer and they would say, “No not you, I mean YOU (pointing to my wife). What do YOU do. How do I look like you?”. I digress.
Do I think CrossFit is perfect and executed excellently at every gym? No, but I don’t think anything is. Part of the reason I started doing workshops at CrossFit gyms was to help improve on that, instead of just criticizing it as is so common.
Here are my top 7 reasons why I do CrossFit.
I recently did the workout Murph on Memorial Day and as I was running to finish, a number of athletes who finished before me came out and ran with me while I finished up. If i were to go to LA fitness and do a workout, the random dudes doing kipping bicep curls aren’t going to hop on a treadmill next to me and start running with me. That would be weird and nobody wants that anyways. CrossFit offers a unique form of camaraderie and it is very powerful.
2. Seeing injuries/pains go away
Yes, I have seen injuries and pains go AWAY when people started doing CrossFit. Best example: My wife. When she started doing CrossFit in 2008, she was a weakling and she won’t be mad at me for saying that because she knows it’s true. When my buddy and I were working out and she came with us, she couldn’t even BUDGE a 135# deadlift off the floor. Not 1 inch. Her bodyweight is less than 130# and she snatches 160# now. And yes, that was just from training CrossFit. She also had nagging knee and shoulder pain that she would have with pull ups and squatting. We were doing weighted squats for her first time and she kept saying her knee was hurting. This was early in our relationship and I was thinking, “Oh man I’m not sure if this is going to workout”. Im kidding, but seriously. She subsequently has no knee pain and no shoulder pain. She didn’t seek any sort of treatment, she just got stronger. Is CrossFit the only way to do that? No, but it happened and that can’t be disregarded (ps. I am not saying CrossFit hasn’t injured someone just because I said I have seen aches and pains go away after strength gains have been made. Let’s not be silly).
When I was in chiropractic school, so many of my classmates would call me “crossfit”. “Oh hey crossfit..blablabla”. I can’t even tell you how many chiropractors that I went to school with have e-mailed or texted me saying, “WHY didn’t I start doing this before?! It is WAY more fun than the workouts I was doing before”. Shouldn’t exercising be fun? For my own personal preference, it is more fun doing a workout and having other people doing the same thing and we are “racing” more or less. Do I sacrifice my technique to win the casual race? No, I don’t and I think that is one of the most valid criticisms of CrossFit, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
4. Changing it up
There is often an argument that CrossFit is stupid because it is a bunch of random exercises. Part of the thing I like about CrossFit is that it is a bunch of random exercises. The reason I started CrossFit was because I was sick of doing a very set schedule of movements and drills. I am not training to go to the olympics in the shot put, so I don’t need a perfected training program to maximize how far I can throw the shot on a certain date. I am training to be healthy, have fun, improve conditioning, etc. CrossFit fits that for me and my goals. That doesn’t mean it is the best for EVERYONE’s goals.
5. Makes me do things I am not good at
Similarly to the “changing it up” section, the fact that CrossFit is more or less random requires me to be good at things I probably wouldn’t do otherwise. Say I had tight hips. If that were the case and I was self-selective in doing exercises based on what I can or can’t easily achieve, I would probably not be as motivated to improve my hip motion. But since large range of motion movements are part of CrossFit, that motivates me to improve those things. Many things could get thrown to the wayside if we only worked on the things we are really good at. Do I love doing double unders? Yes. Did I do them before CrossFit? Rarely. What made me get better at them? The fact that they are in CrossFit workouts and I wanted to go faster. This same thing is true for MANY other movements.
Despite what many people who think CrossFit is stupid just because they don’t like it think, you can learn a LOT from the CrossFit subject matter experts (SMEs). I had the great opportunity to take the CrossFit Gymnastics course and I learned a lot of great information. What the SMEs talk about isn’t always what you see happen in a CrossFit affiliate. The standards discussed are slowly being implemented into CrossFit at large, such as strict handstand pushups being in the Regionals competition this year instead of kipping. Better for the neck, better for the athletes. I have learned more about deadlifting, cleaning, snatching, and jerking from Coach Cody Looney (teaches for CrossFit Weightlifting) than is taught in a chiropractic program, medical program, physical therapy program, etc. By a mile. I am sure the people who have been through those programs would agree.
7. You can scale but still be part of the group
You don’t HAVE to do anything in a CrossFit gym you aren’t comfortable with. One of the things crossfitters pride themselves on is absolute scalability of any workout. If I am not comfortable doing something, I can substitute it with something else. Is this unique to CrossFit? No, you can substitute anything movement for any other movement in training. But it EXISTS in CrossFit and it seems people who hate CrossFit think people are FORCED to do things at a gym they don’t want to do. If that is the case, find a different CrossFit gym, don’t just abandon it. When a high school football team has 20 cases of rhabdo, we don’t say “football is bad” we say “let’s figure out why this happened and change it”. No CrossFit coach is out to hurt people. Are they as trained as a back to back state championship winning track and field program coach? Maybe some are, but most aren’t. But guess what? There aren’t enough of those world classes coaches to go around and train millions of people across the world. And most people don’t need that high level of coaching because they have so much low hanging fruit to pick already.
That is my list of 7. Are there things wrong with CrossFit? Yes, I don’t think anyone would say it is perfect or close to perfection. Are there ways to make it better? Lots. Are my 7 reasons unique to CrossFit? No, but they are certainly acquired and enjoyed through CrossFit. Are there more reasons I like it? Yes (but there are many others like empowerment, confidence builder, etc.). Do you have to dislike CrossFit because you don’t do it? Nope! Is CrossFit the ONLY physical thing I do? No I also train a lot with kettlebells, play basketball, swim, occasionally get a small pump on at LA fitness, etc…