One month of dedicated Crossfit and I’ve got The Verdict! First, let me start of by saying that prior to Crossfit, I have been working out independently, using mainly high intensity interval training (HIIT) methods (and gym-type weight lifting sometimes) for over two years at home. I had many sources of inspiration – or outright just copied the exact workouts – from Zuzka Light (previously from Bodyrock), Jillian Michaels, fit bie, Crossfit website, and good ol’ experience. Prior to that I have been a fitness enthusiast for 15+ years and have gone through many permutations of fitness. Yogi? Check! Swimmer? Check! Runner? Check! Let’s just leave it at that because this isn’t my resume in fitness but an honest-to-goodness opinion of Crossfit. But – I thought my background of fitness and general knowledge thereof was somewhat important in the context. Basically, I came to Crossfit with a lot of HIIT background and some strength and stamina to take it on.
I ran into Crossfit while searching out HIIT on the web. The main Crossfit website has the Workout of the Day (WOD) and then you can simply search for each of the exercises listed learn about them. Generally I got the gist of the Crossfit culture (as parodied here) and although I never attended a Crossfit gym, I thought that what I did at home was pretty darn similar. When a Crossfit gym opened a kitty corner from my work, I jumped at the chance to give it a go. Here are my thoughts on this fitness movement.
- There are many pros! Can that alone be a pro? Haha. Basically, at its core, Crossfit IS without a doubt a perfect workout and the most obvious way to demystify fitness once and for all. It’s about all around endurance, flexibility, agility, strength, and balance all wrapped up in a chalk dusted package. You will, quite simply, not find a better package for overall fitness out there. Guaranteed.
- The camaraderie of fellow Crossfitters is awesomepants and it will make your workout more fun and dynamic and you’ll push harder than ever due to it. What is better than meeting new people who are like-minded and cheer you on and are instant friends? Not much indeed!
- The coaching that you receive is very valuable. The coaches correct your form, teach you new techniques and exercises and make sure you are progressing like you are supposed to.
- You will get fit! What? That was obvious? Well, either way, it will get you fit if you stick to it. Sure, that’s true of many many many a-fitness programs out there. But I always look at the sustainability of something long-term for how it can truly impact your life. I.e. you can’t do P90X for years upon years. I mean you could, but would it be realistic? Crossfit you could.
I’m sure after such rave reviews, you are thinking there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with it AT ALL. But there are some Cons of crossfit. I think none of them are deal-breakers, but definitely some important considerations.
- These cons are in no particular order, but I couldn’t NOT throw the cost as the first factor. Being a part of a Crossfit gym will cost ya! Anywhere from $150 to $200 a month on average. I don’t care how much you love fitness, but that’s not cheap people! In fact, this is mucho expensive! I also take into consideration the fact that I got myself in pretty decent Crossfit shape, without any specific Crossfit training, at home. With limited to no equipment. In the basement. For free. Free. Given that you can do almost everything that the gym does for free in your home (in fact, Crossfit started out of a garage), it’s hard in my opinion to justify paying so much. I know, I know that there will be people who will say that it’s worth it. Sure! Worth is a very relative term and for some it is worth it. No judgement on that whatsoever. Just know that you can accomplish Crossfit in your own home with no equipment. After 2+ years of doing it at home, I have acquired some equipment slowly, but to this day I spent less than $400 on it total. I’d say you can start doing Crossfit at home with a good pair of sneakers, a box, a chair, a pull-up bar, and watch. Unless this said watch is a Rolex, you are looking at almost no investment that can carry you a long way!
- Inexperienced exercisers beware! Crossfit is definitely a sport that anyone can do, no matter your ability, weight, height, or age. However, if you are a true beginner, are overweight, or older, you really have to be careful when/if starting Crossfit. The workouts are taxing and they are NO JOKE. This is not your little circuit training at the Gold’s Gym, this is your Maxed out to My Very Limit with Every Inch of My Body Training. The key here is “Very Limit” because you have to know what your limits are and follow them and listen to them and be in-tune with them, otherwise you will get hurt, injured, and be very unhappy. Now, the coaches and support systems are in place to help you, but how good and attentive a coach can be to defining the limits for you can vary from coach to coach, person to person, and Crossfit gym to Crossfit gym. Also, the coach only knows so much about you and your abilities. And the coach has a tricky job to also push you to your max (the whole point of a Crossfit workout), so it’s a fine balance that only you could truly figure out. Some of the Crossfit moves are also super awkward (overhead squats, I’m looking at you), just begging for injury. Also, even though I mentioned the inexperienced groups, I too, felt on at least 2 occasions that I overexerted myself. Despite knowing my limits. Despite my abilities and experience. The competitiveness of it all got the best of me. I was able to figure out this balance of pushing to my max and no more pretty quickly, but it’s really years of exercise that helped me with that. Getting more and more fit in Crossfit, while staying uninjured and healthy is pretty much the hardest part of Crossfit in my opinion. If you can get this balance before pulling your back, you will be golden.
- Time, oh, where have you gone? I got into HIIT and training at home for one major reason. That is, to save time. I used to troll to the gym and do my boring weights and cardio routine, which would suck 2 or 3 hours of my day. I don’t think that’s sustainable. Not for me! Not once you have kids! At home, I can get my workout done in less than 30 minutes total (sometimes less!). Sure, there is a bit of time that needs to be sacrificed planning for the workout, like I’d google the workouts, come up with a routine myself, or go to a routine I previously did (I keep them handy in a notebook). But that can be done easily enough within a few minutes. Now Crossfit will not be a time drain like the 2 or 3 hours, but it will take far more than 30 minutes. You have to get there ahead of time, do the foam roller, talk with the coaches, go over the workout, do the warm up, the workout, wait for everyone to finish, and then finally drive your sweaty self home. Assuming your gym is 15 minutes away, you will easily be spending close to 1 hour 45 minutes each time. Since the typical Crossfit schedule is 5 days a week, that is over 6 hours of time extra spent a week. Whaaa??? I am so crunched for time, I was really feeling the extra time sucked by going to Crossfit.
- Workouts are not tailor-fit for YOU. I am again going back to my experience of working out on my own, custom fitting the workouts for myself as a comparison here. The WOD you get each day is basically not up to you at all. This can sometimes be a good thing, to take you out of your comfort zone, or push you to do what you just didn’t feel like out of laziness. Haha. But sometimes you shouldn’t train muscles that are unusually sore, or if you truly are not feeling something, you shouldn’t do it. This harks back to number 2 on my cons list as well. I often felt that the same muscle group was worked two days in a row (for example shoulders), when if it were up to me, I’d do a leg-heavy workout instead of hitting my sore shoulders again. Again, to avoid injury and just as a safe practice.
OK, I think that’s it. So what is The Verdict? In most concise terms I can… Well, for me personally, it was an awesome experience where I got to gauge where I was at, where I was lacking, and what I could work on harder/better/stronger. I learned new exercises, moves and workouts that I will be using a lot. I think it can be an awesome, eye-opening, life changing way to make you a much better athlete. Depending how much you know about Crossfit and your current ability, join a Crossfit gym for a month to 6 months. After which time you should be plenty ready to perform these workouts comfortably at home, maybe occasionally popping in for a drop-in class to assess you progress. At home you can tailor workouts to work on your weaknesses, to avoid injuries, and save some moola (European vacations anyone?). That is, of course, if after those 1 to 6 months you can let go of the wonderful community that Crossfit provides :)