“Crossfit” One Word, Many Reactions

“I could never do that, it’s too hard”
“Oh… I’ve seen the women who do Crossfit, I don’t want to get bulky like that” 
“I want to get in shape and then I’ll try it out” 
“Crossfit makes you weak, they don’t even do real pull-ups”

The list could go on for days. These are just a few examples of negative reactions I have received when I have told people that I do Crossfit. The question that needs to be answered here is: What is Crossfit? 


Crossfit (constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity). So, what does this mean? It means that Crossfit, the workout style, has been around for a long time. The part of Crossfit that is new is simply the term. Before the term Crossfit was trademarked by founder Greg Glassman, many people partook in a style of workout that was referred to as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Why then, if one mentions HIIT, reactions and statements like those above are no longer used? In my opinion, it is because of a couple different reasons. 


One: before Crossfit had a name, most people participating in a HIIT program did so because they wanted a good workout in a short period of time. Drop the time of rest between sets, super-set different movements (moving from one movement to another with little to no rest) and get in and out of the gym in about an hour feeling depleted and thoroughly worked out. However, these people simply stated that they liked to workout. They had no specific term for it (making it impossible for bystanders to have a negative feeling towards HIIT). 


Two: Greg Glassman turned Crossfit into a competition. This allowed people to watch this style of working out on TV, in a competition setting, by the top Crossfitters in the world. People saw the competition, but not the prep-work to get to the competition. This caused reactions to be negative towards different movements (most commonly body weight kipping movements such as the pull-up). Viewers immediately judged these athletes on a competition that lasted a few days, not on the training the athletes did for the other 360 days of the year. Think of any sport, is competition the exact same thing as practice? NO! Practice is about building a strong foundation, teaching core fundamentals, and briefly replicating what competition is like. To put this in perspective, while coaching football on a normal 2-hour practice day, I would have athletes spend most of the time working on skills specific to their position (blocking, running routes, catching the ball) and with about 20 minutes left the team would come together and have a small scrimmage. Crossfit works very similar. Typically, a Crossfit session spends the majority of the class working on fundamentals (squats, deadlifts, strict pull-ups, presses) the kinds of movements you would find people doing at any gym across the country. At the end of the class, there is usually a WOD (workout of the day), which is similar to a HIIT session. These WODs are scalable to any athlete at any level; from the in shape 20-year-old looking to compete at the highest level of Crossfit, to the mom constantly on the go with 3 children, all the way to the 65-year-old grandpa that simply wants to stay off medicine and be able to live outside of a nursing home. 
Because of these two reasons, people tend to pair the term “Crossfit” to a definition that is incorrect (an intense workout made only for the extremely in shape who are willing to sacrifice their body and health to do crazy ass looking pull-ups). So, to answer the questions from the beginning of this blog:
“I could never do that, it’s too hard” 
You are correct. You may never be able to do what you see on TV. Those people are less than .1% of the Crossfitters in the world. You can however do a workout that will push you to be a better version of who you currently are. 


“Oh… I’ve seen the women who do Crossfit, I don’t want to get bulky like that” 
Again, you are judging yourself to the top .1% of people. The women you are referring to that are bulky do 3 workouts a day and have committed their life to getting stronger. You’re not going to look like that a week into Crossfit, I promise. You will however change your body composition and find yourself getting more tone. 
“I want to get in shape and then I’ll try it out” 
Let’s be real with ourselves. You haven’t started working out on your own in the past however many years, it’s not gonna happen now either. If you wait to get in shape, 3 years from now you will be even more out of shape than you currently are. 
“Crossfit makes you weak, they don’t even do real pull-ups”
This is my all-time favorite (well a tie with women thinking they will bulk up in a matter of days). Yes, it is true that Crossfit does goofy kipping and butterfly pull-ups. It is also true that you will work strict pull-ups on a weekly basis. A kipping pull-up isn’t a strict pull-up. No Crossfitter will tell you it is. It is a way to overload the body (kind of like a body builder doing a set of heavy arm curls with a little swing on the way up so that they can overload their arms). After 3 years of Crossfit, I am stronger now than I have ever been (and I lifted heavy prior to Crossfit). The Crossfit makes you weak argument simply isn’t true.