CrossFit has changed the way the world approaches physical activity. Based on a methodology that uses an athlete’s own body weight as a tool, the fitness craze has developed a cult-like following. With the CrossFit Open now in full swing, Priya Kumar takes a sip of the CrossFit Kool-Aid for herself.
Never has a more contentious form of fitness swept the world quite like CrossFit. In the past five years the number of CrossFit gyms—or boxes as they’re popularly known—have doubled year on year. CrossFit is a fitness programme that builds strength in all muscle groups through constantly varied workouts that incorporate endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy. With as many advocates as critics, I had to learn more about the movement.
CrossFit promotes its ideology with a Workout of the Day. Colloquially called a WOD in CrossFit-speak, this list of exercises and movements target a particular element of one’s physique. The goal over the course of time is to optimize one’s strength and conditioning to build a body that is ready for any physical activity at any time.
What exactly makes CrossFit so special? Unlike a typical gym set-up (with treadmills, complicated weight-lifting equipment and Zumba classes), CrossFit boxes offer a community atmosphere where WODs are done as a group.
Each workout bears the name of a woman like Fran or Angie as a nod to CrossFit found Greg Glassman’s past rocky relationships. As an organisation, CrossFit explains the programme “is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programmes.”
Speaking of televised bouts, the CrossFit Open is presently upon us. Televised from the United States by Disney-owned sports network ESPN, the Open has garnered a television audience of Olympic proportions. Unlike the Olympics however, everyone is eligible to participate from the farthest reaches of the globe. All competitors need to do is upload a prescribed WOD on YouTube weekly for the duration of the Open. Divided by region, top competitors are selected to compete in the televised finals. The ethos of the Open is completely in-line with CrossFit’s core values; it is this inclusive nature of the programme that has caught on with fitness enthusiasts.
Recently I had to opportunity to experience CrossFit for myself at a popular box in Toronto, Canada. Aptly named Academy of Lions, the box is owned by fitness entrepreneur Dhani Oks. On what novices can expect he says, “They will experience a team environment, more akin to martial arts coaching…programmes are very technical, so the beginner workouts are not too intense allowing new members to slowly build up strength.”Academy of Lions has truly brought the community together, hosting regular potlucks and free Nike Training Club classes.
Is CrossFit for you? Try it and find out. Most boxes offer at least one free class to beginners. The methodology has proven so addictive many members budget especially to maintain the (sometimes exorbitant) fees the come along with belonging to a box. Ultimately, as with any fitness regime, the participant will get exactly what they put in. The community environment and competitive nature of the programme are merely added bonuses of being a CrossFitter.
Each workout bears the name of a woman like Fran or Angie as a nod to CrossFit found Greg Glassman’s past rocky relationships.