Fitness company Crossfit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai. It is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, and is used in more than 10,000 gyms and clubs worldwide. There are more than 5,000 gyms and 35,000 accredited trainers in the US alone that follow the Crossfit program. Crossfit has exploded in popularity in recent years, particularly among military members and police personnel. There are even Crossfit Games - basically Crossfit's own version of the Olympics - in which participants compete against other followers of the program to win up to $275,000.00 in cash prizes.
- Many options
- Multitude of material
- Team-lik community
Crossfit incorporates a bevy of exercise styles that target both calorie burning and muscle building. It uses elements from popular training methods such as interval training, weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics and others.
Crossfit uses a multitude of equipment, many of which are easy to obtain and use if you choose to follow the program at home. These include barbells, bumper plates, jump ropes, kettlebells, plyo boxes, resistance bands, gymnastics rings, power balls and abmats. Crossfit doesn't use machines, so treadmills and ellipticals won't be part of your workout. Crossfit includes moves like squats, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, sit-ups, rope climbing and more. Some Crossfit locations even incorporate running, swimming and rowing into the routines.
Beyond simply making people fit, Crossfit is renowned for increasing endurance, stamina, power, strength, speed, agility, balance and coordination. Since Crossfit incorporates many types of training into the program, athletes from a variety of sports find it appealing. In addition, the variety keeps you from getting bored.
Crossfit maintains an enthusiastic, team-like community of support and motivation. Trainers and fellow participants will push you to do your best and succeed. If you prefer group workouts and like competing with the guy next to you, you'll enjoy the Crossfit environment.
The program is very high-intensity, so results often come quickly. You'll notice within weeks that your body is getting stronger and fitter.
- Injury inducing program
- Service may vary on location
- Expensive membership
Crossfit has earned a reputation as an injury-inducing fitness program. Of course, risk of injury is present any time you exercise - however, in recent years, there have been increasing reports of injury to Crossfit trainers and athletes. In early 2014, a Crossfit trainer incurred a critical spinal injury performing a common Crossfit weightlifting move known as a snatch lift and is now paralyzed - though the trainer was not at a Crossfit gym or Crossfit-sanctioned event when the injury took place. There have also been several reports of Crossfit athletes suffering from rhabdomyolysis, a kidney condition caused by excessive muscle breakdown that can cause permanent damage. A more common - and minor - report is athletes throwing up during Crossfit training. This is also a sign that they've pushed their bodies past healthy limits, although it won't have any long-term effect unless it becomes a regular occurrence. This doesn't necessarily mean that Crossfit itself is dangerous - but could indicate that athletes are encouraged to keep working out past a safe point or that trainers aren't skilled enough to pace and correct the athletes properly.
The various exercises in Crossfit are time-based circuits, which means that you'll be expected to keep going even if you feel tired or weak before time is up. If you're competitive, you could be tempted to overdo it and hurt yourself rather than stopping before the buzzer.
Your Crossfit experience may vary, as Crossfit doesn't have franchises. Each location, known as a "box," pays a yearly affiliate fee to Crossfit but has ample freedom over the exercises and environment they offer. While this makes it difficult to know what to expect from each Crossfit location and trainer, this also means that if you don't enjoy working out at one Crossfit location, then you may still enjoy another.
Crossfit is done in a group setting and many exercises are done with a partner - so if you prefer to work out solo, you may want to opt for another type of program.
The price of a Crossfit membership is about $150.00 per month, though the exact cost will vary from location to location. This isn't as expensive as SoulCycle or SurfSET, but it will set you back financially more than a typical gym membership will. While you can do Crossfit at home, you will need to purchase a lot of equipment to complete the variety of exercises - so you will still be spending some cash on kettlebells, weights and more.
The Crossfit website is somewhat difficult to navigate and may require you to do a lot of scrolling to find what you're looking for. Pages such as Exercises & Demos are extremely long, one-column lists in a very small font - they're challenging to read and not optimized for easy searching.
The Bottom Line
If you enjoy spirited competition, intense physical challenges and a varied workout, Crossfit may meet your needs. While Crossfit's history of injuries is somewhat concerning, there isn't enough evidence to indicate that Crossfit is unsafe - but this may mean that it needs to better regulate its affiliate locations or trainer certification process. Since each location and trainer may vary, we recommend that you shop around to find a Crossfit location that offers safe and supportive instruction.