There are always plenty of new fitness crazes to try out these days, but not all of them are created equal. One trend that has been sweeping the nation is CrossFit.
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is an exercise program which allows users to perform a mix of strength and conditioning exercises, as well as cardio. The program includes different exercises like running, jump rope, rowing, weight lifting, rope climbing and more. It enhances physical qualities including flexibility, power, speed, agility, coordination, endurance, stamina, strength, balance and accuracy. The intensity of the program aims to burn a high number of calories in a short period of time, while simultaneously improving aerobic fitness.
The history of CrossFit
While this exercise trend is fairly new, the general ideas behind the physical activity have been around for much longer. In the 1970s, former gymnast Greg Glassman started a concept that closely resembled CrossFit. It began in a Santa Cruz, California, garage in 1995. He discovered that through the use of dumbbells and a barbell, he could tone his muscles more accurately than any other gymnast he knew who was working with bodyweight only. In that same year, he was hired to train the Santa Cruz Police Department, which is when CrossFit was born. It was formally established in 2000 and by the year 2012, there would be 3,400 CrossFit affiliates worldwide. In 2007, the United States Marine Corps even started shifting their focus from a traditional training program to more of a CrossFit-oriented exercise regimen.
How to get involved
CrossFit isn't for everyone, due to the high-intensity exercises it involves. It's not recommended for those just starting to exercise or returning after a fairly long hiatus. It's a good idea to first work with a personal trainer to develop the necessary strength, skills and mobility needed for CrossFit.
If you find that CrossFit is something you would like to try, the good news is that you don't need to join a CrossFit affiliate gym in order to participate in the training program. If you choose to work out on your own, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- For those with little to no gymnastics or weightlifting skills, try to learn the movements for a month or two until you can perform the common exercise.
- Don't hesitate to substitute exercises to meet your fitness level – knowing how and when to substitute is an art of sorts, and as you practice, you'll become more familiar with the moves and which ones need perfecting.
- Follow the workouts of the day, otherwise known as WODs. However, before actually taking part in them, just watch them to get a good idea of what you'll be expected to do. Read the comments people are making on the CrossFit website and the substitutions they may have to make the workout more suitable to their fitness level.
- If you don't attend a CrossFit gym, here are a few of the equipment items you'll want to think about getting: power-lifting barbell, rowing machine, set of dumbbells, lifting rack and bench, plyo-boxes, ab mat and medicine balls.
- Maintain a diet which builds lean body mass. You need to be able to maintain and recover from frequent CrossFit workouts, which means having a healthy diet. Protein meals are essential for building muscle and giving the body the proper energy to continue with CrossFit.