For the past 15 years, the biggest craze to hit the fitness industry came in the form of a California-based workout program that emphasized interval training and Olympic weightlifting. It may not be for everyone, but CrossFit is certainly a great way to stay fit and get some variety for those who already have a solid aerobic and strength base. We must note, however, that it is always most important to listen to one’s own body and it’s limits.
Samir Becic, 4 times Number 1 Fitness Trainer in the world and HFR’s “Top 10 Health Benefits of CrossFit”:
- Intensity: CrossFit is a fast-paced, intense workout that can take less than 15 minutes a day because that quarter of an hour is going to be condensed, nonstop movement. It may only be three or four routines, such as burpees, a jog and squats, but the idea is that you keep doing each one over and over through the set time. It’s a concentrated shot of exercise and it burns the system — in a good way.
- Motivation: The key to CrossFit is the intensity, but hidden in that fact is that you’re inherently pushing yourself to do the most you can through each exercise in the workout. Everyone wants results, but not everyone puts in the effort. In a regular gym, it’s easy to cheat reps here and there or sneak a longer break than necessary, but because of how the CrossFit workout is tailored, there’s no option other than to max yourself out.
- Time efficient: In a span of 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll be asked to complete as many rounds of a specific circuit as you can. By the end of it, because of the aforementioned intensity and effort, you’ll have burned more calories than a regular workout.
- Building relationships: Often times a gym is just a collection of random people focused on doing their own different exercises. At a CrossFit box, which is what they refer to as their gym, it’s community. You’re surrounded by a group of people – even strangers! – who encourage you and help you push your boundaries. Even the people who finish last get a round of high-fives for pushing themselves as hard as they can. Everyone has the same goal in mind: to get in the best shape possible. The camaraderie in CrossFit is part of what makes this exercise experience so unique.
- Dynamic workouts: The workouts are sometimes hard to describe because they are so multidimensional. When you’re doing CrossFit, you’re not just going to the gym to bulk up or to climb steps. This isn’t a basic circuit of weightlifting; it’s a program that mixes many different exercises that push all parts of your body to their limits. As they say, CrossFit’s specialty is not specializing. It’s constantly changing, which keeps your mind and body from getting bored.
- Personal coaching: All CrossFit classes are led by a coach to ensure proper form, provide modifications, encouragement, uphold standards, and occasionally give you a “no rep” when they see you not doing something properly or not giving your full effort. Your coach will become an inspiration, counselor, buddy, nutrition advisor and your biggest cheerleader.
- Improved heart health: Your heart rate remains elevated throughout the entire workout, which increases your endurance. In fact, data from an American Council on Exercise study showed that participants’ heart rates were elevated to 90 percent of maximum heart rate, which was sustained throughout two CrossFit workouts. Fitness industry guidelines suggest a HRmax between 64 to 94 percent in order to improve cardio endurance. Scientists also found that individuals averaged 80 percent of VO2max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise. Industry guidelines suggest 40 to 85 percent of VO2max for improving cardio fitness and body composition.
- Increased joint mobility: This is a result of the varied functional movements involved in a CrossFit workout – you’re not just doing simple bicep curls, but moving your limbs in all different directions. Also, by learning the proper ways to lift heavy things off the floor and hold them overhead, your risk of injury in your everyday life significantly decreases.
- Overall improved health: CrossFit was created to focus on these major domains: stamina, strength, coordination, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, accuracy, endurance. This is achieved by promoting neurological and hormonal adaptations across all of the metabolic pathways in the body. The combination of the vast variety of movements leads to a complete transformation of your personal quality of life.
- Lifestyle improvement: Being surrounded by people invested in fitness and health, it is hard to resist giving in to some new life style habits. Before you know it you will be trading your pre-packaged snacks for something whole and real. Rather an meet your friends for lunch/drinks/coffee, you’ll meet at the gym and THEN head out to socialize.