1. I am going to be really sore for a while
2. Overall they do a nice job teaching the movements.
I joined CrossFit to see what all the hubbub was about. I have always wanted to give it a shot because I did admire the shear intensity of the workouts that I saw posted on their website. www.CrossFit.com. I have also seen the CrossFit games on TV. Everyone I see who does CrossFit seems to be in incredible shape and something has to be said for that. In the end I was curious and just needed a change of pace. I like to be challenged physically and this seemed like the place to do that.
When you sign up for CrossFit they require a two week and 4 classes intro class. I attended the past two Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. Each class follows a simple format. Explanation of the workout of the day. They use a white board to explain what the day’s plan is and how it is going to be done. They might mention a few keys to look for or a tip of the day regarding nutrition. Then a warmup which might be a dynamic warmup or a mobility drill but most likely a little of both. Then the W.O.D. which is the Workout of the day. The actual workout is usually short but quick and high intensity. Their mantra is Constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements. They openly tell you that if you do CrossFit you will be good at everything but great at nothing. It is a well rounded fitness program. You will develop some speed, some strength, some endurance, and some power. There is nothing that you will not be able to do. Climb a mountain? o.k! Run a 5k? no problem! Hop a fence? easy! Kill Zombies? Any day!
The four workouts that I did lasted no more than 10 minutes each. They said that 85% of the workouts are between 5-15 minutes but some go as long as 40 minutes. When the workout is done there is a cool down and a recap. You always write your score or time on the white board when you are finished. It feels like a community but there is also competition which I like. It is so different from my old gym where I would put my headphones and and do my own thing. Here it is like everyone is suffering / achieving together.
My workout of the days were as follows:
Day 1: Kattleball swings and box jumps timed. You had to complete 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 of one alternating with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 of the other. I completed the workout in 5:16 seconds and I was more winded and more sore than I had been at my own gym in months.
Day 2: Thrusters and jumping pull-ups. A thruster is a front squat into and overhead press while a jumping pull-up is off of a box and jumping up to the bar and fully extended the arms each time you come down. The workout was to do 5 rounds of 10 Thrusters and 10 pull-ups.
Day 3: Deadlifts for 5 reps. 10 Burpees and 250m Rowing. As Many Rounds as Possible in 10 minutes.
Day 4: OverHead squats for 10. Pushups for 5 and full range sit-ups for 15. AMRAP in 12 minutes.
The coaches are there the whole time coaching technique and stopping you to correct and teach if needed. The technique and the range of motion took priority over the workout. All workouts could also be modified or scaled as they called it to fit your needs. If you couldn’t do a full pushup you would drop to your knees or add a pad under your chest to decrease range of motion while still working on technique.
The 4 days were very logical and sequential. They went with a top down approach which I would always recommend. They started with Overhead squats which led to Front squats, High Pulls, Jerk snatches, Hang Cleans, and eventually Deadlifts. Every movement was taught with an excellent sense of functional anatomy and how the body was designed to move.
If you were teaching these movements to High School kids or really anyone you could no doubt spend more than 4 days drilling them. Some people spend years trying to perfect their technique. But you have to remember that everyone comes in at different skill levels plus the fact that people joined a gym because they want to work out so you can’t keep them out of the regular classes forever. I commend them for making everyone attend the 4 intro classes before entering the regular gym atmosphere. From all the negative things that I heard about CrossFit I have to say that my experience at Guerilla CrossFit in Morristown, NJ has been overall positive so far.
There are a few negative but not from a standpoint of coaching or knowledge or anything like that. Just the programming risks. I still feel that plyometrics and olympic lifts are not meant to be endurance lifts. They are meant to develop power which is a combination of strength and speed. When you make these lifts endurance based people can easily lose their technique due to fatigue or just the pounding on the body can result in injuries even if technique is sound. If the coaches are willing to stop and correct during the actual workouts like they were for the intro workouts than I think this problem can be negotiated to an extent. The one thing I am not sure of is how many coaches are on the floor during a typical session. In the intro classes we had a 5 to 1 ratio. If it is a 20 to 1 ratio then that might be risky.
Bottom line is if you are an athlete who needs a programmed sport specific workout for your sport then I would NOT recommend CrossFit. There are just too many programming flaws and too much variety to really develop sport specific power. There are risks involved in all activities and if you think of CrossFit like a sport then you realize that no matter what you do there are risks involved. If a football player gets fatigued in the 4th quarter and lowers his head then he runs the risk of having another player hitting him in the back of the head and possible breaking his neck. CrossFit is the sport of fitness so If you want to get into great shape and really challenge yourself in all aspects of fitness then I WOULD recommend CrossFit for you. I know I am going to have a blast with CrossFit and I can’t wait to experience the community of CrossFit and really suffer / achieve together.