Cross Fit has been taking a beating in the press recently. The media would have us believe that it is inherently dangerous and will invariably lead to an injury for any practitioners. This kind of thing irks me to no end. The truth is that Cross Fit, done correctly and with a skilled instructor can lead to improved strength and conditioning.
While I’m not a Cross Fit disciple I did manage a Cross Fit gym previously and can say with certainty that Cross Fit by itself is not the evil it is perceived to be. The truth is that any exercise plan, if executed incorrectly, can result in injury. The reason we see injuries with this modality of exercise is because of poorly trained instructors who don’t understand scaling the workout to the individual and don’t grasp the concept of progression. Cross Fit coaches who are properly trained and correctly understand the mechanics of the moves can safely conduct high intensity workouts without unnecessary risk.
One of the advantages of Cross Fit is that the moves are typically big, whole body, compound moves done repeatedly in combination with conditioning type activities. Their base idea is “are you fit enough to save your own life?” Cross Fit succeeds where other gyms fail because classes are instructor led and intensity is programmed in. The workout is preprescribed by the instructor and then can be scaled to varying levels of ability.
Cross Fit gyms also have what they call an “On Ramp Program.” When you become a member of a Cross Fit gym, this program introduces you to the moves and concepts in a gradual fashion. This works to establish base strength and teaches you the proper mechanics for doing the more complex moves.
The moves that Cross Fit uses are not new moves in the exercise world. These are moves that are being modified to be more approachable to the masses and then assembled to address the whole athlete. The Cross Fit model works because you cannot just muddle your way through. A well trained instructor will be able to help you execute an intense workout.
Where we see the injury piece come in is when an instructor tries to conduct the same workout for every person in the class without paying attention to the varying abilities. It should also be noted that there are gym goers out there who don’t know when enough is enough. Regardless of instructor input/caution, they will continue to drive themselves into the ground.
If you are interested in becoming a member of a Cross Fit gym you should inquire about their instructors credentials, their instructor to client ratio (1 instructor to 10 or fewer individuals is the standard) and ask for an explanation of their “On Ramp Program.”
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