Okay, so I know that I’m going to get a LOT of criticism for just coming out and saying it, but here it is: I think CrossFit is a waste of time. Actually, it can be legitimately dangerous. Here are some of the reasons why it was a great contribution to modern exercise but is now an overpriced fad that can get you hurt.So, I started out with the concept behind this topic because of all of the bad form I see at the gym. I see people often lifting way too much weight with poor form – they usually have to use their bodyweight or gravity as momentum to do an entire set, not just the last rep, and I wonder why they’re forcing themselves to lift a weight they simply cannot lift. I assume that it’s an ego thing. They want to “look strong” lifting more than they can, so they go for the big dumbbells. Aside from looking ridiculous, the problem here is that this is exactly how people get hurt. Which brings me to CrossFit.
Let’s start with the pros of CrossFit… CrossFit brought two things to modern exercise that were severely lacking: Barbell-based weight lifting and the concept that exercise should be difficult. Before CrossFit, there was this notion that exercise should involve gently peddling on your stationary bike at home or doing a “workout video” with a celebrity trainer via VHS. CrossFit introduced the idea that you should have to work REALLY damn hard when you exercise, and you should lift heavy things when you do it. Right on, CrossFit. I’m with you. Except for the next part(s).
The cons of CrossFit are many. The reason why people flock to and become obsessive about CrossFit are part of the reason why it eventually becomes problematic. People love the results they get when they first start CrossFit. They see results quickly because they’re often not used to weight lifting, and a good thing about CrossFit is that it keeps your body constantly guessing – the workouts are always changing, so your body has a hard time plateauing. Newbies lose a ton of fat and gain muscle because they’re doing heavy-weight exercises they’ve never done before.
The issue, however, is what happens when you leave your newbie state and your body gets used to CrossFit. While CrossFit workouts will satisfy your exercise requirement for the day, they aren’t a form of training – training meaning a planned, goal-based increase in cardio ability, strength ability, fat-loss goal or otherwise. Training requires a strategic and consistent repertoire of exercises. This is pretty much the antithesis of CrossFit.
In addition to not being able to attain whatever goal you might have, you can very possibly – and sometimes likely – hurt yourself. Which brings us to another downfall of CrossFit. CrossFit very often (and most of the time) bases its workouts on how many repetitions of X exercise you can do in X amount of time. Just think about that for a second. It’s competition based on how many reps you can complete in a short amount of time. So, instead of focusing on perfect form for 10 reps of, say, squats, you’re challenged to squat as many times as possible in 30 seconds. And, while this may get your heart rate up and improve your cardio, you’re likely not 100% focused on your form or making sure you’re doing the exercise properly. It essentially prioritizes quantity over quality.
Take kipping for example. If you don’t know what kipping is, please do yourself and google a video of it, because it’s ridiculous. It’s what I call cheating in pull-up form. The CrossFitter does pull-ups, but at the bottom of the pull-up swings their hips violently in order to use momentum to propel themselves high enough to do another rep. To me, it’s common sense that if you can’t do a set of 10 pull-ups without kipping, you should do a set of five normal pull-ups and you’ll gain the strength to get to 10. However, if you’re going to a personal record of 10 in CrossFit and you just NEED to get there, then apparently kipping is totally acceptable! It’s all about the reps – not about the actual ability. If you really want a laugh, check out butterfly kipping. Those are a favorite at the CrossFit games.
I digress – so the quantity over quality aspect often forces people who aren’t ready for a certain weight/number of repetitions to push themselves too far too early, and end up getting hurt. Sickeningly, injuries are sometimes even worn as badges of pride in the CrossFit community because they happen eventually if you’ve been doing it long enough.
Another sad aspect of CrossFit is the misleading nature of the “athletes” who do it. Going back to the CrossFit games, if you’ve ever seen these, they might seem like an ideal advertisement for doing CrossFit. These men and women are in AMAZING shape. It’s all a ruse, though! These people absolutely, 100% lift weights, and heavy ones, in order to look like that. It is impossible to have that much muscle without doing alternative training.
Something you probably also didn’t know about CrossFit is that it doesn’t take much to become CrossFit certified. If you have $1,000 and a weekend, then you, too, can become certified between a Friday and Monday. Aside from the fact that this is pretty much extortion, becoming certified in telling people to lift hundreds of pounds over their heads repeatedly in two days is seemingly suspicious. These people don’t know the ins and outs of biomechanics, joint/muscle health, repetitive stress, exercise-related injury like rhabdomyalisis (which is a terrifying syndrome where your muscle eats itself and badly harms your liver), etc. I wouldn’t trust someone as an expert who spent 16 hours learning anything – let alone something that could get me seriously hurt.
If all of that isn’t enough reason that CrossFit isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, let’s just touch on the price. It’s outrageous. I looked up two CrossFit gyms in DC, and their prices for unlimited access were $249 and $245 PER MONTH. What the actual $!^%& If you only want to “kind of” do CrossFit and workout 10 times a month, then it’ll only cost you $209/month, and for 13 classes at the other place, you’ll get a totally (un)reasonable rate of $220 per month. My gym is $99/month, and I think I’m paying way too much. Who can afford this? That’s a car payment!
So, in conclusion, if you want to get healthy, avoid injury, not bankrupt yourself and prefer quality over quantity, then please choose the weightlifting approach. If you’re really dying to do the WOD (CrossFit lingo for workout of the day), then google it and do it at your own affordable gym. Just promise me you’ll focus on your form!