We all know exercise is good for us, but most of us balk at the thought of hours on a treadmill or coordinated aerobics classes that are impossible to follow. However, one fitness program offers something different, and more interesting: Crossfit incorporates elements from various exercise disciplines to bring you a complete workout that’ll keep you motivated and on your toes until the last minute. Created over several decades by Coach Greg Glassman, this fitness regimen has a worldwide following — we take a closer look at Crossfit and its health benefits.
What Is Crossfit?
According to its website, Crossfit “is a combination of constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity in a communal environment.” The sport’s aim is to help trainees achieve a level of fitness that will prepare them for any eventuality: “Not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable.” Though this may sound extreme, don’t let it put you off: a look beyond the sales pitch shows an exercise program that delivers real results.
A typical Crossfit class will include elements from high-intensity interval training, weight lifting, calisthenics, gymnastics as well as other disciplines. You will sprint, jump, burpee, push-up, pull-up, flip tires and perform all manner of other movements — all in a limited amount of time. Because of the intensity of the workouts, even a short Crossfit class will improve your health and overall fitness levels.
What Crossfit Can Do for You
The classes make use of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves alternating short periods of intense exertion with even shorter periods of rest. This technique is scientifically proven to improve both fitness levels and body composition. A review of HIIT published in the Journal of Obesity found that this particular fitness practice has significant positive health effects:
- Fat loss: HIIT results in higher amounts of fat loss compared with steady aerobic exercise.
- Lower risk of Type 2 diabetes: Insulin sensitivity is improved by between 23 and 58 percent with HIIT.
- Improved aerobic fitness: HIIT enhances vascular function, helping you to feel fitter and healthier, as well as reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Crossfit’s popularity is not simply due to its fat burning routines, but to the way the classes are lead. Coaches push trainees to their limits and encourage healthy competition and mutual support. Training in a close knit group motivates you to work harder, and allows you to bond with others over shared successes and failures. The social aspect of Crossfit will help to keep you engaged and make the training more rewarding. Imagine the euphoric feeling of completing your very first pull up to the cheers of your fellow trainees — that’s not something you get in a traditional fitness class!
Pushing too Hard?
As with any sport, there are risks of injury. Critics of the Crossfit model question whether the trainers teaching the program are truly fit to judge how far they can push trainees, and worry about a lack of guidance for beginners. The intense nature of the workouts can, if performed too strenuously or by inexperienced people, result in rhabdomyolysis, a painful condition caused by a breakdown of muscle tissue and resulting in muscle fibers being released into the blood stream.
However, this shouldn’t put you off giving Crossfit a try — the body is made to move, and the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle far outweigh the risks associated with exercise. By listening to your body and developing an understanding of its capabilities and limits, you can tackle any fitness class safely.
Add Crossfit to Your Routine
CrossFit can be a great way to get started on your path to a healthier and more active lifestyle. The intense classes will provide you with a sense of achievement and working out in a group setting will help keep you motivated and give you a sense of community. A fun and demanding alternative to dull hours on the treadmill, Crossfit may even become your new favorite hobby. Why not book a class today?