CrossFit is a group exercise class that includes components of weightlifting, cardiovascular training, and calisthenics training. It’s a variation of High Intensity Interval Training that, because it includes more risk than most group programs, also has the potential for VERY high reward (ie: highly desirable body type).
The thing is, when you watch a video of CrossFit, or sit in on a class – the part of the class that is TRADITIONAL CrossFit is actually only a SMALL portion of the hour long exercise session.
This small portion of the hour is typically called a WOD or Workout Of the Day. It’s the fast paced HIIT style portion of the class that gets your heart rate up, your blood flowing, and leaves you gasping on the floor at the end of the session.
Here at Lift Off Strength this portion of the class is usually 8-12 minutes long.
Which begs the question – what the heck are we doing with the rest of the hour?
It’s not CrossFit…
So what is it?
And that’s the thing – CrossFit has become synonymous with these hour long group exercise classes.
But CrossFit is actually JUST 1 EXERCISE TOOL IN A TOOL BOX FILLED WITH TONS OF OTHER OPTIONS.
What separates a GOOD CrossFit gym from a poor one is how they apply the tool.
Because CrossFit WOD’s incorporate complex movements done at high intensity in a distracting environment – it’s actually a fairly risky program.
This means we need to manage the risk by doing 2 things.
- Reducing the complexity of the WOD – so that adults of ALL levels of fitness (not just the fittest of the fit) can participate, get the desired result, AND NOT GET INJURED WHILE DOING SO.
- Incorporate “Build Up” training – this is slower paced strength focused training that increases the body’s resilience while also increasing the strength and skill of the person so that they can participate in future WOD’s – again – with minimal injury risk.
At Lift Off Strength we spend the majority of every hour long class doing MANDATORY strength and skill training so that the bodies of our members can withstand the HIIT style approach of CrossFit.
Because the best results come when a fitness program is done consistently over long periods of time – and the best way to insure that is possible is to limit injury risk and improve strength and posture.
In summary – CrossFit is just one exercise tool that can be used at a CrossFit style gym. Responsible CrossFit style gyms will be using many other tools such as flexibility training, strength training, aerobic training, volume training, among many others in addition to their wise prescription of CrossFit training.
I hope this clarified some of the obscurity surrounding CrossFit as an exercise program. I’ll be writing a future post on the benefits vs risk of CrossFit, who its appropriate for, and how to identify where you should begin training as a beginner.