Thinking Inside the Box: CrossFit Explained

| 06.10.2017


They say the first rule of CrossFit is to always talk about CrossFit. So here we are, talking about CrossFit.

CrossFit is a fitness regimen that incorporates high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises. But it’s more than a way to get into shape—it’s a way of bettering your life. How often do you find yourself bending over, struggling to pick up a 40lb bag of dog food at the grocery store? Or, trying to hoist heavy luggage onto the top of your car before a long road trip? CrossFit will help you with that.

CrossFit classes are an hour long and vary from day to day. Each one features a warm-up (think jumping jacks, push-ups, squats), mobility work (foam rolling), a strength portion (back squats, pull-ups, etc.) and finally, the Work Out of the Day (WOD).  The WOD ranges from 8 minutes to 20 minutes and includes a variety of movements including power cleans, push jerks, pull-ups, handstand walks, running and rowing. The goal is to challenge your body and learn to adapt; this means you’ll never see the same workout twice in one week, or even in a few months. However, there are “benchmark” workouts that, when repeated over time, allow you to track your progress.

Yes, CrossFit is an excellent fitness program, but more importantly, it’s a tight-knit community.

“The CrossFit culture is a family,” Cori Sullivan, coach and owner at CrossFit616 emphasized. “We workout together, we hold each other accountable, ask for help when we need it and help others in our community when they need it. We not only see each other every day, but we talk with each other which in turn develops relationships.”

The bond between members in a CrossFit gym is strong. The goal is to only compete against yourself while supporting others around you. Walk into any CrossFit box (gym) and you’ll find members cheering each other on until everyone has finished the WOD. You’ll find people staying late to hang out and enjoy each other’s company and spending time together outside of CrossFit hours. They help each other move, celebrate weddings and pregnancies together, and get excited when someone hits a new goal.

“There’s also this perceived world about CrossFit where you have to lift heavy, run fast and be the best of the best. That’s not true! We are just people looking to better our lives outside of the gym.”

CrossFit members aren’t just people you occasionally see and sweat with—they’re extended family.

So, what’s the holdup? CrossFit will better your life, keep you healthy, surround you with a supportive community, help you lift that bag of dog food—why isn’t everyone doing it?

“I believe all women and men, in general, are intimidated by CrossFit because it’s new. It’s something they’ve never tried before, just like anything else,” Sullivan expressed. “There’s also this perceived world about CrossFit where you have to lift heavy, run fast and be the best of the best. That’s not true! We are just people looking to better our lives outside of the gym. This means being able to mow our lawn without having to take a nap, play with our kids and enjoy hobbies like biking, hiking or skiing without getting tired.”

Avid CrossFit member, Anna Dettman (CrossFit Allendale) was looking for something to replace her routine from college as a member of Grand Valley’s competitive cheerleading team.

“I love that every workout is different, so it never gets boring,” Dettman commented. “It’s nice to have goals to work for. And, since I’ve started CrossFit, eating is something I’ve learned so much about.”

For those looking to get serious, CrossFit is also a sport that begins with the CrossFit Open in February. The Open includes workouts released each week that anyone, from all over the world can complete and submit their scores online for a chance to make it to CrossFit regionals. Those who make it to regionals compete for a top spot to make it to the CrossFit Games, held each summer. This year, the games will be taking place in Madison, Wisconsin.

If you’re not convinced yet, know that CrossFit burns upwards of 300 calories per session. And all that weightlifting will help build long, lean muscle that assists in burning fat throughout the day. Don’t worry though, CrossFit isn’t a program meant to bulk you up.

“It’s nearly impossible for that to happen,” Sullivan explained. “When you see the women on ESPN competing in the sport of CrossFit, they look the way they do because it’s their job. They are working out 3 to 6 hours a day. We are not in the sport of CrossFit. We are in the wellness portion of CrossFit.”

The best part about CrossFit is tracking your progress. Inspiration can come from something as simple as going from zero push-ups to two (or more!) in a month or less.