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What is CrossFit


Chances are if you have an Instagram account then you’ve come across videos of people doing CrossFit. Could be videos of bulging muscular Gods and Goddesses climbing ropes as packed stadiums look on in the CrossFit games, or people swinging around pullup bars like gymnastic experts in “Box’ style gyms. It seems like CrossFit is everywhere these days. And that’s because it is. Most moderate sized towns in Scotland have either a CrossFit or Functional Fitness gym (mostly interchangeable terms) close by.

Medicine Balls

So what is the CrossFit phenomena?

On their website, CrossFit describe their brand of workout as “varied functional movements performed at high intensity”. This translates to a melding of training styles and disciplines such as gymnastics, Olympic Weightlifting, high intensity interval training (HIIT), plyometrics, powerlifting, kettlebell training and more. These component parts are blended, mixed and shaken into a cocktail resulting in a new WOD, or daily workout. Supporters of CrossFit love the variety and novelty of the different styles of training. Also championed by proponents of CrossFit is the scalability of the approach, that it is accessible to people of all ages, abilities and training histories.


Founded as a company in 2000 by Greg Glassman, CrossFit style training grew in popularity through the relatively new medium of the internet. Finding traction initially within the American military, police and firefighting services and then spreading to fitness enthusiasts across America.


Over the past two decades the growth of CrossFit as both a business and exercise method has been unparalleled. The spread of affiliated gyms across the world and proliferation of CrossFit competitions have birthed a high-level professional sport.

CrossFit Equipment
Image by Ryan De Hamer
Fitness Group

Benefits & Criticism

What is undeniable about CrossFit are the physiques and athletic ability of the top performers. The competitors you see at the CrossFit games are amongst the fittest people on the planet. The degree to which PEDs play a role in this is a blog post for another day. However, even below the Elite level, walk into any CrossFit gym in Scotland and you will be sure to find athletes with low body fat, significant muscle mass absolutely scorching through intense WODs. Handling workouts featuring intense cardio sessions on rowing machines followed by heavy back squats or other barbell movements. For those able to handle the intensity of the training the aesthetic and athletic outcomes are obvious.


CrossFit as a training methodology is not without its opposition, however. Critical voices within the fitness community level accusations of needless injuries, poor trainers, and low-quality certification process. Much of the injury criticism centres around the technical difficulty of Olympic lifts and gymnastic movements being coached to novices by trainers who don’t have great technical proficiency themselves. A further point of contention from some is the inevitable breakdown in technique when these same difficult movements are performed in a timed WOD for as many reps as possible. Invariably form will suffer as fatigue grows, resulting in poor motor learning and an increase in potential for injury.


In conclusion CrossFit, like most other training philosophies has both pros and cons. While the difficulty and injury factors are certainly valid concerns, finding a reputable gym with competent and knowledgeable trainers will go a long way toward mitigating any risk.


CrossFit as compared to a commercial gym membership is not a cheap pursuit, however one of CrossFit’s main plus points is the community that has grown around the sport as well as the individual gyms. In a Globo Gym you could get through a full session without even saying “hello” to anyone, for better or worse at CrossFit you WILL be socialising with your fellow participants! Overall, this is probably a good thing.


Another factor helping to justify the cost of a membership is the exposure to a range of varied training disciplines. Many of the top Weightlifters in the world first snatched a snatch in CrossFit class.


My personal outlook on CrossFit is, maybe it’s for you, maybe it’s not, Give it a go. Challenge yourself. Find out where you stand. I take the positive useful aspects from it and incorporate it into my PT sessions with clients as well as my own training. Every now and again you’ll find me in a CrossFit gym - I can’t’ bring myself to call them “boxes” yet, that’s too culty. That said, oftentimes people in cults are having a good time.

Image by Mads Eneqvist
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