Cameron Conaway talks about his discovery of Crossfit and why men should embrace this transformation team workout style.
Whether guys have too much pride, like the control of maintaining and establishing their own workouts or simply enjoy the alone time to zone out and hit the weights, it’s clear upon walking into most gyms that women have better embraced the idea of group fitness. While solo training can certainly be the ultimate stress relief and can take you quite far depending on your goals, it also imposes certain limits that a team can better help you surpass. Even bodybuilders renowned for their solo training often have a team around them at the gym. And when it comes to skill improvement and refinement – whether it’s in the deadlift or the armbar – it’s clear that having a team of some sort is crucial.
CrossFit’s official Facebook Page is about 240,000 strong, but the organization shines brightest at the local level. Years ago when CrossFit first erupted and began making national news headlines I was skeptical. I felt that they were using Olympic-style lifts for high repetitions and that this was a sure path to injury. I also felt that their intensity, while great for people like myself, would not be accommodating to those less physically capable and would wreck bodies and then member confidence in the program as a result. Lastly, part of me believed this was all just another fad – something that would be gone in a few months time and replaced with something else. You know, the downward spiral that 99% of other fitness programs flush into. Although some of my concerns over injury were found valid, CrossFit, through its sustainability and willingness to change over the years, has crushed the low expectations I had for it. I’m happy to say that it still thrives. Like my Bikram is Badass piece, I believe CrossFit is a great program that will be around for years to come. Here are five reasons why:
(1) Practicality. The exercises within the workout itself are some of the best in terms of developing what I call “sustainable functional fitness,” that is, being able to move well for a longer period of time. While jumping on an elliptical machine for 45 minutes may get your heart rate going, it does nothing for coordination or flexibility or reaction time or for using your body the way it was meant to be used – as an entire unit. Lastly, as research continues to prove, short and intense workouts (CrossFit’s are sometimes just 20 minutes) are better able to jumpstart metabolism throughout the course of the day. Finally, a short workout is simply easier to fit into a busy lifestyle.
(2) Teamwork. It’s easier to stick with anything when you’ve got a supportive team around you. CrossFit forms teams of people from various backgrounds but because of the intensity of the program there is an intensity of mindset that each member thrives upon. I’ve never met a team of people who workout together that are as motivating and helpful as the CrossFit team. Showing up for your morning workout isn’t just about you anymore – it’s about you inspiring and being inspired by others. It’s a program that makes you think and act beyond yourself. There’s a bit of pressure in this and I think that’s a damn good thing.
(3) Grassroots. CrossFit at the local level is what I believe has kept it going over the years. This wasn’t a national campaign that simply asked you to call the 1-800 number, order the CD’s and workout in the privacy of your home. This was an organization that not only encouraged you to workout, but encouraged you to get out in your community and either start your own or join the existing CrossFit team. Through online networking on Facebook, Twitter and various forums spread across not only their national website but also the websites of each city, CrossFit allowed people who lived in the same community to network, expand their networks and turn these virtual connections into real and meaningful face-to-face interactions.
(4) Smart Expansion. CrossFit allowed their trainers to reach out to various other organizations that could use their approach to fitness. With the boom of mixed martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing schools around the nation, CrossFit trainers began establishing relationships with trainees (like martial artists, for example) who already knew the importance of implementing a sound approach to strength & conditioning. These made for long-lasting connections and expanded CrossFit’s reach. Lastly, CrossFit emphasized that they were a group made for anyone willing to give it a go. They put an extra emphasis on getting women involved and this natural move has only added to the longevity of their program.
(5) Workout Variability. Box jumps, sprints, handstand pushups, deadlifts, pullups, squats, power cleans, snatches, rows and Turkish get-ups. These are some of the exercises that athletes like UFC champion Georges St. Pierre and NFL running back Adrian Peterson use to increase their performance, but they are also the staple of the CrossFit program. Not only will doing the exercises the pros do enable CrossFit members to stick with their program, but there is a reason the elite athletes use these exercises: they work. A variety of exercises can keep workouts fresh, but not if they are used day-in and day-out and with the same sequences. CrossFit emphasizes mixing it up. Not only does this keep the body guessing (and therefore improvements coming) but it also reduces the mental fatigue that can accompany sameness.
Photo credit: Flickr / CrossFit Fever