Although CrossFit was officially founded in 2000, the CrossFit-like workouts and its culture had been starting to form itself for several years before 2000 by its founder, Greg Glassman. In short, CrossFit originated in a small gym in Santa Cruz, California, it then became part of the police force training program and now CrossFit is rapidly gaining momentum as the workout of choice for the average Joe. Today, there’s more than 10,000 CrossFit boxes (gyms) around the world.
So what happens during a typical workout? Well, most gym’s offer hour classes of 10 to 20 members per class (depending on the space and trainers available). Most classes start with a warm-up followed by a skill workout (skills can be deadlifts, squats, cleans, jerks etc.) and they finish with the WOD (workout of the day). If you’re like me, and you don’t really know what to do in a conventional gym, this format is great because you’ll never need to plan a workout again. Some WODs are universal in the CrossFit community like the Women’s WODs or the Hero WODs. For example, one of the famous WODs is FRAN, which consists of three rounds (21,15 and 9 reps) of thrusters and pull-ups. I know… the word ‘thruster’ made me giggle too at first!
So why are thousands of people flocking to this style of work out? And why has its popularity kept increasing from year to year for the past 20 years? Well CrossFit is an inclusive worldwide community, an empowering source of motivation and, in my opinion, the best stress reliever.
CrossFit is mostly an individual sport but it has created one of the most inclusive and supportive culture found in sports. If you know someone that does CrossFit, be prepared to be slightly annoyed by how much that person LOVES it! Funny enough, crossfitters will tell you that they had the HARDEST workout of their LIVES… after every single workout! And they keep going back. Why? They have an entire gym full of friends and a virtual online community of supporters to keep them engaged. Think ‘Workout-Buddy’ on steroids.
The CrossFit culture is also very inclusive, men and women, from all age groups and all levels are cherished among the community. I often hear people say that they are not fit enough to start doing CrossFit and these types of thoughts are flaws of human nature, we will be proud of our end result but we’re embarrassed of our starting point. We sometimes think that we should look like Camille Leblanc-Bazinet in order to join a CrossFit gym. But, it doesn’t work that way. If we could just put our ego’s aside once in a while and find the courage to really give ourselves a chance, imagine what we could accomplish!
Most gyms offer free trial classes, so grab a friend or try it alone, you have nothing to lose. Another great thing about CrossFit is that its culture is focused on positive goals such as empowerment, strength, inclusive fitness and support. Nowhere in there do you see ‘negative’ goals like ‘to lose weight’ or ‘to look better’, etc. Looking better will be a side effect of your CrossFit training but fundamentally, CrossFit aims for goals that go beyond the superficial!
The WODs can be extremely easy since you can scale any workout to any level. You can do 3 sit-ups in a workout that demands 30 sit-ups! You scale as you need to and it doesn’t make you any less of a crossfitter whatsoever! The reason they are so difficult, is due to the natural human desire to excel, we naturally WANT to make things hard for ourselves. So we add weight to our barbells, do all the reps and push ourselves to finish as fast as possible! It actually makes us feel good and it makes complete sense, when was the last time we felt proud of a lazy workout? Rarely. CrossFit workouts are made to be easily measurable, either by reps or by time. It’s very easy to track your progress and it’s so empowering to see your results. The internal competition is influential, discovering the power of your inside voice cheering you on to surpass your limits is an incredible mental skill to develop.
When the timer goes off, you’re in the zone, you’re working with yourself to do your best. Have you ever had a project that your really wanted to do well in? Painting something? Making a cake? Starting your own business? That drive to perform, that need to hustle, those are the feelings you get during a WOD. I’m not going to sugar coat it though, sometimes you will feel like your trying to climb Everest in steel boots with a 100 lbs back pack all while dragging a mini horse, it happens! You might just want to scale that workout next time!
There’s also a whole lot of science to explain the mental benefits of CrossFit, after a workout your brain is floating in a mixture of happy hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. They make you feel proud of yourself, happy about your workout and connected with your fellow crossfitters. Whatever is going on in your life, you can count on a good WOD to give you the mental break you need! As a student, I give full credit to CrossFit for preserving my mental sanity during the exam period!
From the outside, crossfitters might look like they’re part of an exclusive cult or something but they really are just your average Joe. Some may feel intimidated to venture out of the typical treadmill workout but your body is capable of so much more! You don’t know what your body can do for you yet, so get ready to shatter your expectations!