Are Crossfit workouts working anymore?
What are Crossfit workouts?
CrossFit is a phenomenon that is sweeping the fitness industry. While it has been around for a while, in the last few years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of cross fit companies to cater to the increase of participants.
This military-style program of crossfit workouts aims to improve all aspects of the fitness; not just to gain an aesthetic image or cultivate health, but to increase knowledge in a certain area of skills and performance. Hence, Crossfit workouts are designed for its participants to sweat through a regime which includes:
- Calisthenics – air squats, push ups, pull ups
- Olympic weightlifting – clean and jerk, snatch
- Powerlifting – bench press, deadlift, squat
- Distance movements – rowing, running, swimming
However, while it sounds great in theory, there have been some concerns about the safety of the crossfit workouts, to both the participants due to the intensity of the workout, as well as the inexperience of it’s instructors.
History of Crossfit workouts
American trainer Greg Glassman, its founder, opened the first CrossFit gym back in 2000, and since then there have been close to 9000 CrossFit gyms opened up around the world, including Australia. Glassman has defined “…fitness in a meaningful, measurable way”. To date, there are approximately 9, 000 CrossFit gyms worldwide.
The trend has also reached Australia, with 40 Crossfit gyms opened in Western Australia alone. One Crossfit gym owner is Perth based Tracy Cooper who described the global expansion as “crazy”, and adds “it’s been a rapid growth, we were the second Crossfit to open in WA just five years ago, now there’s roughly about 40 Crossfits in Western Australia.”
Crossfit workouts and the concerns over instructors
Cooper has some ideas about the reason why Crossfit workouts has become such a popular fitness regime. She alludes to the easy ability for anyone to become a full qualified Crossfit trainer, in just two days.
This raises concerns as “I strongly believe you need more than just the weekend course Crossfit offers,” and she is not the only one that shares this mentality.
Rob Newton is an exercise and sports science teacher at Edith Cowan University (ECU). He also has reserves about Crossfit workouts and “…the level of training Crossfit instructors have. The human body is so complex, you really need a solid understanding of human anatomy, biomechanics, physiology to be able to actually deliver high quality exercise programs but in particular ones that are safe.” A mere two days is definitely not enough time to be able learn so.
“There’s definitely some people out there that aren’t doing the right thing and that does concern me as a fitness professional and as someone who owns a Crossfit affiliate, that gives us a bad wrap,” Cooper comments.
This parallels with the increasing number of Crossfit-related injuries. Physiotherapist Tim Mitchell has “…certainly seen more people coming through with injuries associated with doing the Crossfit classes…But Crossfit alone as a single form of exercise, in its purest form, may not be ideal for all individuals.”
Newton supports this stating that “the problem is; for that one in two individuals who have an issue and are at a higher risk, it can’t accommodate to that…so they’re getting the same program as everyone else, the same intensity, the same exercises, so there might be one person who has a predisposition and you get a catastrophic injury.”
To combat this ideology that “…if you’re not lying on the ground in pain, outside throwing up, then you’re not doing it properly [as] that’s not true”, Cooper has taken a more conservative approach to designing her Crossfit workouts. “We’re all about technique; we won’t let our guys lift heavy weights or do high repetitions of movements that they’re doing really poorly… We definitely program differently to the standard Crossfit.”
Unsurprisingly, there have been calls for stricter regulations when it comes to trainers. There are suggestions that trainers should not have one sole Crossfit qualification to be marked as a certified fitness professional, and instead they need a broad range to be labelled as so. Fitness Australia agrees with this, and does not recognise a Crossfit qualification on its own.
Crossfit exercises may be recognised as a fitness regime that gets fast results, but it is this speed in which participants push themselves beyond the limits, and the speed that people are able to become qualified trainers, that may in fact be its downfall.
This article was inspired by this article written on the 17 March 2014 on ABC News