Wind back the clock 5 years. I was 19 years old, going to the gym 5 days a week, playing football and lived a pretty active lifestyle. I was fit, or at least i though i was. My perception of fitness was having biceps and looking good in a mirror. Boy was i wrong.
I vividly remember sitting at home on a sunday afternoon looking through the upcoming sport on foxtel, when I saw something that immediately caught my eye. ‘CrossFit Games’ was up next on ESPN. What the hell was CrossFit Games? It turns out it was a bunch of men and women competing against each other, in completely randomised workouts ranging from running, jumping, olympic lifting, climbing ropes, gymnastics, skipping and even carrying bags full of sand in a wheelbarrow. I had no idea what to think of it. So naturally, I did some research. What i found was not what i expected.
‘CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program, consisting of functional movements performed at high intensity, which are constantly varied’. Was going to the gym, training my chest on a monday, back on a tuesday, legs on a wednesday and shoulders and arms on a thursday whilst going for the occasional long distance run not functional, high intensity or constantly varied? In some ways yes, in many more ways no.
It wasn’t until I tried my first CrossFit benchmark workout ‘Grace’ (30 clean and jerks for time), that I realised my current level and perception of Fitness did not prepare me in the slightest for this challenge. Training body parts using a machine had not prepared me to actually use my body in a real life, functional situation. Slow, long distanced running hadn’t prepared my metabolic systems for fast, powerful, repeated efforts. So if your looking to build a fitness that will allow you to tackle any situation life may throw at you (various sports, in the workplace, military combat or climbing a tree to escape an angry pack of bears (bit farfetched i know), then why wouldn’t you train this way? Slow, isolated movements done in front of a mirror are not going to make you a better athlete. Combining squats, with pull-ups, rowing and box jumps however, most definitely will.
So all of this probably has you thinking that CrossFit is just for elite level athletes right? Wrong. CrossFit’s is just as much designed to improve the health, fitness and quality of movement of an elderly woman as it is to improve the athletic capabilities of an AFL footballer. Every workout and every movement is 100% scalable to an individuals capabilities. Where the AFL footballer might be squatting 150 Kilograms for a set of 5, the elderly woman might be squatting down onto a box, focusing on her range of motion and cognitive capabilities. Where the AFL footballer is jumping onto a 30 inch box wearing a weighted vest, the elderly woman is stepping up onto a 10 inch box focusing on balance and core stability. ‘The needs of an olympic weightlifter and grandmother differ by degree, not kind’.
In the 5 years since adopting this style of training I have seen not only my level of health and fitness drastically improve, but my ability to perform day to day tasks become so much easier. I don’t have a bad back because I have a strong core, combined with good range of motion and an improved knowledge of how to move. I have seen the exact same change in so many of my clients as well. In life there are a lot of things we have no control over, but your health and fitness does not fall into that category. Only you have the ability to control what your health will look like in 20 years time.
If CrossFit has worked for me, my clients and thousands of other people worldwide, i guarantee it will work for you.