CrossFit is an exercise system that has been around for nearly 20 years but is just now beginning to have a big impact on the fitness industry. While dozens of other national U.S. fitness chains and traditional gyms have come and gone, CrossFit has proven that economically at least, it has staying power.
Why CrossFit is Unique
Some of the things that make CrossFit unique are among its biggest advantages. But those same unique points can act as a disadvantage to other people. When it comes to CrossFit, it’s safe to say that many people would rank it as a great system for getting in shape and staying fit in the long term. But depending on someone’s personality and the kinds of workouts they prefer, CrossFit might not be a wise choice.
The Advantages of CrossFit
The Social Support System is Amazing
The CrossFit social support system includes not just the people who work out in your local gym but at more than 13,000 places around the world. You can do a CrossFit workout in almost any city on earth, though you might have to pay a special fee if you’re not at your home gym, or “box” as they call it at CrossFit.
You Can Burn Fat and Lose Weight Quickly
The sessions are designed to help people burn fat much quicker than can be done in traditional cardio workouts. Many people who join CrossFit learn to adapt their bodies to the intense, but short, exercise sessions and start eating more wisely. It’s almost a common boast among members that they’ve been able to lose X number of pounds and gain muscle mass in just a few weeks.
The Instruction is Top-Notch
CrossFit gyms have trainers who orient new members and teach them how to use all the equipment and do the standard exercises. Anyone who needs help can simply ask for it. Many gyms have a mandatory 10-session orientation for new members so as to allay fears about equipment and strenuous workouts. Of course, people are free to go at their own pace after that and most members report feeling quite comfortable at their local CrossFit gyms.
CrossFit Workouts Make You a Versatile Athlete
The word “cross” in the company’s name implies cross-training, which is a good way to develop versatile skills. In fact, the varied workouts at CrossFit gyms deliver a truly eclectic array of workouts, exercises, and sport-specific skills for members. There’s always something different going on, day to day, that challenges the body in a new, fresh way.
The Disadvantages of CrossFit
The Cost Can Be High
Former members often cite costs as the reason they left CrossFit. Indeed, the monthly fees are quite high and a large percentage of the world’s population can’t afford to join. Some critics call the system elitist and over-priced. Additionally, a membership fee does not necessarily include access to all gyms everywhere. Members who travel might have to cough up an extra fee to the gym they visit. All in all, being a CrossFit member can be quite costly.
The Workouts Are Tough On Shoulders
Even though there are orientation sessions and new members learn how to use equipment properly and how to do the routines, shoulder injuries seem to be common among members. Some critics of the CrossFit system say that the routines are way too strenuous for most people, particularly for members who are susceptible to shoulder injury. The very young and very fit might have no problems in this area. However, people who are not in good condition when they join CrossFit tend to have complaints about shoulder pain and injury more often than not.
Some Members Become Elitist and Cliquey
Social media critics typically note that CrossFit members tend to become something of a closed clique and can display rather elitist attitudes toward those who are not members. With the tough workouts, high fees, and closed membership groups, the entire CrossFit culture has taken a lot of criticism from people who think exercising should not be so expensive or elitist.
The Sessions Take a Lot of Time
Contrary to the company’s advertising literature, a typical CrossFit warm-up, workout, and cool down can take nearly two hours. If you add in travel time for getting to them from the gyms, that can be quite a time commitment for members who have full-time jobs and other social obligations. To make matters worse, many members attend sessions five or six times per week.
What’s the Verdict?
For people who enjoy a good challenge, like to be able to work out just about anywhere, and who seek a social component to their fitness activities, CrossFit is the ideal choice. The company has certainly built a reputation for loyalty among millions of users across the U.S. and the world. With more than 13,000 workout locations spread throughout at least 120 different nations, CrossFit is obviously the choice of millions of active people.
Overall, there is a segment of the population that doesn’t fit in with the CrossFit business model. Those people include exercise enthusiasts who prefer to work out alone, who don’t want a strenuous session, who want to avoid getting injured, and who don’t want to pay a fee to stay fit.
Anyone who can provide their own motivation, design their own exercise plans at home and avoid injury can do well without CrossFit. But to answer the simple question: “Is CrossFit good or bad for you?” it’s probably safe to say that CrossFit is good for the people who use it and who prefer a challenging, social, “mobile” form of fitness programs. If CrossFit didn’t work for millions of worldwide members, the company would not have survived for two decades.