I think CrossFit has been discussed so much, and with such vigor, that we can finally say (or ought to be able to say) we’re done now let’s move on. Which is not to say CrossFit is over, or passe, or it won’t continue.
But by now most people have heard of it, and seen “A” list publications talk about it. It has become a fad, and now it’s time for that to stop. Because there isn’t any real need (anymore) to create a fad for fitness. We have, collectively I think, gotten the point.
Which is to say, we know we want “fitness.” The larger problem is that “fitness” seems to be defined in different ways. I’ve come to believe that “fitness” is metabolic conditioning plus mobility. Metabolic conditioning is a glamorous way of saying one can do burpees without too much trouble. Mobility means full range of motion in all four limbs and being able to squat. Beyond that, I don’t think it matters. How many burpees or how many squats depends on the individual.
So CrossFit is dangerous. So is farm labor — which is really what CrossFit is: an abstract form of farm labor for people who have desk jobs. It’s “functional fitness” — all that running, stepping, rowing, sledge hammer swinging, and lifting of heavy objects. Well yes, it is functional, which doesn’t confer anything special. But one does notice that moving about and lifting heavy stuff does seem to have a reward. It’s merely a question of what one is after.
And perhaps because of that particular style of functionality — which tends to fly in the face of “exercise”, which seems to have a specific purpose but nothing to do with “function” — CrossFit is said to be dangerous. And (furthermore) it has been said — over and over — that CrossFit cannot be made safe because the activities are inherently dangerous, or the idea of adding the dimension of time creates danger, or the idea of “constantly varied” is wrong, and there are safer ways to get “fit.”
Well I would agree with one thing for sure: saying the CrossFit Games defines the “fittest” people on Earth is misleading. I think what it defines is some really talented athletes. I suspect that the fittest people on Earth are the acrobats in Cirque du Soleil. But that’s just my opinion.
But I wouldn’t say CrossFit cannot be made safe. Because CrossFit is a list of physical attributes: accuracy, agility, balance, coordination, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, power, strength, speed and stamina. What is “unsafe” is how those goals are being met. But CrossFit isn’t dogmatic on that point. A person is free to construct their own workout methods to meet those goals.
Which brings us around to my version of “CrossFit.” Most of the work I’ve been doing for the last year or so has been more like physical therapy then anything anybody would call “CrossFit.” A combination of back problems, shoulder problems, and weak core required me to step away from weights, and some body- weight, exercises. So I had to figure out what works for me. It took a a while.
These days I do some really simple workouts: ski-erg, a stationary bike, some heavy ropes, light kettle-bell, slam balls, wall balls and some rowing. In other words I focus on whole-body exercises. I could use any number of variations of these basic exercises to achieve the intensity I’m looking for.
I found that a series of 3-2-1 of: flipping heavy ropes 15 times, 10lb wall ball 10 times, then 500m on the ski-erg and a half-mile on the stationary bike, (then back to ropes and wall-balls) is quite a work out. It took me 37 minutes. Not that I was in a hurry.
I also do a variation of “Cindy”: 3 pullups, 6 pushups, and 9 squats (with a 8kg kettlebell), then some variation of heavy rope flipping or ski-erg, or slam balls or rowing. Anything that gets me 20 to 40 minutes.
None of these activities requires any particular skill, and as long as I apply basic ideas on keeping my core tight I won’t get hurt. Risk is absolutely minimal. And yes it’s CrossFit. And even if it’s not, I don’t care.
I’m moving, using my body to it’s fullest extent, and I’m improving my overall conditioning. That ought to be enough for anybody whose ambition is get strong and stay injury free.
CrossFit has raised awareness to the possibilities, got people off their couches and into a dynamic physical space. and generally opened up useful discussions. I think that’s a good thing. What comes next is up to the CrossFit community.