By Michael Halbfish
1. Irreverence — There is an irreverent attitude that pervades CrossFit. As a result sacred cows are routinely sacrificed (makes the best steak), edgy humor flourishes (inevitable when workouts involve snatches and jerks). Limits are pushed because people in CrossFit challenge the status quo. We workout in boxes, yet think outside the box. Instead of an hour on the hamster wheel dreadmill, a complete full body workout can be done in 10 minutes working both strength and cardio, and actually delivering results.
2. CrossFit is freely available. CrossFit workouts are posted daily and free. If you need to learn an exercise you can watch a video of the exercise, or even the entire workout. If you want to learn more, CrossFit has a forum, and many free CrossFit Journal articles. Like inner city crack dealers hooking new people, CrossFit gives everyone a taste. Fran and our other signature workouts are the gateway drug. People quickly become addicted and need their “fix.” Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.
3. Varied workouts. CrossFit prepares people for the unknown and unknowable. Life doesn’t always come neatly packaged so why should a workout? Change is a constant. CrossFit workouts are like my sister’s cooking…I’m never quite sure what to expect, satisfying, yet known to cause occasional puking. Daily surprise challenges train us to embrace change both in the gym and in life. As people get results “can’t” transforms to “can”, and then into “what else is possible?”
4. Evidence Based Fitness – the typical CrossFitter can find more ways to measure performance than my ex-girlfriend.
It starts off with defining fitness. The ability to do work across broad time and modal domains. 10 qualities: (Cardiovascular, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, Accuracy).
CrossFitters keep journals, measure performance, and focus on results.
5. CrossFit is a Community. Those who sweat together stick together. Inviting people to post workout scores was revolutionary and a game changer. Addiction to comparing scores, and competition naturally followed.
Unlike traditional gyms, CrossFit workouts are done as a group competition. The “as prescribed” workout is the same for everyone. People scale workouts to their fitness level. Everyone gives 100% effort. Members cheer support and coach each other through workouts. Gyms also plan social events because members consider CrossFit to be more than just a gym. We are not just a cult, we are a community.
6. Community Outreach. CrossFit gyms hold fundraisers to help members and their families deal with illness, and injuries. 3,2,1 Go…Fundraise for time. From Wounded Warriors to Barbells for Boobs, we raise more than barbells, or even boobs…We raise standards, and we raise money for charities.
7. Performance focused. Most gyms and fitness marketing focuses on body image. CrossFit shifts people’s focus to performance. How strong, how fast, how long, how many? We measure and improve the 10 domains of fitness.
8. Diet and Nutrition – Paleo/Zone/Primal/Taubes/Berrardi – Our approaches are popularizing a healthy style of eating. We shifted the public and created an awareness of inflammation, insulin levels, hormonal optimization, and food as a source of performance fuel. Restaurants and supermarkets are responding.
While some people describe CrossFit and our diet as an addiction, the reality is much simpler. Steak or rabbit food? You decide.
We are helping to popularize grass fed beef, organic foods, raw milk, community supported agriculture (CSAs), and eating locally grown seasonal foods. Real foods for real people.
9. Fitness and healthy living is a life style. Fitness is more than just going to the gym. Fitness and health is also what happens during the remaining 23.5 hours. Choices outside of the gym effect what we do inside of the gym. These choices are evident when we choose a paleo/zone friendly meal, we sleep in a darkened room, or we work at a standing desk. Affiliates regularly educate members about fit, healthy living.
10. Celebrating accomplishment – Lonely globo-gym workouts are replaced by fellow CrossFitters coaching, cheering, and motivating you to finish. “Make your members stars” Coach Glassman. The last member to finish is cheered by more people than the first. Where else is the last person to finish enthusiastically cheered and congratulated by everyone?
11. Hero based workouts / Benchmarks. CrossFit has a tradition of honoring CrossFitters who died heroic, service related deaths by naming workouts in their honor. These workouts are benchmarks that we use to monitor changes in our performance. While benchmarking an individual lift or run might have been common before CrossFit, the concept of benchmarking an entire workout is a new way of thinking for most people.
12. Competition – “Men will die for points” Coach Glassman– EVERY SECOND COUNTS. CrossFit makes workouts competitive both at the community and individual level. This intensity and appreciation for time, scores, and measurement carries over into life. We focus on performing better in life.
13. Play. There is a focus on evolving, learning new skills, experimenting, and applying our fitness to enjoy life more, or at least suck less at life. Training in the gym is about living life better outside of the gym. Having a sport and trying new sports is encouraged.
14. Goal focused. Defining fitness, and measuring performance enables people to focus on goals. Goal focus is also enhanced by the intense competitive design that occurs when we compete against the clock.
15. Functional. CrossFit movements are based upon primal movement patterns that we use to do work and play sports in the real world. The only place in the world where an lifting with an isolated bicep curl occurs is in a globo gym (traditional gym). Most CrossFit exercises emphasize whole body movements that involve multiple joints and muscles working together in a coordinated manner. These movements raise the metabolic intensity of CrossFit workouts. Translated that means lose weight, get strong, and become coordinated.
Whereas most gyms are filled with machines that isolate movements, Crossfitters are the machines. We perform real-world functional movements using our bodies and real weights instead of artificial workout machines.
16. Return to primal. Primal is a reoccurring theme in CrossFit. We train our primal movement patterns, ie running, jumping, throwing, pushing, and pulling. We eat primal diets because these are diets that were designed for humans to thrive. Get in touch with your inner primitive. CrossFit facilities are grunt approved.
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” Coach Glassman
17. Simplicity. CrossFit can be done anywhere, and performed by anyone. There are low start-up costs, and little or no equipment is required. CrossFit is minimalist by design. Most affiliate gyms are less than 5,000 sq. feet, and mostly open space.
Minimalist – We don’t rely upon machines. Our gyms favor open space. Sites like www.anywhere.crossfit.com and www.travelwod.com prove we can perform WODs anywhere. It is popular with the military because they can use bodyweights and improvised weights. In fact, odd object lifting is valued as a functional real world method for developing usable muscle strength and movement skills.
18. Rules –While the WODS constantly change, individual WODS have rules, just like any good game, or cult. Rules could include the weight, technique, number of repetitions, number of rounds, or time. Rules determine how a person keeps going or stays with an activity.
In Globo-gyms haphazard anarchy occurs, and disorder results. People randomly change weights or sets without rules and standards. They operate with the illusion that they are customizing the workout to how they feel and progressing faster, but in reality adding rules to your workout creates challenge, fun, motivation, and best of all, results.
Our workouts have a structure. Workouts that look simple are simply crushing. CrossFit workouts often appear structured with a symmetry, pattern or a rhythm. Our signature workout, “Fran” is the perfect example. 3 Rounds of pullups and 95 lb thrusters (squat & press combo). Round 1=21 reps, Round 2= 15, Round 3=9.
In life, most people are flexible about their goals and stubborn about their method. However, those who are most successful are stubborn about their goals and flexible about how they get there. How you do CrossFit is how you do life.
19. Open Source and evolving. Traditional fitness marketing thrived on “secret” methods. Like snake oil, you must pay for their secrets. While Greg Glassman started CrossFit, we thrive by sharing and embracing the contributions of everyone. Methods are tested at competitions and the CrossFit Games. Competitions are proving grounds for athletes and differing training methods. The combination of competition and sharing creates a system that keeps evolving.
20. Affiliates not franchises. Traditionally gyms were franchised resulting in clones, and stifled creativity. The licensing model creates a more accessible entry point; enabling new affiliates to focus resources in the ways that best meet member’s needs. Licensing results in a wide variety of methods being explored. The best ideas quickly spread to other affiliates.
21. Sport of Fitness. Defining fitness, measuring fitness, and competing against the clock enabled fitness to become a sport. Reebok made a 10 year commitment to CrossFit, and ESPN received high ratings for televising the CrossFit games. Fitness is now a rapidly growing legitimate sport, complete with professional athletes, sponsorships, televised competitions, and perhaps most importantly hot bodies and paleo approved eye candy.
22. Scalable (women, children, obese, elderly, wounded warriors, CrossFit Moms, special forces, elite athletes). Workouts are scalable to be accessible by anyone yet challenging to everyone. The CrossFit community is accessible to children, senior citizens, morbidly obese, and handicapped. CrossFit is also the conditioning system of choice for SWAT teams, military special forces, Olympians, and professional athletes. Like singing, it takes a moment to learn, and a lifetime to master.
23. Be-Live-Ability. Everyone is an athlete. Everyone!!! CrossFit Goal Setting Expert, Greg Amundson, coined a word “BUIYATAOO,” Believe Unconditionally In Yourself And The Ability Of Others. BUIYATAOO becomes automatic as people become accustomed to setting personal records, learning new skills, and doing what once seemed impossible. Instead of seeing people’s limitations, we see potential.
24. Strong is the new skinny—Women are respected as athletes. They are encouraged to discover their strength, lift heavy weights, and fats are considered an essential part of the diet. Put down those pink Barbie weights that never got you results, and bang out your frustrations wacking a tire with a sledge hammer.
25. Metcons. Life does not segregate physical demands so why should the gym? The concept of long slow cardio workouts, or days dedicated to training an isolated body part are over. Like a paleo sundae, we serve up a dish of cardio blended with strength training and sprinkled with gymnastics. ie Helen 3 rounds: Run 400, 12 pullups, 21 Kettlell swings.
CrossFit is available to anyone, but not for everyone. CrossFit is a place for people who want to improve. Discover what you are capable of doing, and push beyond limitations. CrossFit gyms are sacred places where the energy is kept positive, and the “no *sshole” rule is enforced. At CrossFit, we define fitness and we redefine our self.