Ten years ago, only a few of the fitness elite had heard of the program known as CrossFit. The fitness program developed by Greg Glassman has exploded in popularity and has become a fast-track for those who wish to unleash their inner beast. However, CrossFit certainly isn’t an exercise program that everyone will enjoy. The varied training and high-intensity workouts are most appreciated by athletes, former athletes looking to rekindle their flame, or certain individuals who are curious about the potential that their body may possess. One thing is for certain, completing a consistent regimen of CrossFit workouts is going to lead to some noticeable changes in strength, muscle endurance and physical aesthetic.
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is quite possibly the most thorough and complete version of cross-training ever devised. When the term cross-training became popular in the 1980s, it usually suggested a training program that included various sports and exercises in order to avoid boredom and enjoy several different activities while getting in shape. The biggest problem with such training was the investment expense.
CrossFit was developed to offer a wide variety of training activities, yet when Greg Glassman put the plan into action, he thought outside of the traditional box. Forget getting a bicycle, needing access to a pool, or buying multiple gym and racquet club memberships—everything could be housed in a single environment and it would be based on developing and refining functional strength. In short, CrossFit was developed to increase strength that is actually used in activities, as opposed to strength that is simply used to develop a finer physical aesthetic. The improved aesthetics are a natural byproduct of CrossFit training, while optimal physical performance is the overall goal.
CrossFit enthusiasts describe the workout as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement.” The workouts can be completed in a CrossFit training gym, or they can be performed in a home gym by following the workouts offered via the CrossFit website. From day to day, activities will vary. On any given day, you may be doing plyometric jumps onto a 30-inch wide tractor tire (or boxes), and/or laying iron to the same tire in the form of a formidable sledgehammer. This will be followed by several other intense activities, including power lifting, kettlebell work, and a wide range of gravity resistance exercise. All of this could come after running around a track, gym building or throughout a facility carrying a 10 pound medicine ball as a warm-up. Without a doubt, CrossFit will put your mettle to the test.
The History of CrossFit
As briefly mentioned, CrossFit was developed in 2000 under the company name CrossFit, Inc. Greg Glassman owned and operated a gym in Santa Cruz, Calif. in 1995, where he was responsible for training several clients, including the local police department. During that time, he began to develop the system that is now known as CrossFit. In 2000, he introduced the world to his idea, and the first CrossFit training center was opened in Seattle, Wash. Over the next five years, another 12 gyms opened. Between 2005 and 2012, the movement and desire to train CrossFit absolutely exploded in popularity. There are presently more than 3,400 training facilities throughout the world.
How CrossFit Differs From Other Training Programs
CrossFit features many of the same exercises you’ll find in different training programs, especially power lifting; however, the CrossFit difference lies in the diversity of high intensity training. In addition to power lifts, CrossFit athletes will perform a range of quick twitch, plyometric exercises to add quickness and explosiveness to the brute strength associated with power lifting. Additionally, endurance work is performed with rowing machines, during shuttle runs and on distance runs and interval sprints. Add to these vigorous workouts a serving of gymnastic isometric and power exercises, and you’ve got a training program unlike any other.
The CrossFit Games
As more and more individuals (of all ages) began to train CrossFit, a desire to compete within the CrossFit world was born from the competition that developed in the local training facilities. The first CrossFit Games was held in 2007, and have been held annually since then, growing in popularity and scope. For example, the top prize for the men’s and women’s competition in 2007 came in at $5,000. By 2010, sponsor PROGENEX offered a $25,000 top prize to the men’s champion and women’s champion.
Reebok has jumped on as the top sponsor of the CrossFit games while offering the official training shoe of CrossFit athletes, and has taken the games to the next level. The televised competition now offers $250,000 to the champions of the men’s and women’s division, as well as payouts from a $1,000,000 prize purse for her top finishers and champions in the master’s categories.
Qualifiers for the CrossFit Games come from 17 different regions—12 U.S. regions, and five international regions. The 2012 games will be hosted at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.; the same location that plays host to a number of international sporting competitions, including ESPN’s X-Games.
For anyone who is curious about this new and exciting sport, now is a great time to jump in and find out if you’re up for the challenge.